Director, AV Integrator Business Development, North America Channels Randy Riebe has led a career of varied experiences. After spending some years as a professional musician Randy became an expert in the audio visual field and now serves as one of Polycom’s resident channel experts.
Q: What was your career path to Polycom?
Randy: My journey to Polycom began in the mid ‘80s when I went to work for Ford Audio-Video, an AV systems integrator, as a salesperson initially focused on selling sound reinforcement systems and recording studio equipment. It was a great learning environment from a sales and technology perspective. As I worked my way up in the organization I began focusing on large integrated project opportunities such as the audio systems throughout Houston Intercontinental Airport and the audio and video systems for Fiesta Texas, a musical show park in San Antonio, TX. It was during this timeframe that I also had my first introduction to video conferencing technology and did a substantial showcase project for, at the time, regional baby bell—Southwestern Bell Telephone. Of course, at that point in the development of the technology, everything was ISDN based and a codec was the size of a small refrigerator.
Having a few years under my belt as a reseller, I decided it was time for me to learn the manufacturer’s side of the business and went to work for Sound Advance Systems, a loudspeaker manufacturer based in southern California. Sound Advance gave me my introduction to channel management and international business.
In the late ‘90s I was recruited by AMX Corporation to lead the company’s commercial sales efforts. It was a fun and exciting time. The company had recently gone public and was experiencing rapid growth. Simultaneously the company’s technology was also changing, moving from a room based system to a networked control solution.
Having done some work with Tandberg during my years at AMX, I joined the Tandberg ranks in 2003. The majority of my time at Tandberg was spent leading the U.S. distribution network focused on the integrator channel. When Cisco acquired Tandberg I decided it was time for a change and joined Polycom as Director of AV Integrator Business Development.
Q:What changes are on the horizon within the market place in 2015?
Randy: During 2015 we will continue to see changing work dynamics that will impact how, when and where we work. The new workplace will drive new requirements and applications for Polycom’s technologies and our partners. Whether it is mobility, social marketing, video or content sharing there will be new “problems” waiting for solutions and that will create new opportunities.
Q:How is Polycom evolving to better serve and work with partners?
Randy: As a channel’s focused company, Polycom is continually trying to make improvements to our service offerings and programs for partners. During 2015 you will see a focus on increasing customer success through partner loyalty and profitability. Essentially we will be building closer relationships with our partner community.
Q:Are we due for a fundamental change in channel strategies, or will 2015 be more of a time where organizations tweak their strategies to match others who have been successful?
Randy: I believe you will see a little bit of both. Workplace changes will drive new requirements and applications for Polycom’s technologies. With these new opportunities I believe we will see some new complimentary technology resellers who will develop a business practice around Polycom solutions. I also believe that many existing partners will see new business opportunities in some of our offerings and “tweak” their strategies to include them.
Q:What role will channel partners play in the work place of the future. What advice do you have for them?
Randy: The workplace of the future will provide many different opportunities for a variety of channel partners. For example, as office environments become more open, partners with acoustical experience will be in high demand due to noise levels. With the anywhere anytime work environment, the SMB market will be moving to cloud-based VoIP, video and content sharing services. Channel partners with expertise in these areas will be needed to meet the demand of the market. Services of all types will become even more important.
My advice to partners would be to recognize that there have been significant changes in our industry and the future will bring even more. Business models have changed and at the same time have created new opportunities. We must come to terms with these changes and continually look for the new opportunities.
Q:Looking into the future what will the channel look like in 2025?
Randy: If I had a crystal ball I would expect to see more Developer and Technology Partners and an expansion of our Solution Advisor, Service Provider and System Integration Partners.
Q:What’s one fun fact about you?
Randy: A little known fact among my Polycom associates is that after college I was a professional musician for many years.
Q:What do you like to do in your free time?
Randy: First off is spending time with my wife and family. Also, music has always been a big portion of my life and throughout my business career I have played in a variety of cover bands. These days I have been focused on learning different and new instruments.