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Mitel & Talkdesk: Next Big Thing in UCaaS/CCaaS?

Talkdesk and Mitel chose the Channel Partners event being held in Las Vegas this week as the launchpad for a new strategic partnership. Via the partnership, Mitel’s new MiCloud Connect CX, powered by Talkdesk, will be available this month on Mitel’s unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform MiCloud Connect, and also available as an option for Mitel’s extensive base of on-premises unified communications customers. By the end of 2019, MiCloud Connect CX will be available as a tightly coupled, integrated solution with MiCloud Connect CX for UCaaS customers, and as a contact center as a service (CCaaS) migration choice for Mitel’s extensive global installed base of premises-based unified communications customers.
 
It was just eight months ago that I wrote, in Mitel Recalibrates Contact Center Strategy, how the company was doubling down on contact center. In that post, I reported that Mitel had added a white-labeled CCaaS solution to its contact center portfolio. With this week’s announcement, Mitel continues to recalibrate its strategy in several ways.
 
First, this is no white-label exercise. Not only has Mitel decided to go forward with a different CCaaS partner, but by issuing a joint press release, Mitel is signaling that it believes there is value in linking its brand with Talkdesk’s.
 
Next, Mitel’s earlier CCaaS partner’s solution was strictly “over-the-top” -- i.e., there was no integration with Mitel’s UC or UCaaS offerings. This is where the word “strategic” comes in and why the Mitel/Talkdesk partnership is categorically different than Mitel’s earlier OEM. The two companies have outlined three phases for bringing Talkdesk’s CCaaS to Mitel customers, the last implying not only integration but co-development:
 
  • Phase 1: Mitel begins reselling Talkdesk product to their UCaaS customers; UCaaS generally available April 2019.
  • Phase 2: Mitel begins selling CCaaS to UC customers (i.e., premises and single-tenant cloud Flex) in May 2019. In Q3 2019, Talkdesk product gets initial rebranding as Mitel.
  • Phase 3: Talkdesk product gets integrated with the Mitel MiCloud Connect UCaaS platform in December 2019. Mitel and Talkdesk explain that they are in the planning stages to determine what this integration will look like initially and say that it will continue to evolve over time.
 
While the timeline looks aggressive, in fact, Mitel and Talkdesk have already been working together for several months. During a joint briefing with Matthew Clare, director of contact center solutions at Mitel, and Tom Milligan, vice president of strategic partnerships at Talkdesk, both were proud to show the Mitel-branded version of the Talkdesk Callbar application (below).
 
 
A third, subtler, change in strategy is a commitment by Mitel to a single CCaaS solution for all its customers -- from SMB to large enterprise. It’s no coincidence that MiCloud Connect CX borrows most of its name from MiCloud Connect Contact Center, the current SMB CCaaS solution with a ShoreTel heritage in Mitel’s portfolio. As described by Clare, “Mitel will lead with Talkdesk as a CCaaS solution going forward.”
 

From a Talkdesk perspective, Milligan said that the two numbers in the graphic here to the right, Mitel’s global cloud users and its large number of selling partners, “encapsulate the extended reach Mitel gives us.” Milligan went on to acknowledge that some continue to label Talkdesk as an SMB player and this partnership adds to the company’s “enterprise street cred.”

 
As detailed in numerous articles both here on No Jitter and elsewhere, contact center -- and specifically CCaaS -- were front and center at this year’s Enterprise Connect conference. One of the key themes surrounding CCaaS is the role it will play both as a standalone application and as part of a broader UCaaS/CCaaS play. With this announcement, both Mitel and Talkdesk re-define their approach to this potentially looming opportunity.
 
It’s nice to end with one, but I find I have two closing thoughts. There are obvious similarities between the Mitel/Talkdesk partnership and the one struck by RingCentral and inContact in 2015. Four years later, the marriage has been a good one for both, but it’s hard not to recognize the threat of discord with RingCentral’s two contact center acquisitions in the past year. Asked if Mitel will offer Talkdesk’s recently announced WFM solution, Clare’s commitment is strong: “The goal is to offer our customers absolutely everything that Talkdesk has in their toolkit.”
 
And speaking of Clare, his path to Mitel may be worthy of note here. Clare was part of Mitel’s acquisition of its then contact center OEM partner, prairieFyre, in 2013. So, Mitel has a history of buying its contact center OEM. #JustSaying.