Catch Jim Kruger, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer 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: Talking of local markets what’s really required is a feet on the street which was of course given to you by channel partners. Now are channel partners warming up to the entire relationship as well because before coming in to the conversation I spoke to a few partners here locally and in Asia and the response was 50-50. Now, what do you have to say for that?
Jim Kruger: It just as our direct sales teams need to collaborate in the market, our partners need to collaborate with Microsoft partners and they need to strike those relationships out and from a channel partner perspective that’s not always easy because they want to do everything on their own. They don’t have to rely on another channel partner relative to the solution. But the fact is those that are finding the greatest success are the ones that are forging those partnerships in the market because typically the Microsoft partners don’t want to sell Polycom equipments or don’t sell Polycom equipments. They need that high relationship and the partners that are doing that are finding great success.
SVG: Sure! Talking of partners you launched this service, Video as a Service, last year if I am not mistaken and partners again were a bit wishy-washy about it because they believed or they perceived that it’s going to eat into their revenue because your hosting it at your end and just leveraging the service at your end so how would you manage those perception or is it a fallacy that partners have no market left?
JK: No, It’s definitely some transitions that going on in the market and there are different ways of delivering video and so there is premise based sought of purpose built hardware which continues actually to be the largest share of that market and we don’t see that going away we see some of our installed base and many customers still like to put in purpose built hardware. We have also moved the software from the purpose built hardware and given our customers the capability to play the software in a virtualized environment and they can purchase that on a subscription bases.
The actual revenue from that in the short term is actually lower but it does create annuity a non going annuity for our channel partners and then Video as a Service. We have actually done two things there. One is that we have made our infrastructure capable of hosting Video as a Service and a channel partner can actually built up their own practice around that infrastructure. We have also what you have mentioned is we have launched a white label service so we host it for the partner which is benefit for them because they don’t have to put any investment in for the infrastructure and they basically bring that to market and bill the customer, so it’s a mix of those three that our channel partners are selling and there are different business models and the services piece does create annuity that it is lower revenue on the upfront side of things. So we are keeping those customers, reducing the amount of churn and keeping them on the service for the ongoing annuity becomes more and more important.
SVG: So it means the reason you have kept the hosting with you is because you want to manage quality and SLAs and given the account management piece to the channel partner. Is that correct?
JK: Yes, so they establish the direct relationship with the customer. They also have the opportunity to brand it themselves as a part of their own service, so it gives them a unique position and some of them are building bundles around that, so that it’s not the exact same service that they are offering. It gives them a lot flexibility to go to the market, have different offerings that wrap around that service.
SVG: Ok. So let’s focus on services, you spoke about services. When we speak to CIOs their pain point is hand holding. The entire world is changing. They want some mobility, some social, a bit of knowledge management, a bit of collaboration. Now, the handholding happens till the time you are making sale, post that the entire change management piece- in terms of the user accepting it, is a big problem for the CIOs. How are you training your internal sales team and your channel partners to better manage the entire handholding process post the sales?
JK: So I am a strong believer in services and it really starts at the emanation point of making sure that customer has the right network set up because of course video is bandwidth intensive and if they don’t get start of on the right foot relative to network and we have a network assessment service that we go in and tell them whether the network is up to speed is for video or not and from there we work with our channel partner very closely and sometimes they provide the services, sometime we provide the services when they don’t have the capability or sometimes we join together and they provide part of it and we provide a part of it. We work very closely with are channel partner who are very partner centric and from that go to market.
The tier point of after the sale what happens at that point we actually have adoption services that we sell as a part of our overall service offering and that basically helps the customer to do a little bit of training and also to set up and make it extremely simple for the end users to 1) Schedule their own video conferences to manage them once they get in to a conference room and what do they do afterwards because we have recording capabilities relative to applications like training, legal events things of that sought where people want to do recording. We are looking it at from a broad spectrum from the end user perspective of scheduling a meeting, managing that meeting, ending that meeting and how do we make sure they are setup to do that and of course the most important thing we have a lot of focus on as a company is making the technology simple so that when you walk in a conference room its typically a one clicked connect your conference. If you are taking 10-15 minutes to start up the conference people are not getting it right.
SVG: You are an outside guy, you know this, mobile workforces name of the game. In fact recently you were working with a CIO and his challenges were managing mobile workforce.
By the way I must tell you Jim is a very interesting guy; he actually hiked the Mount Witney of the US which is the highest mountain outside of Alaska. Is that correct?
JK: It is yes.
SVG: That’s a good job done. One single day?
JK: Yes, we did. We started around 3 in the morning. We got a good head start but we were done by dark.
SVG: So you are used to do big things?
JK: Absolutely. No other.
SVG: So my point was folks like yourself who are really outdoor with the mobile workforce but you still need to be connected to the organization. Organizations are struggling, CIOs have the entire end using computing piece, they have got collaboration going on, and they have got mobility. How should they look at this because right now because there is no over-arching umbrella strategy that takes this entire in one fold and there is lot of silos in terms of infrastructure which is being built for three different project. What is the starting point let’s say for large enterprise which already has a bit of footprint, what is that starting point for them?
JK: One of the things that Polycom provides is infrastructure that enables a company to have that singular platform for collaboration which includes mobility desktop, conference rooms and bring all of that together so that each one of those number one was striving to have a common user interface across all of them and a great user experience, leveraging our core technology, audio and video technology but you have the capability to mix and match so we can have the highest level of truly immersive board room type video collaboration system. It is immersive, it is life like, it is like you can reach out and touch the person. But what we have done is we have enabled VAT to connect all the way down to mobile firm from your tablet, from your iPhone and all be in the same conference. It doesn’t have to be over video, someone can come over audio. You can share content as a part of that solution.
We have taken a unified perspective on that because we know that the company is to struggle with that strategy and from a customer perspective it gives a capability to make it simple across each one of those. If you do training, you train on one and customer can use all three of them or four of them. So from that perspective it makes it easier for enterprises. Now in terms of managing the devices that’s certainly a challenge but we have enabled our software across both Android and iOS so that you can truly bring your own device and it’s really not that difficult from an IT manager perspective.