The Unified Communications Market with Mitel’s Dan Nemechek

Today’s guest on Good Morning Work From Home is Dan Nemechek, VP Technical Sales at Mitel. Dan joins us from the front lines to discuss the unified communications market and how these solutions can keep business moving forward for our families, our companies, our economy and our country.

I think the world, and my kids, would definitely like to start playing some sports again, and it seems like Major League Baseball is leading the pack––at least getting out there and getting back to it. 

Seeing how Mitel is the official business technology and communication partner for Major League Baseball, maybe you can tell me, what are you guys doing for Major League Baseball and why do you think they picked you guys as a partner?

We’ve done a lot of custom solutions for them. Things like instant replay. It’s not just something you can walk out with an iPhone and do, because they’re conferencing into the replay center.

For example, you have to have bullpen phones. You don’t want to go to a different dugout in a different city and go, “Oh, how does this phone work?” It’s putting it all together and making it the same so it’s fair for all teams to know what’s going on in every dugout and to monitor that system.

Mitel was really able to go in and provide the technology that allows them to simplify that, and quite frankly, use some older technologies and cabling that are in some of these stadiums that they don’t have the choice to really upgrade.

We were able to work around some legacy technologies with the cloud and make it all work together.

I actually have some members on my team that are just dedicated to the whole sports franchise. Globally, we’ve been pretty successful with Liverpool and Tottenham as well, and several sports franchises. It’s fun to say and it’s really cool when you’re sitting home on the couch watching and you see the Mitel replay happening.

If you go back six months, it seems like overnight the world went to a remote workforce and here we are — still here. I think it’s going to be a really long time, I hate to say it, before people are back to normal. Even then, I don’t think that the majority or a good chunk of the workforce is going to go back full time. I think people are finding themselves productive at home and they’re finding ways to be productive that companies like yours are enabling. I’d love to hear what you guys have done to help workers be more efficient from home. 

Why would you say the Mitel solution might be better than some of the other ones out there? Because it’s a fairly crowded space for sure.

Oh yeah, absolutely. Well, I think what we saw was the reckoning of the cloud, right?

I think probably the efficiencies came more to IT than maybe any other piece of the business. You know, homeworkers, we could always just say, “Well, yeah, I can work from home with my cell phone. I don’t really need a team to be part of the PBX or anything like that. I can send everybody my number and I can do that.”

But for IT shops that said, “Hey, we’ve got to figure out a way to get a contact center going here.” The CEO isn’t going to accept not having the secretary answer calls and do bridge call appearances and things like that. That’s the way they’re used to working, so it doesn’t matter if he’s in San Jose and the receptionist is in Sunnyvale, they need to still work together even though they’ve got to be separated.

Those were things that you have to solve overnight. When you talked about some systems that were already employed and onsite, you’ve got to start. “Oh, we got to add VPN, we got to add internet capacity, we got to do all this.” The fact that with a cloud, you could just kind of flip and turn and go, “Yeah, I need 32 remote workers. Here’s the cost per month. Oh, do they need a phone at home?” And the phone itself is just pointing to a URL and boots up and the IT staff didn’t have to go, “Oh, I’ve got to buy a new VPN concentrator. I got to up my bandwidth,” because we take care of all of that on the back end. So that was what really I think was enabled.

We had one customer, I remember, sitting on the couch talking with the activation person and we brought up 200 softphones on a Saturday afternoon for a customer that got the shelter in place order in the very early days and was like, “We have no idea what we’re going to do. We have an onsite system, we can’t …” So we said, “Look, we’ll spin you up some profiles and get you going today,” and they were so grateful.

But as far as things that I think we do to differentiate the experience include added functionality. For example, I have my Mitel phone on my desk and I love our Bluetooth cordless handset. I can walk around and it’s connected to my desk headset. It’s those integrated end points we have that are Mitel, our product, and they integrate back to any one of our platforms.

We have a lot of things like a wireless LAN adapter that allows you to have power over ethernet, anywhere in a wall you want, that allows your phone to use the Wi-Fi  in your house.

As much as we all love to work from home together, sometimes you need to be in a different part of the house from the kids, the spouse, the barking dogs. And our ability to just have a full phone experience, take it up wherever you want, and work just like you were in your cubicle — I think sets us apart.

We have MiTeam Meeting for multi-party video calls in all of our remote contact centers. But I do love the fact that when we go home and our integrations to things like Salesforce and NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics for the contact center agents and the CRM people, that they can just still stay in their ticketing systems, whether they’re using a softphone, or they’ve taken the full phone experience home with them, it makes it makes it easy to do business.

I’ve done a lot of these calls and you’re the first person I saw pick up a Bluetooth going off the desk and talk about the wireless handset or adapter. From a hardware differentiating factor, that’s very interesting. So maybe today, it’s working from home and six months from now, you might take that same thing and go back into the office, right? Which is kind of interesting. I’m assuming maybe you could hop on a Wi-Fi network at Starbucks. They’d probably look at you a little weird if you walked in with your telephone, but I’m assuming you can get on. It’s going to work, right?

I have to laugh. I talk to my guys all the time. It’s like, I feel like I’m welded to this chair, but with my Wii LAN adapter in this phone, as long as I can get to an electrical power source and that little adapter can hit the Wi-Fi network, I can work on my back patio. We’re getting some fall weather here and I’m actually looking forward to that.

in September. After the sun gets me in the shade and I can get out there and see my screens on my laptop, I think I’m going to work from that back patio a lot while the temperatures get in the seventies. I think it’s something we could all use really well.

