Ed Rodriguez talks at length with ChannelBuzz about his perception of his new assignment, how he hopes to increase channel business in Canada, and some major changes, which add new resources, that have been implemented to help make this happen.
Early this year, Citrix quietly appointed company veteran Ed Rodriguez as the new VP and GM of Canada Sales. Since then, he has been extremely active, restructuring the company’s own sales organization in Canada, and securing new resources on the channel, enterprise, and SMB fronts. Another top priority is getting Citrix resellers in Canada moving beyond Citrix’s legacy applications and embracing the whole spectrum of the company’s value propositions of today.
Rodriguez has worked at Citrix since he graduated from university in 1999. He has held many roles there, most recently Vice President of Americas Marketing and Inside Sales, which he had held for almost seven years. While the Americas role gives him a knowledge of the Canadian market, he has not worked here before. His appointment is also a change in philosophy for Citrix in Canada, who preferred long-time country managers who knew Canada inside out. Michael Murphy, Rodriguez’s predecessor, ran Symantec in Canada for many years before moving to Citrix. Murphy’s predecessor, Dave Wright, ran the Canadian subsidiary for a decade.
“The first thing I was told is that my boss doesn’t hire for experience,” Rodriguez told ChannelBuzz. “He hires athletes who have found the ability to overcome and win. I’ve done consulting, product management, sales, and telesales. I’ve taken on lots of roles where I didn’t have experience, but went in and figured it out. That track record gave them confidence.”
While Rodriguez now has an apartment in Toronto, he retains his ties to Citrix’s headquarters in south Florida.
“I have a lot of relationships with people there – 19 years of relationships,” he said. “I can bring a voice for Canada into the mainstream, and make it more than just another country.”
Rodriguez has been immersing himself in getting a firm grasp of Canada.
“It has been fun learning the different nuances of the Canadian market, which is one reason I took the role,” he said. “The ‘Canada profile’ is 300 enterprises, a couple thousand commercial organizations, and tens of thousands of SMBs. Many private institutions in the US are public here, like health care, which has implications for how they purchase, and what they can purchase. What really got me excited is that Canada is a laggard in tech adoption. The number of organizations running Windows 7 is pervasive. Cloud adoption is well behind the U.S.. Citrix lets these organizations advance their infrastructure without a complete forklift. Because Canada is 3-5 years behind, that puts us in a strategic position to design for that and execute against it. In Canada, organizations are still defining how they want to use cloud. That’s a tremendous opportunity for our value proposition.”
Rodriguez noted, in his first January in Toronto, that bitter cold and snow days had people working remotely multiple times
“Climate and cold provides an opportunity for remote because there are some days people can’t get into work,” he said. “The need is incredible here, and lets us demonstrate the productivity gains we can provide.”
Rodriguez also stressed that Canadian partners need to be selling much more than just Citrix’s traditional offerings. At the company’s Summit sales event for both their internal and channel sales teams in January, the company stressed that that their portfolio now has the capability to move beyond application and desktop virtualization, and in particular emphasized the importance of selling Citrix Workspace. Rodriguez emphasized that has equal applicability to Canada.
“Citrix’s portfolio is all applicable to the Canadian market,” he said. “We are selling the full Citrix vision and value proposition. That’s well beyond the history of the Citrix footprint in Canada, which was mainly remote access projects, and inevitably, the virtualization of desktops. We provide the ability to connect regardless of the cloud, devices or networking.”
Rodriguez said that Citrix’s networking portfolio has started to get traction.
“With NetScaler, many customers have realized our networking technology is better than companies like F5, and is complementary to Cisco. So networking is being redefined. It’s about the idea that traffic is happening everywhere, and that you can use Citrix in a single pane of glass to manage network controls regardless, along with analytics.”
The digital experience of Citrix Workspace is ultimately the direction where the company is headed
“With Workspace, we are not just accessing the virtual applications and desktop. It’s accessing all applications – all your files. We are creating an abstraction layer which presents all files in that Workspace experience. Files are everywhere now. Applications are no longer Windows-specific, but also web and mobile. We are the single pane of glass. That’s the key message. And the cloud platform is the backbone to deliver that.”
Rodriguez said that full capability isn’t completely there yet – but it is close.
