Avaya simplifies its product names and aligns with Zoom

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

The communications industry’s largest show, the annual Enterprise Connect being held this week in Orlando, Florida, is a “who’s who” of unified communications and contact center providers as they unveil their latest and greatest innovations.

One of the companies that was out of the block early was Avaya LLC. The company announced a revamped portfolio naming scheme and a new strategic partnership. Few companies think their product naming strategies help or hinder their success regarding customer experiences.

But over time, even well-thought-out naming schemes can become hard to decipher. Simplifying a portfolio is necessary, since confusing your customers is never good.

Seeing Avaya take a new approach to product names was refreshing, expressing its purpose more clearly. In the announcement, Avaya Chief Executive Alan Masarek said the changes were about flexibility and agility for its customers.

“Simplifying our portfolio and solutions architecture reflects how we are enabling our customers to quickly and easily adopt new capabilities that drive meaningful improvements in customer experience, employee experience, and business outcomes,” he said.

A new experience platform

The company is building a new CX offering by pulling its Avaya Call Center Elite, Avaya Enterprise Cloud and Avaya Experience Platform CCaaS under the new Avaya Experience Platform Portfolio. The portfolio includes, respectively, Avaya Experience Platform On-Prem, Avaya Experience Platform Private Cloud and Avaya Experience Platform Public Cloud. This should bring clarity to customers and Avaya channel partners to understand where to use each product.

Avaya says its aim with the renamed products is to use its evolving AI technologies to improve digital channels, self-service, assisted service, connected employee initiatives, workforce engagement, customer journey orchestration and proactive customer care.

Unifying Avaya’s unified comms

The company is putting its unified communications products under the new Avaya Communication and Collaboration Suite moniker, which will still include the ability to meet, call, chat, share files and manage tasks.

The company says the new suite integrates new tech, enhances connectivity and uses AI to help make operations more efficient. It also says it’ll explore new approaches that don’t disrupt existing technologies.

Avaya and Zoom partner to simplify customer deployments

Also, Avaya has a new partnership with Zoom Video Communications Inc., integrating Avaya calling into Zoom meetings, which makes managing comms and workflows easier. I had a chance to discuss the partnership in a pre-briefing with Eric Rossman, Avaya’s vice president of partners and alliances.

Rossman shared the details of the Zoom partnership. “The Zoom client will connect as a native client to Avaya Communication Manager,” he told me. “An Avaya premises-based communication customer will get IM and presence. And we’ll do federation, so you’ll know when your Avaya phone goes off in Zoom. Customers calling in Zoom will be routed to the Avaya on-premises system instead of going to the Zoom Cloud.”

This lets customers enjoy the benefits of Zoom but continue to take advantage of the Avaya calling platform without upgrading to Zoom Phone. He said Avaya talked with its customers, and they requested this integration. More intriguing: they were willing to pay more for it.

The Zoom partnership does give Avaya customers many options. If they want to stick with on-premises, they can continue to use their existing setup. For full-blown UCaaS, they can opt for Avaya Cloud Office, which is done in partnership with RingCentral. Then there is a hybrid option, which would leave calling in place and add the Zoom option.

Avaya hopes to have a prototype in place by mid-May, with availability coming in the fall.

Some final thoughts

I see the partnership with Zoom being a “win-win-win” for Avaya, Zoom and its customers. For Avaya, Zoom gives customers a path to modernization without disrupting the infrastructure or employee workflows. The reality is that most of Avaya’s large telephony customers are already using Zoom, so partnering helps Avaya retain that installed base while making money from reselling Zoom. A worst-case scenario is that customers love the telephony integration and decide to move to Zoom phone and, in that case, Avaya may churn the customer but still get the revenue from the migration.

It’s important to note that this solution is primarily targeted at Avaya’s large enterprise base, which is the biggest of the big. Governments, global banks, major airlines and retailers all use Avaya. Most do not like disruption but want the added functionality a company such as Zoom brings. This lets Avaya deliver an integrated solution while maintaining account control.

This partnership opens the door for Zoom to broaden its solution set in large enterprises. Expanding the market is a key initiative for Zoom, and the partnership with Avaya adds easy calling to Zoom but then lets the company sell events, webinars, mail or other new products. Avaya’s large enterprise installed base dwarfs Zoom’s, and by working with Avaya, Zoom can deliver more functions faster without forcing customers to rip and replace their existing technology.

The big winner, though, is the customer. Without the partnership, customers would have had to stay with the rock-solid and reliable Avaya telephony or move to Zoom Phone, which is not easy when dealing with tens or even hundreds of thousands of workers. Now, they can do both. History has proven that doing things that are in the customer’s best interest is the right choice, and that’s what Avaya and Zoom are doing.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.