Mitel Summit 2019 - Some Kind of Cloud
With the theme “Powering Seamless Communications and Strategy,” Mitel provided an update on its products and strategy at its annual analyst and consultant summit in Dallas, while addressing “the elephant in the room,” otherwise known as its acquisition strategy.
Mitel CEO Rich McBee reiterated the company’s focus on the cloud, noting, “Every customer will move to some kind of cloud – it’s a matter of which cloud – public, private, or hybrid.” He added, “Customers deserve a choice – public, private, or hybrid – depending on each customer’s use case. The key element is to ensure we provide solutions for all customers to communicate and collaborate.” McBee noted that there are use cases for the various types of cloud solutions, as different types of customers have different requirements. While UCaaS public cloud services are appropriate for small to midsize businesses that prefer automatic upgrades and out-of-the box integrations, private cloud services are the right solution for midsize and large organizations that require control of maintenance windows, ad-hoc integrations, and so on. Mitel has offerings for each.
Laying out the company’s strategy, McBee stated that Mitel will help customers transition from on-site solutions to the cloud service that’s right for them. The next step after moving customers to the cloud is adding applications such as contact center, collaboration, video, etc.
Addressing “the elephant in the room,” McBee didn’t discuss Avaya specifically, but did reiterate Mitel’s consolidation strategy. Mitel looks at two types of acquisitions – consolidation and technology acquisition. McBee noted, “We’re not out buying to buy – we’re very methodical and we’re always looking.” When looking at companies to acquire, Mitel looks for companies that make financial sense, have low overlap, and are a cultural fit.
At the event I spoke with CMO Wes Durow, who provided an overview of the key messages, as well as an overview and update of Mitel’s products and some recent wins.
UC or UCaaS?
To help propel its cloud business, Mitel now has two business units – one focused on UCaaS, headed up by Daniel Ferrar, EVP and GM, UCaaS Division, and the other focused on Mitel’s on-site, private and hybrid cloud solutions, headed up by Bob Agnes, EVP and GM, UC Division. Mitel now refers to its products in terms of either UCaaS or UC.
The UCaaS division’s flagship product is MiCloud Connect, Mitel’s multitenant microservices-based platform that sits on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). MiCloud Connect includes Telephony, Teamwork collaboration with SMS messaging, customer portal, 6900 series phones, and the option to add on integrated cloud contact center services, notably Connect CX, Mitel’s CCaaS service powered by Talkdesk. Ferrar notes that being built on Google Cloud provides MiCloud Connect with the security, scalability, HIPAA/SOC 2 compliance, and speed to market required by customers.
I spoke with Ferrar and Daryl Reva, Vice President of Marketing, UCaaS Division to get an update on the UCaaS business and what’s ahead.
I found it interesting that Mitel has two divisions focusing on cloud, albeit different types of cloud. As Durow explained to me, while there is some redundancy in the two groups, they have different sales motions and cycles, and generally focus on different types of customers. With the UC division focused on converting the base from premises-based to cloud services and offering robust sets of applications, features, and functionality in public or private cloud, the UCaaS division is focused on driving a massive growth engine, targeting new customers that want a public cloud multitenant solution.
Regardless of whether it’s UC or UCaaS, everything Mitel does today is underpinned by CloudLink for services and application delivery. As Agnes explained, “We built a microservices-based platform that lets us create applications, and we just reskin them for the different customer journeys.” Leveraging AWS, the microservices are used to build applications, including Mitel’s Teamwork, MiCollab, MOMA, video, meetings, mobility, and so on, which all ride on top of Mitel’s call control platforms and can run onsite, or in a public or private data center.
Focus on CX
Mitel is all-in on contact center, and we heard a lot about MiCloud Connect CX, a full OEM of Talkdesk to power Mitel’s multitenant, public cloud CCaaS for medium to large organizations. For SMBs that do not require the robust feature set of Connect CX, there is the natively integrated MiCloud Connect Contact Center. Matt Clare, Director of Contact Center Solutions, noted that the Talkdesk partnership is going even better than Mitel expected, as it helped Mitel with joint UCaaS and CCaaS deals that the company would not have won otherwise.
When selling on the UC side (as opposed to UCaaS), Mitel still generally leads with MiContact Center Business, but can also offer MiCloud Connect CX where it makes more sense.
In this video interview, Matt provides an overview of Mitel’s contact center offerings. He also discusses Mitel’s partnership with Google Contact Center AI, as well as how Mitel is bringing unified communications and contact center together.
DX and Collaboration
Digital transformation and collaboration – two terms we’ve all been hearing about for several years – was also a focus at the Mitel event. Mona Abou-Sayed, VP, Collaboration and Applications, discussed Mitel’s video strategy and provided an update on Teamwork, Mitel’s cloud-based team collaboration service offered with MiCloud Connect. As Abou-Sayed noted, Mitel is working with ecosystem partners for its video offerings, notably Zoom.
In this video interview, Abou-Sayed provides an update on Mitel’s collaboration portfolio, including MiCollab and Teamwork, as well as video meetings. She also discusses how Mitel uses CloudLink to develop some collaboration applications and capabilities.
All in all, Mitel has made good progress in some areas such as MiCloud Connect and MiCloud Connect CX, as well as refreshing its collaboration offerings. I’ve always praised Mitel for its innovation, and there were some interesting new initiatives discussed, including one that can’t be disclosed at this point but should be very interesting.
The big question that remains is – what will Mitel do next, or rather, who will Mitel acquire next? Time will tell…