SOURCE: Aspect

January 20, 2010 17:52 ET

Aspect Statement on the Avaya/Nortel Roadmap Announcement

CHELMSFORD, MA--(Marketwire - January 20, 2010) - This statement from Aspect (Authors: Gary Barnett, Andy Bezaitis, Serge Hyppolite, and Brett Williams) is intended to help organizations inform future decisions as they evaluate short-term and long-term implications of the recently announced Avaya/Nortel roadmap for their offerings and potential operational challenges.

"Avaya has stated that it will be selectively choosing its best of breed capabilities based on the Avaya and Nortel product portfolio. While we applaud this approach, we also question the impact it will have on its customers. With two product portfolios that are largely based on proprietary technology and competing product strategies, this means that in many cases there will not be an optimal migration path for customers that are not on the platform of choice for future development. This will require significant investments and forklift upgrades for the combined Avaya/Nortel customer base.

Based upon our company's experience with large mergers and acquisitions, Aspect believes that Avaya has a monumental task in trying to maintain customer satisfaction while trying to build credibility in the unified communications (UC) market, integrating platforms, maintaining continuity in its contact center offerings, and making adjustments to its workforce under a newly-appointed management team; a challenge while having fewer people supporting a significantly expanded product portfolio. Based upon our past experience and Avaya's just-released roadmap, we have insight into some of the challenges they'll face in the coming years:

-- Nortel and Avaya had very different, competing directions for their contact center solutions and this will make it challenging for both sets of customers because they will have very different migration paths to contend with going forward. Avaya has offered to support most of the legacy products for at least 6 years. Since Avaya inherited an incredibly large legacy base, the market has to wonder how customers can expect them to maintain all of the outdated hardware for a long period of time, while creating new platforms with greater capabilities to address the future business requirements of their customers.

-- In two critical contact center categories, Avaya did not provide much information related to its outbound capabilities or workforce optimization. Given that Nortel's contact center solution will eventually become their flagship platform, how will Avaya's existing outbound products be handled. This could be an area that needs development, therefore current and future capabilities should be carefully considered by customers managing proactive customer care, collections or sales processes. In addition, during the roadmap announcement, there was very little said about adding tightly integrated workforce optimization capabilities to the product portfolio.

-- Avaya maintained they would continue to support both user interfaces while working on developing a single interface for both customers in the future. This will require significant investment and focus from Avaya, plus based on our experience, raises existing and future investment questions for both companies' customers.

-- Even coupled with Nortel's UC capabilities, Avaya's Aura Communication Server, Modular Messaging UM product, and Interaction Center do not provide complete unified communications features and functionality, and are missing some specific detail on the collaboration capabilities that Avaya will be bringing to market around things like email, messaging and tools like SharePoint. We've seen some recent major collaboration announcements from Microsoft and Cisco, but limited information from Avaya at this point.

-- Nortel had a partnership with Microsoft to deliver unified communications to the contact center and the enterprise, but the strength of the relationship was somewhat questionable, as it was not on the surface showing progress and that Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA) agreement has ended. Further, our view is that Avaya hasn't committed to the Microsoft stack.

-- Former Nortel customers may have to alter their approach to unified communications, as Avaya and Nortel clearly had divergent strategies, and clarity and detail on the combined unified communications and collaboration strategy is still required. Plus, as Avaya focuses on extending Aura to enable connectivity to the Nortel platforms, it will reduce its focus on non-Avaya platforms like those from Cisco or Microsoft causing go-to-market challenges in mixed environments.

-- Both Nortel and Avaya had a very significant channel partner network that has a lot of overlap, as well as differing operating strategies and perspectives. The channel partners are going to need to evaluate the solutions they're supporting and may have less motivation to support the new solutions. In addition, there is external concern about the ability of Avaya to get its channel partner network into shape, and ready to support the new roadmap. Plus, Avaya's announced plans to move from a 60% indirect model to an 85% indirect model within two years is aggressive and will require strong support from the channel partners.

-- Avaya also inherited a very large field services and support staff from Nortel. Many customers have lost or will lose their customer-facing contact. Finally, this could potentially mean losing access to experts who knew their business processes, implementations, and solutions. This impacts future collaboration -- Avaya will be lacking the close customer touch-points needed for them to receive feedback to optimize their solutions."

Gary Barnett is the chief technology officer at Aspect and the executive vice president of research and development and Aspect® Technical Services. Andy Bezaitis is the senior vice president of product management. Serge Hyppolite and Brett Williams are directors of product management of Aspect. Aspect is a global software and IT services firm specializing in applying Microsoft unified communications and collaboration to help customers achieve optimal results through enhanced business processes across the enterprise and in the contact center. For more information, visit www.aspect.com.

Follow Aspect on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AspectUC.

Other opinions on the Avaya/Nortel roadmap can be found:

NoJitter.com -- http://www.nojitter.com/blog/archives/2010/01/avayanortels_vi.html

Channel Web -- http://www.crn.com/it-channel/222301498;jsessionid=JV3FL1DY4XVPXQE1GHRSKHWATMY32JVN?pgno=1

Nortel Customers Respond to Roadmap -- http://www.your-story.org/nortel-customers-respond-to-avaya-roadmap-for-product-integration-85523/

Contact Information