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June 16, 2011

Avaya. The Power of We - Marketing of Collaboration Turns Up a Notch

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

Coming hard on the heels of its IPO announcement, Avaya formally announced Avaya (News - Alert). The Power of We on June 15, an interesting new corporate branding initiative.

For those of you who may be familiar with my history of criticisms of the marketing prowess of the network equipment marketing sector in general and the telecom sector in particular, take heart. Below you will read about and see -- and can draw your own conclusions about -- whether Avaya got it right.

Two quick points before diving in:

  •  Never ever underestimate the power of marketing, good and bad. Brand stewardship on multiple fronts is critical. As we all learned in Marketing 101, when done correctly, marketing is vital to creating an environment that enables sales.
  • Technology companies historically have made the mistake of passing off product and service attributes as value propositions, forgetting for a moment that it is all about the customer and their perception of value, “stupid.”

For instance, when Avaya’s old parent Lucent Technologies was spun out of the old AT&T in 1996, prior to its public debut I was asked by Lucent senior executives what I thought of their tag (News - Alert) line, “We Make the Things that Make Communications Work.”  My instant reaction was, “Why didn’t you add the words ‘FOR YOU!’ to the end?” I was politely told my input was appreciated.

Putting aside for the moment that a slug of the populace may conjure up a different idea about the spelling and use of the word WE (read, ‘Wii’), please watch and listen to the below video.

Pretty good, right? Right!

  • Short and memorable
  • Well positioned in terms of competitors like Cisco (News - Alert)

Speaks directly to the user, promising future value, e.g. enabling customers to leverage the power of 'we' to enhance their business performance

The press release describing the initiative cited Kevin Kennedy (News - Alert), CEO, Avaya, as follows:

"A lot of companies are talking about collaboration, but they're short on specifics," said "Avaya's vision is very clear: We help our customers bring the right people together with the information and context they need to help deliver business results in real time. Our objective is to give them the best collaboration experience, regardless of the devices, locations, or media they choose."

OK. So forever the value proposition for unified communications and collaboration has been being more efficient about putting the right information in the right hands at the right times and places and enabling easy interactions. What I like most about the Kennedy statement is the use of the word context.

Context mediation, I have evangelized for years, is the real and sustainable value of my networks’ resources. By context, I mean my (by extension “our”) dynamism associated with my personae:

  • Professional, public and private
  • As an individual or part of a group (physical and virtual) or organization
  • Policies, rules and permissions
  • Identities, social network settings and bookmarks

 In fact, market spoils will go to those who prove trustworthy of hosting my personae and can provide easy- to-use tools and allow for flexible/dynamic user control of content and context mediation. This will be true whether a little, a lot or not cloud-based going forward.

I’ve always like the notion of “He’s (substitute YOU) got the whole world in his hand.” But, emphasizing WE ain’t bad.

Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia (News - Alert), HP, Siemens, Nortel, France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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