In this Marketing in Challenging Times video, Anthony Clarke, Regional Director ANZ, VMware Tanzu, shares how the spirit of “trying new things” has fostered intimacy and efficiency internally and with customers, and whether that will continue after the effects of the global pandemic have lessened.
Read the related ESG Blog(s):
Mark: As many of you know, I've been doing a series of interviews with execs from our industry, to see about the impact of the pandemic. But today, I'm very happy to be joined by Anthony Clarke. Anthony, hi, nice to see you.
Anthony: Good morning.
Mark: The reason I'm happy to be joined by Anthony is that he works out in the field. Not just any field, but one a long way away. What I'm fascinated to start with is, given your role, you are obviously part of the field, in a general sense. What have been the main impacts of the pandemic so far?
Anthony: Yeah, look, I think the biggest thing, as you said, is, you know, we are a field marketing, field sales organization, so that implies the fact that we are customer-facing, and we spend our time building demand for our products and services. And suddenly, without any word of a warning, effectively, you know, the rug was pulled out from underneath us, and we had to suddenly move into what is very much a, you know, a remote way of working.
And it wasn't like there was a dry run or a warning or an opportunity to say, "Let's practice this." We literally, you know, from Friday to Monday, we had to operate in this new way. So, yeah, very challenging, but something that I think we've now embraced and kind of like moved into the next phase.
Mark: Where I want to go with that is, to what degree... Everyone's in this together, so, I mean, everything you just said applies to customers, too. Do you find that helping the situation, or is it just as difficult as you would imagine?
Anthony: Yeah, look, I think there are kind of like, I see this as two, you know, as two distinct elements. There's the internal way of working. How do you, you know, how do you collaborate internally, and then there's the external, which is how do you interface with customers, partners, that kind of thing. And I think everybody was going through this at the same time, so there was a lot of, what I saw was, a lot of entrepreneurial, pioneering, experimenting going on, and if I look at, you know, what we do in what was legacy Pivotal, but now VMware, is, we try things, we use the agile methodology, we, you know, if it doesn't work, we iterate, we try it again, and we found that, we did things, we found a way of collaborating, teaming, we tried things like, you know, "wind-down Fridays," where we got the whole team into a virtual room, and everybody had a glass of whatever their favorite tipple was.
And that's not just worked internally, but we find with customers, that we can do the same kind of thing. There's been this kind of like new level of intimacy that's happened because people are all in this, I think we're all in this very new world that we haven't been in before, so people are maybe a little bit more open to trying new things. In the past, it seemed to be really hard to get access to people, but people seem to be, almost like a drop their guard, is my view.
And, you know, what I love about the company that I work for is that that's really the DNA, is how do we help, and how do we lean in? And I think the customer has also kind of evolved into a sense of wanting to be helped, as opposed to, you know, another vendor trying to, you know, come and do a corporate pitch.
So, I think everything's changed, and I think it's evolved, and I don't think we'll ever go back to the way it used to be, by the way.
Mark: Well, that's exactly where I want to go further, the sort of, the final question here is, is there a danger that we lose the goodness that we've now got? You know, once planes start flying again, and we can all wander around to each other's offices and wear more, you know, formal clothing, do we just go back how we were?
Anthony: No, look, I don't think, my personal view is here that we will evolve into a new norm. Business as usual will never be business as usual. People will get used to customers, us as individuals, employees, will get used to the how amazing it has been to be able to have conversations with anyone anywhere in the world.
You know, the challenge we had, to get access to corporate executives, you know, chief technology officers, who we used to have to organize like a military exercise to bring in, put in front of customers, I can get those, you know, they're on the end of a Zoom, just in five minutes. So, that means that things are going to be different, in a good way.
I'm sure that there will be an element of this remote working, but I think that the intimacy will come from everything that we've learned, and being able to do it remote, so there won't be this kind of lag in business, which is where you kind of wait for a meeting and wait for time, because you can kind of be online and have that conversation quickly.
I also think there's a lot of efficiency here. We can get things done a lot quicker. We don't need an hour's meeting, where you're, you know, setting up the light show to, you know, do the presentation. We're instant, we can get to the point, we can have the conversation in 15 and 20 minutes.
So, that kind of means, I think, we're going to evolve into a new norm.
Mark: Yeah. No, as you were saying that, I was just reflecting it. You know, I like pithy phrases, and it's almost like social distancing is bringing us together. It's an odd way of thinking about it, but it seems very true. Hey, Anthony, thank you very much for taking the time. I enjoyed it.
Anthony: Not a problem. Thank you.