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Avaya communications has been in Japan since the 1990s. Avaya was originally a division of AT&T called GBCS (Global Business Communications Systems). GBCS was spun off with the Network Systems Division of AT&T (Central Office equipment) to become Lucent Technologies in 1995 (officially in 1996). Avaya was again spun off from Lucent on 30 September 2000.

AT&T GBCS -> Lucent Technologies BCS -> Avaya Communications

AINEO Networks has people who have been trained on Avaya systems since 1994. Working with the systems from the time when they were standard TDM switching (PBX) to the advent of voice over IP and IP PBX systems. We started with the Definity and have moved on with the Prologix, IP Office, as well as the S8300 and S8700 series systems.


Avaya systems are excellent. The products are well made, relatively easy to configure, and great to support. Avaya is the best call center (customer care, contact center, ACD, whatever you want to call it) solution on the market. This is especially true in Japan where the options have been Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, NEC, Fujitsu, and a number of other Japan-based technology firms.

In the Japanese market, NEC has done an excellent job catching up on making a good ACD. Nortel’s Meridian and CS1000 systems are great as well. The problem is Nortel seems to be losing momentum even though their Symposium skills-based ACD solution is just as good and in some ways better than Avaya. According to the Nemertes Report, Avaya is the innovator. However, Avaya has some issues in Japan.

There are some flops in their strategies. For example, they introduced the IP Office to the market, but within a year had pulled it. This was not a surprise to us at AINEO (a similar thing had happened with a VoIP system they brought in from the UK). Although we had been to training, we are used to this type of wishy-washy product introductions in the market and thankfully had not committed much resource to the IP Office product yet as we had anticipated the Avaya withdrawal.

The systems available are excellent, but they are also very expensive compared to other solutions. There is also an overabundance of distributors usually bidding over a limited number of sites. Avaya also does some direct sales as well, so this discourages distributors as Avaya is trying to do an indirect and a direct sales model (for very large sites) at the same time. This works in Nortel`s favor in Japan. Although, Nortel does not have the new sales numbers of the past, they certainly have the largest user base in Japan.

For IP telephony in the multinational market, Avaya is losing big time to Cisco (see chart). Cisco’s Call Manager has become popular with US investment banks and many other firms. Cisco`s call center solution is pathetic compared to Avaya and Nortel Networks. It has a way to go, but we expect with Cisco’s financial standing that will come soon enough. The problem is that adding voice to a router is a “bolt-on” solution. IP Telephony should be designed as a telephone system from the beginning to get all the features and reliability of the telephone systems. The street goes both ways as you see the traditional PBX suppliers (Avaya, Nortel, NEC, Siemens, Fujitsu, Panasonic) add IP to their traditional TDM switching.

Who is buying Avaya in Japan? Well, the answer is mostly non-financial multinationals and some Japanese telemarketers. There are a few exceptions as some Avaya dealers have special relationships with power companies, trading companies, and so forth. AINEO normally recommends Avaya as budgets allow and as appropriate to the users. The financial firms have gone full roar with Cisco and an occasional Nortel Networks system sprinkled in. Nortel has a huge installed base in Japan as they were the first PBX to Japan and went through all the localization pains early in the late 1980s.

Avaya systems are great. AINEO is very committed with certified engineers, support for many sites, and many years of experience with the systems. AINEO has engineers with a lot of experience we can put to work for our clients as we have engineers trained in Installation and Maintenance since 1994. We actually also work with Nortel, NEC, and Cisco systems. Avaya is the best choice for the call center, however it is not the most cost effective.

If you are looking for skills-based routing then the next step from Avaya is probably Nortel. They have the largest installed base as a foreign manufacturer in Japan. Even though AINEO has been the smallest distributor (this is quickly changing as our team is growing), we have continually won Nortel bids against much larger Japanese companies. Our strength is that we are BQF, which is the main reason AINEO is selected. People realize it is not just about selecting a platform. It is about the people behind it and a 5-7 year relationship that starts with the install of the system.

There are many other choices for voice systems. Unfortunately, there is not a perfect solution for any business. Our strength is selecting the right system based on the business needs and budgets. Please contact us (here)and one of our consultants would be happy to hear about your business and make an appropriate recommendation that suits your business and budget.