ShoreTel and the Game of Verticals

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The Los Angeles Dodger’s just signed … ShoreTel.LA-Dodgers_logo[1]

Before I get to my main point here about verticals, I want to emphasize that is dramatic news, because:

  1. ShoreTel is based in Northern California – close to AT&T Park. They really had to overcome some emotional bias in LA to win this sale. 
  2. ShoreTel previously sold a system to, home of the Giants, AT&T Park. In fact, they flaunt this and flew out analysts to the stadium just last year. See point 1.
  3. The Dodgers already had a great system – actually, emphasis on the had. I installed a system (IVR and attendant console) there in 1987. It was pretty darn cool, but the system couldn’t handle the load of the 1988 winning game of the World Series.

The Dodgers went all in on ShoreTel and acquired the ShoreTel IP-PBX, ShoreTel Contact Center, ShoreTel Mobility, and ShoreTel Conferencing. Ralph Esquibel, vice president of information technology for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said “We’ve gone through big changes on the stadium and the technology; the phone system, while typically complex, was a very simple project and one I didn’t have to worry about.”  In other words, Esquibel wanted something Brilliantly Simple.

Next week the Giants are hosting the Dodgers in San Francisco. Unofficially, the goal was to orient the Dodgers to their new ringtones, but they went ahead and scheduled a game since they were all in town together. ShoreTel invited some analysts and media to the event to see if if their executives can successfully refrain from shouting “BEAT LA.” I will be there. I’m really looking forward to it because I haven’t had the chance to do the wave with CEO Don Joos yet.

I am not certain about which team to cheer for. As a young man it was the Dodgers for sure and Farmer John bacon. As an older man it was the Giants mostly because of my college roommate. As an old man I’m fairly neutral – perhaps there’s wisdom in that song about rooting for the home team. Got to love those Panda hats.

Verticals

What’s significant about ShoreTel winning Dodger Stadium is the vertical angle. Everyone talks about how important verticals are – which generally get counted on just three fingers: Government, Education, and Healthcare. Certainly there are more verticals. It’s best to choose a vertical strategy that involves firms that talk to each other – avoid manufacturing (they are cheap and only talk to suppliers and customers). I never really thought about professional sports as a vertical, but it certainly has game. These organizations are big and don’t mess around with infrastructure. They have money (avoid soccer). They have serious requirements around things like public safety. They see voice as mission critical, and don’t want a system that might fail during the World Series (yeah right, as if). Did I mention strong brand value on a customer list?

It seems that ShoreTel has made a sport of sorts regarding sports. Reading about the Dodgers brought back images of Tommy Lasorda yelling at me in 1988 as well as memories of  other teams that Shoretel won. It turns out that ShoreTel has scored with teams.  The following clubs use ShoreTel systems.

Baseball

  • SF Giants
  • LA Dodgers
  • Miami Marlins
  • Sacramento Rivercats (minor league)
  • Frisco Roughriders (minor league)

Basketball

  • LA Lakers
  • Washington Wizards (Verizon Center)
  • Boston Celtics
  • Golden State Warriors
  • New Jersey Nets

Hockey

  • Buffalo Sabres
  • ST Louis Blues Hockey Club
  • Washington Capitals (Verizon Center)

Football

  • St Louis Rams

Soccer

  • Rio Tinto Stadium (formerly Real Salt Lake)
  • US Soccer

That’s an impressive list, and that’s just the US. Head east, over the sea, to the west and there’s more orange:

  • Players Football Association – Soccer
  • Newcastle Falcons – Rugby
  • Sales Sharks – Rugby
  • National Ice Arena

Or head west to the East:

  • Freemantle Football Club
  • Melbourne Football Club

Professional Sports are indeed a vertical, one that ShoreTel plays well. It’s too bad they can’t get the coaches to wear ShoreTel headsets during the games. At least they got Gatorade to color the big cooler on the field orange.

Dave Michels