One month into his appointment, Mitel's new EMEA channel boss Jeremy Butt told CRN's sister publication Channelnomics Europe that he intends to shake up the unified communication vendor's partner programme, drawing on his experience working in distribution.
Butt (pictured) was appointed to Mitel at the beginning of October, after moving from distributor Westcon-Comstor which sold up its Americas business - and a 10 per cent stake in its EMEA and APAC operations - to US firm Synnex.
"One of the messages to the partner community that should come over loud and clear is that I come from their community. I just spent five and a half years running a distributor - Westcon-Comstor - so I understand the business they're in, know the challenges they face, and what makes a sensible business proposition for a channel partner."
Citing the fact that he's been on the receiving end of channel programmes for years, Butt explained why he's looking to "refine our go-to-market strategy".
"I think Mitel has a pretty reasonable reputation in the one-tier channel space, and we also have a number of distributors. I know that the important things that the channel wants to see from their vendor is not just a good programme, but a product that does what it's supposed to do from people who understand the channel," he said.
"The programme always needs to be as straightforward as you can make it, but very importantly it needs to provide great opportunity for the partners - which means that the vendor has to be easy to work with, that they can make money from it, that they know where they can go to get support.
"Vendors have a habit of twiddling and tweaking, whereas I believe in refinements rather than a shock to the system, and that's how I'm looking at our programme at the moment."
Having previously run the global channels of Mitel's big rival Avaya, Butt named the trend of mass consolidation as a disruptive challenge for the whole UC market.
"Inevitably, as most markets mature, they consolidate around a finite number of vendors that get progressively bigger, and that's exactly what Mitel is doing. You have to get bigger in this market, without a doubt. The number of R&D dollars that you can invest in product development gets higher and higher.
"We are a consolidator in the market. Our acquisition of ShoreTel is another example of this."
Mitel bought its California-based rival ShoreTel for $530m (£402m) in July - its third attempt to do so - creating a $1.3bn-turnover giant. Butt told us that ShoreTel's employees are already integrated into the company with no office closures, though he did concede that the company made some redundancies.
He added that the buyout was "a massive accelerator" for Mitel.
"ShoreTel was number two in the unified comms market. We go from a lower-down position and leapfrog forwards, globally. It doesn't help us as much in EMEA because they weren't so big here. Their primary business by a long way was in North America. That is something we have to build on."
Despite Mitel's M&A success, the firm suffered losses earlier in the year, which pushed it to axe 10 per cent of its global workforce in an attempt to save $30m a year. Butt claims that attempts by the vendor to get leaner are not restricting his future plans.
Butt is based in the UK, a market along with Germany and France that he highlighted as "major" priorities for growth.
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