Polycom’s Latest Partner Program: Right Place, Right Time?
Polycom has announced sweeping changes to its channel program (new program), installing tiered levels of partnership and certifications — a move that puts it squarely in line to challenge Cisco-Tandberg in the UC space. The Polycom Choice Program, which is slated to launch April 1, enables partners to specialize in certain vertical markets or product areas, such as telepresence, unified communications, voice over IP and video solutions. Here are some more perspectives.
“One of the considerations in developing this new program was to try to really help our partners take advantage of what is happening in the market,” said Maurizio Capuzzo, vice president of Global Channel Marketing at Polycom. “That’s why [we implemented] the competencies or specializations – they serve as a bridge or path to be in the right position to be in this marketplace.”
The program offers three tiers of participation – registered, gold and platinum – and the gold and platinum levels have minimum annual volume requirements as well as staffing requirements.
The Choice Program is aimed at solution providers, distributors and DMRs (also known as e-tailers), and is one of three programs Polycom is launching to address all of its partners, from global systems integrators to technology partners. The other two programs, the Alliance Program and the ARENA Program, have already launched, and all three are designed to work together to promote collaboration, solution development and joint routes to market.
The idea behind the revamped partner program is to enhance Polycom’s reputation as a leader in the UC space, especially as the market has been tempered by recent acquisitions, most notably Cisco’s purchase of Tandberg last year.
“We recognized that time is of the essence,” Capuzzo said.
Surround and Conquer (Cisco)?
It’s also a way for Polycom to capitalize on the open standards movement in UC, emphasizing collaboration with open standards communications partners such as Siemens and Avaya. Choice partners are encouraged to work with Alliance and ARENA partners to develop the most effective solutions for their end user customers – a notion that couldn’t have occurred in a more closed environment.
“We had the vision to install a collaboration framework and no longer have each of our programs stand on their own,” he said. “In this new market we knew we needed to break the silos.”
For solution providers looking to UC or already involved in the space, the timing of Polycom’s program couldn’t be better. The open standards movement has truly made unified communications a technology whose time has come: According to research firm Gartner, CIOs rank networking, voice and data communications as their fourth largest priority in 2010, behind only virtualization, cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.
And the uncertainty created by the Cisco/Tandberg deal gives Polycom a perfect opportunity to make some noise, especially in light of the defection of two key Tandberg executives, former CEO Andy Miller and VP of Canada Sales Ron Myers, to Polycom last year.
“When [now] Worldwide Executive Vice President Andy Miller came on board, he brought other executives with him to capitalize on the market opportunity,” Capuzzo said. “The fact that the market is changing in the direction that Polycom is moving validates our goals and initiatives.”