Shortly after talking the helm as Polycom, CEO Mary McDowell discussed her strategy for the company moving forward. One of the focus areas for it is to broaden its technology partner ecosystem. The company has a great partnership with Microsoft and is the only vendor that has products that interoperate natively with Skype for Business/Office 365.
As lucrative as this partnership has been to Polycom, McDowell recognizes that not everyone will be using Microsoft for their collaboration needs.
+ Also on Network World: Polycom brings a wide variety of video solutions to Microsoft Unified Communications +
Also, Polycom will be directing more resources into endpoint innovation. The infrastructure business at Polycom has been in decline for years because customers are choosing to leverage the power and ubiquity of the cloud. Polycom has been a technology leader since its inception, but the transition of video from being on premises to the cloud has shrunk the companies addressable market. Hence the change in strategy.
The Polycom/Zoom collaboration
This week, Polycom made an announcement that indicates they are executing on McDowell’s plan by collaborating with longtime competitor Zoom. The partnership is fueled by the Zoom Connector for Polycom, which enables customers to use Polycom’s conferencing endpoints with Zoom video meetings. As is the case with the Polycom-Microsoft relationship, the Zoom relationship is built on the concept of ease of use, as the interoperability will be invisible to the worker.
Historically, “interoperability” is a term the unified communications industry has used liberally, as it often requires custom software or manual integration, and that has held back the entire industry. Both Zoom and Polycom individually have products that are easy to use, so one would expect a joint solution to be just as easy.
Key features of the Zoom Connector for Polycom include the following:
- Single tap to start or join a meeting from Polycom touchscreens. It’s important to note that this is native integration, so no pairing codes or software are required.
- Works with Polycom RealPresence Debut and RealPresence Group Series room systems.
- Calendar integration with Outlook, Google Calendar and iCal.
- HD-quality video and audio.
- High-quality wireless screen sharing.
- Meetings work with internal and external participants across any device, including mobile, desktop and other room systems.
The partnership is a true win-win for Polycom and Zoom customers. Polycom customers now can use one of the best cloud collaboration solutions, and Zoom customers can leverage Polycom’s best-in-class endpoint portfolio. Over time, I would expect to see the partnership expand to the rest of the Polycom portfolio, which includes innovative products such as Trio, Centro and Eagle Eye.
Polycom’s next move
What’s next for Polycom is certainly interesting to speculate about. Last year at this time, the company would never have partnered with a competitor like Zoom. However, industries change, and the things that made a company successful in the past may not be effective in the future. In the collaboration market, customers want easy-to-use experiences, and strong partnerships can deliver that.
The UC market is filled with smaller, niche vendors that deliver one piece of the overall collaboration experience. All of these should be fair game for Polycom to partner with. A few obvious names that come to mind are Vidyo, Pexip, Mitel, ShoreTel and BlueJeans. Polycom makes outstanding endpoints, and through partnerships, more customers can experience the unique features in more places. Zoom was a strong first step, but it should not be the last.