‘Avaya on the Hunt for Star­tups in In­dia’

I’ve been com­ing to In­dia for the past 15 years and I think this is the most pos­i­tive out­look of in­dus­trial clients that we have

The Economic Times - - Companies -

US telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion so­lu­tions provider Avaya is up­beat on the emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the In­dian star­tups space and look­ing at star­tups for ac­qui­si­tions that could help it strengthen its prod­uct port­fo­lio, says chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Kevin J Kennedy. Cur­rently, serv­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as a mem­ber of the Pres­i­dent’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Telecommunications Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, he said their radar was out for op­por­tu­ni­ties that make Avaya’s core prod­ucts bet­ter. In an in­ter­view with CR Suku­mar, Kennedy, who is on a short visit to In­dia to in­ter­act with CXOs at a global meet­ing in Hy­der­abad, talks about the emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in In­dia, both for aug­ment­ing the busi­ness and ac­qui­si­tions. Edited ex­cerpts.

Tell us how your busi­ness in In­dia is pro­gress­ing and about the op­por­tu­ni­ties? I have been com­ing to In­dia for the past 15 years and I think this is the most pos­i­tive out­look of the in­dus­trial clients that we have. Our aim is to reach out to the peo­ple in any coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in In­dia given its in­vest­ments in digi­ti­sa­tion, which is what we do re­ally well. It’s great to come to a place where cus­tomers are ask­ing you about prod­ucts and se­cu­rity tech­nolo­gies, and those prod­ucts and their in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty are built in Bengaluru. So from a cus­tomer per­spec­tive, the digi­ti­sa­tion sort of maps our prod­uct port­fo­lio. We have sev­eral thou­sand R&D and ser­vices folks here and we will be con­tin­u­ing to adding to that. We had ac­quired our first com­pany— KnoahSoft — in In­dia, last year. You can see us con­tin­u­ing to in­vest and we feel that it is a great place to come and talk to the clients.

Tell us about kind of R&D ac­tiv­ity you are tak­ing up in In­dia and its con­tri­bu­tion to your global oper­a­tions? Our IP of­fice, which is a mid-mar­ket prod­uct, is wholly de­vel­oped here, which is hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to­day. In­dia is one of the largest mid-mar­ket seg­ments, so we have to get our sales peo­ple here to sell a lit­tle bit more. It is a great op­por­tu­nity. Avaya is one of the found­ing tech­nol­o­gists in the BPO in­dus­try, which has a very large pres­ence here in In­dia. A lot of that work, es­pe­cially work­flow au­to­ma­tion pro­gramme, which is the next big thing, is de­vel­oped here in In­dia.

But In­dia is still a minis­cule per­cent­age in terms of Avaya’s global rev­enues. I think it is go­ing to grow. We have been ob­serv­ing a dou­ble-digit growth for the past three years. In­dia is one of the ar­eas where we see the most growth. Our vi­sion for the next three years is to dou­ble rev­enues in In­dia through digi­ti­sa­tion.

The startup space in In­dia is ex­plod­ing. What is your take? The Con­tact Cen­ter is the area which we are con­stantly want­ing to make it the best place. While look­ing at In­dia, we have our radar out for com­pa­nies that are good in an­a­lyt­ics, com­pa­nies that could help in cloud and some­times very spe­cific func­tions in the con­tact cen­tres and also or­ches­tra­tion for our net­work­ing tech­nolo­gies. It’s al­most all soft­ware and those things that make our core prod­ucts bet­ter is what we are look­ing for. We have not stopped af­ter KnoahSoft and are con­tin­u­ing to look for more such ac­qui­si­tions. We do about four tech­nol­ogy com­pany pur­chases in a year, may be even six, and this is cer­tainly one of the ar­eas that which we keep fo­cus on.

The BPO busi­ness is a key cus­tomer seg­ment for Avaya. How is that mar­ket do­ing? The BPO seg­ment is go­ing through a big change. The US and call cen­tres in gen­eral have sev­eral phenom­ena. One is that the tech­nol­ogy is old. Sec­ond, it is mostly voice. And now in­creas­ingly we have to be an omni-chan­nel — voice, mes­sag­ing and video. I think right now the BPOs are be­gin­ning to move from be­ing voice only to omni-chan­nel. And if we can help peo­ple with that, then this will be a re­vival of once pretty strong mar­ket.

There seems to be some ac­tion on the M&A front in the mid-space IT ser­vices space in In­dia. What is your take on this? I think the slow­down of the in­dus­trial world, the slower ascension of In­dia and China and more com­pe­ti­tion is go­ing to force con­sol­i­da­tion. This has been hap­pen­ing for the last two years and it will con­tinue for 3-5 years.

What is your idea about tech spend­ing in the US in 2016? I think that tech spend­ing is in­creas­ing but it is in­creas­ing more in the ven­ture cap­i­tal world and the fi­nan­cial mar­kets as op­posed to just com­pa­nies. I think the com­pa­nies are deal­ing with capex to opex tran­si­tion.

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