Page 2 of 3
The other major move Alcatel-Lucent's Spencer described was getting the enterprise business unit's direct and indirect channel sales teams not only on the same page, but actively collaborating.
"The direct side would go sell directly, and the channel side would go out and sell through partners, and there was no cohesiveness -- no team approach to any of that," Spencer said. "Quite honestly, one of the first things we did was make the significant announcement that we are one enterprise unit. The channel and direct side need to work in concert, through the channel partners, to bring in opportunities."
Improvements are showing up in the enterprise business unit's balance sheet. Revenue is up 17 percent year to date, with a 31 percent increase in bookings, Vasilakis told CRN, and many customers are now buying two or three times a year. Vasilakis is confident the unit, which is at about $200 million in revenue now, can hit $500 million within two years.
"When you're selling hardware, it's a commodity, so what you're selling is really the services around it. People buy based on how convenient it was to do business and what their total cost of ownership is," Vasilakis said. "We have the results we have now because we've been able to attract talent both internally and externally, and attract partners, and get them trained and enabled."
A few other things have happened to improve the focus on enterprise. One was Alcatel-Lucent's recent divestiture of Genesys, the contact center business that's once again a separate company, acquired by Permira and Technology Crossover Ventures for about $1.5 billion in a deal that closed Feb. 1.
The sale of Genesys ended distraction on several levels, not the least of which was the speculation that it was Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise unit that would be sold.
"The product focus now is really on the mobile user and on the fixed user, and the efficiencies of those two working together," Vasilakis explained. "We don't have the confusion around needing to talk up a flagship call center product because not everyone was interested in that."
Some of the major Alcatel-Lucent enterprise faces also have changed. Spencer joined the company in October 2011 following a year as vice president of North America channels at Mercury Payment Systems, but he's best known, particularly in the telecom channel, for the 11 years he spent at Qwest Communications, six of them as channel chief. He's since added other talent such as Nicole Copeland, who has worked in Alcatel-Lucent's carrier businesses since April 2005 but in March of this year came over to the enterprise channel team as director of marketing.
There's fresh blood in the mothership, too. In late January, Alcatel-Lucent named Michel Emelianoff its new vice president, enterprise, replacing former enterprise chief Tom Burns. Emelianoff had been vice president and general manager of Alcatel-Lucent's data and security solutions business, and has been with the company, and its predecessor, since 1998. Emelianoff knows channel, Spencer and Vasilakis said -- he ran Alcatel's enterprise voice business unit from 2003 to 2007.
"The leadership in Paris is incredibly helpful and supportive," Spencer said. "I have seen nothing but excitement to support us in North America."
Spencer and his team will focus on making Alcatel-Lucent consistently easier to do business with. Training, for example, was something Spencer said was too complex and it took too much to get solution providers -- particularly partners ingrained in dominant North America channel ecosystems like Cisco's -- to consider it.
But the Alcatel-Lucent story gets remarkably compelling when those partners get to the table, he insisted. Alcatel-Lucent is now expanding all its major enterprise product lines, from unified communications to its emerging data center fabric strategy.
"Once we on-board a partner, I hear every time: 'I can't believe I didn't know about this,' " Spencer said. "There is incredibly strong value here."