Based in Singapore, Shirish Joshi is an experienced channel leader, who brings over 20 years’ industry experience in managing partner ecosystems in the region. In this Q&A we discuss Polycom's partner relationships and how the channel will play a pivotal role in enabling the workplace of the future.
What has been most important to you in this role?
In my role and focus area of channel sales, a couple of things are top of mind for me.
Being able to influence and work closely with the field to add value and relevance to partners and customers. This sometimes means going back to basics and addressing key criteria: do we have the right coverage in market? Do we have the right channel partner landscape to protect and grow our businesses in each country? Have we established a robust cadence of business planning and reviews with our focus set of partners?
Conversely, being adaptable and willing to change is also important. Asia Pacific is a very diverse region and each of the markets is unique. We cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. Instead, it is a collection of micro-strategies and local plans within the overall APAC strategy, which address the unique opportunities and challenges in individual markets. How we work with our channel, the required landscape, our channel programmes and strategies, therefore also need to be relevant in this context.
How is Polycom evolving to better serve and work with partners?
At Polycom, our entire business flows through our Channel, hence it has always been at the centre of our GTM strategies. Over the years, we have nurtured a very good set of Channel partners, who have invested in Polycom technology, and are able to sell and support our products and solutions.
The technology market landscape is changing, and Polycom solutions have also evolved to address these changes. Over the years video has become pervasive and is accessible in multiple forms – from boardroom and desktop to your choice of device and workspace. We have an extensive portfolio of solutions – comprising equipment, services, and software – and a variety of delivery models such as on-premise or cloud services. Our collaboration solutions and innovations enable the workplace of the future, addressing the requirements of varied organisation sizes and verticals, evolving trends and market conditions; all of these present opportunities for Polycom and our partner ecosystem.
To sell and support these, we work closely with partners who are leaders in the technology space and we provide resources to help them evolve and adapt to changing market trends. Additionally we look to recruit new partners to strengthen our market presence and reach.
Polycom also focuses on helping our partners develop the market and our business through knowledge transfer. This means growing the skillsets of existing channel partners, as well as allowing newer partners (such as new cloud partners, managed services partners) to enter the ecosystem.. In this context, we continue to increase our relevance to our partners, and also support and enable partners who are relevant to our business. We have spent a significant amount of time improving processes and resources such as our partner portal and training offered via Polycom University. We also continue to introduce new tools and partner specialisations, and engaging with partners more closely to align priorities and objectives to ensure we achieve growth.
What role will channel partners play in the workplace of the future?
The ‘workplace of the future’ is already here; our customers are already using Polycom enterprise grade collaboration solutions in innovative and impactful ways in different industry verticals, such as healthcare, education, and manufacturing. We already engage with customers who have derived benefits from our technology and now have the opportunity to take this mainstream. Our partner ecosystem will continue to play a pivotal role in addressing these opportunities and scaling up the business. To sell in this space, our partners must change the way they currently sell – moving away from our traditional sales pitch of savings on travel time and costs, to showing customers how they can use Polycom solutions to transform their organisations and solve business issues – such as time to market and improving operating margin – through better collaboration. We need partners to be trusted advisors – digging deep to truly explore and understand a customer’s business issues and offer the technology options and solutions which are right for them.
On the practice front, partners equipped with advanced skills and competencies offered through our training and specialisation certifications will do better in understanding Polycom technology and offering the right solutions. Examples of such expertise include Microsoft and API competencies, virtualisation, hosted voice, managed services and expertise in integration and interoperability, and I urge our partner community to avail themselves of all Polycom training resources available.
What are some of the ways Polycom is addressing the changing landscape of technology sales?
Technology business models are being transformed, and the UC and video collaboration sector are being equally impacted. There is a visible shift from hardware to software, and a shift from software to cloud-based and as-a-service solutions. The move towards consumption-based and pay as you grow models imply that vendors need to work with customers to increase adoption rates.
Technology is no longer about cool features, but more about interoperability, and the user experience. It is about ensuring that customers are successful in using our technology solutions to solve real business problems and realise real business outcomes. In addition, we see a big shift towards companies seeking more mobile and virtualised models, which use voice, video and content tools to fuel productivity and a highly integrated user experience. This has prompted a new way for people to deploy, measure and use technology. In this context, collaboration technology needs to fit into the workflow (as against creating new workflows to fit the technology) and Polycom is in a great position to address this.
Since the very beginning, Polycom as a company and our innovations have been about unleashing the power of human collaboration. Our latest innovations and solutions unveiled this year – such as RealPresence® Group Convene™ and RealPresence Web Suite – have been developed with the workplace of the future in mind, incorporating experience, workspace, and workflow. We remain focused on continuous innovation and bringing revolutionary new collaboration solutions to market.
How has collaboration technology changed your life?
I have been in the technology industry for many years, and video conferencing is not new to me. However, since joining Polycom, collaboration technology and video in particular, are now an integral part of my life. Joining a video meeting is so simple; I can literally work effectively - anywhere, anytime, from any device, and High Definition audio and video quality means it’s as good as being at any meeting in person.
In my role, I need to interact closely with my global counterparts, and video allows me to transcend time zones. The benefits of video collaboration has even impacted my personal life - when travel is required, the technology allows me to be close to my family wherever I am. While I am based in Singapore, my two children live in New Zealand and Australia, with collaboration technology and being able to speak face-to-face, we don’t really feel the distance.