Mitel: Punching above its weight in Estepona.

A behind the scenes Comms Business report on the Mitel EMEA VIP Channel Forum.

The southern Spanish sun shone down on the Mitel VIP Channel Forum held last week at the Atalaya Park Hotel and Golf Resort near Estepona, where over 175 of Mitel’s top channel partners from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa enjoyed the hospitality of both the Mitel Networks EMEA team and the senior corporate management team from Mitel’s Canadian headquarters.

Chairman Sir Terry Matthews, CEO Don Smith, VP Global Marketing Doug Michaelides, Chief Financial Officer Steve Spooner and others from Ottawa were on hand to brief the senior directors of Mitel’s top channel partners on the company’s performance and future direction. EMEA Managing Director Graham Bevington and his management team including Enda Kenneally, Lionel Hovsepian and Gary Briscombe made sure the guests were well looked after during both the conference and the associated activities, which included a golf tournament, barbecue and gala awards dinner.

Opening the conference, Don Smith talked of the $17 billion world-wide market opportunity that was there for the partners to go after, and mentioned a raft of new products that were being brought to market over the next 6 months. He went on to talk of the growing attach rate for unified communications applications, such as unified messaging and collaboration. “This is where the channel can really improve the stickiness of their customers. They will find it hard to switch from a supplier who not only provides their phone system but all the higher-layer, business applications too.”

EMEA VP Graham Bevington spoke of his pride in a highly successful and growing EMEA organisation “We have invested in our products to take a leadership position in IP and Unified Communications and our partners with our award winning channel program. That investment is paying off”, he said, citing increased market share in the UK and the Netherlands, witnessed by statistics from MZA. Mitel is now a clear number one in IP Communications below 100 users and a clear number two in the total market for IP Comms.

Enda Kenneally, UK Sales Director, talked of the channel go to market strategy “Mitel’s UK sales strategy has successfully driven our growth over the last few years, what you are seeing now is the evolution of that strategy, not revolution” she said. “We will align our full range of resources to target both the SME and Enterprise markets with additional layers of vertical sector expertise. But no Mitel channel partner should have any concern – if they need support, they will get it. That way Mitel will be able to continue punching above its weight and driving further growth.”

The second day started with a joint presentation by Stephen Beamish, Mitel’s Director of Strategic Alliances, and Microsoft’s Dag Cummings, EMEA Unified Communications Business Development Manager. Cummings made it clear that Mitel was a company that Microsoft was happy to do business with and that had a strong position in the developing market for Unified Communications and he stressed that the channel should work with both when engaging with clients on their Unified Communications needs. Carsten Sorenson, a computer scientist and researcher at the London School of Economics then gave a lively presentation on “Organising Information Work”, which was enlivened with a number of appropriate video clips from the web site.

The conference element of the Forum ended at lunchtime on the second day, after which the majority of the guests took part in the Mitel Golf Tournament, held at the resort’s golf course in the nearby hills. Television personality and golfing aficionado Jimmy Tarbuck was on hand to partner one of the teams playing and later hosted the golfing element of the awards ceremony, at which prizes were given for a variety of achievement. An all-UK team won first prize (see photograph) whilst David Hamer of Redwood Telecommunications won the prize for the longest drive, a feat which he later credited to “gorilla arms.”

Two UK companies took the top business awards of the evening, with Azzurri Communications CEO Martin St. Quentin stepping up to receive the EMEA Solutions Provider of the Year Order of Merit. Austin Davidson, Managing Director of Aberdeen based company Nessco won the EMEA Distributor of the Year Order of Merit.

The event was enjoyed by all who attended, with many people commenting on Mitel’s focussed, flexible and friendly approach. Graham Bevington summed it up by saying “we are a company that likes to win, but we like to have fun whilst doing so”.

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