On Wednesday March 9th, Microsoft and Polycom made a joint announcement with far-reaching impacts. While I believe all of these were pro-consumer, there is one that I believe will change the UC landscape permanently. For all our customers who have heterogeneous video collaboration environments but plan to move to Office 365, we’ve announced a new interop service that will be available in H2 of 2016 to unite Polycom, Cisco, and Skype for Business solutions. I’m sure many industry watchers viewed this as somewhat of an inevitability, interop of this type is one of the core tenets of Polycom’s business, but it’s the subtext that is most impactful.
“Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) and Microsoft Corp. announced today plans to expand the reach of Skype for Business meetings so Polycom customers of all sizes will be able to leverage their existing video investments as they move to Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business environments. In addition, Microsoft customers new to video collaboration will have the option to use Polycom’s proven technologies in their new deployments. Customers will also be able to collaborate with other existing video platforms using a new cloud video interoperability service built by Polycom and Microsoft.”
Historically, the kind of video interoperability soon to be available as a service for Office 365 customers required hardware. There is a great deal of processing in the form of computations necessary to transcode video in real-time involved in video interoperability. Even with specialized hardware and digital signal processors, that kind of compute did not come cheaply. Because of this, the consumer was saddled with the majority of the risk from their UC deployment. Primarily, this risk came in the form of on-premises hardware and a large capital investment up-front where the ROI was 100% dependent on adoption of the service. Over the past year, this risk became highly manageable through several developments that dramatically increased the chances of successful adoption. These developments ranged from workflow advancements like the Polycom RealConnect solution, adoption services, to the high demand for video driven by market forces such as the arrival of the Millennials en masse to the workforce and the subsequent move to BYOD and consumerization. But this did not eliminate the risk.
Another development which helped the consumer manage the risk of not realizing their ROI was the move to subscription based licensing offerings such as Polycom RealPresence Clariti. With Clariti, the consumer can choose whether they want perpetual licenses or a subscription; a CapEx purchase or OpEx costs. With the new video interop service, the industry moves to a pure consumption pricing model. This is a market shift that's very pro-consumer because it takes away most of the risk involved with a large capital purchase that might not be adopted. Because this service exists in the cloud, the risk shifts from the consumer to Microsoft and Polycom. It’s now up to us to ensure your UC deployment is successful. We’ll achieve this by continuing to leverage our long-standing strategic partnership with Microsoft in order to provide a fully featured offering with a seamless workflow. Consumers will reap the benefits, fueling the process with low monthly subscription payments.
I am a big believer in the concept of critical mass with regards to Unified Communications adoptions. Until an organization deploys UC broadly enough to achieve significant penetration and this critical mass, they cannot hope to reap any benefits. The hurdles to deploying the necessary infrastructure, namely the costs, were often prohibitive. In order to manage these costs, enterprises would often deploy UC in phases. With the introduction of this industry-first cloud-based video interoperability service that hurdle has been removed. Because you will only have to pay for what you consume, there is no risk to deploying UC broadly and no artificial barriers to achieving your ROI. UC will never be the same again.
I encourage you to find out for yourself. Define your business justification, document your use cases and leverage this model to achieve critical mass quickly and accelerate your ROI. With Polycom RealPresence Clariti you can buy one or two-year subscriptions to deploy RealConnect to provide interop on-premises today. Private cloud offerings are also available that can help you maximize the benefits of UC with no capital costs and limited cost overall. When the industry-first cloud-based video interoperability service is ready, you will be seamlessly transitioned to the Office365 cloud. So, choose YOUR consumption model because Polycom has you covered now and in the future.