Mitel Business Partner Conference, Day 1

Good start to Mitel's conference today. Over 1,000 partners here, so it's a pretty big event, and it's a great chance for the analysts to spend time both with Mitel's team as well as this extensive community.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a nice update session with Mitel's management team, and if you've been following Blair Pleasant's ongoing tweets, you'll pretty much know the story. That aside, here are the key takeaways for me...

- big changes since their last analyst event in 2009 - new CEO, new exec team, Inter-Tel merger now fully absorbed under one brand, now a public company, Freedom architecture is the new basis for their offering - no longer focused on solutions, bigger shift to the cloud and virtualization (VMware), and a stronger focus on mobility - esp with their RIM partnership

- I could just leave it at that - lots to digest there, and I'll touch in these things in upcoming posts

- lots of discussion about their roadmap to simplify the business, better align their channels and leverage their head start in virtualization - again will talk more about these later

- more focus on virtualization, and explaining how Mitel has success with the best-of-breed approach, and this is where they play very well with VMware - better than the bigger vendors who favor an all-or-nothing approach

- the changing role of VARs - glad to hear this - talking about how they need to be more consultative with their customers. Mitel is definitely ahead of the curve moving from hardware to software and now to the cloud/virtual world, so they focused on the need to aggressively recruit the right VAR partners who can sell converged voice and data solutions. Mitel has the offerings and they have the customers - pretty simple, but you know it never is.

- go-to-market issues - they were pretty frank about the challenges they had, esp with the Inter-Tel merger. This was a welcome conversation, and the exec team talked about they're re-aligning things, both regionally and by size of business. They also recognized that the brand needs some support - "Mitel who?" was the way they referenced this.

Lots of good ideas here, and the messaging around eliminating channel conflict has probably been the most warmly received, especially among the 1,000+ partners here. So, this basically means no more Mitel competing with channels - it's all about partnering now. Ok, as Phil Keenan is saying this morning, "if it's not working, fix it".

As a random aside, is it just me, or did Mitel pick this hotel because the elevators have a design pattern on their doors that looks a lot like their logo? Guess I've been in the sun a bit long, huh...