Zoom’s Dion Smith

PCR’s April Life in the Channel with Zoom’s Dion Smith

Zoom Video Communications, Inc.’s Head of EMEA Channel, Dion Smith outlines the company’s business plans within the channel, why channel companies should consider adding Zoom to their portfolios and where it sees the future of video conferencing headed.

At the end of January this year Zoom Video Communications, Inc. announced strong financial results with total revenue of more than $4 billion growing 55% year over year. There has been a significant amount of development for the company so we spoke with Zoom’s Head of EMEA Channel, Dion Smith to find out more about where it places it channel business and how the company plans to evolve its growing portfolio of products.

What’s your background within the channel and current role at Zoom?
I joined Zoom from Amazon Web Services where I led worldwide teams on their Global Strategic Partnerships selling multi-billion dollar engagements. Prior to AWS I spent 25 years building and leading partner ecosystems (Channel Sales, Programs, Operations, Technical, Marketing, PRM) for Hewlett-Packard, DELL, Samsung, DXC & Veritas Technologies. Specifically, I focused on identifying new countries, markets, verticals, and industries for new lines of business whilst enabling partners to build, sell and deliver client value.

I am super excited to take on the role as Head of Channel, EMEA at Zoom, where my focus will be to build scale, depth and specialism for the Zoom platform, in turn helping our partners grow their value to their clients through embracing hybrid working. We have ambitious plans for Europe, Middle East & Africa. Over these next 12 months, we will show our partner our first approach in engaging our teams to collaborate on the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) opportunity by building out a world-class partner ecosystem and team for EMEA.

Where does Zoom’s place the channel amidst its global business plans?
Channel partners are central to Zoom’s plans. Throughout 2021, we welcomed over 3,500 new partners to our programmes. Our channel is now contributing more than 30% to our non-online bookings across EMEA, and our partners are driving more than a quarter of Zoom Phone sales.

This year we will launch Zoom Up, our new partner program. As part of this we will be driving increased focus and presence with our partners to help them not just progress through tiering, but strengthen their technical expertise in the competencies they specialise in. In the UK&I market, we have seen major success across our platform. For example, Zoom Phone, an extension to our video-first UCaaS platform, has seen great focus and growth from our partners. We have scaled from SMB through to the largest enterprise companies and we will lean in with our channel as the primary enabler through the depth of their capabilities, relationships, and decision-making authority with clients. We want to ensure that all clients have the opportunity to enjoy our platform.

The channel is a strategically critical pillar in our Go-to-Market Strategy. Zoom Up will help us accelerate in opening up new partnerships across all partner types from Distribution, Resellers and ISV, to Carriers, Services Providers and GSIs. Choice, flexibility, ease of doing business, and the ability to add value are all important considerations to channel businesses.

How does Zoom work with its partners?
On a fundamental level, the channel is our key route to the market, and so it is strategically important for Zoom to work with partners to realise our regional and global ambitions. We also understand that customer choice is paramount and channel partners have strong relationships and delivery capabilities, so these types of partnerships help us stay connected to our core markets in a direct and effective way.

The channel approaches offerings from different points of view and delivers significant value in a variety of ways. In addition, the insights we gain from our partners provide information and data that help us continue to innovate and progress our platform.

Why should channel companies consider adding Zoom to their portfolios?
As a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader, the demand from the market for Zoom is strong. Clients are demanding the best solutions in the UCaaS space for their new ways of hybrid working. Partnering with Zoom can help organisations meet their UCaaS needs. The relationship we have with our channel partners is never one-sided, and we’re continuing to invest in and focus on enhancing our partner programs and teams. Our goal is to support our partners in their journey as they develop new competencies, grow their businesses with Zoom, and add value to their clients.

In September 2021, we offered a look into our partner programme advancements globally. This included a teaser for Zoom Up, which introduces levels, competencies and better incentives to reward partners for their investments. Zoom Up also allows partners to create a way to differentiate themselves and increase their profitability to be able to scale effectively as they grow with Zoom.

Additionally, we have initiated an updated Zoom Phone Certified Integrator Program, which offers more robust training, so partners are better equipped with important skills and capabilities. Finally, we have introduced enhanced cloud peering in the form of the Zoom Phone Provider Exchange, which aims to improve the end-to-end experience with Zoom Phone.

