Wow. What a week. I can safely say that TEAM Polycom 2016 blew all expectations out of the water. It was a fantastic three days of learning and training. I have so many positive thoughts and feedback from the event hence putting pen to paper and sharing with you all.
One of the first things that struck me was the excitement and energy from all of the speakers and the 1,500 partners, sales team and analysts in attendance. We pretty much had a full house at every presentation and the expo hall was buzzing with everyone trying out our new solutions.
It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with the sales teams and partners and discuss in detail our plans for 2016. I would like to take the opportunity to thank our partners for their continued support and dedication and to congratulate those that won a Circle of Excellence Award.
The keynotes were fantastic and met with very positive feedback from our partners who have said we ‘have our swagger back’ and that we ‘killed it’ with our new portfolio of solutions. The strength of our partnership with Microsoft and the benefit that our joint solutions can bring to the customer and to the market were at the forefront of several sessions. As I have mentioned to you before, our relationship is at its strongest and remains a critical part of our strategy in EMEA. We have such a deep integration with them; we are starting to see our competitors trying to do similar things. We need to continue to preserve our customers’ experiences with solutions like Polycom® RealPresence Clariti™ and Polycom® RealConnect™.
The innovation keynote was simply astounding. It felt like Michael Frendo and Ashan Willy received more applause than President Obama during his State of the Union speech! The atmosphere was amazing. Following a recap of the great innovation we have bought to the market over the last year, Michael and Ashan introduced Polycom® RealPresence Clariti™. We have a fantastic opportunity with RealPresence Clariti™ – enabling us to target small and medium sized businesses with this easy to use solution, as well as including Cloud Burst capability, an industry first.
I have been waxing lyrical about value selling and listening to our customers. This is one of the key messages that was focused on during each of the presentations, with a customer example from SAP. We need to constantly engage with our existing customers to understand their business objectives and requirements. This is where we win — when we fundamentally understand what they need and how we can help them.
We have many opportunities in front of us to enable us to Change the Game in 2016. Our new solutions, our strong relationship with Microsoft and our continued investment in innovation to name a few, so let’s get started!
Marco Landi joined the EMEA team as our new President on the 12th January 2015. As he approaches his one year anniversary, we caught up with Marco to find out how his first year has been and more about his plans for 2016.
So, Polycom, one year later… was it everything you anticipated?
Pretty much! It’s been a year of transformation for the company and for the EMEA team. We have made lots of significant changes and made progress in all areas of the business which I will come onto later.
From a performance point of view, it’s been an interesting year. Almost a story of two halves. Some countries and regions performed to their best, while we have seen others being challenged by the adverse economic conditions.
I am proud of what we have achieved in this last year. Whilst it’s bought its challenges, in particular the difficult phases of restructure, we were also able to celebrate lots of successes.
One thing that is clear to me now is that the workplace of the future is already here; we have customers using our technology in innovative and exciting ways, all having a positive impact on their businesses and customers in turn.
Have you made many changes since you joined?
My management style is very ‘hands on’ and I don’t think there is one area of the business that I haven’t touched! By working very closely with the EMEA leadership team, I introduced some changes in each of the business areas and put plans in place.
So, for example, within the sales team, I introduced several new initiatives over the year to encourage some healthy competition, grow topline revenue, take market share from our competitors, as well as to inject a little fun! We are continuing to develop our channel strategy and, working with the marketing team, we are monitoring market share data each quarter to assist with quarterly planning.
Improving communication across the EMEA team has been a big focus for me over the last year. To be successful, I feel it’s important to meet face-to-face, including via video, on a regular basis with customers and partners. Therefore I introduced a weekly target for the sales team to visit at least six existing / new customers a week. I also introduced the ‘Latte with Landi’ meetings, providing EMEA employees with the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback in an open forum. These sessions have given me invaluable insight and the chance to hear fresh ideas; it’s great to hear first-hand what’s on people’s minds.
I have also focused on the importance of training – by reworking the complete schedule. Regular training is fundamental to our company ethos and our aim to becoming the trusted advisor to our customers. As a team, we now commit to two hours training per week, to gain a deeper understanding of our products and an insight into key developments.
