Enzo Signore, vice president of marketing at Avaya, analyzed the challenges facing the privately held global supplier of business communications and collaboration systems as it changes its public face
TRUE: How has the Avaya brand been changing? And how would you define it today?
Signore: At Avaya, we define the brand as the sum of all the experiences customers, stakeholders and employees are experiencing on a day-to-day basis, and in the last few years, that has been changing a lot. Avaya has been traditionally a telephony provider for enterprise customers, and we still are. We’re actually No. 1 in telephony on a global basis. But today that is just one side of Avaya. We see our function extending far beyond telephony.
We would like our stakeholders—our customers, channel partners, the public in general—to look at Avaya as a specialist of collaboration. That’s what we do now; that’s our business.
By collaboration, we mean the ability for people to conduct business in the most natural way. While we typically would use voice, we now see an increasing demand for the adoption of video collaboration. If you think about it, people make decisions by looking each other in the eyes, by looking at body language, by reaching consensus, by working together. But in the past video has been mostly defined by room systems—five or 10 people gathering around a video system. But people are mobile today and want mobile to move with them. We now take the video experience and bring it to the user, bring it to the device that the user is using at the time. So these are very new ways that we must perceive ourselves and new messages we must convey to others, new ways we must talk about Avaya
TRUE: How much easier is it being a privately held company when you are trying to change direction?
Signore: When a company is going through a transformation, there are many pressure points. If you are a public company, clearly there is pressure coming from your shareholders. Avaya doesn’t have to deal with that, but we are executing at the same level to make sure we can deliver on the top line and bottom line, as if we were a public company. We have the same level of financial pressure and focus on details because that’s how we want to do it.
TRUE: What has been the hardest message to get across
Signore: The hardest message to communicate has not necessarily been about changes in the technology we offer; it’s more about the fact that [Avaya is] now becoming a supplier of solutions to a much broader audience of customers. Avaya has a very strong relevance in the enterprise business—typically customers with maybe 5,000 employees or more. So if it’s a very large financial company or health care company, they’ve probably been working with Avaya for many, many years. Now, there’s a whole set of customers, literally thousands or millions of potential customers who don’t know about Avaya. It could be a doctor’s office; it could be a retail outlet; it could be a small pharmaceutical company. But that is a very different way of selling than when we only had to think about a large complex deployment. The decision makers in the middle market tend to be fewer, tend to have a faster time to cash. They’re looking at simplicity as the key ingredient for the go to market. So we’re now adjusting our messaging, adjusting our portfolio, adjusting our go to market.
Employee transformation is another difficult transition. When you’re going through a transformation like Avaya has been going through, there are different skill sets, different characteristics, different ways of doing business that maybe were applicable in the past, but may not be applicable anymore today or in the future. One of the key activities we have driven within Avaya is to make sure that each of our employees find a place and home in our strategy. We’re taking the same message and the same level of relevance to our channels and sales teams, so they in turn can communicate the relevance of transformation to our external stakeholders,
That’s a journey. We’re in the middle of this, and we’re going to see some good results, but it will take some time clearly to ensure we can drive the outcome that we’re looking for.
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