“We are probably 95 per cent of the way there,” he said. “The final five per cent over the next two years goes beyond the aggregation of applications, to the intelligent workspace, with built in microservices. For example, when using something like Concur for expenses, instead of sending links to email, we can detect it and present it like a news feed right in Citrix Workspace, so that you will be able to see it and approve it. People only gravitate to things that make their lives easier. When cut and paste became easier in iPhone, I started using it. When workflows are simplified, people WANT to go there. We don’t have to convince them. It will be a cultural thing. Today in Workday, starting a coaching conversation or other things with an open requisition is onerous. We can simplify that for them.”
Rodriguez says a big part of his job is to get Citrix’s channel in Canada fully aligned with this messaging.
“The ecosystem of resellers is not in tune with our value messaging,” he said. “It’s our job to get them there. Our Synergy event this year [May 21-23 in Atlanta] will be more about enrichment, and the intelligent workspace technology we acquired from Sapho. Sometimes we have to show the resellers where the puck is.
“The longer tail of this channel is resellers who established a Citrix practice a decade or more ago,” Rodriguez continued. “Our sales motion was predominantly channel-led. The projects were almost all remote access, and many resellers would position for this. They made a bunch of money, but they have evolved, to see the customer buying pattern now is a lot more self-aware. Customers are now a lot more educated in the journey, and less reliant on resellers for education. So the resellers have shifted to provide services. Fewer companies are making big investments in IT resources. They are bringing in MSPs and others to help them operate their IT, so they resellers become service providers, helping customers to advance the cloud journey. They understand most organizations will go to cloud, at least hybrid cloud. It’s just a matter of time. So these resellers position themselves as experts. The new entrée on Citrix’s channel is people who have become part of the Microsoft Cloud Service Providers. These CSPs bring us in as part of their managed services. Much of the channel, however, does not know it’s more lucrative than ever do work and do business with Citrix. A lot of the channel community isn’t as well versed in our full services and most current capabilities. They need to take a hard look at Citrix again. It might be time for them.”
Rodriguez said that some partners also need to spruce up their business practices, which is a key reason why Citrix invited North Carolina-based XenTegra, their North American Partner of the Year, to open up an office in Canada.
“XenTegra has a philosophy that is different,” Rodriguez said. “They have decided that even if you aren’t a customer, they will hold technical workcamps and train people on Citrix. But because they do very good workshops, which let customers realize the full potential of what they purchase, they get into ongoing conversations. Customers buy NetScaler for load balancing and find there are many other things they can do. That generally opens the door for XenTegra.”
The hope, Rodriguez said, is that other Canadian partners will emulate XenTegra’s philosophies.
“Bringing in a disruptor is how you get others to do that,” he said. “If they don’t, the new player in town will eat their lunch. We did a joint Google event with them two weeks ago.”
Rodriguez has also brought a considerable amount of disruption to Citrix’s internal organization in Canada – assisted by the company’s strong performance in this market which enabled them to spend on allotting more resources here.
“Citrix Canada has been on fire,” he said. “Last year, we had extremely good results. That allowed us to make investments this year in headcount, on both the marketing and channel side.”
This started with implementing a major restructuring of Citrix’s internal sales resources, with the goal of increasing focus outside of Ontario.
“We were organized between Enterprise and Commercial, with both leaders, Jim Willis in Enterprise and Ching Mac in Commercial, based in Ontario,” Rodriguez said. “I felt we needed to have more leadership co-located with resellers in their region. So I made a change to refocus our efforts regionally.”
Now Ching Mac runs both the Enterprise and Commercial business in the Central region, which is Ontario. Jim Willis runs East region, which is everything east of Ontario, but also includes the federal government space. A new executive has just been hired to run the West region, but Rodriguez declined to identify the person, who still works at their soon-to-be former employer.
“We have also built a new telesales team to work with SMBs all Canada,” Rodriguez indicated. They will focus on organizations with under 500 employees, and will direct leads to partners, since they have no field presence.
“We have also invested additional resources in partners,” Rodriguez said. “Historically, we have had one Partner Account Manager [PAM] for Canada. We added a new PAM in Vancouver, and another in Montreal. That is a tripling of our investment in the channel.”
One additional resource has been added to work in the enterprise space.
“We have been in business for 25 years, and have identified 280 named enterprise accounts in Canada,” Rodriguez said. “About 20 per cent of these don’t have a significant Citrix footprint, or don’t pay maintenance any longer. So we have added an incremental focus so someone thinks about those accounts, with new headcount to focus on whitespace and dormant accounts. That’s all they will think about, how to reach people who might not even know who Citrix is.
“We’ve made a tremendous investment in 2019,” Rodriguez concluded. “We have added more regional leadership, and an additional ability to go after former customers as well as those who were never a customer.”