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Throughout the past six months, Mitel has continued to update technology and make adjustments to the resources it offers channel partners.
In late March, for example, Mitel updated its Mitel 5000 Communications Platform for SMBs with better mobility support -- an extension that provides single number and calling capability between desktop and mobile devices up to 10 associated devices in a group -- and an embedded conferencing tool that enables eight-party conferences and up to 20 conferences simultaneously. Its mobile device presence has been similarly growing; in early May, Mitel extended its Mitel UC Advanced mobile portal, which runs on Freedom, to Research In Motion's BlackBerry Playbook.
On the channel side, back in February, Mitel went live with a new partner program called the Technical Accreditation Program or TAP, which lets Mitel partners achieve designations in the categories of Voice, Moility, Contact Center and UC and receive better rewards from Mitel for promoting those specialties, including marketing and branding resources. Unique to TAP is that Mitel recognizes certifications achieved from other vendors with whom its products can be integrated, such as VMware and RIM. Mitel will also focus on greater vertical specialization for partners, according to McBee.
The changes to Mitel are gradual, McBee emphasized to CRN. But they're also clear.
"It's not going to happen overnight," he said. "We're going to be very methodical and very purposeful about how we go about doing that. But we're not going to be moving new business direct."
In the U.S., Mitel does about two thirds of its business indirect, and McBee wants to see partners as a "force multiplier" for the vendor. That doesn't mean adding a lot of new partners -- "We have a lot of good guys already," McBee said -- although Mitel isn't opposed to that, either.
"We have a pretty good regional, local network," he said. "But we don't have as many bigger regional or national partners, so we want to get a balanced portfolio."
What'll make him happy, a year from now, is if Mitel can successfully grow its top line and restore its credibility among partners.
"Operating margins and gross margins are improving," he said. "For a partner, if a partner does well, we do well. I think if we've got a good onboarding process and things moving really smoothly, we'll know it. We'll hear the positive reinforcement coming from the channel."
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