Shoretelhas kicked off its new channel partner program and begun its annual Australian road show ahead of the launch of its new virtualised UC platform. ShoreTel's ANZ MD Jamie Romanin says the new program is already seeing results.
“It’s about building deeper relationships with our key partners want to understand their key businesses more, what helps them get successful in the market. We want to help. We're being open and honest, trying to develop a community,” he said.
The unified communications company has been using a series of roadshows around the country to engage its channel partners, and alongside a new partner advisory council, has been ensuring the communication lines stay open - both ways.
“[New CEO] Don [Joos] has been the architect of the new channel program and the changes that we've made. We've been very good at clearly communicating that pre-launch, what changes are coming and how they impact our partners. And part of this roadshow is just another step in the communication strategy,” said Jeff Mattan, ShoreTel’s senior director of worldwide channel marketing programs and strategy.
January also saw the launch of ShoreTel 14.2, the latest version of its UC platform, which now allows customers to deploy Shoretel communications in a completely virtualised environment. Global senior director of Product Management, Rich Winslow, told ARN that the system is unique in that it balances old and new tech in a single web based management interface.
“If you’re a company that just wants the hardware appliances, go for it. If you want to put spin-up virtual solutions in your datacentre and dangle IP phones at the edge, no problem. You can also mix and match in between. We see that popular with companies that have a few headquarters locations, and those with remote offices that don’t have the IT infrastructure. It’s very easy to manage. This mix and match is unique to ShoreTel,” he said.
Romanin believes that this product mix is a sales proposition that has been very popular amongst its partners.
“We don’t put one foot in either side of the camp; we aren't only a premise company or only a cloud company. Look at everyone else in the market – that’s what they are. We’re very fortunate that we have both technologies under our portfolio, which gives us a huge advantage in the market,” he said.
“Some customers aren't ready to go all Cloud. It’s not for everybody. Certainly not today, even look five to seven years ahead, it will still only account of 50% of the [UC] market, according to analysts.”
ShoreTel acquired M5 communications in mid-2012, which provided hosted communications and contact centre services, a still emerging market. The company renamed M5 to ShoreTel Sky, and has begun rolling out the service in the US. Romanin says there are still no firm plans yet to roll out the service in the Australian market, citing a lack of demand, and a lack of Cloud market maturity.
“When we do launch ShoreTel Sky here it will just be a rounding out of the 14.2 offering,” said Winslow.
ARN pushed the team to comment on the recent Mitel/Aastra merger, which remains a key rival for the company in this region. Romanin was dismissive.
“I don’t see it impacting us too much. With any major merger like that, there is potential for us to capitalise on the disruption in the market, disruption within their own customer base, and in the channel in general. They’ve got some big decisions to make on their way forward and their strategy. I don’t see it impacting us in a negative way at all.”