ShoreTel Feels the Love from another Key Avaya Distributor

by Matt Klassen on February 24, 2011

Late last month the telecom world was surprised to hear that upstart Unified Communication (UC) firm ShoreTel had secured key North American distribution agreements with two of its chief rival Avaya’s top partners, ScanSource and Westcon.

But having secured itself a means to make a strong entry into the Canadian market and expanding its US market base through these key partnerships, you just knew that ShoreTel wasn’t about to stop there.

So perhaps it should come as less of a surprise to hear that last week, on Valentine’s Day no less, ShoreTel signed yet another distribution agreement with one of Avaya’s key partners, this time with Australasian converged communications integrator, NSC Group; a strategic agreement that sees NSC become a Gold Partner with ShoreTel—ShoreTel’s highest partner certification.

While such competition should certainly be expected in our free market economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Avaya started revisiting some of its relationships with these distributors, asking hard questions about corporate loyalty and mutual profitability.

Returning to ShoreTel for a moment, I can’t help but admire its aggressive marketing strategy. It all began several months ago when the fledgling UC firm signed a distribution agreement with ScanSource in the European market, a strategic partnership that clearly played a large role in ShoreTel securing that firm to handle its smaller, regional VAR American customers.

Coupled with that was the surprising agreement with Westcon, a move that secured a partner to handle ShoreTel’s service provider customers. Then, with its place in the North American market secured, it was time to hit Australia and New Zealand with this notable strategic partnership with NSC Group.

Although we’ve already mentioned that NSC Group, in addition to ScanSource and Westcon, is yet another close Avaya partner in its given region, here’s the real shocker, earlier this month NSC Group was honoured with Avaya’s prestigious “Top Performer Channel Partner” award for more than doubling Avaya’s business in Australia and New Zealand this past year.

So again this begs the question, how does Avaya feel about all this? While Avaya has yet to generate any formal response to ShoreTel’s encroachment in many of Avaya’s primary markets, I have to wonder if Avaya can say anything.

There’s an interesting symbiotic relationship that exists between UC communications companies like Avaya and ShoreTel and its cadre of dedicated distribution partners. Sure the UC companies provide the technology and the communications solutions, but the distribution partners are the one’s actually selling and servicing the product. So with both sides needing each other to turn a profit, who calls the shots?

In this case at least, it looks like its the distributors that hold all the power, leveraging their success at selling Avaya’s product to send the message to Avaya that there’s room in their respective markets for a little competition; whether or not that competition hurts Avaya’s bottom line, however, remains to be seen.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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