The communication conversation around the world is changing, with more focus on the cloud, scalability, and collaboration. During my trip to Israel this year, I had a chance to explore Avaya’s R&D centre, and also sit down for an interesting discussion with the Country Manager for Avaya, Rafi Shkolnik.
For years now, Avaya has had a powerful reputation for enabling better communication with companies of all sizes, from a range of backgrounds. I was interested to hear more about how the organisation’s intelligent, open and highly customisable solutions translate into the Israeli market.
Tell Us About Yourself
Avaya is well-known for its exceptional leadership and development teams around the world. Rafi Shkolnik joined the Avaya organisation early in 2018, so he’s still relatively new to the role and the company in general. Of course, he’s got his fair share of background in leadership positions. “I’ve worked with plenty of global companies over the years, including Hewlett Packard. I’ve spent most of my life in sales.”
As Avaya’s Country Manager, Rafi is responsible for keeping the business sector running smoothly, and he does that with the help of a dedicated team of around 13 people.
“It’s not a big team, but it’s an effective one.”
Rafi noted that since the exit from Chapter 11, the Israel team has been growing and thriving, feeling stronger than ever. He started during the first quarter of this new year, and he already sees business booming for the Avaya Israeli sector. “Our community is thriving, and that’s important for us.”
What Kind of Trends are Evident in Your Marketplace Right Now?
From a European and American perspective, the biggest discussion in communication right now seems to be around the cloud, and the move to more scalable ways of working. I was interested to see if Israel was making the same progress towards the cloud. Rafi told me that at its heart, Israel is a start-up nation, and many new companies are starting off in the cloud because it just makes sense to take that route. However, larger enterprises are slower to adopt.
“The route to the cloud is extremely slow for larger companies. Most of the cloud providers we see today are facing the same struggle, as people still like to have things that they can own present within their business. People also think that it’s more secure to keep things in-house too, so the on-premise approach feels safer.”
Rafi noted that justifying the cloud to larger companies who have already invested in an on-premise system with a ten-year-plus ROI isn’t easy. At the same time, for static businesses that still use voice PBXs, the cloud message just isn’t that compelling. “The good news is that they can still get the mobility and scalability in-house too with the right vendor. I think the UK is currently one of the best countries for embracing the Avaya-powered cloud.”
Do You Think Multiple Deployment Options Make You More Competitive?
While movement to the cloud might not be as rapid or popular in Israel as it is in the UK or elsewhere, the option is still a compelling proposition for Avaya to offer. Whether it’s a complete move to cloud or a hybrid option, it helps to know that you have a range of solutions to choose from, but any deployment you choose is going to give you the same features.
“I think having that range of solutions does make sales easier. The thing is right now is that people think they’re getting more out of a system if they have it on premises.”
“With the cloud, you don’t end up with any physical items that you own – and people don’t like that. Even if you don’t need those physical things, it feels like you’re not paying for something real.”
Do You Have Any Exciting Plans for the Future?
Before we finished up our conversation, I was keen to learn whether the Israel side of Avaya had any interesting plans for the immediate future during the rest of 2018 and 2019. Rafi told me that 2019 is likely to be the year when the space really starts pushing cloud more realistically.
“Currently we have 3 cloud options for Avaya users in Israel. We have the Meetings Online option hosted by Avaya that’s very cheap and easy to use. Then we have the IPO cloud hosted by local distributors, and then we have global cloud hosted by Avaya on a worldwide platform.”
With so many options to offer it makes sense that Avaya Israel would want to start pushing cloud more significantly towards their customer base.