Avaya looks to grow Canada

Avaya wants to boost its Canadian customer base, but one industry observer notes the firm could have a tough time winning over Canadian clients.

Brian Sharwood, a principal with the Toronto-based Seaboard Group, said IP telephony is something Avaya has done well globally but not so much in Canada.

“It is a question of getting the story out,” Sharwood said at Avaya’s annual media and analyst conference held last month. A stumbling block, he added, is stiff competition from Bell Canada.

Bell is the marketplace leader for system integration/distributation of IP telephony in this country, Sharwood noted.

“In Canada, Bell has dominated the market and has been the trusted advisor and they are really good at it. If you want to sell products through a provider in Canada, you have to be in the good with Bell,” he said.

Sharwood described Avaya’s attempt to encroach upon Bell’s territory as “a tough nut to crack.” When competing for customer contracts, he said, Bell always leads with Nortel products, then Cisco and third on the list is Avaya.

But Sharwood believes Avaya can be successful in its goal of becoming a leader in IP telephony.

“They’ve certainly got the product. On the enterprise side, their product is probably the best on the market right now,” Sharwood said.

In order to get the word out, he said, Avaya should concentrate on building relationships with its business partners, who are the company’s key to success in IP telephony.

“Business partners were their key in growth in contact centres.” Sharwood added a lot of companies like dealing with third parties and suggested Avaya provide third party providers with better tools so they can understand the business they are going after.

Mario Belanger, president of Avaya Canada, also recognizes that business partners are essential to his company’s growth. He said Avaya wants to continue to grow its partner base and will provide them with the tools that will enable them to communicate the value of IP telephony. As well, Belanger wants to leverage Avaya’s contact centre expertise.

“IP telephony is not like the TDM of old. It is more complex so there is more education that needs to be linked to that,” Belanger said. He added one area that will allow Avaya to grow in the IP telephony space is acquisitions.

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