Meet the Channel: Roula Vrsic, SOTI Thinkstock

Meet the Channel: Roula Vrsic, SOTI

What is Meet the Channel? Meet the Channel profiles partners, channel chiefs and analysts and offers an opportunity to learn a little bit about the person's real thoughts on the state of the channel. Click on each photo to learn more about the channel chief you’re viewing. Want to be included in an upcoming Meet the Chiefs? Send an email to The VAR Guy Editor-in-Chief Kris Blackmon at [email protected] for more information.

This week we sat down with Roula Vrsic, chief marketing officer at SOTI, a company that develops enterprise mobility management (EMM) and other mobile security solutions for enterprise businesses. Vrsic has been with SOTI since 2013, and previously worked in several executive-level roles at companies including WatchGuard Technologies and BorderWare Technologies.

The VAR Guy: What are the top trends in mobility you’re seeing today?

Roula Vrsic: The trends that we're seeing, and I think for this one in particular, as enterprises have now moved beyond the whole excitement and hype of BYOD, mobility has become a strategic enabler in most enterprises today. They're not just leveraging mobility to enable email, content and applications on an employee's device. They're now using it much more strategically across the entire business.

TVG: As in it’s providing insight into user behavior and buyer behavior?

RV: Yes. Mobility is enabling complete business transformation across all areas of the enterprise. It's delivering differentiated customer experiences. It's providing intelligent insights into all aspects of the business, but also in how customers engage with the business. By garnering more insight into customer behaviors, preferences, or even context in how customers are engaging with their products or solutions, it gives them a lot more ability to create more personalized experiences or more relevant experiences for the customers.

Another area is, probably for you and I if our mobile device wasn't functioning, we could survive. We could still do our jobs; we would have to probably be tethered somewhere else. But there are many companies and many jobs out there that must have mobility always on, always functioning, in order to do their jobs.

That’s called business-critical mobility. An example of that would be, let's say, Federal Express or a courier of some sort. They could not function without their mobile devices. If they can't function, they can't deliver on the promise of packages being onsite at 10 a.m. for a customer.

Last but not least, and certainly an area that seems to be exploding is as-a-service. A company working on a significant project, for example for a smart city or maybe smart public transportation, they leverage mobility across all areas of that in order to be able to deliver that service.

TVG: How have these trends changed the way you and others in the EMM space do business?

RV: Over the years, we've seen significant consolidation in the space with some very big players making acquisitions, and for a while we were all sitting in this holding pattern while BYOD was something that enterprises were trying to solve with these types of solutions.

Today, with Microsoft having entered the game significantly and focusing heavily on the end user computing side of it, everyone's trying to differentiate a little bit to see what additional value they can add, as Microsoft is well positioned in order to be able to take big control of that BYOD space.

TVG: How do the smaller companies, the non-Microsofts, compete? What emerging trends are you seeing that open up opportunities for other organizations and their channels?

RV: Essentially, we've been differentiated from the beginning because we started our foray into mobility heavily focused in the vertical and advanced use cases.

Because we're well ingrained within key industries and key verticals, it's given us the opportunity to have advanced functionality that others possibly have not. We've worked extremely closely with our customers, and more importantly, with our partners because they're the ones who are interfacing directly with our joint customers on a regular basis.

As a result, we're developing ways to extend beyond mobility and give capabilities for deep analysis of data and knowledge-based learning that can be brought back into the business and be applied by delivering them the strategic insights that an enterprise might need from people, processes, application, data, and a broad spectrum of devices and things and sensors for that matter. An oil rig, for example, could have 30,000 sensors in it and yet, interestingly enough, they're only using 1 percent of the data from those sensors. In most cases it's reactive, and more based on an alarm that something is now wrong. The big value in connecting mobile and IOT and even treating people and applications, as an example, as another thing is having proactive, predictive analytics so that you don't have to wait until something goes wrong. You can predict that something may be coming. There's an event that may be coming and you can proactively address it. For our channel, that creates a significant opportunity. When you think of the value that IOT is estimated to bring to the enterprise according to a report from IDC, it's $14.4 trillion.

TVG: Do you think that this vertical specialization is the next easiest place for resellers to start finding more opportunities to increase their margins?

RV: Yes, absolutely. It's all about the consumer driving it. Of course there's enterprise-wide, but there's also by industry. In retail for example, what are the things that they need to be thinking about to connect? To deliver the differentiation. To deliver that business transformation. To create that customer engagement. To increase the basket size. To create these opportunities for cashier-less checkout.

These are all the types of things that they're looking at, but there's also concerns about cost. They need the sure thing. They need to look at the sure thing first. Of course, there's going to be some risk, and every enterprise is going to have a different tolerance for risk adversity, but taking educated risks—that's where our resellers can bring that value.

TVG: It sounds like it all comes back to being that trusted advisor.

Listen to Roula’s answer below.

TVG: You mentioned retail a bit ago, which is one of those verticals that a lot of people refer to whenever they mention the IOT. In addition to retail, are there other verticals who are going full steam ahead into this market that channel partners might want to look into?

RV: Healthcare is an exceptional vertical to be talking about in this and they're much further along than anyone could even imagine. If you think about the cart that the nurses use to bring patients their medications, they can track inventory on those carts. For example, if there's narcotics that are on this cart, those oral pain medications are heavily regulated. With every pill that is dispensed, the hospital is accountable for sending a report to the government so that they can track that 'This was dispensed to Mrs. Roula Vrsic and we've dispensed 10 tablets and those 10 tablets were authorized or prescribed by this physician.’

Certainly, over the years a lot of those medications have disappeared and they've been tracked manually, originally by paper then it became by tablet where the nurse would enter it. Now, they do it through scanning because there's a barcode that's associated with the patient. They scan the barcode and then when they lift the 2 tablets out it automatically measures, even by weight, that they were dispensed. The whole cart now is IOT-enabled.

Or in the case of a cardiac incident. Before you used to have to go to the hospital and stay in the hospital for three days so they could monitor your various cardiac signals and your blood pressure and your heartbeat. They would take you into an exercise room and make you do a few things to see if your heart rate goes up or down depending on what stress you're put under. Now they just give you a little wearable mechanism and you go home and they just monitor it and they tell you, "Just go through your regular routine."

They can sense what activity you're doing based on what your biometrics are. That just automatically gets routed back through IOT to the medical facility or the physician's office. These are just two small examples that I can give you in healthcare.

TVG: Looking back on last year, was there anything surprising that either you predicted that didn’t happen, or that you didn’t predict and did?

Listen to Roula’s answer below.

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