CEO Outlook 2021: Rich McBee

Tami Bentz

2020 was one for the history books. Leading CEOs weighed in on CRN’s CEO Outlook 2021, and are now ready to write their company’s next chapter.

Riverbed’s CEO Rich McBee shares his insights and advice for partners on: market opportunities, technology strategy, best bets for big technology investments and challenges to address in 2021.

CRN: What’s the biggest market opportunity you and your channel partners will tackle together in 2021?

Rich McBee: Underpinned by a reliance on cloud and the growing complexity of IT networks, companies will be looking to the channel and Riverbed to maintain and maximize performance and employee productivity, provide visibility across the IT estate and organization, and secure their networks. As organizations shift to hybrid and modern work environments, we have an opportunity to deliver for customers in a way that provides a seamless technology environment so that their workforce can productive regardless of the user’s location.

CRN: How are you changing your channel and technology strategy in 2021 to reflect the impact of the ongoing global pandemic?

Rich McBee: Riverbed has always focused on helping our customers maximize performance and visibility for networks and applications. In 2021, Riverbed is focusing on solutions and managed services – such as Application Acceleration and Network Performance Management (NPM) – that continue to make remote and hybrid working more efficient, productive, and secure.

With employees working from anywhere, we are seeing strong customer demand for our NPM solutions for visibility and security of their networks, and we’re placing greater emphasis in this area. The questions organizations will continue to ask are: where are our employees; are they connected; are they productive and is the business performing.  Our NPM solutions provide   insight to help answers these questions, and allows business to take actions, as appropriate, to drive improved productivity and performance.

Additionally, our solutions for accelerating remote and cloud/SaaS performance have become increasingly relevant, including Riverbed Client Accelerator and SaaS Accelerator, and we see this as a significant growth opportunity again in 2021 and in the long-term. Client Accelerator boosts performance of desktops and laptops as they connect to corporate networks, the cloud or SaaS apps – increasing at-home application performance by up to 10 times (for Office 365 and other business critical apps) and removing up to 99% of data on any network. Even after COVID-19 passes, we expect a 50% increase of workforces working remote and needing WFH/remote optimization solutions for improved performance and business connectivity.

CRN: What are the biggest technology investments you are making in 2021?

Rich McBee: Riverbed will continue to invest in technologies that provide greater performance and visibility into networks and applications. We plan to focus on our end-to-end visibility and analytics capabilities, build on our growing application acceleration solutions, increase our security posture, and further enhance our cloud capabilities.

CRN: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing customers in 2021?

Rich McBee: CIOs have never been so integral to the organization and driving productivity and performance across the business. However, many organizations and IT departments are still struggling with the accelerated shift toward hybrid and modern work environments, and digital business models, which add much greater complexity. Technologies that provide increased visibility and performance into these networks and applications can help address this complexity, and ultimately result in better user experiences and overall business performance.


CRN: What is key to success for your channel partners in 2021?

Rich McBee: One of the keys to success for our channel partners in 2021 is to focus on upskilling and training to better understand products and in turn drive new opportunities. Those partners who actively take advantage of those opportunities will accelerate out of the challenging business climate created by COVID-19. Another key to success is to re-establish their status as trusted advisors by ensuring they are connecting virtually and digitally with customers, as many partners have been unable to physically go in and see customers and understand how services are being used by employees. And finally, there is a greater opportunity to build out managed services capabilities, as this allows businesses to focus on other areas rather than getting bogged down in worrying about their IT, and ultimately drive better business outcomes.