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Following the sudden departure of Avaya CEO Lou D’Ambrosio in June, Avaya’s new global channel chief is joining the company at a transitional time—but that may be an opportunity for the new executive.

“We plan to dramatically increase our channel-centricity over the next few years,” says Jeremy Butt, Avaya’s new vice president of worldwide channel sales. That’s a job that Butt’s done before.

Butt formerly served as vice president of worldwide channels for Motorola’s enterprise mobility business, where he presided over that group’s evolution to a channel-centric organization. Under Butt that Motorola group moved from less than 50 percent of revenues through the channel to about 85 percent through the channel.

“It took several years to flip that around,” Butt says. And similarly at Avaya, “Our plan is to increase our channel-centricity over a number of years. There’s a sequential way that you go about doing that.”

The first step is a channel audit, according to Butt, “to find out our strengths, what we’ve got and what parts could use re-energizing. At this moment in time there’s a lot of opportunity out there for Avaya and its channel partners.”

One of the things Butt will look at during the audit is whether it makes more sense to increase channel revenues by recruiting more channel partners or by increasing sales through existing partners. “The latter is the first one to look at, but we are open to both courses of action once the audit is complete.”

Butt will also look at potential programmatic changes and adjustments to both internal and external educational offerings.

During any move to a more channel-centric revenue model, “You’ve got to be careful not to run before you can walk,” Butt says. “What we are not looking to do is suddenly flip all the business over to the channel. The channel may not have the capacity to deal with it today. You’ve got to make sure the channel has the capacity for all the different elements such as sales competence and technical competence.”

Butt believes the biggest obstacle to success is “muscle memory”—people get so used to doing things one way that it has become automatic. To succeed in a new effort, individuals need to reprogram themselves, he says.
Butt joined Motorola as part of the communication giant’s purchase of Symbol Technologies in 2006. He spent four years at Symbol before the acquisition and has served in various channel roles in the tech industry over the last 20 years.