Partner shows are a great way for us to gain exposure to the partner channel and the ShoreTel Partner show of 2015 was no exception. After a two year hiatus, the ShoreTel partner conference made a triumphant return by hosting about 1100 attendees at the Gaylord Palms Resorts in Orlando, Florida. This week Doug Tolley and Roger Blohm give us their show recaps.
LVM participated as a sponsor, and as usual were impressed with the overall quality of the partners that attend this event. And best of all, our Managed Services for Unified Communications message was well received as we talked to partners from Australia to South Africa, Ireland to Canada, and everywhere in between.
There was some great content and incredible meetings, but these are the reflections that stuck with me:
- ShoreTel’s Target Market is SMB. From the opening keynote until the closing bells the entire conference consistently and methodically reinforced the message that their target customers will have 5,000 users and less. ShoreTel’s CEO Don Joos stated that 86% of the market fits this category and they would be pursuing this market. While they didn’t completely surrender the enterprise to Avaya and Cisco, they made it clear where their focus would be.
- ShoreTel ONE. ShoreTel also announced the completion of merging their on-premise solution with their long time cloud based solution ShoreTel Sky. The real power of this single platform lets companies deploy premise or cloud in a hybrid environment seamlessly, and it allows them to switch and adapt the solutions. This has merit and is an impressive, market-leading idea. ShoreTel also warmly embraced the on premise business that makes up between 60 and 80% of their revenue, while making it clear most—if not all—growth would come from their cloud systems.
- ShoreTel Connect. ShoreTel announced their new Connect product but didn’t have many of the ideas completely defined. Single click message and communication from the single client seemed to be a necessary step to stay relevant in the market, but the results of how this helps or impacts the business will be determined as they launch this product to market.
- Competitors. I was surprised by ShoreTel’s lack of discussion about the market and their competitors. I was hoping to see what they thought about how to compete with Cisco, Avaya, and Microsoft, but I heard very little along those lines. Even on the cloud side, I heard very little on how they planned to move from what they claimed was third place in the hosting market and surpass 8×8 and Ring Central.
- Recurring Revenue for ShoreTel Partners. ShoreTel started giving more advice to their partners on recurring revenue, and not surprisingly, the primary advice is related to their cloud based offering. I think they came up short in terms of talking about anything but a different sales model for the phones they want to sell. I was hoping they would touch on creating a true solution that had to do more with the customer business decision and not just a single new revenue source of cloud based phone system.
I started my career in voice and collaboration selling and supporting ShoreTel phone systems. I have always thought they were an impressive product and liked the approach to the market and technology. I found it interesting they thought they needed to reinvent themselves, but it was clear they had made changes in management and direction to support this idea.
It is certainly hard to argue with the passion of their partners, and as they all wore orange on the last day, it was clear that most if not all of them still believe in the brand and are excited about its future.