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Mitel Makes Big Play in Mobile Enterprise

You may connect the name "Rich McBee" to Mitel, and call him CEO. But when McBee took the stage yesterday at the company's "Mitel Next" customer event, he did so under another title: Chief Mobile Enterpriser. With proclamations such as "mobility changes everything -- absolutely everything," it's no wonder he's adopted the new moniker.

Mitel is in the process of reinventing itself -- something the company has been quite good at doing throughout its 42-year history, McBee said. This time around, the innovation and reinvention is around mobility.

Calling Mitel "unique" for its strength in three seamlessly intercepting businesses -- cloud, enterprise communications, and mobile -- McBee touted the company's ability to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the intensifying desire within enterprises to be mobile-enabled. "You know, the reality is, enterprise mobility has been around for a little bit of time. But enterprise mobility is not a mobile enterprise," he said.

Mobile-first MiCollab app

The reality is that the more people within an enterprise who start to use wireless services, the more the bandwidth starts to decay and, sometimes, disappears altogether, he continued. "The reality is, when you think about mobile enterprise, it's a whole different paradigm -- because you're using a mobile network. And embedded in that mobile network is a connected call and policy management that makes sure of the quality of the call connected. And that is a subtle different, but we think it's a transformational difference."

And so McBee outlined Mitel's strategic vision for how it plans on advancing real-time communications by bringing together its cloud, enterprise communications, and mobility technology platforms. The goal is to enable the true mobile enterprise, cutting the ties to physical locations and assuring seamless handoffs between enterprise and mobile networks, as Martin Bitzinger, general manager for Mitel's global enterprise business, shared with me in a briefing yesterday.

Bringing together this vision requires backend technology as well as the frontend user experience -- and Mitel is working on both, said Bitzinger, who is on tap to provide details on mobile-enabling workforces during a webinar hosted by No Jitter/Enterprise Connect next Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 2:00 p.m. ET (register here). To start, the cloud delivery model needs to change, he said.

The transition from TDM-based to IP-based LTE mobile networks together with IMS technologies is enabling delivery of services, even sophisticated UC services, directly from the network the backend brings advantages, Bitzinger said. One big advantage is the native integration of mobile phones with cloud solutions, allowing mobile carriers to package cloud services with mobile phone contracts, for example. That's the technical aspect of the company's vision, which Mitel comes to in large part via its March acquisition of Mavenir Systems, which provides software-based networking solutions for mobile carriers, he noted.

As for the user aspect, "clearly people want to use their mobile phones ... to handle their business, and providing a good user experience around those devices and those technologies is key for delivering a successful cloud solution," Bitzinger said.

He gave three examples of how mobility works within a mobile-enabled, cloud-first enterprise:

Mitel believes the mobile cloud, through the support of native capabilities such as these, will not only solve a "longtime deficit" when it comes to enterprise user adoption of UC, but also prove critical for future success, he added.

To support its mobile enterprise vision, Mitel announced a handful of products. Chief among them is a mobile-first version of the company's MiCollab UC software. Mitel has optimized the MiCollab mobile client to provide advanced presence, company directory, and tap-to-connect communications and collaboration features for Apple, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry mobile devices.

In addition, it announced:

The key takeaway for enterprises, Bitzinger said, is that they can start using mobile technologies now to future-proof existing communications and collaboration platforms. The future, he added, is going to be uniquely mobile.

You can catch the Mitel event keynotes here, and don't forget to join Bitzinger and his colleague Terry McCabe, CTO of Mitel's Mobile Division, along with Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, for the webinar, "Mobile-Enable Your Workforce and Unleash Your Business." (Register now, and attend on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 2:00 p.m. ET.

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