Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mitel Analyst Conference - Day 1

I'm at Mitel's analyst event right now, and things got underway this morning. Overall, the messaging has been quite positive, with the executive team providing various updates on Mitel's strategy, product roadmap, integration with Inter-Tel and views on the competitive landscape. Their CFO, Steve Spooner also provided a financial update, but that's not for broadcast. What I can say is that Mitel is pretty sound financially, and is performing on par or better than its peers, so in this market, I'd say they're doing just fine.

CEO Don Smith started things off, focusing on three key market themes for Mitel. First is Unified Communications, built around the trend that end users are using all kinds of convergence tools and technologies, and will use them more effectively when they're all integrated under one solution. Second is SaaS - software as a service - and Don touched on the idea that they can support a wide variety of subscription based services for businesses. Instead of offering one package for everyone, he sees more opportunity in a flexible model where various subscription packages can be offered that suit the customer's specific needs, whether it be a subset of features, or scaling up for seasonal needs. His third area of focus was disaster recovery and business continuity - definitely strong selling points for any hosted service these days.

We saw a variety of demos and product roadmap updates - including the just-announced VMware partnership, but for my money, Paul Butcher's segment was the most engaging. Instead asking all the analysts what we thought the market trends were, he gave us his take on the competitive landscape, and where Mitel fits. He covered most of the usual suspects, with his thoughts on which ones keep him up the most at night. We also had a lively discussion about Nortel's likely fate, but I think it's best to leave the details off the table for now.

If there's one key theme to leave you with is how much Mitel sees itself - and is positioning itself - as a software company. There was just as much talk - if not more - about virtualization, SaaS, data centers, hosted services, FMC, software licensing, etc. - than IP PBXs. It's pretty clear to me they have a strong vision about this, and I'd say the long term payoff will depend largely on cultivating the right channel partners who can sell this into the business market. And keep an eye on what Mitel is doing with virtualization, especially in tandem with VMware and Sun Microsystems. This looks pretty promising.

Later on we'll be visiting the Partner Forum, where their technology partners will be exhibiting. I'll have another post on that tomorrow, hopefully before we fly out.

Don Smith

Paul Butcher

I could get used to this...

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