It is an unusual occurrence for me to receive a call from any company to discuss their support. Generally, the media gets all warm and fuzzy about tangible things, like new product launches, scoops and items you can put in the category of breaking news. Ironically, though, if you ask most companies what differentiates them from the pack, service and support is typically the most common answer. Yet, I can't remember other companies asking me to meet their new head of global services.
One of the most important things you need to do when you have a complex system of networks carrying packets full of voice and video communication is ensure it all operates at peak efficiency. In other words, it is the area that could be most important to a customer - getting a communications and/ or networking system back up and running after an outage is often an afterthought. It is hardly discussed.
But still, I was a bit surprised when the offer came from Avaya to meet Mohamad Ali, President of Avaya Global Services. The company's PR team was so excited about the meeting I decided to take it. I was tentative - but walked away impressed.
Ali started the conversation telling me he is passionate about service. What is more interesting is that he doesn't come from the service and support space. In fact, his background is quite different and most impressive. He worked for IBM, where he led and integrated many acquisitions, such as Cognos, FileNet, Ascential Software, and he also was the program director of the GSM semiconductor business and co-led the PricewaterhouseCoopers acquisition, which transformed the company. He has also worked for Adobe and has an EE Bachelors and Masters from Stanford.
The reason this is important has to do with the fact that Ali can be doing anything - he could be heading up M&A at Avaya, managing the design of products and a whole host of other initiatives. When I mentioned this, the response was that Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy is a visionary and has said the company should be investing heavily in services and service technology as a differentiator. Moreover he said Kennedy was willing to put a key person in this role, which, to me, says a great deal.
So, half the story is about the resources Avaya is dedicating to support; the other half is that Ali is looking to radically simplify support and to dramatically reduce time to resolution. Where he received his inspiration is interesting. It turns out that he heard a...