Following a year of many changes, I really feel that things are starting to come together now.
What is your / the team’s biggest achievement?
For us in EMEA, our biggest accomplishment is the creation of our strategic plan. A lot of time went into assessing the business, providing a very clear focus on what needs to be done. As mentioned earlier, this led to the introduction of new sales initiatives, a productivity audit and a robust training programme, as well as an increase in employee comms, encouraging us to work together as one team.
We have had lots of new hires, at all levels, including senior management. With a solid team now in place, we are in good stead to continue to execute our plan into 2016.
What is on your hit list for 2016? Where do you see the biggest market opportunities for Polycom in EMEA?
If you boil it all down, what we do need is ‘net new’ to continue to grow and expand our business. Net new for us means new customers, channels and incremental channels, products and services. The big challenge for us is how we get to each of these; it requires a lot of work and a new approach. Essentially, ‘net new’ simplifies what our strategy is going to be.
Our new solutions provide huge opportunities for us in 2016. The breadth of our portfolio makes us even more compelling to potential and existing customers. For the first time we are able to offer to our customers a depth of new solutions, regardless of business size, sector or budget, and this is something we have never been able to do before. One of our big priorities will be looking at our ‘go to market’ strategy for some of our new solutions and exploring creative ways of introducing further opportunities for our channel partners.
Of course, it goes without saying that the other opportunity we have is our partnership with Microsoft; our relationship is at its strongest and remains 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 being the first to market with our Polycom® VVX® Business Media Phones voice solutions for Microsoft’s new Office 365 PBX.
Voice remains a huge opportunity for us. The hosted telephony market is doing extremely well and we made some great progress in this area, this will continue to be an opportunity for us moving into 2016.
Another big priority for me will be to ensure we are using the strength of our brand and products with existing and new customers, as well as our channel partners. Working with several external consultants, this was consistently reported back as an area to focus on moving forward.
With 17 new solutions announced this year, including the significant launch in October, we have solid foundations in place for next year. We need to continue to execute on the EMEA plan, and take advantage of what we have learned over the course of the last year. We will continue to build on initiatives that have worked, and continue to build on areas that sought improvement. If we can execute on what we have planned to deliver, we will be in good shape.
What is the one thing you want to achieve most in 2016?
My top priority for 2016 is, as always, driving profitable growth. Showing a positive trend in growth, in particular in the adverse economic conditions that we are experiencing, will be a tremendous achievement for the EMEA team.
What’s your favourite thing about the company culture at Polycom?
We have a great culture at Polycom, and that is because of the people. As mentioned earlier, I have worked with several external consultants over the last year, in which all of them have been impressed by our employees. I find the entire EMEA team are extremely open and have responded well to the changes I have introduced, they are always willing to try new ways of working which is what I like to see.
You climbed Kilimanjaro this year – any plans to do something similar next year?
Yes! I am planning to climb Aconcagua, in Argentina in January 2017. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemispheres and the second highest of the Seven Summits. It will take me three grueling weeks to complete the climb. So this year, I will be training by climbing all five peaks of Monte Rosa in three days. This is the second highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, situated between Switzerland and Italy. So watch out for a video call invite from me; it would be great to talk to one of you at the top of a mountain again!
I recently took part in a Q&A with one of our UK&I partners, Videocall, in support of their campaign on ‘Whether the perfect office environment exists?”
It was a good opportunity to get my thoughts down on paper; I found it an interesting exercise! Below you can find a taster of what we talked about. You can also see the full Q&A here.
How do you see the employees of the future working?
83% of enterprise employees around the world already use video conferencing solutions at home today, and 56% of business leaders and managers expect video to be their most preferred collaboration tool in 2016. That means that the employees of the future will be communicating over video, there’s no doubt about it. I for one hope that video collaboration eliminates the convoluted email trail. Imagine how much more we would all achieve if we didn’t have to trawl through an inbox!
