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Intel's New IoT Sales Chief Talks 'Customer Obsession,' New Hardware

Intel's new IoT sales chief, Brad Haczynski, talks to CRN about the chipmaker's new focus on 'customer obsession,' Intel's drive to help partners scale IoT projects and new 'purpose-built silicon' that will expand Intel's IoT portfolio.

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So what's your purview right now?

Well, I think the nature of any sales job at a very base level is somewhat tactical. Job 101 for any sales leader is, "hey, here's the revenue targets. We want you to go off and we want you to hit the target." We talked a lot about: Michelle Johnston [Holthaus] (pictured), my boss, is pivoting the company to a theme of "customer obsession." One of the things we want to do is we want to make sure that our customer's voice is heard, so we're putting a lot of emphasis on: we want to get out there. We want to talk to customers. We want to make sure that the feedback is, "hey, the strategy's working. The roadmap is where we need to go in order to grow."

So there's some tactical components to it, and there's some strategic components to it. But for me, it's really about our team bringing that customer voice back to the table. And it's an exciting place to be. I mean, if you think about IoT, if you think about the growth opportunity we have in IoT, Intel is a leader in IoT. We want to be a stronger leader in IoT. It's a very different business than our PC and data center businesses, where we have a very strong position. And so there's a lot of opportunity in front of us with IoT.

Can you talk a little bit more about this focus on customer obsession? What's the difference between now and then?

Well, I think in the past, as Intel strengthened its position in the marketplace, there are times we had — we have great products. We have great technology. There are times we had been given feedback from our customers that we don't always listen the best [to] some of the recommendations they may have or when they give us feedback on the roadmap or execution, etc. Michelle really believes in [CEO Bob Swan, who] ultimately really believes that the path to the future of growing this company to a hundred billion dollars in revenue and really going after that $300 billion [total addressable market] is about, we have to take on new customers and new markets. That starts by sitting down at the table and listening. And Michelle Johnston uses this term. She says, "I want everybody to be a mouse," which is, you have two really big ears and a small mouth. And that really starts [with] a culture shift for Intel, which is sitting down and saying, "what do we want to achieve with our customers? What do they expect of us? And how do they expect us to be not only the best technology provider, but the best partner for them to capture value in the market with our products?"

How long has this been a new focus? I know that Bob Swan made "customer obsession" one of his big points in his letter to employees when he was appointed as CEO.

I personally believe the change started to happen significantly when Michelle got the job, and Michelle got the job in August of 2017, running [the] sales and marketing group. She started to create the swell of the culture change in the fact that we need to do a better job of being perceived as better partners with our customers. But I do believe that Bob, when he took over as the interim CEO [in June 2018], he did start to amplify that message that Michelle had been starting to build. So yeah, I think Bob has a lot to do with it.

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