Friday, March 16, 2012

ShoreTel Investor Day 2012 - takeaways and photos

My travels took me to San Francisco on Wednesday for ShoreTel's Investor Day event. Held primarily for financial analysts, a few industry analysts were invited, including myself. It was a great opportunity to hear from the management teams of both ShoreTel and their recent acquisition, M5 Networks.

I posted about this deal recently, and pulled a new set of thoughts together based on what we were hearing on Wednesday. That missive is running now on UCStrategies, and is part of my regular monthly contribution to the UCStrategies community.

Aside from that, thought I'd share a few photos from the event, which was held at AT&T Park, home of the SF Giants, who happen to be a ShoreTel customer. The weather was pretty dreary, but otherwise, I'd say this worked out pretty well all around. Enjoy...

ShoreTel CEO Peter Blackmore kicking things off...

M5 CEO Dan Hoffman doing the same - as per the really cool graphic above him - yeah, he's pretty much hitting it out of the park in terms of having built the cloud model into a successful business over the past 10 years.

Ok, now look carefully - I'm only going to tell you this once. This was during their demo showing seamless 4 digit PBX calling integration with an iPhone. They've got this trick figured out pretty well, but how about what's going on with the IP phone?

If you look closely, you'll see it's a Cisco phone - fair enough, since that's the standard endpoint M5 supports with their customers. However, now that they're here with ShoreTel, the branding needs to be updated, since these are now ShoreTel apps. So, as explained, this was the world's first example of a ShoreTel app running over a Cisco phone. Cool, huh? Maybe a sign of where the market is going? Time will tell...

Ok, these updates were really interesting guys, but hey, the rain has stopped, and being a die-hard Red Sox fan, c'mon, let's get to the fun stuff - the ballpark tour.

So, channel your inner child - you're 7, and your Dad is taking you to your first MLB game. Is there anything more exciting and awesome than emerging from the tunnel and the incredible anticipation of seeing the baseball field explode into full green glory for the first time??? Not a chance. This is probably the first time you've realized that TV is cool, but can't hold a candle to being there in person. Can you think of a more all-American memory seared into your brain? I can't.

This was a halfway experience since the ballpark was empty, and not even groomed for baseball. Still pretty cool, though. I'm in my sixth decade of taking in games at Fenway, so nothing new here, but it took me back to my one and only time seeing the old Yankee Stadium - during a Dialogic event in 2008. I had the same 7 year old flashback there too, so if you want to compare photos, here you go.

It's not everyday you get to wander along the warning track of an empty ballpark, so I took full advantage.

The bullpen phone in the dugout - not very sophisticated, but probably gets the job done. Memo to ShoreTel and M5 - this setup shouldn't be too hard to improve on, right guys?

This was fun - the telecom room deep in the bowels of the building. Don't worry folks, this isn't what they use today - it's what they used to use, and now it just sits idle against this wall. Pretty graphic reminder about how telecom has evolved, and I'm sure ShoreTel has done a good job reminding the Giants about how their Brilliantly Simple solutions are a big improvement.


Dave Michels said...

I think ShoreTel is going to have a big challenge converting M5 to their phones.

1) Channel: The Cisco phones in question are available and sold by M5 for near zero margin. The ShoreTel phones are not available via mail order and generally sold with higher margin. If M5 sells them cheap, ShoreTel dealers will complain.

2) Features: The ShoreTel phones don't support a separate EHS port. Wireless headsets won't work as well as they do on ShoreTel. Plantronics EHS cable actually has a mic to detect ringing.

3) SIP: ShoreTel phones are optimized for MGCP, it is going to take a lot of work and potentially some hardware upgrades to support SIP.

Should be interesting.

Jon Arnold said...

You might be right, Dave. I don't know the technical details of how the phones compare I don't think they expect to displace too many Cisco phones, and it seems pretty secondary when signing up new customers for cloud services. You're right, they'll need to resolve some channel issues and upgrade their handset to support cloud, but these should be fixable things. For cloud, it sounds like they're pretty handset agnostic - getting them to take the service is the important thing.

Joe Bjorklund said...

It may be naive on my part but I must believe that before ShoreTel dropped $150m that they worked out the feature benefit issues. They have proven their technical prowess so far and I have to believe that this acquisition was very well researched and integration of ShoreTel endpoints will be seamless. Just an opinion