Avaya readies unified communications application server

Avaya SIP Application Server eases UC/business applications integration

The company also plans upgrades to its endpoint software in phones and softphone agents on laptops and desktops, he says. The goal is to make the endpoints function as intuitively as cell phones do and to embrace consumer tools and social networking that users understand and find useful outside the office, Giancarlo says.

For example, an incoming call to a call center might trigger a popup on an IP phone that shows the Facebook or Linked-in profile of the caller, Mashima says.

Avaya customers can expect some changes in the way the company interacts with them as well, Giancarlo says. Traditionally, PBX vendors went through the telecom manager and later IP PBX vendors approached the IT directors with their wares.

That will continue, but Avaya also will bring in users from customer business units, he says. The idea is to better understand what business tasks customers are trying to perform and to facilitate them via the UC platform. "No other vendor is fully focused on individual users, department managers or division heads," he says.

Avaya also is shifting its sales model to make more use of its channel partners to install products that customers buy. The aim is to have 85% or more of customers handled by channel partners, says Todd Abbott, a senior vice president of sales and the president of field operations for the company.

The company has set a goal to make more customer interactions self-service, so people buying software or upgrading existing software can do so online.

Giancarlo says Avaya and Cisco are the two UC vendors financially stable enough to weather the current economic problems well, and Avaya will actually benefit from them. "I think it's a great opportunity. During a downturn is when marketshare changes happen, and I think this is our time to pick up marketshare," he says.

Avaya had US$5.2 billion in revenues during the fiscal year that ended October 1 and has US$677 million cash on hand, he says. "Cash is good leverage to have going into '09," Giancarlo says.

The company has sorted through possible permanent CEOs to replace Giancarlo, who stepped in after former CEO Lou D'Ambrosio stepped down for health reasons last June. He says the company has narrowed the field to a select group of well-qualified candidates and will announce its choice early next year.

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