Avaya Engage Dubai

by Dave Michels

Last week I attended Avaya Engage in Dubai. This was the third Engage for me this year (Austin, Singapore, and Dubai). 

With each event (or interaction or engagement), I leave with something new. 

This event took place at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm Jumeirah. If you are not familiar with it, the Palm Jumeirah is an artistically designed, man-made island. It’s an incredible achievement that was designed to create more coastal real-estate — it more than doubled the available shoreline.

The Palm Jumeirah as seen from Uber.

Dubai is a complex city that I can’t fully address here, but I will say it’s clearly a business-first, new city. Dubai transformed itself over the past 50 or so years from a small fishing village to a leading metropolis. It’s a major hub for commerce, complete with modern Swiss-like banks. Virtually everything there including the tallest building, busy seaport, and water supply are all man made, impressive, and state-of-the-art. 

I bring this up because my experience with Avaya International, like Dubai, is not what one might predict. Both have overcome major barriers to success. 

Avaya International is responsible for APAC and EMEA. It’s a close-knit team that has experienced very little turnover in terms of both employees and customers. Its leader, Nidal Abou-Ltaif, has been with Avaya for 16 years, He is the only remaining executive that reported to Kevin Kennedy. Actually, Nidal has served under four Avaya CEOs, and has lived through the Nortel acquisition, Chapter 11, and the sale of the networking division. The vast majority of the Avaya International leadership team has been there for at least a decade. 

Over the past three years, I’ve come to appreciate Avaya International’s perspective, capabilities, and success. They have mitigated turbulence with a relentless focus on the customer. I have met many of their customers, often very large and very complex, and there’s a consistent degree of (mutual) gratitude and respect. 

Engage is a partner and customer event. For Avaya International, it’s the second largest event of the year. The largest is GITEX, a major regional tech conference, which took place last month. Avaya International showcases customers and partners at Gitex — a refreshing change from a sea of vendor booths and promises. 

There were no major announcements at Engage, instead they better communicated the Gitex announcements to their partners and customers. There were four big announcements last month at GITEX: CCaaS, Onespace, Subscription pricing, and Avaya Spaces. Engage also focused on ReadyNow, a productized private cloud offer that was announced last January. 

In addition to direct and channel sales, Avaya International also contributes to engineering. The team recently announced Onespace, and is also heavily  involved in the upcoming CCaaS launch. They play down their engineering capability, but the division’s CTO was called away to the US during Engage to present to the Avaya board. 

To share some of my notes for the event, I created this mind map (click the icon on top right to expand).

Avaya Engage US will take place this February in Phoenix. I expect the main theme will be details on the launch of Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral.