Channel a key part to Riverbed’s business plan: Country Manager Alex George

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Riverbed recently announced a change to its channel business model in India and appointed Alex George as Country Manager for India & SAARC. The company, which is into network and applications monitoring and optimisation adapted a channel led growth business strategy for the Indian market.

With this, Riverbed realigned its channel business in India as per its Riverbed Rise – partner program announced in 2018. This program offers rewards to channel partners, business models and even customers’ consumption preferences.

In this interview, Riverbed’s Country Manager Alex George talks to about why Riverbed shifted to a channel led growth model in India, shares perspective on the channel partner ecosystem and competition as well as the advantages and benefits Riverbed’s channel led growth model brings to the partners community and much more.

Edited Excerpts…

Q1. Riverbed recently announced a channel led growth model business strategy for the Indian market. So what are the reasons behind Riverbed’s strategy shift in India, although it has been a channel-driven company?
Alex George:
Riverbed has always been a channel-driven company. With over 1,000 partners today, the channel remains a critical component to Riverbed’s ongoing business and our 2020 plan.

Customers today want to consume technology in different ways. Our partner ecosystem provides customers with greater choice, from managed service to on-premises to cloud. A partner-led model not only benefits customers but also helps the channel meet their goals.

Riverbed works with key partners (service providers, system integrators, and solution providers) to deliver managed services across our four solution pillars, which helps partners develop new capabilities to meet customer demand.

The biggest reason for this transition was the launch of our award-winning Riverbed Channel Rise program, an innovative performance-based program designed to reward all types of partners, business models and various customer consumption preferences.

The program was embraced by the partner community when it was first launched in 2018 and continues to pave the way for ongoing success for those partners who are committed to the Riverbed business.

Riverbed India has been quick to adapt to a channel-driven strategy, largely due to the maturity of its partner ecosystem, both in terms of its resources and technical capabilities.

Q2. What’s your perspective on Riverbed’s channel-driven growth model in terms of the competition, partner ecosystem and growth in India?
Alex George:
Riverbed has always been a channel-driven organisation. The only change is that now we have become a channel led sales organisation as well. It’s a fine line between the two and requires more of a shift in mindset rather than a major strategic overhaul.

Not only has our channel-driven model allowed us to grow our India business, but we have also been able to bring in a new sense of purpose into our partner ecosystem. A well trained and empowered channel leading our sales is something that makes Riverbed stand out from the competitors that are only a channel-driven for sales fulfilment.

Q3. Since now Riverbed has adopted the channel-driven growth model, can you brief on the company’s channel strategy in India?
Alex George:
Riverbed’s Channel strategy, in short, is partner-led and aligned to our partner’s GTM strategy to ultimately increase partner profitability.

Riverbed continues to work with all partners across all tiers, which involves providing them with a clear understanding of how to maintain those tiers, or move up. This allows for partners to align their strategies of growing their Riverbed business and profitability with their joint sales initiatives and activities.

We will be going back to our roots and working more closely with our key technology alliances like Microsoft, HP, Dell, Infosys and so on, as we have very strong joint solution propositions. These include SaaS accelerator for Office 365 traffic and Azure workloads for network optimisation & application acceleration, WAN acceleration for DC-DR setups using EMC SRDF for enhanced RPO/RTO, Application acceleration for Branch users using Finacle etc.

Q4. What can the channel partner community expect and gain from Riverbed’s new channel led growth model in India?
Alex George: As part of the Riverbed’s channel-led growth model, channel partners get rewarded for working jointly on sales activities that help grow their market share and wallet share of our business.

The Riverbed Rise program also awards partners who win business or build capabilities with dividends. The number of dividends earned over the year determines the program level and discounts.

They also get to offer a solution portfolio that is not only relevant, but also unique in today’s market. Customers are looking for a vendor solution that can adapt to the way they use and implement new technologies and helps accelerate application performance across on-prem, Cloud and SaaS environments.

Finally, partners get to offer a solution stack that is a market leader across the product portfolio, be it WAN Optimisation/WAN Acceleration, Network Performance Monitoring & Diagnostics (NPMD) and SD-WAN.

Q5. With the channel led growth model now in place, what would be the major focus areas for Riverbed’s growth in terms of sales of product and solutions, business verticals and customers in 2020?
Alex George: Riverbed’s 2020 strategy revolves around our four main pillars; Networks, Performance, Applications & Visibility. These four main pillars encompass our core product portfolios; WAN optimisation, Application Acceleration, Network Performance Management (NPM) & SD-WAN.

During these difficult times, every CIO is being forced to plan for a long-term Work-from-home setup. Riverbed solutions like Client Accelerator, SaaS and Cloud Accelerator can help organisations rapidly move to cloud platforms like Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle cloud, & SaaS cloud and expect their user application performance to be like office LAN.

Being business vertical agnostic, Riverbed channel partners have the flexibility to offer these relevant solutions to their customer base and increase their wallet share in the process.

Q6. Riverbed has an R&D unit in India. So what sort of role can the R&D unit play to help Riverbed scale its business and tech capabilities and also meet customers’ technology needs?
Alex George:
Riverbed continues to innovate and build its portfolio stack through the latest single common xx80 platform. This unique proposition ensures complete investment protection for the customers who are looking for single-vendor solutions that are not only easy to manage and implement but are also integrated.

To elaborate, our WANOP product SteelHead, NPM product SteelCentral and SDWAN product SteelConnect are all built on our latest generation xx80 platform which allows us to offer cross-platform integration and features compatibility, which is a big plus for any customer when they are looking at a single vendor to managing all their network and application performance acceleration, visibility and management requirements. This is all possible because of our best-in-class R&D unit.

Q7. Lastly, you come with strong and diverse work experience in channel sales and management. So, in your view, which are the key priorities for Riverbed’s overall business and sales in India?
Alex George: Our strength lies in our strong, loyal customer and partner base, which we have built over the years across all verticals in the enterprise and government sector.

Our key priority is to remain relevant to this strong base by offering the best solutions and continuing to build and support a winning partnership with all relevant stakeholders across the Distributor, Partner & Technology alliances ecosystem, which will lead this new sales model for us going forward.

(Image source – Riverbed)

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