Mitel Business Partner Conference 2012: UC360 and Other Highlights
This month I had the pleasure to attend the Mitel 2012 Business Partner Conference in San Diego, California. I not only had the opportunity to get to know a beautiful city, but also to learn about the company´s direction, latest advancement and upcoming goals. Overall, Mitel´s event was very upbeat, with scores of partners carrying the company’s flag proudly. Healthy financial results, numerous product announcements, and revamped go-to-market strategies were among the highlighted themes in the event.
In terms of finances, the vendor report to have grown its position in all major areas of its business. Product revenue growth has been mainly attributed to the move to a software-based product industry. Growth in services revenue is attributed to a shift from the legacy, hardware-centric break/fix type of maintenance to the higher margin software and services business model. Mitel revealed that the company´s non GAAP net income grew about 67% for 4th quarter 2011 versus the same quarter in 2010. Also, Mitel revealed a net income as percentage of revenue of 8.1 percent year-over-year. Finally, Mitel´s international revenues grew by more than USD 10 Million in 2011.
Mitel also delivered several key product advancements in both enterprise communications platforms and endpoint offerings. While premises-based platforms have been strengthened with the additional features and capabilities in latest releases, the major stars here were clearly virtualization and cloud communications solutions. During the demo sessions, I had the opportunity to for hands-on, real time experience with Mitel Virtual Solutions. Besides taking a look at how MCD and Mitel unified communications and collaboration (UCC) applications are available as virtual appliances in a VMware vSphere environment, I had the chance to also test how UCC applications have been extended to the VMware View virtual desktop environment, with single sign-on to Mitel desk phones and Unified Communicator Advanced (UCA), including how the UCA softphone works within a virtual desktop environment. I have to admit it was impressive. Today, there is no doubt that Mitel has one of the strongest communications virtualization stories in the enterprise UCC market.
In terms of cloud-based communications, Mitel supports this evolution with a single, cloud-ready software stream that can be deployed in any type of architecture, including private-, public-and hybrid-cloud deployments, allowing easy movement between the various deployment models. With Mitel Anywhere, the company delivers platforms enabling service providers to offer everything from high volume, standardized business communications offerings to highly customized unified communications solutions. Two different service delivery models for public cloud versus private/hybrid cloud were showcased: Mitel Anywhere Cloud Communications Solutions and Mitel Anywhere Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
From a new product perspective, Mitel’s new endpoint advancements were the highlight of the event. On one hand, UCA for iPad, iPhone and Android complement the existing Blackberry client, and support the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend. UCA mobile clients enable users to control their Dynamic Status, view corporate contact details and presence information, access call history information and unified messaging, and dial over the corporate network using OfficeLink. With much build up, the surprise of the event was the unveiling of the Mitel UC360 Collaboration Point – a multimedia collaboration device for in-room presentation delivery and multi-party audio and visual collaboration. Specifically designed for small group meetings, the Android-based endpoint allows presenters to share information stored on a USB stick or in a cloud-based service, such as Google Apps or Dropbox. All participants can access the content being presented and interact through video conferencing using different types of endpoints. UC360 definitely fills a need many organizations have by delivering a robust yet cost efficient multimedia collaboration endpoint.
In 2011 Mitel evolved its go-to-market business model to become a predominantly channel centric company. The basic idea has to make Mitel an easy and simple company for partners to do business with. In North America, Mitel has implemented a “direct touch” sales organization designed to prospect for new business. Mitel fulfills this business though channel partners, with very few exceptions (i.e., customer stated preference). Today, Mitel performs 95% of its sales through channels and 5% direct in North America. In addition there are opportunities for North American channel partners to augment their service delivery capabilities (such as data center virtualization skills) by joining the Mitel Authorized Partner Services program (APSP) and reselling Mitel professional services.
Mitel's go-to-market strategy for international markets (EMEA, APAC and CALA) is wholly focused on an indirect channel model as opposed to direct sales. Mitel is a channel-centric vendor with sales, engineering, training and marketing resources aligned to support channel partners. Mitel works with a variety of channel categories based on specific country market requirements, market coverage and in-country resource. In some markets (UK, Netherlands and France) the channel structure is complemented by Mitel "high-touch" sales teams which provide vertical market assistance and business development expertise to support those channels in selling into larger enterprise organizations.
Going forward, Mitel´s key areas of focus will be to strengthen customer loyalty, elevate marketing to the next level, and modernize IT infrastructure. I look foreard to hearing about the company’s progress throughout the year and at next year’s Business Partner summit.