Within ten years distance will become largely irrelevant. We will work in a location agnostic way, fitting our work around our lives and responsibilities, not the other way round. I look forward to the diversity this will bring to the workforce as we make it easier for parents, carers or those with specific needs to work in a way that benefits both them and their employer.
What will happen to the office of the future?
The office will continue to exist, but the face of it will change. Offices will be more flexible, with different spaces for different kinds of collaboration. Work will become something we do, not a place we go. The office will take on a new vibrancy as a creative collaboration hub rather than somewhere we pass the hours from nine till five. There will still be a need for some office space, as some people prefer to work this way, but it will be more suited to employee needs. That might mean more ‘watercooler’ areas that foster the casual conversation that leads to a ‘eureka’ moment; these will become what we call huddle spaces, equipped with voice, video and content collaboration for impromptu sessions.
Could you describe the perfect office environment? Does it exist?
The perfect office environment is whatever best suits the needs of your business and your employees. In my opinion that is always going to be a shifting set of goalposts, so having an office that is flexible and scalable is the perfect solution. Creating offices in the cloud is a way to achieve this, with Polycom Virtual Meeting Rooms you can enable your employees to collaborate without physically building any more space. These VMRs can be increased and decreased both in size and number as the need changes.
So the week of 5th October was exactly as I described it in a recent EMEA Town Hall – a huge week for all of us at Polycom! I started the beginning of my week at our bi-annual offsite with the EMEA Sales Leadership Team – using that time to brainstorm ideas, meditate (yes you heard me) and to review progress on my all-important EMEA plan both this year and into next year.
Then the 25th anniversary celebrations began. On the Wednesday evening (EMEA time) Peter Leav kicked off the first event in NYC marking the start of our 25 hour product launch and celebration. It was at this event that Peter, Michael Frendo and Ashan Willy unveiled truly game changing products for us at Polycom. Once NYC had started proceedings, to mark the occasion and to provide the link between the different sites, we passed the ‘25th Anniversary Time Capsule (Time Capsule)’ through each event.
Moving through APAC, and then onto EMEA, when it was our turn there was a real buzz in the air from not only our partners and customers but also employees too. Moscow marked the start of the celebrations in EMEA after meeting with the team in India to receive the Time Capsule. There, the local team celebrated before handing over the Time Capsule to Paris. In Paris, they celebrated in true style, with customers and partners enjoying live music and 25 ‘Gateau’.
The Munich customer and partner event was up next, in which we all enjoyed seeing the local team dressing up in traditional Bavarian outfits to mark the occasion. When it was London’s turn to take over proceedings, I had the ‘pleasure’ of accepting the Time Capsule from Jens Bauer, our ASVP for Central Europe who had truly got into the swing of things and was wearing his lederhosen!
Our launch event in London gave all our employees outside those regions the opportunity to hear the unveiling of our new solutions EMEA style, and we also invited along a special guest panel including UK analyst house MZA, and two customers to add a third party dimension to our the story.
The panel, including, one seasoned video user from the Royal College of Music - talked about how they had used video since 2003 and were now pushing the boundaries and using video for their actual performances. Our other customer panelist, Pearson, is a new customer who is implementing the ‘future workplace’ right now. A toast from me and an extra item for the time capsule (a Welsh rugby shirt – courtesy of Jeremy Keefe, ASVP for UK&I and Benelux) later, signified the end of the EMEA leg before moving back to the US and back round to where we started in NYC.
It was a day of firsts for us at Polycom. Not least attempting a 25 hour launch, it also meant for the first time we are able to offer to our customers a depth and breadth of new solutions, regardless of business size, sector or budget, and this is something we have never been able to do before.
For Polycom and me personally, it is an extremely exciting time, as the new solutions make us even more compelling to potential and existing customers. As work has drastically changed from a place we go to, into something people do, the office of the future is about ‘people’ and our latest solutions will simply enable people to collaborate more effectively across a broader array of workspaces. So, here is to the next chapter and the exciting things it will bring.
After a gruelling five days of climbing a total of 5895 metres, we reached the Uhuru Peak and with temperatures of -15°C we didn’t stick around for long.
