Unified communications vendor ShoreTel has announced that for the first time, its partners and customers in Canada – outside Québec – will have access to anything other than on-prem deployments.
The ShoreTel Connect HYBRID Sites are an entirely new offering, which only just became available in the U.S as well, and allow for the full integration of the company’s Connect ONSITE (on-prem) and Connect CLOUD services. The company’s cloud offering, which had been acquired, had had a very different interface, and ShoreTel is emphasizing that harmonizing them in the new and superior interface is a significant upgrade. But the cloud product had not previously been available in Canada previously either.
“The cloud product not being available here before had less to do with architecture and more to do with the supporting systems behind the service,” said George Pappas, ShoreTel’s Country Manager for Canada. “There was the issue of the billing engine, and work that needed to be done on non-US addresses, and currency. There were also regulatory approvals needed to be done. We did everything the absolute right way. Our CRTC filings are complete and we have all the approvals.”
ShoreTel presently has 46 partners in Canada, which is just under eight per cent of the US numbers, so a little under what might be expected compared to the respective size of the two markets. Pappas said that given ShoreTel’s fairly late commitment to the Canadian market, that number is pretty good.
“The company started in 1996 and serviced Canada remotely from the U.S. up until 2010,” he said. “Then it got serious about the Canadian market, and put people in place permanently here, and business really started to explode in Canada as a result. Our contact centre solution does extremely well in Canada, because it is well suited to the size of companies in the Canadian marketplace. We now have Canadian-based sales managers managing three territories across Canada [west, central and eastern Canada], and I like our distribution of business, which is balanced, and not just around Toronto. We have customers from St John’s to Whitehorse. So I think we’ve done well relative to the timing of the investment.”
Pappas is confident that the new cloud and hybrid offerings will spur the acquisition of significant numbers of new customers as well as new partners.
“Our on-premise product is addressing less than 100 per cent of the marketplace,” he said. “Unified communications has been relatively late in moving to the cloud, but we now see many customer buyers migrating. Our partners have told us repeatedly that you can’t not address 100 per cent of the market, and they are really happy that ShoreTel is helping them do that. With the advent of UCaaS [Unified Communications as-a-service], we really expect our partner count to grow as well.”
So what about that lack of availability in Québec? Pappas confirmed that the issue is compliance with Québec language laws, but said that a solution for that will be coming.
“Our cloud model is English only, and support is English only, so we aren’t equipped to address the specific needs of the Québec market at this point,” he said. “It is on our road map. We do a healthy CPE [on-prem] business there. We will be broadening out UCaaS linguistic support as part of our global expansion, and this will be part of that.”
Pappas stressed that ShoreTel is committed to its partners, and is working with its legacy on-prem partners to help them develop cloud and hybrid capacities.
“Our go-to-market strategy with cloud is to take it through our existing legacy partners as well as through added net new partners we worked with before, particularly MSPs with solutions other than UCaaS,” he said. “Our legacy CPE partners have to morph their business to be considered in that hosted world and we are helping them do that. We are offering them workshops and other assistance. Our partners are incredibly appreciative of what we are doing to help them be successful.”