Four months into his new position as Chief Marketing Officer for Mitel, a global leader in business communications, Venkat Nagaswamy understands the rewards of taking the road less travelled. At a time when most marketing leaders are veering away from on-prem business to move to the cloud, he went the other way and hasn’t looked back.
“We’re finding that a lot of our customers want to have on-prem equipment to be able to provide better security, better availability, and better control over their environment,” said Nagaswamy. “In those environments, we succeed extremely well.”
Nagaswamy joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan in September 2022 for an installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed by ITWC to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. Details of his first quarter at Mitel highlight a strong focus on unified communications.
Giving Customers What They Want
“Mitel’s world is, on the one hand, focused on providing the flexibility for our customers to be able to deploy unified communications in whichever way they want,” he explained. “At the same time, we provide about five per cent to 10 per of our customers with a path to migrate to cloud.”
A communications veteran with a strong track record of aligning sales and data-driven marketing motions, Nagaswamy defines unified communications as a combination of voice and video messaging. A quintessential example, he said, is that people used to have a separate chat application, a separate phone, and a separate way to run video meetings. All of that has changed in the past decade with the convergence of various ways to connect.
The Mitel Vision
Sharing the Mitel vision with Annan, Nagaswamy said the company is committed to delivering leading UC solutions and innovation for its global customers and aims to be number one in the middle market space. With a strategic alliance that puts RingCentral as Mitel’s exclusive UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) partner, Mitel’s user base of over 35 million will benefit from an easy migration path to an industry leading MVP cloud communications platform.
In response to a query from Annan about identifying early buying signals for partners, Nagaswamy pointed to data and analytics, which are presently under his purview but will eventually move under the CIO umbrella. “We marketers know what we want from an end result, but we might not be the best to understand the technology, the tables, the databases, and so on,” he admitted. “I think, over time, to make it sustainable, it makes sense for this to be managed by the CIO organization as a part of the stack that they maintain.”
A Declining Pandemic Impact and the Future of Work
On the subject of COVID-19, Nagaswamy maintained that the acceleration of cloud services experienced with COVID is gone and things have reverted to a more pre- pandemic pace. As proof, he referenced an increase in Mitel’s market share during the last quarter for on-prem business – growth he attributes to a focus on verticals, such as education, health care, hospitality, casinos, cruise ships, financial services, manufacturing and retail.
“The hybrid working environment is here to stay, along with a hybrid on-prem and public cloud,” he said. “The future of work is a combination of being able to do things on location, on-prem, and elsewhere. That’s how work is going to get done, and how these different Lego pieces come together is going to be different in each customer situation. As technology vendors, we need to be able to offer this choice and flexibility.”