We talked to Alfredo Ramirez, President and CEO of Vyopta about UC and workplaces in next phase of the pandemic and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alfredo Ramirez: Since mid-March, my family and I have followed the CDC’s recommended guidelines to minimize exposure to the virus. We have been blessed with health and the fortunate outcome of not contracting COVID-19. In addition, we ensured that we were physically active and ate healthy…most of the time.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Vyopta.
Alfredo Ramirez: I am the son of an immigrant family from Ecuador, who came to the U.S. to pursue the American dream. My parents instilled positive beliefs and values regarding faith, family, community, education, and work ethic. From high school to college, I was able to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities based on a number of businesses that I started — lawn care, home alarm installation, custom software application development on Apple II, and IBM PS/2. After graduating with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, I started my career at Accenture and then left to join my first VC funded software startup, Trilogy. From there, I co-founded my first high-tech startup, which grew from zero to $10M in 2 years before exiting in 1998. Then, I co-founded another high-tech startup, which grew from zero to $15M in 2 years, followed by Oracle acquiring the business in 2002. Finally, I co-founded Vyopta in 2007. We pivoted the business approximately 6 years ago to focus on Collaboration Intelligence that enables enterprise organizations to scale business outcomes by improving unified communications and collaboration performance.
How does Vyopta innovate?
Alfredo Ramirez: Innovation is an integral part of the Vyopta culture, and core values, but alone is not sufficient. Our company values include:
1. Teamwork: We collaborate and innovate together to deliver the best solutions and customer success
2. Impact: We have a relentless commitment and focus on speed of delivering exceptional results
3. Passion: We are committed 100% in heart and mind
4. Integrity: We do what’s right and deliver on our commitments
5. Courage: We lead by example, embrace change and contribute effectively outside our comfort zone
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your business, and how are you coping?
Alfredo Ramirez: The pandemic affected two major parts of our business – our team and customer demand. Regarding our team, we will continue working from home. We are now planning to support a return to the office as early as Q3 of 2021. We will also go back to supporting hybrid work from home and the office like we did prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. Remote work from home for our team with dependents (young children going to school via Zoom, elderly needing daily assistance, plus many other personal situations) has been more of a challenge this year. However, our team has been resilient. In addition, we have continually communicated the need for each Vyopta team member to take care of themselves so that they can perform their required duties for both their family and Vyopta.
Regarding customer demand, it changed significantly where over 90% of our customers before the pandemic were primarily using Cisco unified communications and collaboration technologies. In the first half of the year, there was a massive increase in adoption of Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other UCaaS solutions. Thus, we accelerated increases in UCaaS coverage with our flagship product, Collaboration Performance Management (CPM). CPM has sold well in a team where IT needed greater technology insights to deliver the best user experience consistently and securely for users working at home as well as for distance learning and telehealth.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alfredo Ramirez: At the start of the pandemic, we had to make some difficult decisions around altering the product roadmap to meet the massive change in customer demand with the rise in adoption of UC/video as a service. For instance, we decided to accelerate an increase in the UCaaS vendor technologies we support. The required integrations to UCaaS vendor technologies — using available APIs plus using Vyopta-unique integration techniques to cover gaps to support the primary use cases for remote work, compliance and security, and employee productivity during the pandemic period — were completed in 2020. In 2021, we are accelerating forward to ensure that we enhance our support for hybrid work use cases — work from home and in the office — which requires expanding integrations with UC and collaboration infrastructure and IoT devices.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Vyopta in the future?
Alfredo Ramirez: To maximize my performance, I manage stress in a few ways. I prioritize taking care of myself by exercising regularly, taking personal time off to have fun with my family/friends to recharge, and doing other activities like reading and volunteering to help my community. These are important levers that I use to maximize my personal energy to be in the best position to lead my team and mental wellbeing to better deal with stressful situations that arise. Most importantly, I always plan my next day on the prior night so that I can focus on starting the day on the most important tasks. Regarding how I project myself and my company in the future, I have realized that it is during challenging times when we are outside of our comfort zone that we accomplish the best results. We have a great team who has setup Vyopta in 2020 for much greater success in 2021 and beyond. Vince Lombardi said it best, “Obstacles are what see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alfredo Ramirez: While there are other companies that compete in the unified communications monitoring and analytics space, Vyopta works closely with major UC vendors like Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Zoom, and others to provide a best-of-breed solution. We follow an agile development process and are responsive to the needs of our customers and the market.
Our plan is to continually increase our speed and agility to strengthen the value propositions for the Vyopta Collaboration Intelligence platform over the competition. We are working to be 10x better than other solutions in order for customers to easily make a decision to invest in Vyopta for their businesses. Our mission is to enable organizations to scale business outcomes by improving unified communications and collaboration performance.
Your final thoughts?
Alfredo Ramirez: Today’s business climate is a fast-paced race in a global environment that is more complex and uncertain than ever before. Businesses around the world are continually facing new competitive threats, changing market dynamics, technological disruption, and the continual change of customer demand. The pressure is on for enterprises to more quickly adapt to change and to deliver better products and services to customers. Enterprise leaders and teams must more effectively collaborate intra-team and inter-team to foster creativity and greater innovation to scale business outcomes.
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