Longtime Polycom veteran Pierre Rodriguez, vice president of Polycom Caribbean and Latin America, sat down with us to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities facing channel partners in the CaLA region and beyond. Read the Q&A with Pierre to get his take on everything from the changes on the horizon in the market place, to Polycom’s evolving role, to what he does to de-stress in his free time.
What is your current position with Polycom and what was your career path to get there? PIERRE: I’m the vice president of Polycom Caribbean and Latin America (CaLA). From 1995 – 2000 I worked for PictureTel in various rules, including as a Systems Engineer, in Marketing and Operations, and eventually as the lead for the entire region. In 2003 I came back to Polycom.
What changes are on the horizon within the market place in 2015? PIERRE: The most significant change is related to the value of what we do. If you look back more than 10 years ago, customers wouldn’t buy collaboration. Over the past 7-8 years, there were changes in three main principles: customers bought our products for cost reduction, increased productivity, and faster decision making processes. Very recently, we’re seeing companies starting to understand that collaboration and video can help them improve from the topline and bottom line if they integrate the solutions into their workflow. They are using our technology to streamline or change how they operate in a much more significant way. Changes I see on the horizon are that customers who are new to this technology can really gain a competitive advantage in terms of top and bottom line growth.
How is Polycom evolving to better serve customers in a changing market? PIERRE: We’re investing in getting closer to the customers and investing in services. As technology evolves it becomes mission critical. Services become much more valuable and important if integrated to the workflow We’re using insights to better understand business challenges at a granular level and we’re putting that back into the solutions we develop.
Please share an interesting example from your experiences working with customers to address a business problem. PIERRE: Recently we worked with a family-owned super market chain in Argentina that wanted to better control the quality of each individual store. The owner wanted to be able to ensure consistency and quality at each store, but it was impossible to oversee this in person. With the help of the RealPresence Platform and RealPresence Mobile on tablets, the owner can now call any store and ask the manager to show him any aisle or display to be able to assess the quality. He knows that if he does that, he will sell more.
What changes are on the horizon within the channel in 2015? PIERRE: A significant change is with the sales aspect of the channel. We need to help our customers understand/adopt this technology and understand the broader value of the technology on workflow integration. If one of our channel partners goes to the customer and simply says, “Do you need any help?” They will say, “No, I’m okay.” The sale will end there. What we expect is the channel partner to look at the company’s business problems. Now more than ever, the channel needs to act as a trusted advisor and guide the customer to the solutions that can offer immediate and longer term benefits. The channel needs to consult and sell; this is how we will solve business challenges.
How is Polycom evolving to better serve and work with partners? PIERRE: A key word right now is relevancy. We want to be relevant to our partners business and want partners that are relevant to our business. We want to help our partners in developing the market and the business. Knowledge transfer is key and training partners so they have the right tools to effectively produce.
What role will channel partners play in the work place of the future. What advice do you have for them? PIERRE: As we move to workflow integration, more often we will be required to integrate in the workflow through customer business applications. Customers will want to integrate our technology into their own workflow. APIs and SDKs can make this possible. Video will become an add-on in that workflow. My advice is to be really conscious of the need to integrate into the workflow of the customer.
What do you like to do in your free time? PIERRE: I have two kids, which typically equals no free time. But when I do have free time, I’m a big fan of music.
What is one fun fact about you? PIERRE: Going along with my love of music, most people don’t realize I have a drum set in my office. When I’m stressed out, I’ll spend a few minutes playing my drums to calm down.