Change – The Only Thing That’s Constant
It’s been an interesting last few months in the UC world, especially as individuals move around from one company to another. Here’s a recap of some of the news and highlights from the past two months.
- Mitel made a $575 million offer for ShoreTel, ShoreTel refused the offer, and Mitel subsequently took it off the table, stating the refusal of ShoreTel’s board to talk about the offer. ShoreTel noted that “Mitel’s highly inadequate proposal does not reflect the value inherent in ShoreTel’s business, nor does it reflect ShoreTel’s compelling prospects for long-term growth and value creation.” While it looks like ShoreTel is off the table, expect to see Mitel continue its plans to consolidate the market through acquisition.
- Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALU-E) recently completed the sale of 85% of its enterprise business to China Huaxin, a Chinese investor focused on the telecom space. ALU-E has an aggressive agenda, and is looking to double the size of its business in the next five years, with the goal to be one of the top three players in the markets they go after.
- Avaya has been shaking things up and announced that the new home of the San Jose Earthquakes (Major League Soccer team) will be known as “Avaya Stadium” and that Avaya will become the official business engagement, communications solutions, and technology partner of the team and new stadium. I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about how Avaya and the Earthquakes will “deliver immersive, interactive experiences with social sharing to enrich the powerful connection between fans and the game.” This can be very exciting, and have huge impact on the fan experience.
- Mitel’s CMO, Martyn Etherington, will be leaving the company. Martyn had quite a ride at Mitel, as the company acquired Aastra, PrairieFyre, and Oasys, and most recently did a major rebranding, introducing a new logo and making a big marketing and advertising splash. Martyn is quite an expert when it comes to marketing, and taught me the meaning of ZMOT (zero moment of truth).
- 8x8 brought on Enzo Signore, formerly of Avaya, as new Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Enzo’s charter is to help the company as it focuses on the midmarket and distributed enterprises. During a recent discussion with Signore, he noted that he’ll be working to help the company expand 8x8’s brand recognition, bring in new channels, and verticalize the go-to-market plan. 8x8 has been very successful in the low end of the hosted communications market, and has been quickly gaining traction in the midmarket, and hopefully Signore’s experiences at Avaya will help propel the company’s growth.
- Speaking of Avaya, one of the nicest and brightest people in the industry has recently left the company. Brett Shockley, who was CTO for the past few years, has helped Avaya navigate through a tricky time in the company’s history, and is leaving the company in a stronger position. I expect to see Brett at the helm of another company in the next few months.
- Other industry changes include Microsoft’s rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business. There’ve been mixed reviews among analysts and industry watchers about the name change. While Skype has huge brand recognition and everyone is familiar with Skype, people associate Skype with fair-to-average quality, and for enabling grandparents to see their grandchildren. There’ll be some initial confusion, but in a few months, we’ll all get used to saying Skype for Business instead of Lync. Perhaps the greatest value of the Skype brand is the use of the name as a verb, as in “Skype me.”
- Unify launched “Circuit,” otherwise known as Project Ansible. Circuit is a web-based social business collaboration tool that enables users to have “conversations” that are persistent and include peer-to-peer voice and video, and screen sharing, while providing a “single pane of glass” for our communications. Circuit is a key part of Unify’s focus on the “New Way to Work” and a huge part of the newly renamed company’s strategy.
- Cisco launched “Project Squared,” a business collaboration app, combining chat, audio, video, content sharing, and multi-party meetings into a single experience, so as to meet the collaboration needs of teams at work. Built upon the Cisco Collaboration Cloud, Project Squared is a next-generation platform where users can start a “room” and invite people by name or email address, whether or not they’re a part of the organization, and can share messages, make video calls, or post files, which are rendered in the cloud and viewable without download.
I’m sure there are other news items I inadvertently omitted, so I apologize to anyone I’ve missed. In the UC industry, the only thing that’s constant is change. Stay tuned for more.