‘Partners can convince the board, only when they are supported by CIOs’

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Raghuram Krishnan, Director – Partner Sales, Citrix India
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From a growth perspective, one of the key strategies for Citrix this year is geo-expansion in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities. In an exclusive interaction with CRN India, Raghuram Krishnan, Director – Partner Sales, Citrix India, highlights the company’s GTM strategy, expansion plans and more

How has been the business for Citrix recently?
In the past, Citrix was known for virtualisation. Now, we have added networking to our portfolio. This year, our total addressable market (TAM) has expanded significantly, because of our new offerings such as the General Purpose Workspace, with which, we have increased the TAM. Cross-selling and up-selling is one of the drivers of growth. The other two drivers of growth include new accounts and both. This year onwards, because of the above factors, there will be exponential growth for Citrix and its partners.

Any business in IT is CapEx based, but now every customer may be invest; this is where cloud steps in. Our customers can choose from our perpetual model or subscription model. With cloud coming in, we are now able to cater to the small enterprises in the SMB segment, allowing us to penetrate deeper in the market. For our partners as well, it creates an expanded market. Further, with partnerships with Microsoft and Google cloud, there has been an enriching experience for Citrix and its partners.

Our focus, earlier, was more on medium-sized businesses in the SMB segment. The key is to make it easier for customer to consume technology, which doesn’t impact their working capital. This the advantage that cloud brings to SMBs. Cloud is not restricted to certain set of partners; it is an already-established technology and is growing. Many partners have also created a cloud division within their organisations, because they realise that cloud is the future.

To cater to this segment, have you aligned with new set of partners or trained the existing ones?
We are doing both, and this should be followed on a regular basis. It’s not just about selling cloud; it’s about making customers realise the importance of Citrix’s offerings for them. In line with this, we are investing heavily on training and enablement of our partners in the marketplace – and we are not doing this just for select partners. Our training mechanism is different; it includes live demos, not mere presentations.

In 2017, Citrix’s partner programs underwent significant changes. Is the company planning similar exercise this year as well?
Two years ago, we underwent a massive change in terms of partner programs. We have laid the foundation of our program last year, we haven’t made drastic changes this year. With cloud coming in, the measurement criteria changes; for instance, the amount of consumption and the number of new customers. The idea behind the program is to encourage more partners to associate with us, and increase their value for their customers, with our offerings. With cloud and the perpetual model, we are able to do this. The number of partners transacting with us, has increased exponentially.

While customers across industries have embarked on the digital transformation journey, how is Citrix and its partners further accelerating their journey?
In order to better address customer requirements, we have gone one step ahead by training our distributors. They are getting to the level which enables them to make end-customer calls along with their partners. We want to enable our partners to conduct business with customers, with minimal involvement of Citrix’s team. As part of this, we maintain regular communication with our partners, so we can guide them wherever they need our support.

The distribution business has also evolved in the last 2-3 years. They no longer run their business on box-selling – except a small section – they are now becoming value-added distributors (VADs). They are the existing distributors, but their go-to-market (GTM) strategies have changed completely.

To cater to the SMB market, are you re-looking at your CSP strategy?
From a growth perspective, one of the key strategies this year is geo-expansion in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities. Most of our existing distributors are also signing up as our cloud distributors. We also have distributors that have niche focus on cloud. This helps us in taking our offerings to the under-represented markets. We are looking at cities like Coimbatore, Nashik, cities where new IT parks are opening-up, and areas with industrial presence. We will also build our focus on Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; we will have strategies which are best-suited for these markets. Having identified the markets we want to target, we are leveraging our distributors’ market knowledge. The contribution of our commercial and SMB business is growing, but not at the cost of our enterprise business.

With changing dynamics of the security market, how are you building skill sets among partners?
Security is a highly fragmented market. This is one of reasons why system integrators generate more demand in the security marketplace. Customers are now more dependent on SIs and consultants to seek guidance on security. Security is embedded in Citrix products, so training partners on the security aspect of our products is much easier. Customers are now also looking at products with embedded security features.

IT is being discussed at the board level today. How are you ensuring that partners are able to adapt to this shift, in terms of interaction with customers?
You can hold a CFO’s attention, if should be able to talk IT in the language of business. Partners are not able to do this across the platforms of their customers. For instance, out of 100 customers, even if partners are able to talk this language with 20 customers, it will be significant; because 20 per cent of your customers can give 80 per cent of your business. It is critical how we impart training to a pre-sales person, sales person, and CEO of a partner organisation. Partners can convince the board, only when they are supported by the CIOs. You need to have the knowledge of talking to a person in the language he understands – CFO understands numbers, CEO understands strategies.

What will be you key thrust areas for 2019 and beyond?
One of the primary focus areas will include SIs. We will try to ensure their our story starts to resonate with theirs. Secondly, we will continue to focus on our work with Citrix managed partners. In terms of our distributor-managed partners, we will invest along with the distributors for geo-expansion. Another focus will be on our alliance partners with Google and Microsoft. We will combine our expertise around solution with their expertise, and take it to a larger bandwidth of the market.


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