Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | November 18, 2015 |


Unify Circuit: Where It's at One Year Later

Unify Circuit: Where It's at One Year Later The feature set looks the same, but not the pricing or go-to-market strategy.

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.

Pricing Revamp
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.

Go-to-Market Rethink
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.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
Zeus Kerravala on Google+


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.