Mitel Looks to Unite Mobile, Enterprise Networks

The UC provider wants to use its cloud and 4G LTE expertise to help enterprises bridge the gap in their collaboration and mobile platforms.

cloud UC

Mitel wants to sit at the intersection of mobile, enterprises and the cloud.

Officials with the unified communications (UC) vendor are unveiling an array of new and enhanced products and capabilities that are designed to address the increasingly mobile nature of today's world, where the line between consumer and enterprise technology is blurring and more collaborating is being done via the cloud.

They noted that a recent survey done by Webtorials found that more than 80 percent of enterprises do not have their business communications platforms tied to their mobile networks, even as executives and employees increasingly are using their smartphones, tablets and notebooks to conduct business.

"For many of us, the first thing we do in the morning is check our mobile," Mitel President and CEO Rich McBee said in a statement. "Increasingly, everyday business communications are initiated on a handheld device rather than a desk phone or PC."

Mitel's strategy is to use the growing capabilities in cloud and 4G LTE mobile technology to make collaboration on mobile devices easier and a part of organizations' overall communications platform.

The company has been working toward that goal since McBee took over as CEO in 2011, pushing in-house development and driving its acquisition strategy to fuel Mitel's support of mobile- and cloud-based collaboration. That vision was behind Mitel's $392 million purchase of Aastra Technologies and its $100 million cloud business in 2013, and the $560 million acquisition in March of Mavenir Systems, which sold cellular network software to telecommunications companies.

The latter deal came months after Mitel's failed bid to buy UC rival ShoreTel for $574 million.

"We saw the transitions going on in the industry," McBee told eWEEK in a recent interview. "It was transitioning to the cloud and, with BYOD [bring-your-own-device] going on in the enterprise, to mobile."

Other vendors in the crowded UC field also are making the same pivot to software- and cloud-based collaboration technologies, offering a broad range of products designed to enable people to communicate through audio, video, chat and other means whenever and wherever they want, and on any device they choose.

Industry analysts are seeing similar trends. Analysts with IHS Infonetics said in March that more than half of respondents to a survey said that, by 2016, they will be running at least some of their UC services over private or public clouds.

"Businesses continue to migrate their unified communications applications to the cloud, citing flexibility as the key reason," Diane Myers, principal analyst for voice over IP (VOIP), UC and IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) at IHS Infonetics, said in a statement. "Cloud solutions are inherently more flexible than premises-based solutions, offering businesses the ability to scale users up and down, centralize management, and deploy new features and applications quickly."

Mitel is now looking to use its expertise in the UC, cloud and 4G LTE space and its history working with service providers to drive the development of cloud-powered mobile enterprises. The company is offering tap-to-connect collaboration tools designed for smartphones—including Apple iPhones, BlackBerry handhelds and devices running Microsoft's Windows and Google's Android operating systems—that will use a mobile version of Mitel's MiCollab UC software as a common interface.

In addition, Mitel is working with carriers in North America, Europe and Asia to bring voice over WiFi services to their customers. Through the service, service providers can deliver desktop-like communications to any smartphone, according to Mitel officials. The company also is expanding its MiCloud platform to France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Mitel also is bringing greater analytics and integration capabilities to its MiContact Center products as customer data increasingly integrates with the Internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) environments.

Mitel's moves come as the company deals with the attention from investor Elliott Management, which is recommending that the company merge with video conferencing technology vendor Polycom in an effort to create a larger company that can better challenge Cisco Systems, Microsoft and other UC vendors and return more money to shareholders.