Avaya remains committed to South Africa

Read time 3min 20sec
Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president for Avaya International, which covers the EMEA region.
Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president for Avaya International, which covers the EMEA region.

Unified communications solutions provider Avaya remains committed to the South African market, and expects business to continue picking up as more enterprises make progress in their digital transformation journeys.

This is according to Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president for Avaya International, which covers the EMEA region, who spoke to ITWeb at Avaya's annual Engage user conference, taking place in Austin, Texas this week.

ITWeb last interviewed Abou-Ltaif in 2017 about challenges Avaya faced in SA, and he says now that not much has changed. The challenges still include security, currency devaluation and the lack of home-grown talent.

However, he says SA is one of the very mature markets in the MEA region. Avaya's customers in SA are sizable, advanced and like to use the latest technology.

"For the last few years, SA has been going through currency issues and that makes it more difficult for us and difficult for our partners to invest and execute modern projects.

"But over the last 12 months we started to see that coming back, and we started to see big projects in transformation coming back in terms of going to private cloud, automation, digital transformation, as well as modernising and digitising the base," says Abou-Ltaif.

"So that's what we are investing in in terms of resources and more effort in to the country."

Abou-Ltaif says it continues to be a challenge to find local talent in the country.

"We have been talking about this all the time. We have been shipping a lot of people from outside to help. The managing director we brought in from Dubai is a UK citizen, and we have had to bring in others with experience building the cloud."

He says he knows SA does have home-grown talent, as many South Africans work for Avaya in other parts of the world.

"That is good and bad: good that they expand their expertise and bad because there is no one local left in SA. We are also trying to build resources (talent) by investing in our partners and investing in people that we hire and providing training."

Abou-Ltaif says the broader Sub-Saharan African market has for the last six years been an area of growth. "It goes back one year when there is some turbulence, such as when the oil price impacted Nigeria, then some terrorism impacted other parts of Africa, the currency, the political situations, but overall it has been growth.

"It is a very dynamic, sometimes negative, sometimes positive region, but overall it balances itself out."

Abou-Ltaif says in SA specifically it has been encouraging to see newcomers in the market and how they are adapting to the new world of APIs and being able to write applications.

"They don't have the system integrated mentality; they are trying to aggregate and put everything together and deliver solutions to customers, adapting to the cloud very quickly, so it is very promising."

He says South African partners, one of the biggest being Dimension Data, are picking up like in the rest of the world.

"The reseller mentality is changing. Now we give them the platform and allow them to build on top of it so they make money from it, from the software or APIs they develop on their own, bringing other open applications and putting them on top of it so it gives them the freedom to grow using our platform."

He says Avaya will hold two roadshows in SA in Cape Town and Johannesburg next month to ignite partnerships and customers, and explain to the market what is new in Avaya.

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