SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Eric Krapf | June 25, 2012 |

 
   

Has Mitel Got Its Mojo Back?

Has Mitel Got Its Mojo Back? CEO Rich McBee is upbeat in the wake of good financials and a settling-down of channel conflicts.

CEO Rich McBee is upbeat in the wake of good financials and a settling-down of channel conflicts.

The mood at Mitel's partner conference in San Diego last week was upbeat, with both its top executives and its channel partners expressing confidence that the company has made it through a difficult post-IPO period of tepid sales and knotty channel conflicts, and emerged in shape to continue growth even in a weak economy.

The conference's kickoff coincided with a positive fiscal 4Q financial report from Mitel, showing 4% growth over the previous-year quarter, and annual revenue growth of 3.8% year/year, to $611.8 million in fiscal 2012. The company also saw higher gross margins and net income this year. More significantly, Mitel CEO Rich McBee expressed confidence that growth would continue despite economic headwinds.

When I met with Rich McBee, he told me that the success has come because "The team is executing the plan," particularly the part of the plan that calls for Mitel to eventually move almost all of its sales to the channel. Channel conflicts spiked in the wake of Mitel's 2007 acquisition of Inter-Tel and assumption of Inter-Tel's channel, which then proceeded to compete in some cases with Mitel's existing channel. In fact, McBee's biggest applause line at 2011's Business Partner Conference had been his promise that "We're no longer going to compete with our channel."

Now Mitel is down to 2,500 direct accounts and will continue shedding these until only a few dozen remain with customers that it's not feasible to switch to the channel, McBee told me. That made for a much less fraught atmosphere for this year's channel conference compared with previous years.

It's also contributed to the increase in revenues, McBee claimed. He explained that Mitel partners are increasingly working with Mitel technical sales personnel that can be called in by the channel partner to help with the specifics of a deal. Given their broader view, these execs have been able to drive larger deal sizes.

In addition, McBee said Mitel is able to compete for more deals because it offers every type of product configuration: CPE as well as hosted services via its own Network Services Group, which has CLEC status in the US and has also been seeing increased sales in its SIP Trunking offering, according to Group GM Jon Brinton. And as they have since the launch of Mitel's VMWare partnership, execs last week in San Diego stressed their company's leadership in the burgeoning area of virtualization as another source of customer wins.

Having all these products in their portfolio means that, "Anywhere the customer wants to go, we can go," McBee told me.

McBee also told me the same thing that other vendor companies have been saying about their own operations: Sales of IP phones are strong and growing; he called Mitel's phone set business "very healthy." The reason is simple, he said: "Phone communications are still the lifeblood of a lot of companies."

The biggest complaint McBee expressed is one that's common to the second-and-below tiers of vendors: "We don’t get enough at-bats." Mitel will increase its investment in marketing to try and get more shots at deals and overcome what McBee called the "Mitel Who?" problem.

In other areas for improvement, McBee reported on a customer survey that concluded Mitel needs to boost its customer support processes, simplify its product portfolio, improve service responsiveness, and continue channel enablement efforts. Another goal: Grow the Mitel user group, whose membership stagnated during the period of channel conflict—channel partners had no incentive to encourage their customers to join the user group: Now, "There's no longer a threat that Mitel's going to take that customer," McBee told the audience.

All in all, Mitel wrapped up its fiscal 2012 and kicked off the new year on a high note. Recent market research reports suggest that the entire industry is in for a tough 6-12 months, if not more. If Mitel can eke out even modest growth, that may be enough to make it a winner.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.