Nortel Users — How Loyal Should You Be?

Let me start by saying I’m not here to pile on with more Nortel bashing. The market has done enough of that:

Was it the economic downturn, mismanagement, lack of R&D investment, bad luck? Most likely all of the above. But on to my point…How loyal should Nortel customers be?

Quoting from a Jan 19, 2009 ComputerWorld article, "The International Nortel Networks Users Association, a Chicago-based group with about 4,000 members, issued a statement saying that the filings will give the vendor "an opportunity to truly focus on strengthening" its financial position.

"Chapter 11 is simply a restructuring tool, and Nortel is not going away," Victor Bohnert, the INNUA’s executive director, said in an interview."

I don’t think Nortel is "going away." But existing customers should ask themselves this question, "Will the Nortel product line meet the needs of my business over the next 5-10 years?" The Yankee Group already gives Nortel a "4" on a scale of 1-10 relative to innovation. The Nortel product line has fallen behind in IP contact center, IP communications, eServices, and a bunch of other areas. And if anybody thinks the Nortel product line is going to get an innovation injection during this turmoil time of simply trying to keep the lights on in Ottawa — that simply isn’t going to happen.

My advice to Nortel customers (yes, this comes from an admitted Nortel competitor) is to plan out your communications needs for the next 5-10 years and begin NOW researching those companies and those products that will get you there. What are those innovative communication products that will make you more competitive; make you more efficient; reduce your costs? Loyalty is an admirable quality, but at the same time you’ve got a job to do and a business to run. Since the mainstream adoption of voice over IP hit its stride, the innovation in communications is moving faster than it ever has before. So go pick a vendor that is going to be a pace setter. Otherwise, it’s your business that is going to suffer.