Mitel looks to expand Master Agent channel as part of global UCaaS drive

A new Master Agent agreement with TradeWinds Brokerage establishes Mitel’s first Master Agent in ANZ, where their UCaaS business is already strong. It leverages a U.S. relationship which is part of a growing Master Agent channel in that market.

Mike Conlon, VP Channels at Mitel

When unified communications vendor Mitel Networks announced in April that they were being acquired by an investor group that would take them private, they emphasized that the deal would accelerate their ongoing strategy of shifting their emphasis from on-site to the cloud, with UCaaS [Unified Communications-as-a-service], particularly their MiCloud Connect offering.  That transaction just closed, but Mitel has used the intervening months to expand their UCaaS business aggressively. Their most recent move on this front is a master agent agreement with TradeWinds Brokerage, to expand Mitel’s already strong presence in the Australia and New Zealand [ANZ]. The company plans further aggressive moves in 2019.

“The transaction just closed on November 30, but since the original announcement, we have continued to invest heavily in UCaaS, hiring additional cloud specialists and channel account managers,” said Mike Conlon, VP Channels at Mitel. “We beefed up our support staff and customer success organization. This has been our focus over the last six months, and we are continuing to look to expand our cloud offering. We launched MiCloud Connect in the UK and are looking at launching it in European countries in mid-2019.”

Mitel’s UCaaS business – at 1.2 million seats – remains much smaller than its on-prem install base of around 70 million. In the public cloud, however, they are number two in UCaaS, behind RingCentral, and if public and private cloud are combined, they are first overall.

“We are the best equipped of any of our competitors to fulfill customer needs in any way possible – public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or onsite solutions,” Conlon said. “Our portfolio is very different from both our ‘born in the cloud’ and traditional unified communications competitors. In public cloud, we are a solid number two, behind RingCentral., which has between 1.4 and 1.5 million seats and getting past them is our immediate goal.”

Conlon said that the last six months has seen some significant momentum, particularly in larger deployments.

“Our business in the UCaaS space has traditionally been in the sub-100 seat market,” he said “We are now seeing a nice amount of pipeline being generated that is kicking tires on accounts that are much larger than 100 users – more midmarket and enterprise.

Mitel has historically been focused largely in North America, but they have been putting much greater emphasis on sales in other markets in recent years, and that strategy has continued with the cloud. Last month they announced the hiring of a Vice President of International Channels, Paul Riordan, who will focus on growing Mitel’s market share in the EMEA and APAC regions. The new partnership with TradeWinds Brokerage will strengthen Mitel in ANZ, in particular, by developing a Master Agent channel. TradeWinds will be Mitel’s first Master Agent in the region, and will offer MiCloud Connect there.

“We have had a strong presence in ANZ before now,” Conlon said. “We had a presence before we acquired ShoreTel, and it was further enhanced after that. ANZ is our second largest cloud UCaaS region, behind the U.S.”

The U.S. market has a strong Master Agent channel, and the TradeWinds partnership has U.S. roots.

“We have a very solid strategy in the U.S., with 10-12 Master Agents, a core of whom are much stronger, and another 5-6 that we are developing,” Conlon said. “In the U.S., year-over-year, we will wind up doubling our Master Agent business. This Tradewinds relationship stems from one with Telarus in the U.S. marketplace, as TradeWinds is a Telarus company. They hired an individual to lead a Master Agent push, and decided to focus on ANZ first, rather than the U.K., which is more typical.”

Conlon indicated that the Master Agent channel is an important supplement to Mitel’s VAR and service provider partners.

“This channel has been continuously growing for us,” he said. “We take advantage of an established agent channel that has been in place for decades. The agents have been looking to diversify their commission streams. On top of traditional networking commission streams, now they can layer in UCaaS and SD-WAN. The fastest growing piece of their business is UCaaS. There is a large number of these agents compared to traditional VARs, and they can promote UCaaS to customers who may not have looked at it before. It’s a great lead generation engine for Mitel.”

Europe is the primary focus for Mitel UCaaS expansion in 2019.

“We are going to expand in some mainland European countries – three or four,” Conlon said. “We want to be very targeted. We will build out a game plan to accelerate to bring a public cloud retail offering out to that market.”

Conlon said that Mitel continues to look to expand its UCaaS channel in their Canadian backyard.

“We see a strong market for MiCloud Connect in Canada,” he said. “We are always looking for more partners who want to be a Mitel partner and focus on UC-as-a-Service.”

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