The channel rules Avaya – that’s the message at the 2010 Global Sales and Americas Partner Conference, being held this week in Nashville. Here are some observations live from the conference.

In the general session held today, Avaya President and CEO Kevin Kennedy vowed the channel is now front and center in every business process at Avaya, which required a retooling of the company and its collective mindset.

“In 2009, we implemented a number of changes to the company to get to where we think we need to be,” which included implementing business unit structures, launching a channel-centric go-to-market strategy, and introducing channel-enabled services strategy, Kennedy said. “In any weaker company, if these initiatives were not implemented correctly they could have brought down the company. We have spent the last year in survival mode, but we are now poised for growth.”

He noted that 2009 was a “year of survival, not of growth,” but through an increased channel focus and an internal hunkering down, Kennedy noted Avaya has weathered the worst of the economic storm. “We have a lot of work ahead. But we have a strategy in place,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully you’ll see better alignment.

“Our channel focus is not a sales strategy, it is a company strategy. I believe a lot of dissonance has passed from when we made that announcement a year ago,” he said. “Each and every leader in the organization is committed to making this happen. We realize that in order to succeed, we need to invert the pyramid and make 85 percent of our sales indirect and 15 percent direct. We believe with the Nortel acquisition we can achieve that in the next year.”

Ah, a mention of Nortel Networks' enterprise division. As you may recall, Avaya won an auction to acquire Nortel's enterprise business. The Canadian government is reviewing the deal. I'll be back shortly with Avaya's thoughts on the pending deal.

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