The pressures on public health systems is well lamented in the press. No matter where we look, especially around Europe, governments are facing difficult decisions on spending the public health budget. The fact is the population in Northern Europe is steadily growing, people are getting better at looking after themselves, and we are living longer. The long promoted formula for a healthier lifestyle has resulted in healthcare providers having to adapt to meet the demand on services that will enable this formula. The services citizens expect from their health system go beyond the acute care you would expect from a hospital – diet and weight control, smoking cessation, management of long term conditions, and so on.
But what about mental health? A report from CentreForum has found one in 10 young people in the UK has a mental health problem. That equates to 720,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16. To make matters worse, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) seems to be severely underfunded, receiving only 0.7% of the healthcare budget. That’s about £704M (€885M or $997M).
The frightening fact that stands out is that about 23% of children are turned away that are referred for therapy.
How can we improve this situation? One way is to delivery as much of the service our children and young adults need in the way they are used to – via their own device on whatever network they have access to.
Millennials and even younger generations are very used to accessing what information they need online. It often involves a personal device and they use their own smartphones, tablets or PCs to get what they want – fast. The fact is, our society has become used to getting information quickly thanks to broadband, mobile and wifi networks. And the same goes for services. So it seems antiquated and even in some areas inequitable to restrict a crucial service such as adolescent mental health without considering a virtual approach.
A large proportion of therapy can be delivered to a young adult in a secure, high quality way. Using a virtual approach to provide therapy has a number of benefits that will greatly enhance the service too. Convenience for the client (the service user) is a huge benefit. Take this as an example; for a young person to leave school or college to travel to an appointment during the day causes great disruption. It's inconvenient and could be costly; not everyone lives in a metropolitan area. There could also be a perceived stigma attached to walking into a clinic. ‘What if someone sees me?’ ‘What if I bump into someone I know and they talk about me?’ What might seem trivial to an adult could have devastating side effects for a young person.
Then there is the matter of high non-attendance or did not show (DNS) rates. Not only does failure to show for an appointment mean wasted time for the therapist (they could have been treating someone else), it also creates an inefficiency and a cost is borne.
I acknowledge not all aspects of CAHMS or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) can be delivered in a virtual way. But for a majority of one to one sessions, it is far more efficient. A therapist who might normally travel to multiple locations, sometimes great distances apart, to see two or three clients in a day, can use that time to talk to double the number. I hesitate to use the phrase call-centre, but taking this approach can help tackle the 23% of children turned away, mentioned in the report.
The therapists working with our children and young adults do a fantastic job, often in difficult conditions. They are known as the Cinderella Service in the UK NHS because of the low budget they receive. Sharing the therapist expertise and giving them the tools to reach more of those in need will undoubtedly help to intervene earlier.
If you are interested in seeing how Polycom can help provide improved access to talking therapies, especially for children and young adults, please do get in touch with me. I will be only too happy to talk.
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…
Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?
MARCO: Most of my background has been working in IT and throughout many different parts of the world. I have over 20 years of international experience in enterprise sales, marketing, and product management. My recent role was with Zebra Technologies where I served as Vice President of Sales for EMEA. In this role, I led the theatre to a highly profitable $1.3 billion success story through a tough economic climate. Prior to Zebra I held a variety of senior positions at Motorola Enterprise, where I led the company’s enterprise business across all markets in EMEA, holding leadership positions in PSION and Symbol (prior to acquisition). I was also part of the leadership team responsible for the acquisition and sales integration of PSION into Motorola in 2012.
What is your top priority in your new role?
MARCO: My top priority is to keep Polycom on the growth trajectory and maintain the profitability of the business we have today. I will do this by identifying areas for growth and try to unearth new untapped opportunities so we can start to gain market share. Peter brought me in to lead a team that is performing extremely well in a relatively static market. My job is to come in as a fresh pair of eyes to search for new areas where we can grow.
What does the first 90 days for you look like?
1: Education. Not being a UC specialist, I want to gain a better understanding of our proposition.
2: I also want to meet the whole team, understand their roles and the structure of the organisation.
3: At the same time I will be meeting with partners, distributors and customers to gain an understanding of their view of the market and their view of Polycom.
I will try to figure out our strengths and look at areas we can draw on and where we can improve. Before the 90 days are up I will have a clear plan with ideas of how to grow and execute against.
Tell us a bit about your leadership style? What do you expect from your team?
MARCO: I am hands on – whether it is numbers, projects, issues – I look at myself as a “Mr. fix it” providing strategic direction and helping to drive the numbers, but also like to help people eliminate obstacles to achieve their goals. I like to solve problems, whether it is technical, GTM, marketing related and like to get into the detail. I have an open style, I am not hierarchal, and I want to motivate people from a personal perspective. I want them to have a leader they can trust and look to me for support. Their success is my success.
Your career in technology spans more than 20 years, how do you see video evolving?
MARCO: I like the fact that we at Polycom have a clear vision. The vision of a future work environment with people using video for meetings regardless of location – whether you are at a hotel, an airport, at home. It ignites my imagination as to how the future can and will look. If Polycom delivers the vision of collaborating across multiple platforms – through seamless communications and making video ubiquitous - to have everyone use it all the time, it makes complete sense to me and it’s a great place to be. I do believe that even though the market is more or less static in EMEA, you can attract different and new types of users. The biggest challenge is the conference phone market. The challenge there is what we are going to do with that market and how to refresh it.
Can you give us one example of how technology has changed your life?
MARCO: I am a prototype for the frequent traveler. I don’t work in an office. I haven’t worked in an office for a few years. In fact, I went to my last office five times in total… I work everywhere, including hotels and home. Technology has enabled me to work this way and has transformed the way I work. Coming to Polycom and using video day-to-day will only reinforce the way I like to work.
You’ve travelled a lot over the years with your various positions. What city has been your favorite so far?
MARCO: It is very hard to say. I have lived in many cities, including Rome, London, Paris, New York and Jakarta. Paris for me rates highly from a cultural perspective. London also has a lot to offer. Rome is a beautiful city with fantastic weather, food and culture. I would say it would be tough for me to decide between them all. Every time I visit a new city I think it might be a new favorite. If I was a millionaire I would have a lot of houses!
At Polycom, work-life balance is important. What do you do when you get some down time?
MARCO: I am firm believer in work-life balance. I enjoy being active, extreme sports and the great outdoors. One of my challenges for this year is to finish climbing the highest mountains in the world; so far I have climbed two of the eight. As part of my routine I enjoy going for a run before settling down to work. It clears my head and keeps my mind active. My weekends are also spent with my family, either in the garden or outdoors somewhere.