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ShoreTel’s ITEXPO West Recap with VON Magazine

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After my ITEXPO West 2009 keynote earlier this week, I had a great conversation with Rick Martin of VON Magazine. Rick wrote a post before my speech in which he posed several questions about ShoreTel. He and I were able to discuss them in person, but I’ve addressed them in my own post since others may be interested in the answers as well.

What happened to those rumors of ShoreTel’s decline, promulgated last year by a certain rival publication that shall go nameless?
Those rumors have long since dissipated due to our strong performance, global partnerships and increasingly large base of “raving fans.” When the industry went down more than 24 percent last year, ShoreTel actually grew revenue by 5 percent.

How’s the ShoreTel UC platform faring against hosted solutions?
Because of our distributed architecture, we can deliver hosted communications services better than anyone else can. ShoreTel’s distributed architecture provides users with protection against multiple types of failures to keep critical voice services up and running. By deploying the incoming call termination points into the hosted cloud and highly reliable switching appliances on the customer’s premises, we provide the most reliable hosted configuration available on the market today.

How is the ShoreTel message of “brilliant simplicity” resonating with telecom directors and enterprise CIOs?
Since the inception of the company, we’ve had the mission of creating brilliantly simple solutions that allow companies to manage their communications, boost productivity, increase levels of customer satisfaction, and cut costs. The term ‘brilliantly simple’ came from our customers! We conducted a series of focus groups with current customers and repeatedly heard the term ‘brilliantly simple’ at the top of the list of attributes that they valued most about their ShoreTel system.

How do you see your distribution deals with major carriers, like Verizon and AT&T, evolving? What do these deals say about the carriers’ own UC offerings?
All three of the major wireline carriers in the U.S. – AT&T, Verizon and Qwest—as well as Telstra, the leading telecom and IT services provider in Australia, have selected ShoreTel. Last quarter, we were awarded AT&T’s highest level of supplier status, that of a Tier 1 vendor. Verizon, Qwest and Telstra are new and ramping very well. To secure every major Telco in the United States and Australia is a testimony to the brilliantly simple product we offer and ShoreTel’s dedication to world-class customer service.

Regarding ‘what do these deals say about the carriers own UC offerings’, I think it is clear. They have always offered multiple solutions to their customers and are continually in search of the ‘best in class’ systems to build their customer base.

Our brilliantly simple approach is a key driver in our world-class customer satisfaction. True story: An AT&T sales manager who sold the first ShoreTel system in his area received an e-mail from that customer on the first day of service. The e-mail was a thank-you note from the IT decision maker, who said that his clients were “dancing on their desks.”

Once the recovery gathers steam, how do you see ShoreTel competing with larger players like Cisco and Avaya?
These are not our biggest competitors. By far our biggest competitor is not getting to the table to compete for the business. As we continue to grow our brand awareness we have seen our ‘invitation rate’ grow. Because, when we are invited to compete, we win more than 50 percent of the time.