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Fri 6 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Meeting the challenge

Michael Bayer, president EMEA at Avaya takes aim at the SMB market.

Meeting the challenge
“It gives you savings because you can cut down on so called PSDN costs.” Michael Bayer, president, EMEA at Avaya.

Michael Bayer, president EMEA at Avaya takes aim at the SMB market.

With the corporate and SMB sector increasingly looking to cut costs, businesses are increasingly turning to SIP-based call centre solutions to help drive efficiencies while also improving the way they communicate.

Avaya is just one vendor that understands the growing demand for solutions that simplify communications and help improve efficiency. The company, which is in the process of acquiring the enterprise services division of beleaguered Canadian vendor Nortel, has been busy promoting its latest SIP-enabled call centre platform, known as Avaya Aura, a product that supports unified communications and contact centre solutions for mid-size to large enterprises.

The product, which Avaya’s EMEA president Michael Bayer refers to as the “starting point for customers to consolidate multi vendor environments which gives you huge benefits,” brings a number of benefits to businesses.

“It gives you the benefit that you are able to follow your depreciation route to upgrade in terms of applications centrally,” said Bayer. “It gives you savings because you can cut down on so called PSDN (public switched data network) costs.

“You offload more of your traffic on your wide area data network than through the public PSDN and then in the final stage, it allows you to move all of the applications into a data centre, so the application is driving the implementation.”

“The benefit of that solution is that it is fully SIP enabled and is essentially one server for all-you-can-see applications, driving down costs, simplifying solutions on the market.”

Bayer adds that the next step is to introduce Aura for small to medium sized organisations. Avaya, which demonstrated its mid-size Aura product at last month’s Gulfcomms exhibition in Dubai, intends to look at alternative paths to market for the product – including the region’s telecom operators.

“Here in the Middle East we have also significantly increased our coverage model with customers like Etisalat and STC, who have traditionally been end customers of ours for their call centre solutions or for their own infrastructure,” Bayer says.

The new mid market Aura solution is also complemented by a product called IP office from Avaya. The IP office will allow the company to target SMB organisations with less than 20 employees, a market that it was not significantly attracting before.

“We were playing well in the range of 50 to 100, but not sub-20 range, and this is where you see a lot of growth of Asian companies and a lot of alternative providers.”

He adds that Avaya is planning to launch a specific IP office product within the next four months, purely targeting sub-20 companies as a bundled offer through its distribution partners.

One of the main challenges in the MEA networking space, as Bayer sees it, is that the decision cycles have got longer, which has generally slowed down investment.

“A lot of decisions are now processed through a steering committee or a decision board that was not in place six to nine months ago,” Bayer said. “In essence I would say they enterprise sales cycle has been extended by three months.”

Bayer further comments that customers are now far more focused on return on investment figures, a factor that was barely considered by most of Avaya’s customers a year earlier.

“A year ago it was more driven by customer satisfaction, scale, expansion, and now the return on investment discussion and total cost of ownership has really kicked in with these investment committees.

“I also see challenges in the SMB sector because of the liquidity challenges that they have. We have seen a slowdown across the board with SMBs because they focus on their core business and might defer any decision on ITC for another six, 12 or 18 months, and make sure their company does the right thing,” concluded Bayer.

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