Polycom Channel Leader Sounds Off On Mitel Acquisition, Microsoft Partnership, Channel Partners' Future

Life After Mitel

Polycom channel leader Nick Tidd says the vendor is striving to keep its partnership with Microsoft intact in wake of its $2 billion acquisition by Mitel, a Microsoft competitor.

"[Channel Partners] are not seeing a sway from our commitment to Microsoft, nor existing commitment to our road map. Otherwise we wouldn't be onboarding partners the way we are," said Tidd, vice president of Polycom's Global Partner Organization, in an interview with CRN. "Our value proposition now continues to be strong, if not stronger, as a result of this acquisition."

Tidd sounded off on the impact Mitel's acquisition will have on channel partners, Microsoft, competition with Cisco and how San Jose, Calif.-based Polycom is actually onboarding net new solution providers and channel executives ahead of the merger. Following is a bit of that conversation.

Where does Microsoft sit in this Mitel acquisition? Is there a future with Microsoft?

Obviously we made some significant announcements with Microsoft -- we are very aligned with them with Office 365. They've put an internal advisory out to their folks and channel partners, that the announcement of Mitel's intent to acquire Polycom does not change the current joint product road map across the portfolio of products. So those are really key.

Do you think Polycom partners will be able to grow and increase revenues after this acquisition is complete?

Following the completion of the transaction, we will consider cross-selling to each other's customers where it's appropriate. So our total addressable market will expand.

That's what has our Polycom and future Polycom partners excited about this. They're not seeing duplication in product portfolio, they're not seeing a sway from our commitment to Microsoft, nor existing commitment to our road map. Otherwise we wouldn't be onboarding partners the way we are.

Polycom is expanding its channel base?

We're very diligently looking at the markets where we are having success and we're augmenting our existing channel base -- both with our own resources and the partner resources that are coming to the table. Our value proposition now continues to be strong, if not stronger, as a result of this acquisition.

Is Polycom hiring internally ahead of the Mitel acquisition to help channel partners?

When I look at my first three months here, we had success in partner recruitment, success in partner onboarding, but I've also hired additional resources inside the organization. Some very senior folks have joined the team: Ben Macdonald [senior director, DMR Channels and Inside Sales] who joined me from Juniper [Networks] is running our [direct market reseller] channel. I'm currently looking for a director of our East Coast channel team. We've brought channel account managers onboard. We also decided to in-source our inside sales organization and I've brought onboard 11 people into that organization. The foundation for our partners is very vibrant, very healthy.

You're onboarding all these people ahead of the acquisition. Will they all stay onboard after Mitel acquires Polycom?

With every acquisition, you go through pre-planning. You go through the look and the feel of the organization and you assess what resources are there. The fact that Polycom will operate as a division within Mitel speaks volumes for itself. Mitel, and in their previous acquisitions that Mitel has done, they've left those organizations as a division and allowed them to prosper.

Polycom and Mitel have two different channel programs. What can partners expect in regards to a new partner program?

We will just diligently work to understand what will work best and we'll continue to build on that.

I can't comment on what it's going to look like going forward because it would be purely speculative.

What is your message to partners who are worried about the acquisition?

The most important message for our partners is we're committed to our road map. We're committed to our programs. We're recruiting. We're onboarding. We're having success with our new technologies and we're going to continue to leverage that, because we believe we're in a great position in the marketplace and getting even stronger. When you look at the combined entity of 7,700 employees in 48 countries and $2.5 billion in revenue -- that's a sizeable organization that's going to have some clout to compete in the market.

What major impact will this acquisition have on the Polycom brand?

Mitel made it very clear that Polycom will operate as a division of Mitel. So the Polycom brand will stay intact. The current product portfolio and road maps are going to continue to be supported. After the transaction is complete, there'll be an assessment of the road map.

What's really exciting for me and the team is that Mitel brings very strong cloud offerings to the table, very strong mobile capabilities to the table -- both of which are not in the Polycom portfolio today. … The acquisition really opens up some pathways that, in the channel partners that I've briefed, they're very excited about the opportunity. They see upside to it.

Will a Polycom-Mitel company put more heat on Cisco ?

As somebody who has competed in the telephony space for many years, … we've always looked toward the day when there's going to be an opportunity for change -- and mass change. I'm excited I'm able to participate in the movement that we see around cloud and what that means for hosted PBX -- both on-premise and hybrid -- and we're going to continue to explore that opportunity.

What is Polycom currently operating like with this acquisition looming?

It's business as usual for us. The most important thing is we just have to keep our heads down, and it's business as usual, and we have to stay focused on the task at hand.

We're committed to what we started. We're committed to the journey. I'm just one quarter in and [I'm] really enjoying what we're doing, and we see nothing but potential upside and opportunity.