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 >>

Eric Krapf | July 21, 2011 |


ShoreTel Continues Its Steady Climb

ShoreTel Continues Its Steady Climb ShoreTel has come a long way on being aggressive, relentless and smart. Why stop now?

ShoreTel has come a long way on being aggressive, relentless and smart. Why stop now?

ShoreTel may still be a small company, but in many ways it's in an enviable position: It weathered the downturn and returned to profitability in the quarter ending in March 2011 (its fiscal 3Q)--a quarter earlier than it had previously projected. Q/Q revenues have been growing continuously and in the 30 percent range year-over-year, and it seems to be solidifying its market position: In the recently-published research from Eastern Management Group, ShoreTel was one of only two vendors besides the Big Two (Cisco and Avaya) to grow its market share in 2010 (the other was Aastra).

At ShoreTel's annual partner conference in Chicago this week, new CEO Peter Blackmore set the stage for the next chapter in ShoreTel's story, which basically is: More of the same.

"We're gaining every quarter, and I do not see anything to stop that momentum," Blackmore told the audience of partners.

ShoreTel has always positioned itself as the scrappy newcomer, consistently claiming that they can play with the Big Guys; Blackmore continued that by contrasting the smoothness of ShoreTel's recent path, with the travails of Avaya (IPO and debt) and Cisco (missed targets, falling stock price, closing business units, etc.)--"All those boardrooms and management teams are distracted," he said.

The window of opportunity won't be open forever, he added: "Eventually, those competitors will get their act together.... Let's not miss out on this opportunity."

Blackmore laid out a four-part strategy:

1.) U.S.--With an audacious claim that other ShoreTel execs would echo over the rest of the event, Blackmore said his goal is to get ShoreTel to 20% market share. ShoreTel execs were claiming a current U.S. market share of 9%, which is well above where independent analysts like MZA peg them. I'm highly skeptical of their market share numbers (not to mention the reachability of their 20% goal), but it isn't unreasonable to expect that ShoreTel can continue growing its share.

2. International--Here, Blackmore was more low-key, conceding that ShoreTel needs to take a more deliberate approach to growing in existing markets (48 countries currently), with an emphasis on where they're already strong, like the UK, Canada and Australia. "I need your patience and understanding," Blackmore said. "We can't go everywhere at once." As he'd told me earlier this year, Blackmore said ShoreTel will likely move in India before going after China, where he has extensive executive experience. "We're not ready to go into China yet, but we'll get there," he told the audience.

3.) Mobility--ShoreTel already made a big move here by buying FMC vendor Agito last year, just before Blackmore took over the company. ShoreTel kept all of Agito's engineers and its two top executives, and plans a "significant increase in R&D dollars" for mobility in the coming year, according to Blackmore.

In a followup session to his opening keynote, Blackmore said ShoreTel is sticking with its plan to keep its mobility component vendor-agnostic, rather than folding it into the ShoreTel platform and bundling the whole thing as a proprietary solution. The bet is that ShoreTel can gain more business overall if it gets Mobility into a Cisco or Avaya voice account, and builds a relationship that leads to future voice sales--as opposed to relying only on the ShoreTel platform base to sell Mobility solutions. Furthermore, the Mobility platform can scale from 50 to 5,000 seats, giving ShoreTel a quicker path into the Fortune 500.

Another reason for not bundling Agito into the ShoreTel platform was quite astute, and showed that ShoreTel is thinking beyond the current generation, even if most of its products are going into fairly traditional voice scenarios today. As CMO Kevin Gavin explained in a followup meeting with analysts, "We really don't want the ShoreTel brand to stand for PBXs, and certainly not small PBXs. We want the ShoreTel brand to stand for 'Brilliantly Simple'," he said, citing the company's ubiquitous tagline.

4.) Cloud--This was the least-developed theme of the four. Blackmore called cloud "both an opportunity and a threat," but made it clear he wanted to hear from the partners about what cloud strategy makes the most sense for ShoreTel to pursue. Blackmore noted that some partners are selling ShoreTel as a service, but left open whether this was a strategy he expected to be adopted more widely.

ShoreTel's is a 100% indirect sales strategy, so growing the channel is key to its success, especially since it "continues to be under-represented in so many parts of this great country," as Blackmore put it in his keynote. Later, in a meeting with analysts, he added that, "What we need to do is attract the very large Cisco and Avaya channel partners." He conceded that this was "hard," but said ShoreTel was at least starting to build a pipeline of "interested partners."

I still think ShoreTel's pretty unlikely to hit their 20% market share goal any time soon, but the company has come a long way on being aggressive, relentless and smart. Why stop now?


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!

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
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 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.