HP vet Ken Archer lays out vision and plans as new Nectar Chief Revenue Officer

Nectar creates a new Chief Revenue Officer position to coordinate the company’s different channel routes to market.

Ken Archer, Nectar Services’ new CRO

Long Island-based unified communications management platform provider Nectar Services has announced that they have added long-time Hewlett Packard veteran Ken Archer to the newly created position of Chief Revenue Officer. Archer’s hiring and his role in managing the company’s channels is part of a push the company is making to increase their growth.

“We have different sales leaders responsible for different indirect routes to market,” Archer said. “These involve mainly solution providers, but also our important strategic relationships with Microsoft and Cisco, as well as with Indian companies like Tata. “Bringing it all together under me will let us have a much more cohesive channel strategy.”

Archer said that the ecosystem in today’s world naturally brings these different types of partners together.

“Say that an outsourcer like HCL wins an outsourcing contract,” he pointed out. “They will have SLA obligations, and will want, say, our best Skype for Business partner that we have for them to work with, Being able to bring these all together is a powerful differentiator for us.”

Archer spent 32 years at HP and HPE, with a couple of breaks for brief sojourns elsewhere.

“I left for a year and a half, and came back, and then left again for Avaya in 2005 and came back again in 2010,” he said. “I also ran Trident Systems, a managed services company, so I can credibly talk with MSPs. At HP, I managed basically every indirect route to market. I was often asked to take over a channel that was not performing, and ran every channel from solution partners in the U.S, to top alliance partners. Most recently, I was VP of Global Channels for Services, which was rebranded to Pointnext after the services spinoff. Technology Services was largely a break-fix operation, and HPE wanted to invest in that and make it available through partners. My job was to enable that strategy, and give partners the ability to reach into Pointnext so they can have these services sold and delivered to their customers.”

Archer knew Nectar very well before he joined the company because he had been their executive sponsor when he was at Avaya.

“I know the company, their people and their partners, and believe that I can make a difference around enablement,” he said. “Sales enablement is so critical right now, because customers are buying differently than they used to, based on business outcomes, rather than features. Sales has to speak a different language. Customers want to see use cases from other customers like them. They want references. They want to see what you have already done to drive business outcomes like theirs. I think I can build the enablement for this, and roll it out, to really scale the channel. We will definitely be investing more in enablement.”

Archer said that he also will drive greater awareness of Nectar’s strength in the UC management platform space.

“No one has more feature functions than Nectar, but lots of people don’t know how good we are,” he said. “In part, that’s because of Nectar’s tradition as an engineering company. We need a culture change there, as well as some route-to-market optimization. Areas in organizational alignment and functional alignment can be better done.”

Archer also sees Nectar as having an ability to better leverage their strategic partnerships.

“A key strength of Nectar is that there is not a better platform out there for hybrid platforms,” he said. “Today, many corporations are hybrid, and have Avaya, Microsoft Skype and Cisco. That gives us a unique opportunity with these partnerships. Our relationship with Microsoft has already expanded because of Skype for Business. Many times, problems blamed on Skype for Business were really network issues, and the network was most commonly Cisco. Microsoft got Nectar to build a diagnostic module to go all the way back to the networking, to better identify where the problems are.”

Archer indicated that while, from a strategy standpoint, things are just taking shape, some of the general contours are already clear.

“The strategy will focus around being easy to do business with, and helping partners make the pivot round business methodology,” he said. “My years of managing partners have shown the importance of being the easiest to do business with, as well as the most lucrative for partners. The largest partners have 500 plus manufacturers to consider. They have choices. We will build out sales assets to make us the easiest to do business with. We don’t want layers of bureaucracy to give partners special pricing. We want to make sure everything is easy to implement.”

Even though the industry has been emphasizing the importance of partners building up their services capacity for at least a decade, Archer said that many partners still need help here.

“Some partners are still building up their services capability to replace hardware margins,” he noted. “The end game for a lot of these business owners is an exit strategy with a high multiple, and maintenance and subscription business is the best way to do that. You cannot believe how slow the transition has been for many owners. It’s not easy to do, because they have to restructure their sales and compensation services. It’s still a challenge for many companies, and we have a platform and a methodology to show them the way.”

Helping solution providers better understand the Nectar platform’s advantages in a hybrid world is also a priority.

“We’ve got to help partners understand that the end users being hybrid can be a good thing, as they position their managed services capability,” Archer indicated. United communications-as-a-service has been around for a while and is growing, but UCaaS customers still need support and managed services can provide it. Our having platform that manages both on-prem and managed services is so important here.”

Archer also wants to improve Nectar’s mutual commitment with its channel partners.

“My first inclination is that we need to scale the channel, but there’s not a high enough commitment level with our current partnership as I would have expected,” he said. “I want our partnerships to be based on a solid commitment, where we will invest as they invest. We have to move from being just a vendor partner into being a strategic partner, and to do this, we likely will invest in partners that are very committed and want to build out managed services with our platform.”

Changes to Nectar’s partner program are a logical means to incent this behavior.

“I’ve built a lot of channel programs, and we will certainly look at making changes to the program for that,” he said. “We can make the deal registration program more lucrative, and possibly add new elements to the program. It’s also not just the rewards that you enhance, but the recognition, with things like partner testimonials and promotion through social media. We did a lot of focus on social selling at HPE.”