AVAYA ENGAGE — Fresh out of chapter 11 bankruptcy, Avaya opened its annual Engage conference Monday in New Orleans by announcing that it is acquiring Spoken Communications, a provider of enterprise contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) offerings.
The conference, Avaya’s biggest Engage ever, has drawn more than 3,000 partners and customers to the Big Easy. Jim Chirico, Avaya’s president and CEO, told attendees the “rumors of Avaya’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”
“We’re back and stronger than ever,” he said. “When someone knocks you down, it’s how you get up and how you carry yourself that matters. It’s a new day, it’s a new team, it’s a new company. We’re at the beginning of the journey, and we look forward to helping guide you on yours.”

Last month, Avaya emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy with about $350 million in cash and a little less than half of the debt it had when it filed last January. And earlier this month, Avaya officially became a public trade company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Chirico said the following are among Avaya’s key focus areas: transforming the company to drive revenue growth; developing compelling plans for taking immediate action; building a “world-class organization that attracts the best talent”; innovating so it can provide partners and customers with a competitive advantage; and being “customer-led in everything we do.”
Avaya will spend more on R&D, people and processes, and possibly more M&A, he said.
“We’re playing to win,” Chirico said. “We’re going to be aggressive.”
The Spoken acquisition, which includes more than 170 patents and patent applications, will be funded by cash on hand. It follows on the heels of a co-development partnership formed by Avaya and Spoken last year to provide CCaaS offerings to Avaya’s business process outsourcing customers.
Terms of the deal, which is expected to close this quarter, were not disclosed.
Spoken Conversation Center, Spoken’s CCaaS, provides a set of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled conversational services from a globally available cloud-first platform that contact centers use to analyze, learn from and respond to customer conversations. Spoken’s cloud-native, multitenant architecture is integrated with Avaya Aura and Elite technologies. As a result, it also provides an architecture for both Avaya’s omnichannel offerings, such as Oceana and it’s UCaaS.
Chirico said the Spoken deal is a “game-changer and certainly differentiates us from the past.”
“This marriage enables you, our customers and partners, to really evolve to the cloud at the pace that you want with the latest technologies to leapfrog everyone else and do great things,” said Mohamad Afshar, Spoken’s president and CEO.
“Our successful partnership has demonstrated that working together, Avaya and Spoken can deliver a compelling, cloud-native CCaaS portfolio for Avaya customers that offers every customer, from small and midmarket businesses to global enterprises, a seamless path to a modern cloud-based contact center. Further, Avaya shares our vision for how communications, cloud and artificial intelligence will come together to transform the customer experience and drive new efficiencies for businesses everywhere.”
Daniel Silverman, president of Telanet, said the Spoken acquisition is going to open new opportunities for partners. The company is an Avaya partner in the United States and Canada, and focuses on the midmarket and how to move more customers to Avaya Cloud.
“We deal with several contact centers up in Canada where their focus is how many calls can they make in a day, how many calls can they make in an hour — so if there’s a way to make that more efficient for them so they’re not spending any downtime because these guys get paid by the call, then this is something that is going to help drive additional business,” Silverman said. “This opens up new verticals; this opens up whole new areas from a marketing perspective and it continues to drive the cloud initiative.”
Pat O’Malley, Avaya’s chief financial officer, said the company now has had four consecutive quarters of solid revenue. It has cash on the balance sheet and can get more cash if needed, he said.
“That liquidity is a major, major advantage for us to be a quick mover,” he said. “This team is dedicated to growing and the only way you’re going to grow is to invest.”
The goal is to bring emerging technologies to the market sooner, O’Malley said.
“We’re going to be quick, hard-charging, thoughtful and aggressive,” he said.
Jonathan Irwin, president and owner of Lantana Communications, liked what he heard from Chirico and other Avaya executives, and that the Spoken acquisition is going to be “huge in terms of moving forward in the cloud.” Lantana is an Avaya business partner in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
“With the focus and bringing it back down to the field in terms of decision-making, and bringing simplicity back into focus for the company, it’s going to be a good thing for Avaya and the partner community, as well as the customers themselves,” he said. “We’ve been a partner for 25 years, so we’ve seen the ups and the downs. So once they got through the bankruptcy process and everything’s focused on moving forward now, we’re looking forward to it.”
Andy Roberts is CEO of Sabio, Avaya’s largest partner in Europe.
“It’s clear that Jim is executing a strategy to be focused around R&D and the customer, which is very good to hear,” he said.
“It’s a consistent message being executed well. We remained loyal through the whole chapter 11 process. We believe that the core infrastructure that drives contact centers, which is what our area of specialization is, is incredibly solid, No. 1 market share globally and a great platform to innovate for great customer service.”
Source: Avaya, ‘Playing to Win,’ Buys Cloud Contact Center Provider