I have a daughter in high school; she started distance learning last week. I have a son in middle school and another in grammar school; they both started today. I upgraded the cable from a hundred mg to a gig. I put in a mesh Wi-Fi network in my home. I tried to directly connect my kids via CAT 5, just in case there are some Wi-Fi challenges because that happens too. Perhaps the next step is for me to insert some SD-WAN architecture into my home network to prioritize things, right? So I’m doing the best I can, just to stack the deck. What are you guys doing around education? How are you enabling educators, students, faculty and so on to be successful? It’s a pretty challenging environment, right?

Oh yeah, absolutely. Probably the first thing is exactly like you said. We have our mobility apps, whether you have them on your iPhone or your Android, that can turn your extension at the classroom into your Direct Inward Dialing (DID) on your cell phone. Because I know a lot of teachers and admins, they really don’t want to give out their personal cell phones to parents or anything like that. It’s really giving them their identity on their cell phone without parents knowing their personal cell phone numbers. It also allows them to join all of our meeting and conference bridges with the touch of a button. I was headed down the highway today and I had forgotten there’s a meeting I’m supposed to be on. Just the ability that pops up in your Outlook or on your phone app and there’s the join button that automatically dials in. Maybe I should have been on the video, but I can quickly join the dial, get into the conference, the audio part of it. The mobile web apps, our mobile web interfaces—we’re bringing them out so people can join the video calls, whether it’s from their iPad, their iPhone, their Android, or their Chromebook.

We have heavy Outlook integration. We have one of the best Google Chromebook and GSuite integrations on the market. We partner heavily with Google. Our entire solutions in the cloud are all on the Google Cloud platform, so we have that relationship. We have many Microsoft Teams helper apps and we have a big new announcement coming out. I can’t spoil, but we’re really seeing that focus.

It’s the same thing in business. We focus on letting people work, whether it’s Salesforce.com, Zendesk, NetSuite—whatever their product is, we try to keep you focused on working there, and we want to do the same thing for schools. If you’re GSuite, if you’re Outlook, or if you’re Zoom. We do have a Zoom integration in our Teamwork helper app too.

Now, when you talk about the network, and you said it, we’re partnered heavily with VeloCloud in the SD-WAN space. We’re expecting to have more and more carriers brought in. We have several we’ve done custom integrations with, but you know, SD-WAN’s that next step.

One of the things we offer is right out of the box. When you start talking about, “Hey, I’ve got to deploy this,” we have a network assessment guide that anybody can run from their home. It’ll run a simulation of calls coming out of your network and give you sort of that green arrow thumbs up or thumbs down. At that point, what I love about it, what we do is with our app. It’s one-click for you to assign your actual dialable cell phone number. Or, if you happen to have a landline because you’re in a more rural area, we can assign that number to you again, but we mask it from the outside world. They dial the school teacher’s number, it rings on your home or your cell phone, but the customer—the person reaching out to you—the parent or whoever, doesn’t have the number. Then, when you call back using the softphone or the other app, it sends the school caller ID. It really allows you to have your work persona assigned to your personal devices in any way you need, based on all the network glitches like you talked about.

As I said, I think the best thing you could do somewhat is to stack the deck in your favor. It sounds like with the Google partnership and the Chromebooks you guys have stacked the deck in your favor to help education. So that’s great to hear.

As everyone’s working from home. I think one of the most important things is trying to stay in contact with our customers. For most of my career, I was in face-to-face meetings, shaking hands, in face-to-face conversations, and that just doesn’t happen anymore. So now we have a lot of customers looking for new creative ways to stay in contact with their customers, find better customer experiences. If you look at all the call center people that were managing some of that inbound and outbound experience, a lot of them used to sit in a large office, in a call center group with a premise-based phone system or a contact center premise-based application that is being shipped out to the cloud. Tell me about your contact center platform. What is Mitel doing in that space? What do you find that’s unique about it and how are people using it?

Yeah. It’s funny, this has been, since I’ve been in the business. Most customers don’t want to admit they have a call center. “No, no, no, we don’t have a call center. We take calls from our customers. They have a number to call. We answer on the first ring.” There are a lot of contact centers and call centers, whichever way you want to call it, out there. But this has made people realize, “Uh oh, we need a call center. We need a contact center.” We can no longer have it where, ‘Well, they know to call Michael for support, and then if Michael doesn’t answer, call Dan.’” You can’t make those guesstimates on who’s going to be available and all of those things and then get the stats of how many people are still calling. Contact centers have just jumped out in this world.

But what I love about our setup is we have two contact centers. We have a multichannel contact center that fits the needs, I would say, 80% of the SMB to mid-enterprise customers. It can do inbound voice, outbound voice, chat, and email. If those are kind of the key things you do, it integrates really well with Salesforce, with many of the CRMs out there –– I’d say, just pretty much the top 10. We can do some custom integration with about any other web-based one. So it’s really that Ford F-150 of contact centers. It meets most of the needs. Then we have our CX product, which is the omnichannel experience. That’s the Tesla Model S or the Cybertruck, that really brings into play the experiences of SMS into the cues, multichannel media messaging, Facebook, social media integrations, integrations with many more really specific industry CRMs and ERP.

Those two products, we find, meet the needs. We really just sat with our partners—our business partners and the customers—and that’s especially the point we run down. Sometimes you find out the customer is fine with just like a hunt group. That’s really all they need in the small business space; we can do those all day. But sometimes you kind of have to talk them up, and when you do, they’re usually really happy once they see all those real-time reports and the analytics that they get in the end, and the integration with the CRM they’re paying a lot of money for. It really increases productivity, and since you could do it from home with softphones, even better.

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