Mitel Goes Mobile

By Irwin Lazar
On Nov 18, 2015
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I must admit that when I heard the news that Mitel had announced plans to acquire Mavenir in March of this year I didn’t give it much thought. Mitel had traditionally played in the enterprise communications space while Mavenir’s solutions were focused on helping mobile carriers transition to IP as they roll out VoLTE. It seemed more of a play to extend Mitel’s reach into the carrier space than to bring any additional value or features to Mitel’s business-focused cloud and premises-based platform offerings.

Having spent part of last week at Mitel’s annual analyst meeting in NYC I come away with a bit different view. Mitel shared a vision of using Mavenir to enable mobile carriers to deliver business focused offerings aimed at task and information workers, separating their market focus a bit from competitors who largely aim at solutions for knowledge workers. Mitel seeks to provide a platform that operators can use to embed real-time communications into business process applications, extending communications in context to improve specific processes. It also seeks to leverage IMS to enable interfacing of business apps with native mobile apps so that workers can use familiar built-in apps for voice, messaging, and video instead of separate mobile UC clients.

Mitel may be on to something. For instance, our 2015-16 UC&C benchmark showed that use of mobile apps for video is still low, with less than 7% regularly using video on smartphones, and less than 4% for tablets. The challenges of delivering mobile UC clients that function within secure mobile containers or app wrappers further limit the success of mobile UC initiatives. Meanwhile, more than half of IT leaders we interviewed are looking to integrate UC capabilities into their business apps.

The big challenge for Mitel is convincing service providers that are largely focused on winning consumer business that there’s an untapped, and potentially lucrative market for business services. Already we’re seeing managed mobile offerings that bridge wireless and wired from carriers like Sprint. Longer term, it behooves carriers to fight OTTP with their own offerings that play to their strengths in network delivery and ability to embed capabilities into native mobile phone apps.