Mitel has been a hot topic in the UC industry over the last few months, particularly following its acquisition of UC company ShoreTel. This unique communications company powers more than 2 billion connections throughout the world every day. Not only that, but Mitel also has 3,500 partners and channels that allow it to serve more than 100 countries with some of the most advanced cloud strategies available.
As we move on from a year of disruption and digital transformation in the UC space to a future that’s set to be packed with even more updates and exciting evolutions, I caught up with Mitel to find out more about its strategy for 2018. Mitel’s newly appointed SVP of EMEA, Jeremy Butt, spoke to me about Mitel’s plans for evolving its channel programme and empowering channel partners for success in the future.
What’s Your Mission at Mitel, and Your Personal Goals for 2018?
After a long history of involvement with the vendor side of UC with brands like Avaya, Motorola, and Westcon-Comstor, Jeremy Butt joined Mitel as SVP of EMEA at the beginning of October this year. In other words, he’s been working in the role for less than two months, and he’s already looking ahead at what the new year will bring.
I asked Jeremy what his plans are for the company, and if he had any personal goals that he wanted to achieve as we move into 2018.
“I came to Mitel in October. Mitel is a name that a lot of people know. We’ve been in the industry for many years, and we’ve made several acquisitions of well-known brands. My mission is to drive our go to market strategy as it pertains to the marketplace, and how we intend to leverage and empower our channels going forward.”
How Are You Going to Shake Things Up in the Partner Programme?
In a recent announcement, Jeremy suggested that he would be looking for ways to “shake up” the partner programme. I was interested to find out what he meant by that, and what we could expect to see from the evolving company.
“Mitel has been in the channel for many years with many products and programmes. I’ll be looking to update our partner programme in a way that makes it more relevant for today’s market and leverages the channel even more.”
According to Jeremy, the partner community needs three things from a vendor to be successful:
“You’ve got the product itself, the programme, and the people. While we have a good reputation for those three things, I think we could get them working in better harmony so that we can drive even greater success for our partners.”
What Refinements Are Part of Your New Plan?
As unified communications increasingly gains traction, partners want more support from their vendors, not more part codes. However, Mitel now has a lot of codes and products in its kit bag. Despite this, it’s been searching for ways to consolidate its portfolio to simplify things for its partners. I wanted to know how Jeremy planned to continue simplifying things as we move into 2018.
“Refinement and simplification are definitely going to be a focus going forward – and that’s a global piece of work for Mitel to consider. After all, channel partners don’t go out of their way to find complex vendors to work with. They want simple investments that allow them to focus on what they’re good at. I’m a big believer that the success of a partner programme relies on clarity, simplicity and transparency, to make sure everyone understands what their responsibilities are.”
How Are You Going to Simplify Moving Forward?
Jeremy told me that although Mitel is focusing on simplifying the roadmap, he wasn’t able to share exactly where it was headed at this point – particularly after it’d only just acquired ShoreTel.
“The ShoreTel acquisition has progressed rapidly from a people integration perspective, and it has accelerated our position in the cloud. What we need to do now is bring together the best of both companies.”
Jeremy noted that consolidating things didn’t necessarily mean delivering a single proposition to the channel:
“You need to offer a number of propositions, so the channel can choose the one that best suits their model and customer. But, refinement will mean that we can be more cohesive and strategic with how we spend our R&D dollars. After all, staying ahead in UC is about scale and volume too. We’re operating in a very competitive market, and unless a vendor has real scale in its portfolio, it’s going to be very hard to keep up.”
What Are Your Key Takeaways from 2017?
One of the biggest trending topics that vendors have been considering in 2017 has been the growth of consolidation in the marketplace. Obviously, Mitel is part of that consolidation experience with its recent acquisition of ShoreTel.
Jeremy was reluctant to comment on any acquisition or consolidation directly, but he did say that they were reflecting this search for scale on the market.
“I wouldn’t want to be in this market without a considerably sized R&D budget. I think the winners for UC are going to be the people who can continue to get the volume and the dollars to invest. Eventually, we’re going to end up with a finite number of larger players, and the last year has been a sign that the marketplace is consolidating. There’s no room for people who can’t get the volume and can’t invest.”
What’s Your Best Advice for Partners in 2018?
Finally, I asked Jeremy what his best advice for partners was as we move into the year ahead. The first thing he said was that partners need to look for ways to work with vendors that are sizeable, able to consolidate, and ready to invest. “I know I’m bound to say that, but I do believe it.”
Another area he focused on was the move to the cloud.
“I think that some partners are getting this hard-coded message of “you’re in the cloud or you’re not,” but I don’t buy into that. I think you have opportunities to move into the cloud with the right vendor and the right strategy, and there are options out there to move at different speeds.”
Finally, Jeremy suggested that partners should avoid being constrained by traditional financial models.
“With a bit of creativity and financial assistance, there are plenty of ways for partners to get into a cloud-based model and make some transitions. People aren’t going to immediately move away from their on-premises platforms, and some stuff may never go away. Partners can use this opportunity to incrementally work their way into alternative offerings.”