New Jersey-based Avaya, spun out of Lucent and previously AT&T has a decades-long history of providing business communications solutions. With its purchase of Nortel’s business communications assets a few years back it picked up even more knowledge, know-how and relationships. Mitel, the Kanata, Ontario-based global business communications company cofounded in 1973 by Sir Terry Matthews is known for delivering superior technology. More recently Mitel has become publicly traded and acts sort of as a partner to the dozens of Sir Terry Matthews’s companies under the Wesley Clover Brand.
Avaya and Mitel do compete to some degree but Mitel is known more for small to medium systems while Avaya is known as the big-leagues supplier. Cisco has been a major competitor taking share from Avaya this past decade while ShoreTel has done the same to Mitel.
Now these two iconic brands are crossing the border in opposite directions. Mitel has announced a deal with Tech Data to target the US SMB market. Avaya will be launching its GrowRight channel program which includes a deal registration bonus in Canada. The program pays solutions providers 20% back per quarter on new and strategic product sales including RADvision and IP Office products.
The potential here is obviously bigger for Mitel as the US is a much larger market than Canada. You may remember, some years back, Mitel purchased Inter-Tel in-part to grow its sales in the US SMB market. The problem is the very solid Inter-Tel brand was killed in the process and Mitel didn’t brand themselves much in the US, post-acquisition. The result? Over $723M down the drain.
But Mitel is a new company as they have great virtualization technology and new management. Will SMBs buy from Mitel because they have a virtualization edge? Probably not, because if they aren’t current customers, they may not be familiar enough with Mitel to pull the trigger. The only way the Tech Data deal works for the Canadian company is if they began to brand themselves properly in the US or the Tech Data channel is very strong in telecom and decides to actively push Mitel products. In my experience however, resellers aren’t huge fans of promoting products which get customers responding “You want me to buy from who?”
Avaya for its part may make some progress selling its recently acquired RADvision products in the Great White North. I don’t expect the sales to be huge as the market isn’t so big but Canada seems to be one of the few countries with a stable economy these days which makes it a great location for an organization in search of sales growth.