Marco Landi joined EMEA as our new President on the 12th January, We caught up with Marco to find out more about his plans for 2015 and what has been keeping him busy over the past 100 days.
The first 100 days as a new leader is a crucial period. What have you learnt so far? What’s been the hardest thing about starting a new role?
As we all know, when starting a new job there are two key areas to get up to speed on as quickly as possible; the business and the people.
When I started, my plan was to meet as many people as possible to help understand the way we do things here at Polycom. I have visited our teams in most of the EMEA countries now, and have met many people both internally and externally – just don’t ask me to remember everyone’s names!
Now that I have successfully completed my first 100 days as President, I am beginning to understand the fundamentals of how we do business at Polycom and it is clear that transparency is essential. In a region as diverse as EMEA, our markets require tailored local strategies to address the differing potential in each region - there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. So we are creating a series of local plans which sit within the EMEA plan to unearth further opportunity.
What changes have you made so far?
Improving communication across EMEA is probably one of the biggest changes I have made so far. Obviously working for a video solutions company has it benefits and enables us to do that. As they say, it’s important to ‘drink your own champagne’. I am a big fan of talking – those who have met me will already know that! I believe to be successful you need to get out and meet people face-to-face, which includes over video. That said, I have visited many countries in my first 100 days – meeting partners, customers and the team - and have asked their opinions of us and our proposition to help me create the strategy for EMEA. I am also meeting regularly with a wide range of team members, many of whom I wouldn’t traditionally work with on a daily basis, through an internal ‘Latte with Landi’ initiative. Through this I am gaining valuable internal insight and ideas.
One other change I am looking to introduce is to inject a little fun – we are all very serious in EMEA – and whilst I am a great believer in working hard, I also believe you should play hard too! So I am aiming to roll out a few more internal initiatives designed to inject a little fun and healthy competition very soon.
What do you see as the biggest challenge? Has anything in particular surprised you?
Nothing has shocked me outright but it’s not an easy market. I expected this and the challenge is one of the main reasons I joined Polycom. There is fierce competition and it is not to be underestimated. I think the biggest challenge for us is how we go about increasing our relevance to partners and customers. If you are a small cog in the wheel for a customer then you can’t really get the coverage and visibility needed, and so you become less important. We need to do a lot more work to increase our relevance. There are a lot of things that are working and are ok - but we can do a lot better– we have been ok for too long and it is not enough, we need to be great and there are areas we need to look at improving to achieve this!
What has inspired you most about the UC industry? Polycom offers so much, how do you describe what we do?
I think the technology is cool and very relevant for the way people want to interact today and in the future. I think ‘unleashing the power of human collaboration’ describes us and what we can do for others very well. As Polycom is the best in class, video, voice and content collaboration solutions provider - what we do is what’s most interesting to me – enabling people to communicate at anytime, anywhere and through any device.
I have made sure to use all of our solutions, and found them easy to use. Practicing what we preach and using our technology every day has given me a real sense of what the workplace of the future could look like. Traditionally, the value proposition of video conferencing was around the cost equation: less travel, saving time and resources and so on. But actually the solutions that we provide with our partners are increasingly solving business problems, especially in the vertical sectors.
We have some great customer stories that demonstrate about how video has impacted people’s lives for the better, and these stories really do show that it isn’t just a technology used by C-staff for meetings – video collaboration in its truest sense can have an impact in healthcare institutions, manufacturing facilities and in classrooms round the world – that’s what is inspiring to me.
What are the biggest market opportunities for Polycom in EMEA?
As far as I can see there is not one big opportunity in market or within the portfolios that will enable us to achieve success. I think it will come in the form of lots of smaller opportunities and little changes and tweaks to existing approaches in region that will enable us to meet our growth objective. As I have mentioned previously these changes and approaches will form part of our ‘go to market’ strategy and plan along with sales, marketing, services, demand gen and brand awareness, all these areas combined is the way forward for us in EMEA.
From a portfolio perspective, I do think we have a great opportunity in voice – the hosted telephony market is doing extremely well and we should continue to push our efforts there. The video market is changing; it’s no longer focused on the enterprise. The rise of VaaS alongside BYOD and consumerisation means that increasingly we are seeing video deployments reaching into the SMB space. It’s a different approach though, with a focus on software and services as opposed to hardware and infrastructure. This is something we are prepared for and addressing, but there is more work to be done in achieving our vision of video ubiquity.
The other opportunity I can see is our partnership with Microsoft; the relationship has never been stronger and continues to be a critical part of our strategy in EMEA. It’s a key differentiator for us in attracting new customers and expanding our partner base hence our continued development of solutions for this market, such as RealConnect.
What is the one thing you want to achieve most at Polycom?
This hasn’t changed since you last asked me! My top priority and achievement at Polycom, is to keep us on the growth trajectory and maintain the profitability of the business we have today. Growth in a static and difficult market is a challenge but one I am excited about.
What’s your favourite thing about the company culture at Polycom?
My favourite thing about the culture at Polycom is being a virtual meeting room away – the fact we ‘drink our own champagne’ and 90% of us use video for the majority of our meetings – it shows how lean a business can be and also enables our staff to embrace a better work life balance.
Would you agree that ‘work is not a place you go, it’s what you do’?
Yes I would. Flexible and home workers, like me, are driving a cultural change that accentuates work as something we do versus a place we go. I believe that the way you work does not depend on a physical location or turning up to the office every day, but is more about driving tangible outcomes. While physical presence and clocking a certain number of hours are still important or necessary for many organisations, my belief is that work is not a ‘place’ anymore.
Have you managed to enjoy any downtime- are you personally seeing the benefit of video collaboration solutions?
I have and I do. I am actually based up in the midlands, so in between travelling around EMEA both physically and virtually, I am still able to enjoy some quality time with my family; in fact I recently came back from a ski-trip. Next on my list is Kilimanjaro…