In Good Hands with Avaya

Avaya notches a pair of significant VoIP wins with Allstate and ABN AMRO. Are we past the fear barrier now?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 21, 2005
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Avaya is reaping the rewards of its VoIP expertise with a pair of large recent wins. Insurance juggernaut Allstate Insurance and financial powerhouse ABN AMRO have both made deals placing their IP telephony in the hands of Avaya. Financial terms of the deals were not publicly disclosed.

It would appear that as VoIP moves beyond the early adopter stage, mistrust is fading from the market and is being replaced by ready customer acceptance—and major VoIP deployments.

Allstate already has a relationship with Avaya, which under the new deal will be expanded to additional locations in the U.S. and Canada. Allstate is using Avaya's Customer Interaction Suite IP-based contact center application to manage calls and handle intelligent call routing. To date, according to Avaya, Allstate has already deployed more than 10,000 IP endpoints across its enterprise.

International banking concern ABN AMRO will be with Avaya for at least the next five years— across 14 countries—after signing a deal this month for IP telephony services. A 'complete technology update' is what the deal is all about, as ABN AMRO migrates to an IP network powered by Avaya's business communications applications.

Tony Kleckner, director and practice leader for the financial services industry at Avaya noted that the ABN AMRO win represented an 18 month sales cycle from beginning to end.

"They had a fast track process internally and were looking at the areas of their organization where they would have the largest savings, so they were quite eager to move forward quickly and aggressively with this sort of outsourcing deal," Kleckner told VoIPplanet.com.

ABN-AMRO hadn't necessarily decided at the outset that they want to go IP, though in Kleckner's view they were clearly looking to go in that direction, because they understood that was where the maximum savings could be gained.

The VoIP market has come a long way in just a few short years and in the eyes of many is now fully ready for 'prime time.'

Kleckner commented that a few years ago the question was, "Do I want to go to VoIP?". It then became, "If I were to do it, how do I do it?" Now the question is,"When do I do it?"

"A few years ago you really couldn't point to more than a few successful deployments that involved more than a few hundred end points," Kleckner said. "Now there are a number of them."

Reducing risk
Despite some persistent myths that contend that VoIP represents a risk to enterprises, Avaya's Kleckner believes that VoIP solutions can actually help to reduce risk.

"Speaking generally, if you're a large enterprise, you have to think about various forms of risk," Kleckner explained. "For example a building that can't be occupied for whatever reason—be it flood, fire, or terror attack—you really have increased flexibility with IP for relocating your workforce in ways that you couldn't do before."

Nothing to fear
As the market matures, the barriers to VoIP adoption are falling by the wayside.

"Basic fear has been the number one barrier to adoption over the last 36 months," Kleckner said. "We're past that early adoption stage and on the fear side, that's subsiding as a barrier."

The need for cost saving and the desire by corporation in all industries to wring every last penny out of their old gear and systems also represents a challenge, according to Kleckner. He notes that many organizations are reluctant to jump forward without a crystal clear ROI.

"The more forward thinking customers, like ABN AMRO realize that VoIP isn't just about cost savings," Kleckner argues. "Really it’s a triple play of cost savings, driving revenue through better and improved business processes, and it’s about reducing risk."

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