John: The early days of my career were spent in engineering, designing computers and networking equipment. I was a founding member of two startup companies in the 80’s and 90’s and in 1996 I started consulting.
One of my first consulting engagements was with PictureTel where I helped them navigate how to support video conferencing on an IP network. I worked with their engineering team for two years, and then started consulting with their services team. In 2001, PictureTel was acquired by Polycom; this was when I started working with Polycom customers on IP networks to help them better enable their video conferencing. In 2011 I was hired full time with Polycom, where I created our current network service offerings and introduced the Network Monitoring Tool to the company and our customers.
Today, I focus on business development for advanced and managed services to help our sales teams and customers understand our managed services, and I help customize them based on different geography, customer and partner requirements. I am also called upon often to work with customers at both a high level and a deeper technical level to navigate difficult situations which need more advanced expertise to ensure that our solutions are solving the business need and being used to the full extent of their capabilities.
Q: Can you give us some interesting examples of your work experiences?
John: I’ve solved a lot of problems all around the world and have been asked to travel with little notice. There was one day when I came to my office on Friday morning and got a call from the services director asking me to be in Paris on Monday morning. I left on Sunday and arrived in Paris on Monday where I spent three days helping solve a customer network issue.
Another fun story: every time I travel somewhere I bring my mother in law back a small jar of water for her collection. During an engagement in Beijing China I asked our local team where I could get some water. After conversation with the taxi driver they suggested a big reflecting pool in front of the Beijing Opera House as a source. When I agreed, the taxi driver turned around and we headed for central Beijing. I asked one of my colleagues, Alan Ma, Polycom Director of Services, China, to take a photo of me collecting the water in the middle of Tiananmen Square. He then joked that my mother in law must not trust me, since she wanted photographic evidence of where the water came from. We all had a good laugh over that.
Q: How do you see Polycom playing a role to help facilitate change in how our customers consume our technology?
John: Right now, private clouds are a hot topic. Private clouds are a Polycom hosted infrastructure for video conferencing that we deploy for customers, but we manage and continue to own. We put dedicated equipment into a data center and connect it to their network; each one is dedicated to a specific customer and is accessible only to that customer. These are highly secure and flexible in configuration based on individual needs.
We are seeing interest in private cloud solutions from key customers. I expect this part of the business to grow significantly in the coming years. This approach gives our customers more flexibility without the hassle of a self-managed infrastructure. Polycom is continuing to build out the capabilities and ease of use for our cloud services.
Q: What trends do you see coming in the year 2020?
John: In 2020, I see more video infrastructure moving to the cloud so customers will have less and less management requirements in their companies. Our customers will be able to focus more on figuring out the best ways for users to connect to video.
I also think future of collaboration will be controlled by personal devices. Our personal devices hold our personal context including meeting schedules, contacts and preferences that define how we like to work. Using this personal device to start and manage calls, whether they are on the device itself or on a room system, wall system, telepresence system or other solution will mean each individual is comfortable with how to make it work and all the information they need is in their hands.
Q: What is unique about your remote working experience?
John: I live in Brunswick, Maine; my wife and I moved here after our kids graduated from college. It’s a beautiful place to live and I still get the opportunity to work with customers and colleagues around the world. Living here is a good mix of old world and new world; it’s an old colonial, postindustrial town. My home isn’t large enough to fit a home office, so I rent an office space in an old mill building built in the 1800s on the river at the end of Maine Street. This gives me an office environment in which to work but still allows me to be in this beautiful area.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
John: I like to visit my kids and granddaughter when I get the chance. My wife and I are building a house on a new piece of land where we also plan to start a permaculture farm, which uses more nature-integrated farming practices. These farms are very careful about water management; plants are integrated with one another to ensure that each plant provides what another needs to survive. We are excited about building a sustainable solution for our family and community.