The Power of Pragmatism: Juniper’s “Innovation That Matters”

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • A theme of Juniper’s 2015 Innovation Showcase, “Innovation That Matters” points to a pragmatic view of the market.
  • This pragmatism, however, applies to its commercial as well as R&D operations – suggesting a need for more active engagement by its customers.

Last week, Juniper held its 2015 Innovation Showcase down at its Sunnyvale, CA HQ. Rami Rahim – Juniper employee #32 and current CEO – was there to kick things off and answer questions. Jonathan Davidson – GM of Juniper Development and Innovation – was there to talk up their newest launches and field some customer interviews. They showed off their latest routing and switching innovations. They hosted panel and individual sessions to talk technology along with go-to-market strategy. They had a story to tell. They captured some of it on video.

CACSpKJUQAAYfzk (1)As you might imagine, we were there and we wrote up an analysis of the event’s key takeaways: Juniper Innovation Showcase 2015: No Fighting Bears or Crossing Rivers – But Loads of Software and Silicon.

The title of the report is a not-so-subtle reference to last year’s conference where an over-arching theme was the “Rise of the Creative Planet.” Back then, CEO Shaygan Kjeradpir talked about the exciting, pioneering work Juniper was embarking on, and the ways in which Juniper was going to change the world by sparking creativity via “Cloud Building” and Juniper’s “High-IQ Networks.” This year, any romanticized comparisons to a latter-day Lewis and Clark expedition were traded in for a more pragmatic message: “Innovation That Matters.” Embedded in this message was Juniper’s focus on network performance and automation as competitive differentiators. It’s exactly the type of message you’d expect from a company’s who’s CEO was also an engineer on its “first breakthrough product.”

When your top competitor is generally acknowledged as a master of sales and marketing strategy, a focus on engineering prowess is logical. That’s not to say that Juniper’s newly messaged pragmatism ends at the lab. This year, partners (OEMs, VARs, SIs) were put front and center as key to both go-to-market and product development efforts. For large service providers, any added focus on the channel isn’t likely to change their relationship with Juniper; the vendor will likely keep direct touch points on them. For smaller carriers, the pros and cons of work working more via partners need to be acknowledged. To be sure, those partners are likely to be more responsive than Juniper might be when it comes to servicing the needs of Tier 2 or Tier 3 service providers. At the same time, where sales support, product support or product requirements are being funneled via an intermediary, a tight coupling between Juniper and its partners will be critical. In some cases, this may make it incumbent on the customer to drive engagement in order to get their demands understood and keep abreast of (then plan for) Juniper roadmaps.

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