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'Our plan is to be more aggressive': Avaya Asia Pacific President

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 22, 2010
MIS Asia asked Francois Lancon, Avaya Asia Pacific's new president, about his plans for the region and about his business objectives for 2010 and here are his answers.

Avaya, a global provider of business communications software, systems and services, has recently appointed Francois Lancon as president for Avaya Asia Pacific, with executive responsibilities in business strategy development and business operations for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. This announcement follows the successful global acquisition of Nortels Enterprise Solutions business by Avaya.

Lancon brings over 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, including most recently as the president of EMEA and Asia Pacific for Nortel Enterprise Solutions. Lancon replaces John DiLullo who steered Avaya Asia Pacific through the challenging period in 2009. Accoring to sources at Avaya, DiLullo has been transferred to assume an expanded portfolio heading up Canada and Latin America.

MIS Asia asked Francois about his plans for the region and about his business objectives for 2010 and here are his answers.

As the new President of Avaya Asia Pacific, in what shape do you find your company?

Avaya in Asia Pacific is poised at one of the most exciting times and the only way forward is to focus on growth. The addition of Nortel Enterprise Solutions has helped us achieve critical mass and expand Avayas footprint, enlarge our portfolio of systems and services and increase our expertise and specialization. This was a strategic opportunity for us to acquire talent and complementary assets and position the combined company for growth and success. Today we are present in 55 cities across Asia Pacific with 6 R&D centers. We also have an expanded base of channel partners which will help us make deeper inroads into the markets across Asia Pacific and focus on the SMB sector in a big way. In Asia Pacific, SMBs constitute 70-80 per cent of the business environment and it is critical for us to work with this segment. Also, Avaya's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), a non-GAAP measure, was 19 per cent for fiscal year 2009, as a percentage of revenue, compared to 15 per cent, as a percentage of revenue, for fiscal year 2008.  

In your assessment, has the recession (2008-9) affected Avaya's business in the region?

The year gone by has been a challenging one for all enterprises. However, it was also an opportunity to focus on business and delivering what was best for our customers. CIOs were challenged to create business value with smaller budgets; subsequently they wanted technology that could deliver measurable value, is compatible with existing business processes, and can be expanded and developed in stages as financial budgets allow. At Avaya, we are focused on driving the future of technology so that it enhances the competitive strategy of our customers. The last year was all about remaining focused on this approach and it has definitely helped us reap benefits as we go into a year when there are gradual signs of recovery in overall economy.

What are the prospects of growth in communications technology in this region in 2010?

In 2009 many companies postponed making huge new investments in communications technology except that which could not be avoided. This has resulted in a pent up demand in the market. Avaya recently announced a product roadmap globally and this is primarily meant to bring our customers onto Avayas open plug n play architecture. The plan is to hook our customers into the Avaya Aura architecture, which is the virtualized Unified communications (UC) platform. The new SIP capable offerings are aimed at restoring customers that have been holding off investment in new telephony technology and equipment over the past year or so.

Do you think Unified Communications will play a strong role in the growth of ICT in the region?

The economic challenges of 2009 have made businesses wiser. Unlike in the past when companies would rip and replace legacy equipments, now companies want to maximize on their existing investments even as they embrace new technology. Avaya Aura, the virtualized UC platform is our flagship offering in this area. We believe the SIP protocol will enable companies to maintain their competitive edge in the market by driving the communication enablement of business systems across the enterprise. The way forward is all about open, standardized SIP enabled platforms driving the communication enablement of business systems across the enterprise providing contextual collaboration that unleashes true business value and doing it all seamlessly with a roadmap that migrates to the future without rip and replace.

What are your plans for Avaya in Asia Pacific region for this year?

Avaya has traditionally focused on large enterprises with financial services and healthcare sectors forming the bulk of customer profiles. Our acquisition of Nortel has given Avaya an extended channel partner network through which to reach the massive SMB segment in Asia Pacific. Now we have enough channel and geographic coverage to pursue this sector. The strategy is to focus on growth and double our business in Asia Pacific in the next 2-3 years.  It is achievable, based on market demand for simplified, intuitive communications solutions and collaboration. To drive this growth, our plan is to be more aggressive. We need to leverage our leadership as business communications experts and also aggressively focus on verticals like government, healthcare, hospitality and financial services.

Are you adding the green agenda to your efforts in steering Avaya in the region?

Avayas communications solutions are key enablers of flexible working, virtual offices and driving productivity. For us, green is not a separate agenda. It is embedded in the solutions that we provide our customers so that they are not just able to maintain a competitive edge but also do it in a sustainable manner. While Avaya products provide a measurable path to a greener performance, Avaya takes a holistic approach to its green objectives.  While companies and government spend billions of dollars in the quest for alternative sources of energy, Avaya can help prolong the life of the existing resources by helping organizations introduce innovative ways of communications to carry on their business. This will give research the much needed time to come up with alternatives so that the world does not have to go through a shock period at all.  Communication solutions from Avaya help keep people off the roads by offering mobility & telecommuting solutions and off air travel by providing state-of-art multimedia & video conferencing solutions.


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