Mitel Rocks

Mitel Rocks
Don Smith

Comms Business Magazine editor Ian Hunter met up with Mitel CEO Don Smith at their recent ‘IP Telephony Rocks Tour’ during its stopover in Leeds and commented “Fabulous applications and great vision from Mitel but will users know what you are talking about and do resellers know how to sell ‘business process enhancement’?”

A road show such as this is a great way to impart knowledge to resellers in bite sized chunks; we have six application areas demonstrating how our applications can enhance user business processes and it’s not just about getting this message across to dealer principals but also to their sales people too. Thirty minutes at each of the six pods provides three hours of real focus on real applications that resonate with channel partners with no ‘slide ware’ in sight. We say, here’s the proposition, here’s how it does it and this is what it does for your business. However, if I went to, say a 20 or 50 person company tomorrow and said Microsoft Live Communications Server

(LCS) is going to change your world then I doubt they would know what I am talking about. A few professional services companies might, as would some verticals, and I am happy with that at the moment. What we have got to do is make sure that if LCS does become a requirement for them then customers feel comfortable in the knowledge that a solution from Mitel today will protect their investment tomorrow because of the way we have integrated with Microsoft LCS.”

“When we launched 6100 contact centre we targeted the application at the then sweet spot of 50- 70 agents as that was the fastest growing segment of the market. If you look at the demonstration we are doing today then you will see how we can scale up the application and how the XML scripting works and makes it all easy. At the same time we are making applications more tightly packaged as I would argue that even a relatively small business, without realising it, has an effective contact centre. We need to bring our products to those companies in a form factor that they are comfortable with. They may not need all the reporting and supervisory packages that come with Mitel 6100 so fine, don’t, as a reseller, position the product that way. But for bigger companies, position our application with MS LCS and CRM and they will see the value in the proposition.

“When Mitel moved to this applications-led strategy four and a half years ago you could ask ‘did we have the vision?’ and I would say yes we did. Did we have the right vision? Well you could debate that but I feel pretty good about where we have got to. The key parts of that vision are the things we are doing today and some of these applications our customers will need today and some they won’t. Many smaller businesses will not have the skill sets to recognise the business process enhancement potential of these applications right now as the applications may look too complex for them but the larger companies will be striving to achieve those goals. What we need to do is make the applications and their benefits far easier to understand for the smaller business.

“The most pragmatic example I see is convergence where XML is the lingua franca of IT just as SIP is the lingua franca of multi-modal communications. So if you want to mess with anyone just ask them why aren’t they the same? If it is a converged world why are the two standards different?

“We started to ship consultants our Mitel Teleworker application and people said, “Isn’t that a bit risky? What if it doesn’t work?” I believe applications should be ‘plug and work’ rather than ‘plug and play’ and you know what, the fact is that 98% of the time you plug a Teleworker application into a broadband connection it works first time. That is critical. If we achieved a lower percentage then we would get people saying hmmm… but in fact we get the opposite reaction because it works. That’s because we took the view we are not going to change the way that the Internet is – it is going to have foibles and they are not going to go away anytime soon. We accept that and find ways to make the applications work now. You still run into issues however.”

What about hosted or managed IP Telephony solutions?

“There is a potential, not proven, for the market to move in this way. We believe there will be many plays to be made; smaller customers can look at centrex (hosted in the network) and medium enterprise can look at hosted (ASP model) applications, and CPE at the higher enterprise end. Here companies will be worried about security and integration of business applications. The ASP model never really took off but today the applications are better positioned and with our 3600 we too are well positioned.

“This brings us back to the Mitel vision. What I want to be able to achieve is for Enda (Enda Kenneally Mitel Sales Director) to have the best possible routes to market for any particular way she wants to go.”
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