Followup to the Acquisition: My Discussions with Polycom and Mitel on Cloud, UCC and Mobility

Cloud UC

As the dust settles and the AV industry has begun to ingest the news of Mitel acquiring Polycom in a cash and stock transaction valued at $1.96 billion, it has to be understood that this acquisition can truly re-define UCC in the industry, as well for other markets.

This is Mitel’s second acquisition in the last year, as the company acquired Mavenir Systems in early 2015 which led to the creation of the Mitel Mobile Division. The plus here with this acquisition is that with the added strength of Polycom’s audio and video assets, Mitel will preserve the brand.

The Polycom discussion with Jim Kruger, CMO

On Friday afternoon, I talked with Jim Kruger about the deal in terms of what it means for Polycom, the industry and UCC in general. We did discuss the Mitel side as well and came up with some interesting observations there. The first consideration was the joint cloud play and how the two companies would strengthen UC and cloud in the industry. Opex vs. Capex of course becomes a major part of that discussion as the enterprise is most interested in building on Opex models and reducing the need for hardware, which at this point integrators should be very well aware of.

In further discussion relating to the decision to be acquired by Mitel, he told me that choices have to be made in terms of moving forward in UC and cloud, where this compelling cloud offering in audio and video leads to extending past the standard audio visual integration. We agreed on the great opportunity presented for AV/IT integrators to advantageously deploy and scale solutions in the enterprise.

He also pointed out that many large customers don’t have a single solution, as well as the fact that they don’t necessarily want to rip and replace which is key to this overall joined cloud offering. Integration and interop are also key in this situation with all that Mitel and Polycom bring to the table.

One thing that we discussed was targeted to cloud business phone system and how this discussion plays in both the enterprise, as well as the AV integration space. We arrived at the point that selling cloud phone system solutions may be no easy task for the industry, at least as compared to videoconferencing, however the real opportunity in a combined cloud sell of this magnitude does speak volumes and gives integrators numerous options.

The real opportunity for Polycom as Jim told me is to sell video into the Mitel customer space, as he stated Mitel is the largest cloud business communications solutions, Mitel helps out Polycom in the European market where they have a strong foothold, where Polycom helps Mitel in Asia-Pacific where they have strong coverage in that market.

As for InfoComm, I asked Jim if Mitel would be appearing and he told me that there are no plans at the moment for them to appear in the booth with Polycom.

Mitel cloud communications

The Mitel discussion with Wes Durow, CMO

I reached out to Mitel on Monday for their feedback and on Monday evening I spoke with company CMO Wes Durow. Mitel is a global market share leader for business cloud communications and I was told by Wes that Mitel had just recently surpassed 2 million cloud business communications subscribers. I was also told that MItel reported record December quarter revenues, in which cloud revenues grew 44% and mobile segment revenues grew 73%.

We began with discussion on what Mitel believes that Polycom brings to the acquisition, and it’s very clear that Polycom’s market strengths in video and audio are true assets here, where Wes pointed to two particular Polycom technologies – Acoustic Fence and Facial Recognition. He discussed how Polycom provides the strong video asset for working with disparate platforms and services, and also referred to Polycom’s statement “Unleashing the Power of Human Collaboration,” in providing secure video, voice and content solutions for enterprise customers. Wes also points to how Polycom is a founder of innovations in certain areas in cloud and mobile.

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He also indicated Polycom’s business in Fortune 500 and Mitel’s profile in mid-market providing combined strength for the two companies.

Next I alluded to how the audio visual industry is very deep in collaboration technology, which of course includes Polycom’s solutions, and asked Wes what Mitel would bring to the AV/IT industry (obviously a brand new channel for the company) in terms of collaboration. He stated how most everyone starts from the desktop on out, however with mobility leading the way, the mobile approach to collaboration for Mitel has come to the forefront. Their application MiCollab provides the mobile workforce with:

  • IM, voice, video or full web collaboration from any location and on any device
  • Mobile-first design – all desktop functionality is available natively on mobile and tablet devices
  • Single point of access to all communications and collaborations tools

MItel recently introduced MiTeam collaboration software with messaging, voice, video, collaboration and more on any device (this is of course competition for Slack and Cisco Spark). Mitel’s objective with their collaboration solutions is to build a more professional path to cloud and mobile.

In terms of UC, we talked about how Mitel can provide opportunities for AV/IT integrators through white labeling hosted communications solutions, as this would give them a value added sell for current customers along with greater capability of attracting new client opportunities.

We did touch on Microsoft and talked about Mitel’s MiVoice for Skype for Business which augments Skype for Business capabilities with reliable voice and mobility. There is of course more conversation to be had concerning the Microsoft and Polycom partnership as well as cloud and mobile technologies building in Microsoft’s environment, which could potentially see this acquisition as favorable to that.

I also asked Wes if there were any plans to exhibit at InfoComm and as Jim had also stated InfoComm is not a part of the plan, mostly due to the fact that the transaction is set to close in Q3.

The main goal for Mitel with this acquisition? To create further advanced real-time video, communications and collaboration solutions for the enterprise. Partner resellers can, through understanding of an enterprise client’s preferred methods of interaction as well as workflow processes, deploy voice, video and collaboration solutions based on these.

Further thoughts

What Mitel would bring to the AV tech space in terms of communications, collaboration and mobility, along with Polycom’s solutions, presents nothing short of a huge opportunity. If you do consider yourself to be a unified communications and collaboration integrator in the industry, this combined solution set can certainly be advantageous as a part of UCC offerings to enterprise customers.

Though we still have to wait for Q3 for the transaction to close, for now a powerful combined entity has been forged through two giants in UC, videoconferencing and collaboration. That’s probably enough to put your mind to for now, however I find this to be a major opportunity for a combined cloud sell to the CIO and IT manager when it does become official.


Note: Take a look at FieldAware and Mitel Bring Real-Time Mobile Communications to Field Service Organizations, integration of Mitel’s mobile, real-time communications, cloud communications and contact center technology with FieldAware’s cloud-based mobile field service management solution – enabling large service businesses to offer a higher level of service to customers.