What predictions and trends can you tell us about for the channel in 2022?
Enterprise adoption of UCaaS will increase dramatically in 2022 as the world continues to grapple with increased complexity borne from the pandemic whilst also trying to adapt to hybrid ways of working. This will see voice and telephony, video and meeting solutions, chat features, apps and more, all brought together into one cohesive solution to meet the communication and collaboration requirements of today’s organisations. Business leaders should be identifying the most secure, reliable and seamless integrations that drive strong service performance, no matter where people are working. UCaaS is the solution to this, and 2022 is the year that adoption will soar.

There is no cookie-cutter solution to these complexities, but channel partners can help simplify this for enterprises. A good partner knows their customer, knows the level of service they need and has built trust over a number of years. The channel partners that work closely with companies to deliver UCaaS and other emerging services will succeed in 2022. It will be a critical year for many businesses, with external circumstances continuing to change.

How will Zoom look to evolve its service offering?
Zoom will continue to work with channel partners and listen to its customer base in order to innovate and evolve its service offering. The channel is a growing route to market for Zoom. It is important that we recognise that customers have strong relationships with and often prefer to have solutions delivered and supported by channel businesses.

We also understand that in a dynamic and fast-moving market, UCaaS can be approached from a range of angles and with a number of areas of expertise including video-first specialists, traditional on-premise PBX providers, network carriers, and traditional UcaaS companies. Many approach UcaaS with critically important experiences and value propositions of their own, often with different costing and commercial models. In line with these demands and experiences, Zoom has developed a range of channel models that work, embracing both how customers want to buy and how channels want to deliver value.

What will be the key topics of focus as Zoomtopia this year?

With Zoomtopia scheduled for November 2022, specific focuses are yet to be revealed. However, we will again hold the Zoomtopia Partner Connect day, an event dedicated solely for partners.

In 2021, this offered an additional segment of partner-focused content. The event was an invite-only opportunity for Zoom partners to hear exclusive executive insights, exciting new program updates, and critical Zoomtopia partner takeaways, which enhance how they go to market with Zoom.

For the 2022 Zoomtopia Partner Connect day, channel partners can expect similar exclusive content and discussions.

Can you tell us a bit more about the recently launched Reseller Partner Program for Zoom Phone BYOC?
Last year, Zoom introduced the Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) Partner Program, which allows resellers to offer licenses that enable users to connect their existing PSTN calling plans to the Zoom Phone platform. Customers can enjoy all of Zoom Phone’s benefits while maintaining their existing service provider contracts, phone numbers, and calling rates with their preferred carrier. It also provides partners with a new way to find providers and use self-service to gain safe access to phone numbers.

Previously, only Zoom Master Agents could refer offers for Zoom Phone and Zoom Phone BYOC. Now, they can be resold by reseller partners that meet the conditions and qualify.

Please could you tell us more about the launch of Zoom’s Partner Demand Center?
Zoom Partner Demand Center is a turnkey platform offering a variety of strategies to help partners go to market with Zoom. Powered by StructuredWeb, the Partner Demand Center provides members of the Zoom community with an automation platform to expand their marketing practice. From co-branding and customisation to digital marketing and campaign execution, the Partner Demand Center is a launchpad for building awareness, generating demand, and growing organisations as Zoom partners.

With these capabilities, partners can execute customised, multi-touch campaigns directly from the platform. Users can also download the content and assets they need to execute campaigns through their own systems.

Where do you see the future of video conferencing headed and how will tech advances like AR/VR and the Metaverse play a key role within this?
We fully expect to see a continuation and an expansion of the hybrid approach, which we have all experienced in the past 20 months, involving deeper integrations of hardware and software. As we strengthen our hybrid connections and build upon emerging technologies such as AR and VR, we will see an increased inter-functionality between in-person and remote participants where those joining a meeting virtually will be able to see and experience the meeting as if they were in the room.

The concept around the Metaverse aligns with our goal to deliver better experiences than in-person meetings. For example, to help real-time and asynchronous collaboration, we recently announced an integration with Meta’s Horizon Workrooms that brings Zoom Meetings and Zoom Whiteboard into the virtual reality space, enabling teams with powerful, more engaging and efficient meeting experiences, regardless of physical distance.

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