Last month, video surveillance solutions manufacturer Panasonic announced that it was restructuring its entire U.S. operations.
According to Greg Peratt, director of video solutions at Panasonic, the motivation behind the restructuring efforts were motivated by a desire by the company to increase communication with its end user customers.
"Originally we were primarily a channel company and we were two or three steps removed from our customers," Peratt explained. "With our other divisions - our Toughbooks, projectors and several other products - we have direct communication with our customers where we have sales people directly call on end users to really try to understand their requirements and needs. What we decided to do with our security (business) was blend that into the same mold."
Though he wouldn’t go as far to say that the company’s business model was flawed previously, Peratt said that they were strictly focused on cameras and recorders and just used the channel without understanding the customer.
"Our whole goal here was to really dig down and get face-to-face with the customer," he said. "Rather than just listening to competitive information and building products to sell through our channel, we are now working harder to gain true knowledge of end user requirements."
As part of this transition, Peratt said that the company has already hired 12 people to fill 14 new sales representative positions. These sales reps will call security end users across a variety of vertical markets, including the healthcare, government, retail, hospitality, and education sectors among others to better understand the needs they are facing in their respective industries and then communicate those needs back to Panasonic’s engineering department.
In fact, according to Peratt, the company has already brought in its engineers and setup appointments with strategic customers in each market. "Our goal is to create not only products but also solutions that meet our customers’ needs," he said.
Peratt emphasized that the company is not selling directly to end users and that they will still have their channel teams who will continue to work with resellers on projects. Panasonic has also added two people to its Solutions Architecture Team (SAT) to help create comprehensive security solutions for customers and reduce the number of vendors that they have to deal with.
Peratt said the feedback the company has received thus far to its new approach from customers has been "outstanding."
"We are committed to listening to our customers and coming back to them with presentations that communicate, 'here is what we heard you say, and here is how we are developing and modifying our products to meet your specific requirements,'" Peratt said.
There have also been several personnel moves with regards to leadership in the company’s security business as former president Bill Taylor has taken a position with another company, according to Peratt. In addition, Peratt said that Panasonic has also appointed someone to manage the company’s distribution channel.