Kathy Gibson reports from Gitex – So far, 2023 has been a turbulent year for the IT industry. Artificial intelligence (AI), long a niche play, has burst on to the scene and into the public consciousness, while the science of customer experience is quickly going mainstream.

This has meant a rapid realignment within the channel, as new opportunities – and challenges – have presented themselves.

What’s important, says Avaya vice-president: channels Fadi Moubarak, is to keep in mind that technology is not an object for sale, but a tool to support the customer’s requirements.

“This is reflected in our consistent strategy,” Moubarak says. “We have been working through this turbulence to retain our partner base and help them to win at the next edge of customer experience.”

The Avaya mantra, “innovation without disruption”, means that its technology accommodates customers wherever they are on their digital journey, he adds. “So we are not about cloud or no cloud; AI of no AI. The question has a different answer for each customer, with them all going in the same direction but at different speeds.

“We are saying: it’s your path, your pace, your choice.”

This wealth of choices means more opportunities for partners, Moubarak points out.

“The partners are the people who know the customers. They have a big role to play in avoiding disruptions on the customer’s transformation journey.”

To highlight the importance of this strategy, Avaya rewards its partners not just for new sales, but also for customer retention.

This allows partners to work with customers at their own pace rather then trying to implement new technologies too quickly.

“We would rather they make the transformation one process, one aspect of the business, at a time – that’s how you achieve value.”

The opportunity in Africa is huge, especially with cloud-based and AI implementations, Moubarak says.

“We have an existing network of partners in Africa, and we are complementing them with local service providers, who are proving to be very forward-thinking in expanding their value proposition with Avaya solutions.

“In most cases, they would go to market together with our partners, who can support them and end customers in leapfrogging legacy with new solutions.”

There is a new spirit of optimism in Africa, he adds. “It is a continent of young people; the economies are booming; and the private sector developing.

“Between our traditional partners with distribution, and the service providers, we are driving business in the continent forward.”