Next Stop - Orlando and ShoreTel

Election Day in the US of A, so it's understandable if you're not totally focused on the world of tech and telecom today. Quickly, I voted via absentee ballot last week and believe Obama will win - let's see how the day unfolds. If you like American politics and want to bask a bit in Obama's halo - which will either be very big or very small this time tomorrow - you'll definitely enjoy a flashback post I'm going to run here tomorrow that I wrote this exact time four years ago, from Dallas of all places.

Back to the present. Tomorrow I'll be enroute to Orlando for ShoreTel's Champion Partner Conference. This year's theme is titled "The Future is Calling for Growth" - it's a good slogan for ShoreTel, but probably a better one for Romney, huh? I don't think telecom can drive the U.S. economy very far, but as per their recent earnings, ShoreTel continues to post good growth, both from their core premise business and their new cloud business via the M5 acquisition.

The latter has recently been branded ShoreTel Sky, and regular followers here will know that I've written often about M5 and what this could mean for the company. You should also be familiar with my writing about how tricky it is to market cloud communications, as the underlying concepts and language used to describe them are far from consistent. Just look at how ShoreTel is describing Sky - "hosted VoIP and cloud unified communications". You could argue they're playing it safe and covering all the bases - some call it cloud and some call it hosted. Some buy VoIP and some buy UC. Fair enough, but I don't think most businesses really understand - or care - about the various terms here. Maybe I'm over-thinking this, but their core customer set isn't leading edge enough to parse these things, and too many terms may confuse potential buyers and slow down market adoption.

This is one of the questions I'll be looking for answers on from ShoreTel's leadership team, and I'll keep you posted on that as the conference unfolds. They're certainly doing a lot of things right, and if their momentum continues, all that's missing is profitability. Compared to how other vendors are faring in this space, this isn't a bad place to be and I'm keen to hear how they envision the future. Maybe we'll even hear some inspiration that the White House could use. Outsourcing telephony to the cloud looks like a pretty good idea, but I'm not a fan of outsourcing our jobs, so let's hope the next Prez can keep our economy premise-based.

I'll post here as time allows, but for more timely updates, follow me on twitter - @arnoldjon - and definitely on the ShoreTel feed - #shoretel12.