Polycom is one of the most popular, and well-known companies in the Unified Communications industry today. Their focus is on simplifying and enhancing the communications world, with strategies that promote stronger, and more secure voice and video for companies and enterprises of all shapes and sizes.
Today, more than 400,000 institutions across the globe access Polycom products as a way of improving their time to market, boosting productivity, and upgrading customer service. Part of how Polycom ensures that it can continue to deliver the best features and services to their client base, is through a carefully-selected partner ecosystem, packed full of enterprise-grade solutions for almost any environment.
I spoke to Glynn Jones, the man responsible for Polycom channels in EMEA, as well as the “Advanced Technology” group, which includes alliances with third parties like BroadSoft and Microsoft. As a Polycom Veteran with more than 17 years of experience, Glynn had plenty of advice and insights to offer in our conversation about 2017 and the possibilities and challenges that might emerge in the year ahead.
What Has Polycom Learned in 2017?
For almost all companies in the UC sector, the year of 2017 has been one defined by huge amounts of disruption and digital transformation. Not only have we begun to realistically explore options all the way from AI to virtual reality, but many organisations are also starting to make the move more aggressively into cloud-based situations. I asked Glynn what lessons and changes Polycom have been aware of this year.
“Perhaps the biggest change for us this year is that at the end of 2016, we went from being a publicly-listed company to being owned by private equity. What that meant was that we could step back from the standard quarterly hamster wheel that we had been on before, and start thinking about how to strategically grow our business going forward.”
“Part of that has been learning that we needed to be a bit less “precious” about owning everything in the UC marketplace, and understanding that we needed to partner more with third-party organisations that we might have seen as competitors in the past.”
For Polycom, 2017 has been about embracing collaboration, and consolidation to offer their customers a more complete end-to-end solution. This fits with the trending idea that UC companies today simply can’t provide a complete solution without some strategic partnerships. Glynn told me that the company sees their third-party connections as catalysts for delivering a UC solution into a broader market.
“Our long-term relationship with BroadSoft and other companies have been incredibly useful when driving business for the brand. We recently announced a relationship with Zoom in May, and we’ll be making sure our video endpoints are properly integrated into their solutions too. In Europe particularly, we’ve been driving forward with other partnerships, and we recently completed a soft launch of an announcement with BlueJeans too.”
How are Polycom Supporting Channels and Customers?
Polycom’s decision to embrace strategic partnerships with other companies has helped them to become more competitive throughout 2017. Glynn told me that their development as a brand hasn’t just been about embracing interoperability, but integrating new solutions to make their brand an easier choice for customers in search of a combined, convenient solution.
“We’ve seen a lot of really positive feedback in terms of what we’ve been doing strategically to make sure that we really own the room experience in the UC world. It’s about understanding that if a customer wants a complete experience, we need to connect with other third-parties to make sure that they get everything they need. Our aim is to make sure that we’re the end-point of choice in this changing marketplace.”
Glynn went on to say that while connectivity is important to any UC brand, Polycom also focuses on creating a user experience that’s “second to none”. He told me that:
“Things like our acoustic fence, noise blocking technology, and camera tracking solutions all unique to the Polycom portfolio help to provide a better user experience for the modern customer.”
What’s Your Top Advice for Channel Partners in 2018?
As we move into 2018, many channel partners and vendors will be rethinking and refining their strategies to prepare for a new UC environment. I asked Glynn what he considered to be the best advice he could offer channel partners for the new year.
“I think there’s a couple of key messages to think about. One that I’ve always stood by is that partners need to make sure that they understand customer requirements, and create solutions that are right for their needs, rather than simply selling something that’s one-size-fits-all. It’s about making sure that people can invest in UC in a powerful way. Partners need to add value by deploying the right technology for the right conference room or huddle room environment, without relying exclusively on the webcam option.”
Since Polycom have also been highly successful in the SIP endpoint world, I was keen to find out if Glynn had any advice for the IP telephony market.
“The environment is changing right now, and the Polycom brand is making changes to ensure that we’re still competitive in the space. We know that the marketing relationships we hold with third-party vendors are crucial to our success.”
Glynn also noted that in the conference room market, Polycom’s recent products play perfectly in the SIP environment:
“We offer the basic SIP features that customers demand, but we go beyond that too, but developing solutions that are more than just a conference phone, but an experience for huddle room and meeting room environments too.”
Owning the Meeting Room Environment
For Polycom, the plan for the year ahead appears to be based around a focus on continuing to do the great work they’ve been doing so far to make sure that they have an ecosystem and partnership network that’s effective for the end-customer.
Polycom isn’t just building relationships with Microsoft, Polycom, and other essential vendors, but they’re also aware that they need strong relationships with their reseller network too.
“We understand that it’s the channel that’s going to bring all our solutions together, and use the Polycom portfolio to bring value to the market in 2018.”
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