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CRN Exclusive: Polycom Hires Juniper Veteran As North America Channel Chief

David Bankemper, a 28 year channel veteran, is taking the helm of the US channel as the company mounts a full court channel press with partners in the Microsoft unified communications market.

Polycom, which is dramatically increasing its channel investment, has hired Juniper Networks channel veteran David Bankemper as its new North America Channel Chief.

Bankemper, a 28-year channel veteran who was formerly vice president of channel systems North America for Juniper, will be responsible for partner strategy, enablement and acquisition in the US.

Bankemper's appointment comes with Polycom Vice President of Global Partner Organization Nick Tidd mounting a full court press in the Microsoft Skype unified communications market against rival Cisco's Spark platform.

[Related: 8 Key Announcements At Microsoft Ignite 2017]

"Dave brings us tremendous channel loyalty and stability," said Tidd in an exclusive interview with CRN. "He spent nine years at Juniper and before that many years at Lenovo and IBM. Partners know Dave. What he brings to the team is a strong channel and business acumen so we can drive share of wallet."

Tidd, who was handling both US and Global duties before hiring Bankemper, said he is counting on the channel veteran to build on Polycom's strong channel foundation. "We've got Polycom fans," he said. "I need superfans that eat, breathe and sleep Polycom."

That "superfan" charter means making sure that Polycom is getting the biggest share of wallet from its existing loyal partner network, said Tidd.

As part of the channel offensive, Polycom has tripled its inside sales force from 10 to 30 – chartered with working with partners to increase sales – and also added new engineering talent to help partners with presales configuration and price quotes.

Tidd said the new channel reps are driving a "high touch" model in the field with partners to go after new market opportunities with Microsoft Skype collaboration at the top of the list.

Polycom, which has a co-development agreement with Microsoft, recently reannounced it is offering its full portfolio of voice and video technology on the Microsoft Teams platform.

Tidd is also significantly increasing the marketing investments aimed at growing the business with a new marketing collateral including "campaigns in a box."

Polycom is currently segmenting its partner base in preparation for a new "value" based points partner program aimed at recognizing and rewarding strategic investments with the company. That program will include detailed analytics on partner sales performance.

The new partner offensive is aimed at capitalizing on the the migration from proprietary on premise platforms to cloud and open platforms including team meetings, on the go travel scenarios and huddle rooms.

Frost & Sullivan, a San Antonio, Texas headquartered market research firm, has forecasted a 12. 6 percent three year compound annual growth rate for the open desktop communications platforms versus a decline of 8.5 percent during the same period for proprietary platforms.

Tidd says he is taking the channel to "first call" advisor status for architecting unified communciations and collaboration with a robust services portfolio.
Polycom's unique co-development and commercial agreement opens the door to huge growth opportunities for partners, said Tidd.

"The opportunity for partners is to build off the productivity tools and surrounding it with collaboration (voice, video and interoperatbility)," he said. "Where there is mystery there is margin and there is a ton of mystery in architecting workflow and assessment with Microsoft. Partners need to look to someone like Polycom that understands the Skype operational framework and has native workflow support. Polycom is the No. 1 provider of native workflow support. The Skype iconology across our video and voice products creates a seamless experience. That is a significant opportunity for the channel."

Frank Vitagliano, the CEO of Computex Technology Solutions, Houston, Texas, No. 121 on the CRN 2017 SP500, said he is going to look at bringing Polycom on as a vendor as a result of the Bankemper hire.

"I will absolutely take a look at Polycom because of David's presence," said Vitagliano, a channel icon who worked with Bankemper at both IBM and Juniper. "If Polycom is making an investment in a guy like David it is an indication that they are serious about playing in the channel."

Bankemper has both deep channel knowledge and the strong character and integrity it takes to be successful as a channel chief, said Vitagliano.

"David is a top shelf guy who totally understands what partners need and how to put a program together and manage sales activity," said Vitagliano. "He knows how solution providers think and has run and managed sales teams selling both high volume low margin products like PCs and high margin products like networking gear. What's more, he is a quality individual who works hard, and has integrity. He is the kind of person you want to do business with."

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