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Mitel targets enterprises with MiCloud Engage contact center

MiCloud Engage, an over-the-top cloud contact center, could help Mitel better compete with Avaya and Cisco in the enterprise market.

Mitel has released a contact-center-as-a-service platform that -- unlike its other contact center offerings -- is detached from its unified communication products. The over-the-top product should appeal to large organizations, which are more likely to buy their contact center and Unified Communications apps separately. 

MiCloud Engage Contact Center, which runs in the multi-tenant public cloud of Amazon Web Services, supports voice, web chat, SMS and email channels, and integrates with Facebook Messenger and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Mitel is licensing the technology behind the platform from pure-cloud startup Serenova.

The MiCloud Engage platform plugs two gaps in the vendor's cloud contact center portfolio. It scales to over 5,000 agents, significantly more than the 1,000-agent capacity of its flagship cloud platform, MiCloud Flex.

Furthermore, Mitel has traditionally bundled its UC and contact center products, a combination that appeals to the vendor's historical customer base of small and midsize businesses. MiCloud Engage, in contrast, is available as a stand-alone offering.

Mitel hopes the new platform will help it gain a foothold among enterprises, which are more often customers of Avaya, Cisco or Genesys. It could also appeal to individual divisions or lines of business within a large organization.

Mitel continues cloud pivot ahead of acquisition

The release of MiCloud Engage comes months shy of the publicly traded company's planned acquisition by the private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners L.P. The $2 billion deal, announced in April, is expected to close by the year's end.

Going private should help Mitel grow its cloud business because it will be able to focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings. Following a series of recent acquisitions, the company also benefits from a relatively large install base and a broad mix of cloud UC offerings.

Mitel's 2017 acquisition of ShoreTel made it one of the top UC-as-a-service vendors worldwide, along with 8x8 and RingCentral. Still, only 6% of Mitel's 70 million UC seats were in the cloud at the outset of 2018: 1.1 million in the public cloud and another 3 million hosted in Mitel's data centers.

Ultimately, MiCloud Engage could serve as a conduit to more enterprises buying Mitel's UC products, the core of its business. Gartner ranks Mitel among the top four UC vendors, alongside Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya.

"If you can't win the UC business, then winning the contact center business and creating a backdoor that way is a good strategy," said Zeus Kerravala, the founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass. "Getting your foot in the door is the important piece, and that's what they're trying to do with [MiCloud Engage]."

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