There’s a lot of buzz around the imminent launch of Microsoft’s Skype for Business, and for good reason. The launch will be a rebrand of, but also an update to, the excellent Lync platform. The hype preceding this launch tells us one thing in particular; the business world loves Lync. 60% of enterprises are either considering or deploying Lync as its Voice Platform. Everybody wants Lync and its momentum is so huge that organisations that historically wouldn’t have considered it now recognise the value it can offer.
What does this mean for Polycom though? Well, 76% of all phones sold with Lync are Polycom endpoints. Polycom has 40+ video, voice and content sharing solutions interoperable or optimised to work with Lync. It’s because of this tight bond between Polycom and Lync that we launched the product everyone is talking about.
The pervasiveness of Lync throughout the enterprise means that organisations have already invested a fair amount in infrastructure, endpoints and training for employees in order to ensure that the Lync workflow is integrated into the business processes. Evidence shows that customers who have built the Lync platform into their processes in this way save up to 30 minutes a day, shrink project times by 10%, and increase proposals delivered and won by 20%.
But large enterprises are slow moving beasts, especially when it comes to IT.
Many organisations have legacy systems which predate the entry of Microsoft into the UC arena, and they aren’t going anywhere. They’ve ended up with siloed products and systems that don’t talk to each other. It reminds me of a scene from BBC drama Downton Abbey, when the Grantham’s become proud early owners of a telephone. Great, but as Mr Carson points out, they need to work out who else has one they can call!
Organisations are aware of the power of Lync beyond IM and presence and are keen to really derive the benefits of voice, video and content collaboration within this interface. They’ve bought Lync and now they want to drive usage and adoption of Lync, they don’t want to have their employees step out of that workflow. RealConnect enables this and luckily for existing Polycom customers this will be included as an automatic upgrade within their service contract.
Ultimately this is the way the UC, communications and technology markets are moving. Customers don’t want to be locked down into proprietary vendor solutions, they want best of breed solutions to work seamlessly. Within a UC context that means presence, IM, video, voice, content, scheduling and email is brought together by the Lync platform. The end user doesn’t care which vendor supplies what part, they just want it all to work together in an interface they understand. Users are beyond the days of mobile contracts that only allowed them to call others with the same operator. In the same way they expect any-network minutes they expect to be able to reach out to any of their contacts via any of the Lync communications methods. Thank goodness for RealConnect!
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.