Avaya maps way forward in government market

Avaya is banking on unified communications and contact centers to drive its government business.

As Avaya integrates the acquisition of Nortel Enterprise Solutions, the company’s strategy has two goals – showing a clear path forward and reassuring current customers.

“What we have focused on is investment protection. That is our key theme,” said Steve Derr, executive vice president of engineering for Avaya Government Solutions. The division was created when Avaya acquired portions of Nortel out of bankruptcy, including Nortel Government Solutions.

The company has created a product and market strategy that explains where how Avaya's and Nortel's products will work together and what direction those products are headed in in the future, Derr said.

“No matter what your installed base is, we have a path forward,” he said. “We are not taking a rip-and-replace approach.”

In the government market, the primary focus of Avaya’s road map is on unified communications and contact centers, he said. Avaya also is focusing on communications solutions for small and midsize businesses and data centers.

The push for unified communications will allow agencies to integrate various communications and messaging systems into a more manageable whole, Derr said.

That integration can bring more efficient operations because agency personnel can connect with the agency’s communication system wherever they can connect with an IP network, Derr said.

“Unified communications is really about enabling the productivity of the government worker,” he said.

That means they have the same connectivity from the office PC as from the remote laptop, Derr said.

In the contact center area, Avaya is integrating products for what it is describing as a “context” center. On the front end, callers will be able to connect with agencies in a variety of ways, including traditional voice, instant messaging, texting and self-service, he said.

On the back end, agencies will be able to manage incoming contacts and have a greater power to route calls. For example, they will have the ability to shift call volume from one contact center to another to balance the workload or more quickly route calls to operators who speak the same language as the caller, Derr said.

Nortel brought with it a large Social Security Administration contract that will be a showcase for this IP-based technology, he said.

In addition to the new products, Nortel brings Avaya a new channel strategy. “Nortel’s sales were probably 80 percent to 85 percent through the channel,” Derr said. “Avaya was much less, but Avaya has wanted to move to a more channel-centric model, so this accelerates that.”

The advantage of the channel is the scale a company gains by working with partners, he said. “You can touch so many more customers.”

Avaya unveiled its road map on Jan. 19, about a month after closing its acquisition of Nortel.

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