But before making our descent, we held a quick video call via Polycom RealPresence desktop on our Zebra ET55 using Inmarsat satellite equipment – proving you really can work from anywhere!
We were well looked after by a support team of 35 people and our itinerary was well designed to prepare for acclimatization - the most challenging aspect of mountain climbing.
For me, climbing Kilimanjaro was a great experience; as taxing as it was physically, our team spirit kept us going. During our moments of down time we played general knowledge quizzes, some of the team took races up the mountain and I even learned a new card game – I am now a pro at ‘Trumps’!
It was awe-inspiring seeing the cloud level clearly below us. And experiencing the changing environment as we ascended to higher levels, you really have to be there to understand the wonder.
For those of you who might not know, Kilimanjaro is one of the “Seven Summits” (the highest peak on each continent) and the highest free standing mountain in the world. The base of the mountain is already at the same height as Ben Nevis in the UK, so we knew we had our work cut out for us from day one.
So I can now add Kilimanjaro to my list, along with Mont Blanc & Mount Elbrus, and I have Aconcagua, Argentina on the list for next year.
Now that we know our video technology works at any height, my team should watch out for future video meeting invites from other mountain summits!
NOTE: The charity we climed Kilimanjaro was for www.youngminds.org.uk/
For children and young people's wellbeing and mental health.
Today marks the end of my first six months at Polycom. With two tough but rewarding quarters under our belts, this month brings me yet another mountain to climb. The real kind… my team and I embarked on this challenge four years ago when I was at Motorola and over the past four years we have conquered Mont Blanc and Mount Elbrus. This time we are climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of the charity Young Minds at the end of July with Everest slated next!
The climate has been tough these past few months; however one thing that is clear is that we are reaching a tipping point in the market, with customers understanding how technologies like ours can bring more to the party than just travel savings.
I have been waxing lyrical about Polycom enabling the workplace of the future, the need to offer employees flexibility, and the ability to talk to each other naturally, regardless of where they happen to be.
On Wednesday 27th May, I hosted a packed Immersive Studio in London, full of European media and analysts, met with our colleagues and press across the pond to talk and see first-hand the ‘workplace of the future’.
The event hosted by our Execs in NYC – Jeff Rodman, Michael Frendo and Ashan Willy talked about Polycom’s past, present and future. It is very clear it is an exciting time at Polycom – celebrating our birthday and past innovations this year, and as part of the presentation … we were able to get a glimpse of what the future will look like, when we start to bring our new and exciting innovations to market throughout H2.
For me, what stood out, and really hit home is how unique our offering is to some of the vertical sectors represented in the customer panel. This was demonstrated throughout the commentary provided by five of our customers. Each took time out of their schedules to join us (in person and virtually) to share their experiences of how Polycom Solutions enhance their way of working and alternatively affect their own customers.
Two things that were repeatedly mentioned was how ‘the quality of HD voice’ was critical to the Manhattan School of Music’s ability to offer countless distance learning music and dramatic arts sessions across the globe… and ‘how the quality of HD vision’ was of a clinical standard, echoed by Veronica Southern, Teleswallowing consultant, ‘to the point it feels like you are in the room with the patient meaning you can provide a diagnosis in half the time, using half the resource and equally providing that valuable care to your grandmother or great uncle Keith’.
Hearing about how video can impact people’s lives outside the office environment, really shows how powerful our solutions are – you perhaps as an individual would quite possibility feel uneasy if your doctor asked you to connect via a consumer video app to undertake a complex diagnosis… however through using a business grade video solution like Polycom, there is the added security, and the HD experience that immediately puts you at ease. It also shows that the moment we move away from a more traditional pitch that focuses on travel savings, to showing how organizations can use our technology to evolve their processes for the better, the return is more impactful – going vertical is the way forward.
I see this event as just the beginning, as our customers were eager as part of this session to exchange stories and best practice – and this is something I want to actively encourage the team to do here in EMEA.
One thing is clear to me, the workplace of the future is already here; we have customers using our technology in innovative and exciting ways, all having a positive impact on their businesses and customers in turn. We just need more like them!
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…