In this piece, Jens Brauer, DACH and Central Europe Area Sales Vice President, talks about his first year at Polycom, the milestones and the challenges
So, Polycom, one year later… was it everything you anticipated?
I cannot believe that it has already been a year since I joined Polycom! Yes, everything turned out to be as anticipated as I was given a true outlook of the year ahead of me from the start. This is because at Polycom we believe in being as transparent with our employees as possible. Overall, it has been a great first year during which we have celebrated successes as well as overcome challenges. I lead and manage the Central and Eastern European business, and regionally we are growing from strength-to-strength.
Have you made many changes since you joined?
Due to the evolving customer requirements, the industry is continually changing and we are witnessing the same in our region too. We have adapted our local plans in order to stay ahead of the game and to take advantage of the interesting new opportunities developed as a result. We work closely with our partners to keep up with the changes in the customer requirements and ensure we bring innovative new products to the market speedily to help customers resolve their business challenges.
In terms of specific changes within the Eastern European region, we are expanding as a business and are making further investments in the region. We have adopted a more structured approach to the business so we can cater to the regional customer requirements. This has been implemented by strengthening the sales and the channel team and making new hires across the region, including at the senior leadership level.
In Austria and Switzerland, we are focusing more on the channel which is helping us reach out to a broader range of customers. The demand for UC solutions customised for individual business needs is on the rise and the market is growing at a much faster pace than before. There is an untapped potential in the market and to be able to leverage this for the business we have also extended the team to include a channel and a technology representative.
The German division of the business has matured many folds. We have seen strong growth in this market and our focus is on all segments – from small businesses to mid-sized and enterprise level. We are fully equipped to support all types of vertical industry businesses, be it public sector, automotive, financial services or retail.
One thing that was high on my priority list for Germany was to provide my team with the opportunity to excel, and become industry sector and segment expert. The roles have been modified with two-dimensional responsibilities, where each person is responsible for a specific vertical and then within that they look after a small, a medium or an enterprise level customer. This has not only re-energised the way we conduct business, but has also brought us a step closer to the customers and will help us align our solutions portfolio with their requirements.
Do you have any highlights from 2015 you want to reference?
Being part of the 25th year anniversary celebrations was the biggest highlight of my first year at Polycom. A lot of work went into making this happen. The anniversary celebrations took place across all regional offices and because I am based in Germany, I joined in the celebrations taking place at the German offices. To mark this iconic moment in the future history of Polycom, all local offices decided to add a bit of local flavour to the 25-hour around the
world celebrations where we connected with each other over the industry leading Polycom® RealPresence® Platform. In addition, we unveiled a range of new voice, video and content collaboration products that have been designed to address all price points and customer demands, and to allow us to better meet the needs of current channel partners as well as open the door to relationships with new service providers and integrators across the region. The new solutions are not merely an extension to our existing product suite but have the power to change the market – enabling collaboration from the centre of the room and changing any space into a meeting space.
What has been the biggest challenge? Has anything in particular surprised you?
My main objective in 2015 was to realign the business strategy, open doors to new ways of developing expertise for the team and reinvest into the business to drive growth. As with any new job, I expected this to be challenging. Thanks to the excellent support network of the EMEA management team and highly skilled workforce, I was able to meet my targets on time.
I don’t want to shy away from saying that my first year has been a learning curve for me too as I joined Polycom from an IT storage company. It is a whole different challenge of its own to learn the tricks of the trade of a completely new sector. I enjoy working in the UC sector and have since created a new base of extremely useful business contacts, including customers and partners.
What is on your hit list for the Central region in 2016?
In 2016, my priority is to execute on our 2016 plan. Polycom prides itself on its people and I wish to create a network of highly skilled professionals who can understand and meet the requirements of our customers across all vertical sectors and all industry segments. One size can’t fit all when it comes to finding the perfect UC solution as each business requirement is unique.
What is the one thing you want to achieve most in 2016?
I am raising the bar higher for myself next year. We are looking to support businesses across small to mid-market (mittlestand) to enterprise level, so all industry segments. I am confident that with a fresh outlook and business strategy for the region, we are in a position to achieve our goals for Central and Eastern Europe in 2016. The team in place are professionals with extensive experience and are fully equipped to understand our customer needs. Our channel ecosystem is looking stronger than ever, and we will provide them all the support we can via training, and reward and certification programme so they can proliferate as a business as well. If they succeed, we succeed too!
What’s your favourite thing about the company culture at Polycom?
I like the fact that Polycom culture allows us to practice what we preach. Our workforce possesses highly developed communication skills, all thanks to the use of audio, video and content collaboration technology day-in and day-out. What is perhaps a new trend for about 90% of companies across the world is something we live and breathe everyday – it is the workplace of the future and it is here already!