Catch Minhaj Zia, Managing Director – India & SAARC at Polycom in a conversation with Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & Group CEO, Greyhound Research on Greyhound Research’s knowledge sharing series ONTrigger.
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Sanchit Vir Gogia: Right now as an analyst firm, what we see in the market is that user feedback sometimes taken but actually rarely implemented.
Minhaj Zia: But some organizations take it very seriously. I have seen few of the multinational organizations, in those organizations, the first study they do is that, what is the end-user requirements, analysis of that and it’s pretty thoroughly done. Based on that, they pick and choose which are IT solutions they want to implement to fulfil these needs. The more you talk to vendors first; you get biased with what technology you have to deploy, then you try to force fit. So I think the good organizations, what they are trying to do, is first understanding their business requirements and put it on paper as clearly as possible. That documentation helps them to navigate any projects that they do. Whether it is going to meet their requirements or not? Then they devise their own solution, which are functional solution, not really technical solution. The functional solution as to how this process is going to work. Once that is defined, and then they start looking at what is IT solution available in the marketplace. Talking to vendors, sharing this information about what their needs are explicitly and then asking them to explain how their architectural solution will work.
SVG: But Minhaj, everybody does not have that kind of understanding, skill set and time to be able to carry out such a thorough study. There are times, when the CIO looks at the vendor for that hand-holding, but that’s where that breakage point happens, because lot of vendors out there in the market, and these big vendors, actually have built zero capability in hand-holding the customer in managing the entire piece. Now, you are a long time collaboration person, ex-Avaya, ex-Cisco. How it this differently done at Polycom? Or is differently done at all?
MZ: I would not make any tall claims to be honest with you. Like other vendors, we also have our moments of running after the business. We also have our weekly, monthly, quarterly pressures to meet our sales objectives or business objectives which are there. The one thing that we have started looking at is, at least that when we talk to the customer, we try and first ask him questions, so that we understand how he is going to use this technology. Example, when you get into building a conference room with video facility or collaboration room as we call it, what kind of collaboration are you going to do, it is to understand how the usage of that particular technology will be. Now, some customers give us that insight, because they have insight as of who is going to use it and how it is going to be used. Some of our customers are very prescriptive in telling us, what all they need, the equipments and ask for proposals and asking for comparative study of the required technologies.
Customers who are really want us to do that, we try and explain to them the value and then what we do is, we use another tool and share what other have done in similar industry. So give them a reference, and that helps the customer sometimes to think a little bit more deeper and make them think if same thing would apply to them or not. These customers are not really talking to their own business teams to understand the requirements that they have or they are in a hurry to complete the project. So we try to take a pause, give them justification but in case if the customer still insists then we go through the motion and do the selling like others are doing. In some cases what we have found is that we are able to successfully map the business requirements, suggest the right solution for the customer and when it was deployed we could measure the success of it and that’s how we get those case studies as well.
SVG: But Minhaj, with all due respect, every other vendor says this. You are ex-Avaya, ex-Cisco, what is different? What’s different here at Polycom which is not there in Avaya and Cisco? I’m sure these claims are also being made everywhere else.
MZ: So that’s what I said, if you look at whether it is Avaya or Cisco, many of these vendors including Polycom in most of the cases are running after the business and they also get, in some cases, an opportunity to really consult, provide the knowledge that they have acquired by implementing the solution through various customers, scenarios and what usage they have done. Of course we do our own experience research, user experience research. We have documented a lot of functional requirements. For example in various organisations you will find functions like sales, HR, finance etc. What we have done is, with other various customers we have worked with and have seen them using the technology, we have gathered that information and at least put that into our documents that for example in HR function, these are the five or six use-case scenarios that an HR can use and in a finance scenario you can use this or for sales you can use that technology.
You can say education, and also documenting these facts or use-cases. What at the least we do is to really share this information with the customers to give them ideas. In the end the customer decides as to how he is going to use it. He may pick up some of those, and customers actually like that. Those customers who are not in a hurry to close they go through that and they ask us more questions around that and that helps us to sell them the right technology as well. Now it’s not happening pre-dominantly and that’s an area to improve upon. We also have some consultants in our teams who help in specific areas but we are only able to work with some large customers.