About this blog

News and analysis of developments in the enterprise communication industry and market with primary focus on Europe.

The author aims to tap into ideas, insights and thoughts of the readers to get varied perspectives.

Views expressed in this blog are solely the author's opinion and in no way reflect those of his employer.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


LG-Nortel offers a range of IP phones that work with Nortel's BCM and CS1000 series. Sold by Nortel's sales force, the JV has seen some strong traction for LIP6800 series phones over the past few quarters. Recently, LG-Nortel developed specific sets to work with Microsoft's SIP specifications. At their WinHEC conference earlier this week, Microsoft announced the availability of LG-Nortel phones for testing on OCS2007. LG-Nortel is relying on Microsoft's recommendation and sales success from Nortel's channel.

LG-Nortel is a dominant player in the small business market. It offers iPECS, ipLDK and NEXER product lines to the sub 150 segment. These products support LDP 7000 and LKD series digital handsets. In addition, the JV offers LIP 7000 series IP phones and two ranges of wireless sets.

Watch out Nortel!

I was reviewing Nortel Enterprise group's performance in Q1, 2007. The vendor registered a sequential growth of 18% on system deployments (47% y-o-y) in EMEA. Nortel enjoys continued success in emerging markets especially in Russia and the Middle East. Its growth in Q1, 2007 has been concentrated in the sub 200 segment. Its BCM series and KTS portfolio have been the most successful products.

One of the key challenges for Nortel is to grow its MLE installed base. While Meridian M1 continues to be successful, CS1000 series struggles to grow in comparison. Overall, Nortel's growth in this segment has been modest.

Overall, Nortel is in a great shape. Its Innovative Communication Alliance (ICA) with Microsoft is on track. The alliance has already launched a few solutions and announced several others to be launched later this year. Microsoft and Nortel are conducting joint roadshows in Dubai, Manchester, Johanesburg and Copanhagen in the next three weeks. Already, both companies have started working on listing tier 1 accounts to be targeted.

Recently Nortel enhanced their ethernet switching portfolio ERS 2500/4500 to support multimedia communication. This will help ICA provide unified communication over converged infrastructure in the SME - a very large and untapped market segment. In addition to premise based solutions, ICA has come up with a roadmap of hosted solutions involving CS2100, Microsoft HMS and Active Directory.

In addition to ICA, Nortel stands to leverage its JV with LG. At WinHEC earlier this week, Microsoft announced that LG-Nortel phones could successfully work with OCS 2007. Currently, LG-Nortel offers an extended portfolio of IP phones and IP based KTS systems (iPECS and ipLDK series).

My outlook for the vendor is positive. I expect Nortel to grow at 5-10% sequentially this year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cisco IP telephony grows in Q1, 2007

Cisco Unified Communication Group reported growth in Q1, 2007. Phone shipments that form their primary barometer grew sequentially by 3.2% and 66.9% y-o-y in EMEA. In the enterprise market, Cisco had a small growth sequentially and approximately 32% y-o-y. The large chunk of growth is in the SMB (25% decline sequentially and over 100% growth y-o-y).

Cisco launched Unified Communication 500 series for the sub-16 segment to cater to the new market demand. This product overlaps with the target segment of Linksys LVP 9000. In addition to the 500 series, Cisco launched Unified Communication Manager Business Edition for the 150-500 users. This software runs on a single rack unit server.

Over the past few quarters, Cisco is reaping the benefits of early wins. A large number of customers that have had deployed Cisco Call Manager are growing their footprint of Cisco IP telephony. Some of the large wins such as the Abbey National, Bank of America and State Bank of India require branch office connectivity; fuelling traction for Cisco Unified Communication Manager Express.

Cisco has seen a rise in the average selling price (ASP) of IP phones this quarter. I believe that this to be a one-off variation. Overall, Cisco faces a downward price pressure for hardphones. Also, there is a strong traction for SIP phones. R5.0 and R6.0 supports third party SIP phones that users can connect after buying a 'right to use license'. Growth in softphones have been comparitively lower than IP phone growth- softphone adoption is concentrated in larger deployments often complementing hard phones.

Cisco has invested in developing markets in Eastern Europe and Africa (both sub-saharan and North). Cisco continues to beat the average market growth rate. In the coming quarters, Cisco is expected to see increased competition from Nortel and Mitel in the enterprise segment. In the SMB market Avaya has been very active. They have launched a number of new products like Cisco.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Interactive Intelligence embraces mobility

The value of extending enterprise apps on to mobile devices has been well articulated. It reduces decision time, improves efficiency and therefore contributes to overall productivity. This is well known, however its value in the contact centre industry goes far beyond that.

Although the contact centre industry has introduced new communication channels such as e-mail, self service, web chat etc, customer service is predominantly desk-based. Interactive Intelligence Interaction Client® Mobile Edition has the potential to change that.

The Interaction Client®, Mobile Edition is a graphical client interface that supports the Windows Mobile 5.0 and Smart Phone operating systems to make Interactive Intelligence IP telephony functionality accessible via mobile devices such as the Microsoft Windows-Powered Pocket PC and the Windows Mobile Smartphone.

In the enterprise space, the inclusion of the mobility dimension makes Interactive Intelligence' EIC more compelling. However, the major limitation of the mobile client is its reliance on HSDPA for synchronous multi-media communication- a vital element in contact centres. As an alternative the mobile client allow data transmission over WLAN and voice over cellular network.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mitel acquires Inter-Tel: Its all about IPO

Last friday, there was news that Mitel announced definitive agreement to acquire Inter-Tel. I couldn't join the conference call that day. My curiosity was addressed yesterday when I went on a call with the senior management of Mitel Networks.

I wanted to know why Mitel bought Inter-Tel. Mitel is far bigger than Inter-tel. Both play in the SMB. Both are dominant players in the U.S. And Mitel has been dabbling with the prospect of an IPO for over a year now.

I asked Don Smith, CEO of Mitel as to why his company agreed to pay 57% more than Inter-Tel's net sales ($428 million) in 2006. The price-earning ratio of the deal is 27.8 which seem quite high when Inter-Tel has been growing by 3.6% y-o-y by sales and the U.S CPE market growing at 6.2% y-o-y.

Don said that Inter-tel was on Mitel's radar for some time now. He thought the timing to be right. Mitel had to face a proxy battle from Mihalyo for sometime-in the end Mitel walked off paying 10% over the last offer made and 8% premium to the last traded price of Inter-tel stock.

In addition to the acquisition of Inter-tel, Mitel announced its intent to withdraw from the IPO registration process. The timing of the withdrawl is interesting. InfoTech's research places Mitel+InterTel as the leader in the sub 100 segment market in the U.S and ranked two in the sub-500 market in U.S. I reckon this acquisition is all about the IPO. We shouldn't be surprised to see Mitel re-register for an IPO sometime next year. Whenever it does, it can value itself at Inter-Tel's price-earning ratio; that wouldn't be all too bad.

But then what does the acquisition mean to Mitel? During the call with Mitel, I learnt that there is low channel overlap. This allows to leverage existing relationships to promote products from both companies. It is believed that both brands will continue to co-exist. One of the significant advantages of Inter-tel is its real-estate (57 offices) in the U.S- something that will give enhanced direct touch capability to Mitel as it attempts to break into the MLE with its ICP 3300.

Is this the beginning of a trend?

There are several players in this market that are looking for partnership. Nortel managed an ICA with Microsoft. ShoreTel is taking the IPO route. Siemens Enterprise search for a partner continues. However, there is no reason to believe that Mitel's acquisition of Inter-tel will begin a trend. I think this to be a tactical move towards a successful IPO.