Brace for change, warns Avaya chief

Change can be a scary word, but John Cameron says it’s time to get used to it — and work with it.

The president of communications software maker Avaya Canada spoke to the York Technology Association on Wednesday in Markham, Ont. He told the audience that organizations must look at what is – and isn’t -changing, and grow their businesses from there.

“In business today, successful growth is responding positively to changes,” Cameron said. “What’s changing? What are organizations doing from a process perspective to deal with that?”

He added that what isn’t changing will be things that really impact the business and every person within the enterprise. Those static business processes include growing revenue, growing operational efficiencies and growing talent while making it more productive.

“The basic business fundamentals do not change,” Cameron said.

Among the larger external changes, Cameron cited recent economic and political change. “One of the changes as a result of recent events is a need for security – protecting resources, people, knowledge and information. As to the economy, suffice it to say we are in a very turbulent time right now.”

He told the group to look to the marketplace – to keep their business processes in mind, but be mindful of where the market is going. “People want mobility. Ryerson University recently stepped back and said, ‘What’s not changing? That we want to increase revenue and increase student numbers. Well, what’s changing? Wireless, mobility.’ So Ryerson implemented more mobility for students. Students are dealing with high-tech on a regular basis, and they want that incorporated into every aspect of their lives.”

He added that more and more people are going online to do account management. Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. estimates that by 2005, 90 million people will be online for these processes.

One result of these changes is that companies are looking beyond their own front door and extending their networks, according to Cameron.

This infrastructure will need to be very robust, and “collaboration, communication and information sharing,” will be key. Cameron advised companies to build their applications on existing infrastructures rather than on new networks. In the future, when there is more growth, he said companies could wipe the slate clean, but in these times companies should deal with the changing environment by using what they have.

“You’re going to have to build an infrastructure, but in this economy maybe not as aggressively as they would like. Build it slowly and surely, then when the economy picks up there will be time for more spending.”

Roberta Fox, president of Markham, Ont.-based Fox Group Consulting, said she understands this point, but if a company is currently moving or integrating departments a new infrastructure may be more prudent.

However, she noted when her company moved they used an old voice infrastructure, while building a new computer one.

Cameron also spoke about bringing together customers and suppliers, that in this day and age it is prudent to have everyone connected within the business.

Fox said many of her clients have been asking for just that. “It’s nice to hear. People want supplier and customer alignment.”

Avaya in Basking Ridge, N.J., is at