Unify Circuit: Where It's at One Year Later
The feature set looks the same, but not the pricing or go-to-market strategy.
A year ago last month, Unify officially took the covers off of its Circuit product, becoming the first mainstream UC company to launch one of the many workstream communications and collaboration (WCC) applications available today.
With Circuit's one-year anniversary just behind us, and the attention Unify garnered earlier this month with the news of its acquisition by Atos, I thought it would be good to take a look at how the product has been doing, what Unify has learned, what changes we should expect to see moving forward, and how Circuit might fit into the Atos portfolio. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Unify's Bill Hurley, CMO, and Jan Hickisch, VP of product management, regarding what's worked, what hasn't worked, and what's changed with Circuit.
Here's the quick upshot: A year since its formal introduction, Circuit has the same rich feature set but Unify is trying to make it easier to get the product into users' hands with new pricing and is being more aggressive with its go-to-market strategy. Read on for more details.
Until today, Unify had offered two packages for Circuit: a 30-day trial during which customers could try out the full feature set, and $14.95 per month for full access. This pricing plan was problematic. For one, post-trial conversion rates were low, lead times for converting customers were long, and many customers viewed the "entry-level" price point as too high. In other words, the pricing plan was limiting Unify's ability to seed the market with Circuit deployments.
To address these problems, Unify this morning rolled out Circuit pricing packages aimed at the unique needs of different buying centers. These include a:
- Free version for small groups requiring a basic, but robust, communications and collaboration tool. This version is available for groups of up to 100 users; it will support three concurrent sessions and provide 1G byte of storage.
- Trial version for proof-of-concept deployments. This is similar to the free version, but offers unlimited concurrent sessions for a 30-day trial period. Unify expects this version should have high appeal to its channel partners.
- Team package, priced at $3.95 per month, for line-of-business deployments. This package includes support for an unlimited number of users, six concurrent sessions, and 5G bytes of storage. It also includes PSTN conference dialing, meeting scheduling, service-level agreements, and browser support. This is a low-cost package for teams that need to have immersive, secure conversations integrated into their processes.
- Professional package, priced at $6.95 per month. This package comes with support for an unlimited number of users and concurrent sessions, plus 10G bytes of storage. It includes telephony integration, recording, and LDAP integration for directory services. The professional package is best suited to businesses that need a companywide immersive solution for customer and employee collaboration.
- Enterprise package, priced at $14.95 per month. This package includes the professional features, but has 20G bytes of storage and adds analytics, transcription, and support for virtual desktop infrastructure and contact center agents. This top-end bundle is for organizations that view agile communications as a strategic imperative and consider unlimited conferencing, support, and other features to be competitive differentiators.
In another notable change, Unify has revised its go-to-market approach for Circuit. At launch, the company had targeted four communities:
- New customers, via a "land and expand" strategy aimed at starting small and growing the base of users
- The existing Unify UC customer base
- Service providers, with the goal of leveraging this channel to create a white-label or Unify-branded service
- Rest of the channel
Although the company had a four-pronged approach, it initially had primarily focused on "land and expand" opportunity -- but, as I learned in my conversations with Bill and Jan, making progress using newer cloud-based sales methodologies with a traditional enterprise IT-trained sales organization can be difficult. Unify hired a new breed of cloud-based, dedicated "land and expand" sales people to find new buyers, get them to try the product out, and then expand their deployments. Unify reports that, to date, it has closed dozens of paying customers (those being distinct from internal users or partners).
However, Unify probably over-rotated on its "land and expand" strategy, and failed to put enough emphasis on the install base, Hurley told me. So after about six months, the organization pivoted, and Unify's traditional sales force is now more focused on closing Circuit sales. An interesting point to note is that Unify attributes some large deals for its OpenScape UC platform to Circuit being on the roadmap. Now that it has a number of wins under its belt, Unify said it is better set up to grow Circuit use among its current customer base.
Unify has more work to do on the other two go-to-market avenues: service providers and channel partners. While Unify has spent time cultivating relationships with service providers from Circuit's inception, it hasn't seen much business flow through this channel in the past 12 months. This won't be surprising to anybody who has worked with services providers -- the glacial pace at which they move is well known. Over the next few months, however, Unify does intend to make announcements regarding service providers as a channel for Circuit, the company said.
Traditional channel partners pose a different challenge. For a new technology like WCC, resellers require not only a rock-solid technology program but also use cases that articulate the value proposition. At launch, Unify had some theoretical examples but no actual uses cases. Since then, the company has been building a portfolio of case studies and said it now has about 60 to 70 to take to the channel.
Unify will continue with its "land and expand" strategy, but expect the company to get more business from its current installed base and channel partners moving forward.
In Atos's Arms
Atos, the Unify executives told me, is looking for Circuit to become the centerpiece of its digital transformation strategy (see related post, Unify Will Be Siemens' No More). Until the deal closes we won't know for certain, but other services, some of which come from Atos and others from Unify, could augment the Circuit sale.
In addition, Atos could potentially scale the Unify business and expand the reach of Circuit and other products into new markets. For Atos, which doesn't really have a channel, Unify could mean the ability to scale the business outside of very large organizations. With Unify's channel, for example, it could extend its reach into the small and medium-sized businesses.
Circuit is the right tool for the digital business era, and Unify has done extensive work over the past year to accelerate its adoption. Atos brings resources and a complimentary portfolio to expand the Circuit's reach value-add.