Polycom Aims to Disrupt the Status Quo in Video Conferencing - Launches New Products to Improve the User Experience

Oct 08, 2015

Marking its 25th year anniversary of providing conferencing and collaboration products, Polycom hosted a product launch event yesterday at its New York City offices. I attended the jam-packed event where customers gathered to hear CEO Peter Leav and his leadership team introduce several new products which demonstrate that innovation is alive and kicking at Polycom. The details are found in Polycom’s press release - http://www.polycom.com/company/news/press-releases/2015/20151007.html

While the entire line up of new products is impressive, Trio and Centro in particular are expected to be game changers in how people collaborate.

RealPresence Centro

Anyone who’s been in a room video conference knows the experience is not conducive to true collaboration. A long table in a large meeting space with a video monitor at the far end puts in-room as well as remote attendees at a disadvantage, depending on where people are seated. As if watching a tennis match, conference room attendees need to turn their heads centro.jpgback and forth between the monitor to see remote participants and those present in the room which degrades the experience. Moreover, remote participants are demoted to second-class citizens as they view thumbnail-size video of participants at the far site. Despite these glaring user experience issues, room-based video conferencing has remained pretty much the same for years. The technology has indeed improved with better audio video quality and greater reliability but the user experience has traditionally been pushed to the side.

Frost & Sullivan estimates there are currently 2.2 million conference rooms globally equipped with video conferencing systems. Most users of these systems have accepted a sub-optimal experience. A new user paradigm will not only change this experience but also has the potential to expand the market beyond the four walls of traditional conference rooms into today’s open workspaces and huddle rooms. How we work and where we work from has changed by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Aptly put by Peter Leav as a “bowling alley to bonfire” transition, RealPresence Centro aims to address these user experience issues by making video conferencing more natural, engaging, and productive.

Having seen the earlier prototypes at Polycom’s analyst day events, the latest version of Centro looks sleek and offers several usability enhancements over traditional video conferencing endpoints. What is most innovative about Centro is that it levels the playing field for all. The focus is clearly on the human factor and eye contact. Every participant is equal including the far end attendees. With 5 HD cameras stitched together, Centro has 360-degree voice and video that tracks speakers. Centro also offers wireless pairing with many devices and has touch screens to make it simple to start a meeting. As the name says it, Centro puts collaboration in the center.

Expected to be available in February 2016, Polycom is now accepting orders for Centro. At a list price of $69,900 it comes in at half the cost of a typical immersive telepresence system.

RealPresence Trio

Polycom RealPresence Trio transforms the company's iconic three-point audio conferencing phone into a smart collaboration hub. With more than 5.5 million units sold, Polycom's conference phones have dominated the market for years and have become the industry standard. Trio adds video and content sharing to industry leading voice, making it an ideal solution in huddle rooms for ad hoc collaboration. Trio supports pairing with mobile devices and laptops as well as Microsoft Skype for Business, which is particularly useful for those looking to get multi party connectivity using Skype for Business infrastructure.

With the launch of Trio, Polycom is effectively eliminating collaboration silostrio.jpg to extend the reach of voice, video and content sharing to every meeting and every participant, lowering the barriers to widespread deployment. The real opportunity for Polycom will emerge from tapping into its huge customer base of audio conferencing phones that are looking to upgrade to multi-media collaboration in their conference rooms. In addition, huddle rooms that remain an underserved market will benefit from Trio for ad hoc audio, video and content collaboration. Trio is priced at $2259 and will be GA in November this year. Polycom executives mentioned yesterday there is already a barrage of orders in the pipeline.

The conferencing and collaboration space has seen a new wave of competitors enter the market. It’s no surprise that there is a cry for industry consolidation. Given this highly volatile environment, it is essential that vendors continue innovating at a fast pace to offer end users enhanced value. Polycom is making the right moves to grow its business by focusing on its core competencies. Backed by the right software and cloud-driven strategy, the new units could bring in the much needed growth. Trio and Centro also offer new opportunities for service attach all the way from desktop and mobile users to conference rooms. There is clearly a pent up demand for video collaboration today but the technology always needed the added push for a better user experience that makes it simple, productive, and enjoyable. Polycom could just well be the company to get it right.

Category : Enterprise

Roopam Jain


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