The Ontario business communications company Mitel is a $1.2 billion business, but you’re excused if you’re not familiar with it — yet!
“Although we’ve been around for 41 years, our brand is not well known,” says Martyn Etherington, the company’s chief marketing officer and chief of staff. Mitel offers services in business communications, voice-video collaborations, business phones and the like, and its website boasts, “We are the business communications experts behind 2 billion calls, chats and social messages every day.”
It has gotten big fast: In the past two years, Mitel has acquired four companies and doubled its revenues. “We want to be the consolidator versus the consolidated of our market space,” Etherington says, “but most importantly we want to grow by being relevant to our customers and the markets we serve.”
Etherington is out to boost the company’s profile. “We’re really starting to transform the brand from what was considered a very old, telephone [-oriented] PBX company to where our market is today and where our focus is — that of a customer-centric software company positioned in the cloud and contact center markets.”
In a conversation with Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and guest editor for MIT Sloan Management Review’s Social Business Big Idea Initiative, Etherington explains how he thinks social media will help the company with customer engagement, and why he considers the company’s current efforts to be “a massive trystorming exercise” with the end goal of helping Mitel understand its customers better.
Your bio says that you’re responsible for Mitel’s digital, social and mobile programs. Clearly, you’re out to move this business into the spotlight.
Absolutely. We have low brand awareness, and we have very low brand preference. That’s both a challenge and tremendous opportunity for us.
I’ve been passionate for digital for many, many years, and one of the things that I saw when I first came to Mitel was that we’re competing with the likes of Cisco and Avaya. These guys have have very, very strong brands.
I knew that with a David and Goliath story, we could punch way above our weight if we started to invest in digital and started to leverage digital and social.