Unify – Back on Track

By Blair Pleasant
9 Apr 2018

Atos held its Global Industry Analyst conference in Boston, with a day set aside for analysts covering Unify (a standalone division of Atos), where a group of analysts got to hear specifically from Unify, followed by a day focused on the bigger Atos picture. Regarding Unify’s relationship with the mothership Atos, representatives from both Unify and Atos affirmed that Unify is central to Atos’ Digital Workplace strategy, as Unify provides the unified communications and collaboration element, including team collaboration, content management, UCaaS, meeting rooms, and more.

While the Atos sessions were interesting (I now sort of understand blockchain thanks to Atos’ Nicolas Kozakiewicz), I’ll focus on the Unify portion of the event.

Unify’s financial picture is back on track following a couple years of less-than-rosy results as the company transitioned to become part of the greater Atos organization. As Unify CEO Jon Pritchard noted, “We were back to growth for 2017 in our core business,” adding that Unify achieved its profit target, and had positive quarterly revenue trends, while the company’s North American business also picked up some steam. The company also launched OpenScape Cloud in 2017, opening up new opportunities. Pritchard stated that growth is on target for 2018 based on several factors, including new sales leadership, a vertical market focus, a revised go-to-market strategy with new sales leadership globally and across key regions, and more cloud opportunities.
 

A big go-to-market focus area is what Unify calls the “whitespace” in established Atos accounts that are new to Unify and where Unify has good sales opportunities. Pritchard noted that Unify is winning in these “whitespaces” thanks to the trusted relationships that Atos has with its customers.

I spoke with Pritchard about Unify’s relationship with Atos, its focus on the digital workplace, as well as its North American activities.

Go To Market

Matt Thomas, COO, Unify Sales, discussed Unify’s go to market strategy and areas where the company sees the greatest opportunities for growth. Thomas noted that the company has a laser focus on direct engagement with Atos for whitespace business, which it addresses with a high-touch team working with the Atos team. Thomas also discussed Unify’s two-tier channel business for large, mid-market, and small business customers. The company is also focusing on vertical markets, including healthcare, public sector, telco/media/utilities, financial services, and manufacturing/retail/transportation. Thomas explained that the key growth opportunities are in cloud, vertical markets, contact center, and Atos whitespace accounts.

Product Update – More on the Cloud

Throughout the day we heard about Unify’s flexible deployment options, with public and private cloud, hybrid, hosted, and premises offerings. The company made it clear that, unlike some of its competitors, it’s not moving away from its premises business, and that the bulk of its customer prefer an on-prem or hybrid cloud solution for core capabilities. Expect to see continued investment and innovation in Unify’s core platforms.

There was acknowledgement that Unify is still a bit behind in the cloud in some areas, notably contact center, but that’s expected to change shortly. We heard several times that Unify will once again focus attention on its contact center offerings, and that despite its strong heritage in contact centers, the company fell behind recently. Several execs stated that there will be a strong contact center push going forward, and that Openscape Contact Center, which is currently available onprem and in  private cloud deployments, will be available in a public cloud option in the second half of the year.

Luiz Domingos, CTO, SVP Product House, discussed the Unify portfolio and roadmap (the latter was NDA). Jan Hickisch, VP Global Solution Marketing was brought in via video to discuss OpenScape Cloud, Circuit, and Circuit Meeting Room. Hickisch explained that using Unify’s CPaaS, customers can integrate third-party applications such as Salesforce into Circuit, and also make Circuit capabilities part of other applications.

In this video interview, Domingos, discusses the transition of the Unify portfolio to the digital workplace, Unify’s cloud strategy and offerings including contact center and Circuit, as well as the role of CPaaS.

Digital Workplace

While Unify represents a small part of Atos’ overall business, it’s an important part of the Atos Digital Workplace strategy. From the Atos side of the house, we heard from James McMahon, VP Head of Atos Digital Workplace. I was pleased to hear McMahon emphasize the employee experience, which is one of the areas I’ve become passionate about.

I spoke with McMahon about the Atos Digital Workplace, Digital Transformation Factory, where Unify fits within Atos’ Digital Workplace strategy, and what to expect down the road.

Summing it Up

It was good to hear about the progress Unify is making, and hopefully this trend will continue. It seems that Unify and Atos are a good fit, although I would have liked to have heard more from the Atos side about what Unify brings to the table (Note: Atos focused on its overall business as an enterprise system integrator and didn’t cover any of the companies that are part of the larger organization). There’s a lot of opportunity for Unify to leverage in terms of the Atos customer base, and for Atos to leverage Unify for its Digital Workplace strategy.

As noted, Unify is playing catch up in some areas, especially contact center and cloud contact center, and I’m hoping to hear more about the availability of its cloud offering in the near future.

The company also acknowledged that as an engineering and technology-focused company, marketing hasn’t always been its strong point, but it’s working to do more in this area. However, this requires appropriate funding and it’s not clear that the right level of resources will be available for the marketing and branding programs that are required, especially in North America.

Atos is doing some exciting things with blockchain, IoT, AI/cognitive software, and of course, the digital workplace. Similarly, Unify has always been on the forefront of innovation, as it was one of the first (if not the first) to market with a UC product combining phone calls, voice mail, e-mail, instant messaging, and tools for web, voice and videoconferencing (OpenScape), as well as a team collaboration offering (Circuit). Hopefully Unify will continue to innovate and provide interesting new capabilities, products, and services, which Unify and Atos customers can leverage to gain competitive advantages.

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