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Mitel Analyst Day 2017: Exclusive Interview with CEO Rich McBee

March 07, 2017

I’m live blogging today from Mitel Analyst Day 2017 where the company is talking about all the exciting things happening in the space and the future outlook.

I caught up with CEO Rich McBee for an exclusive interview where we chatted about emergency notification tech and how was purchased from Benbria - recall Sir Terry Matthews talking about the company he launched at ITEXPO.

Since this was Mitel's analyst day naturally they are going to focus on the positives - what I wanted to achieve was balance - so readers can get a fair perspective. So I asked Rich about the various competitors to get his feedback.

I mentioned that analysts believe Microsoft's Skype for Business will "own" the Fortune 1,000.  And wanted to hear his take on how Mitel competes. He responded that the call quality isn't great for Microsoft in large installs while acknowledging the systems are generally bulletproof for texting and other functions such as Office integration. He also noted they will continue to coexist with Microsoft by providing the call path solutions. 

I also mentioned to Rich that the cloud communications keynote panel at ITEXPO had only a few people in the audience of many hundreds who said they planned on switching out Avaya due to the bankruptcy.

His thoughts on this are that the latest data he has seen shows Avaya losing a lot of share last quarter. Moreover, he says Avaya customers are generally on the leading edge. Finally, he said that every vendor has a program to take Avaya customers and steal their channel partners.

From there I asked about competition with Cloud Providers such as Vonage and RingCentral - the UCaaS players. He said not everyone wants a true hosted solution and explained that for companies under 70-100 people, with little infrastructure, cloud makes sense but as companies grow to 100-500 they can handle the phone system within their current IT infrastructure.

Above 500, he said, is a strategic long-term decision on whether to buy or rent and procurement helps make the decision. He concluded that in 22-24 months of paying for cloud, you could have just purchased a system.

At the aforementioned ITEXPO panel, Mark Straton of Broadsoft also made a bold prediction - the future will be Broadsoft versus Microsoft - ostensibly - everyone else will be gone.

Rich countered this statement by saying 50 percent of carriers aren't selling Broadsoft - they are selling solutions like Cisco and Avaya and in 30 countries around the world, multiple carriers are reselling Mitel. These companies he said aren't going to easily give their customers to Broadsoft or Microsoft.

He concluded by saying, "If Broadsoft is going to dominate the world, they better get moving on it.”

As a closing statement, Rich said Mitel is all about the applications and the change they are seeing in the market is that customers are choosing vendors because of these applications, allowing them to expand their market share while keeping current customers happy.

For more on today’s happenings from the event check out my live blog HERE.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi