Why Avaya’s ‘Innovation Without Disruption’ Cloud Migration Model is a Success

Jasmine Will
Jasmine Will 8 Min Read

Through all Avaya’s adversity — through the grim experience of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the difficult decisions made to exit it — its customer base remained fiercely loyal and supportive.

There are myriad ways in which Avaya has repaid that loyalty over the years, but one of the most significant factors is Avaya’s open-mindedness to its customers’ cloud migration journey.

While some vendors might look to accelerate their customers’ migration, potentially causing discomfort in the process, Avaya has illustrated flexibility and patience according to its customers’ needs.

Why Avaya’s ‘Innovation Without Disruption’ Cloud Migration Model is a Success

Avaya’s migration journey can mean a luxury cruise across the Atlantic rather than a Concorde jet.

“What we speak about to customers all over the world is that the journey to cloud is not some monolithic journey,” Avaya CEO Alan Masarek told UC Today at last week’s Avaya ENGAGE. “It’s not some uniform journey. Some are going in whole, or far more are going in part. They’re not going at one time, they’re going very gradually, if at all.”

Masarek described Avaya’s luxury cruise approach to migration as “innovation without disruption”, and it has become a cornerstone of Avaya’s strategy.

“What’s come out really loud and clear is how cloud-delivered innovation without requiring a disruption of the premises infrastructure underneath has resonated brilliantly,” Masarek continued.

“What’s important to these customers, if you’re a tiny customer with 25 employees, you may go all the way to the cloud because the change management is very simple. If you’re a large, complex deployment — particularly in sensitive industries like hospitals or regulated industries like banking or financial services or government agencies — the level of business risk you would take by ripping out that voice plumbing is just too high.”

Innovating slowly and gradually, at the customer’s pace, resonated deeply with Avaya’s customers at Avaya ENGAGE.

“We’ve completely refreshed the brand thematically around ‘Choose your journey,’” Masarek added. “The point is the customer’s choice, whether they want to stay on-prem, go all the way to cloud, or some hybrid in-between state. This is different based upon your company, your industry, and your geography, so that has resonated really well.”

Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst at ZK Research, also highlighted the importance of patience for Avaya’s loyal customers to UC Today at Avaya ENGAGE. “For all the stuff this company has been through over the past few years, the customers really like the technology,” Kerravala explained.

“I think one of the things that’s misunderstood in the industry is when you talk to a lot of Avaya customers here, they’re very big companies,” he expanded. “They’ve got massive contact centres(…) They need that migration approach. I think it’s a little counter to the way the rest of the industry thinks, where we assume everybody is going to move to the cloud overnight, but that resonated with this audience loud and clear. They want a migration path, not something they’re going to have to forklift upgrade.”

Masarek acknowledged that some vendors perhaps pressurise their customers to migrate too quickly, and while that enthusiasm could come from a well-meaning business position of modernising their customers’ infrastructure with the most innovative and efficient technology, it ultimately alienates the figure whose needs are the be-all and end-all of the relationship — the customer.

“I think the point is everything we’re doing at Avaya is customer-in,” Masarek said. “You take an outside-in view. That was the CIO at Wynn Resorts who made that statement during my keynote (at Avaya ENGAGE). It’s his interest and his decision, not the supplier’s decision. He’s the customer. So listen to the customer, and let’s create the strategy that they need. He referenced that 70 percent of his vendors across a variety of categories are wanting to push him all the way to cloud, and it doesn’t work in his environment.”

“His environment is his environment,” Masarek continued. “It may work elsewhere. There are other situations where it needs to be gradual but in a different way. The whole notion is, let’s take a customer-in approach. It’s up to the customer to choose the journey.”

“We want Avaya to be the customer’s choice helping them in that journey, and it distils down to innovation without disruption. Let me give you the innovation. We help you modernise without taking you through a disruptive path that you don’t want to go down.”

As Masarek approaches his one-year anniversary as Avaya’s CEO, the progress under his stewardship has been impressive, and ENGAGE was an opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon that progress. The event was trailed by Masarek appointing key C-suite executives, including the new Chief Financial Officer, Amy O’Keefe, new Chief Product Officer, Omar Javaid, and new Chief Marketing Officer, Josh Mueller.

ENGAGE also saw Avaya outline its business strategy going forward, including converging CX and UC in pursuit of becoming a CX leader, what Masarek described as the “North Star of CX”. Avaya also announced new platform and partnership growth as it looks to execute its strategy.

Naturally, this period of change has also meant responding to customer pain points and the challenges that accompany them. Even with Avaya’s customer relationships in good health, Masarek attested there are always ways to refine and build upon them.

“When you’re trying to navigate change between a prem-architected solution to a cloud-architected solution, that also creates its share of challenges,” Masarek said. “What everyone’s looking for from us is how to do those migrations in ways that are least disruptive for the business. For instance, we’ve rebranded our professional services. We call it ‘Avaya Customer Experience Services’, so the acronym is ACES.”

“We did that by design very purposely because our team are now your advocates. They’re there almost as your cloud migration Sherpa because the path can be difficult. Things can happen, even core routing between skills-based routing in some of the existing solutions vs attribute routing in others.”

“It’s just different,” Masarek concluded. “It’s a path, but the idea is that no one wants to go through it and rip up and replace and start over. They want a gradual path that gives them all the modernisation that they need to take their business forward without triggering the disruption that’s going to cause fundamental business risk.”

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