Team Polycom Event in 4 Words: Execution, Microsoft, Innovation, CEO
By Jim Lundy
We attended Polycom’s annual Team Polycom partner event last week in Orlando and we were struck with the feeling that things have changed significantly in 12 months at Polycom. Much of the change has to do with leadership and focus, but there was a good buzz at the event—most of it emanating from Polycom.
Private demonstrations left one with the feeling that the innovative Polycom is re-emerging. This blog post summarizes what we saw at Team Polycom in four words: execution, Microsoft, innovation, and the CEO (Peter Leav).
Execution Was the Battle Cry in 2014
No firm is immune from the need to execute and 2014 was the year that Polycom made a comeback. Generating solid GAAP net income and U.S. $91 million in positive cash flow in Q4 demonstrates that a laser focus on execution can drive results.
Polycom leverages its partners (distributors and resellers) for distribution and the strong turnout of partners and the overall buzz at the event was partly due to the very strong Q4 year-end that they collectively had.
Polycom and Microsoft: Back Together Again
Microsoft SVP Zig Serafin was present at Team Polycom to assure Polycom and the Polycom partners that the relationship between Microsoft and Polycom was back and that they were committed. This was warmly welcomed by those present.
While Microsoft did not enumerate about its relationships with others, such as Smart Technologies and Lifesize, it is clear that Polycom solutions and Skype for Business interoperability is stronger than it ever was.
Innovation Is Back
While many new features were shown, new product news is coming later in the year. That said, there is some very strong innovation going on at Polycom. One of the most interesting we observed was the Acoustic Fence capability, which will be critical in the workplace going foreward as sound management becomes a more important issue. On top of that, there were many Polycom partners present that leverage Polycom’s leading audio capabilities, which until recently, were overlooked.
Besides Acoustic Fence, Polycom’s Eagle Eye Cameras, which are sold standalone or bundled with video conferencing systems, are getting recognition for their ability to auto-recognize the person talking and zoom in on them. We wonder if Polycom will exploit this innovative technology in other areas, such as robotics and drones.
Polycom CEO Peter Leav Makes His Mark
The proof point in Polycom’s return is due not only to the leadership of CEO Peter Leav, but also in his ability to motivate Polycom executives to step up and take some risks.
Nowhere was this more evident in the happy faces we saw on Polycom staff. Gone are the stiff-lipped, tie-wearing staffers from the previous regime. Peter was confident, he delivered a solid year for Polycom, and he is getting the innovation story back on track—even though there were not many new products introduced at Team Polycom. There were many hints, but no announcements.
Ready to Take on Cisco
So, put it all together and you have a different Polycom. One that is more confident and ready to take its competition head-on. Of course, that means Cisco and others, but Cisco is the competitor that Polycom is compared to most often. With Peter Leav having fired up his troops and his partners, we think they are ready. 2015 will be interesting to watch in the UCC and enterprise video markets.
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