Here at Polycom we're dedicated to enabling the workplace of the future with the support of our voice and video solutions. This year at GITEX Technology Week it is no different! We are going to be in attendance and showcasing the latest portfolio of video, voice and content sharing collaboration solutions that help businesses enable their workforce to work from anywhere. Yes, Anywhere!
Polycom will be on stands Z-H12 and Z-H35 in Zabeel Hall in partnership with FVC and Sitec, while Westcon will be hosting a networking event for partners from October 17 – 19 at the IBIS Hotel.
Want to know what you can see whilst at the show? Read on, we have lots to share...
Key Polycom solutions on display by FVC, Sitec and Westcon at GITEX are:
Polycom® RealPresence Trio™is a solution transforms the iconic three-point conference phone into a voice, content-sharing and video system that can fit into any team environment. Easy to deploy, RealPresence Trio technology has broad interoperability and deep integration across multiple UC platforms including Skype for Business and Microsoft Lync, BroadSoft and others.
Polycom® RealPresence Centro™ is the first solution purpose-built to put people into the centre of collaboration, will be available for demonstration during the show. The RealPresence Centro solution introduces a brand new paradigm for group conferencing that drives deep engagement and highly productive meetings by bringing people to the centre of collaboration.
Polycom® RealPresence® Debut™brings enterprise grade video collaboration to the huddle room with a focus on simplicity and affordability. RealPresence Debut has an easy, elegant design that enables high quality visual collaboration for huddle and smaller room environments, as well as for small or medium sized businesses with limited IT resources.
Polycom® RealPresence® Media Suiteis an enterprise recording, webcasting and portal solution that makes the creation and delivery of higher quality videos possible. A central management console enables simple workflows to manage media nodes remotely.
Polycom® RealPresence ClaritiTMis a collaboration infrastructure that delivers Polycom’s powerful HD voice, content, video and web collaboration to businesses of any size is also available for demonstrations during GITEX.
Polycom VVX 101 and VVX 201 Business Media Phones: The Polycom VVX 101 business media phone is a low cost solution for small and home offices, lobby areas and shared workspaces—anywhere people need access to a simple phone with a single line. On the other hand, the Polycom VVX 202 is designed for organisations of all sizes looking for a cost effective telephony solution and features two line support and a wide-range of enterprise telephony features. Both offer life-like conversations with Polycom’s industry-leading HD voice, Polycom Acoustic Clarity and Polycom Acoustic Fence technology to deliver excellent sound quality and noise-free, echo-free conversations.
Want to meet the Polycom team and see how solutions in action? Sign up here, and we'll see you at the show!
As young children we are taught nursery rhymes and short poems to help us learn and remember things, whether it be “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” or the colours of a rainbow “red and yellow and pink and green”. We all loved to say these rhymes over and over again, often putting actions to the words to help us remember them and bring the words to life! Then as we grow older we learn how to write a whole variety of styles of poems and are encouraged to write poetry, explore our creative side and analyse poems written by famous poets. And then for the majority of us it all stops! We switch to writing essays and dissertations for our University years and then in business to the other extreme of tweets, IM’s and emails. But not so for our resident Polycom poet, Jonathan Clark, who recently waxed lyrically about Polycom Services, and brought services to life.
Jonathan was prompted to put fingers to keyboard and create a captivating poem about the three stages of Polycom global services - plan, deploy and operate - following a recent brainstorming meeting about the Polycom Open Days which are hosted at our London Executive Experience Centre, offering delegates the opportunity to experience powerful demonstrations of the latest solutions in group collaboration.
Planning is about discovery, discovering what it is that collaboration can do for your organization and what your users want and need, and then preparing for that change by designing the solution that’s right for you. The plan should also act as a roadmap detailing how to do it and the timelines required to make it happen.
Deploying is not only about delivering the solution, it’s about integrating the collaboration solution into your existing workflows and process. It’s about staff embracing the new solution and experiencing the benefits of seeing, hearing and sharing content with the people that they work with, regardless of where they are based. It’s about defying distance and building rapid rapport. It’s about ensuring that personnel are trained and comfortable using video collaboration and incorporate it as one of the tools they have in their everyday working life, adopting the use of it naturally into their day.
Operate is the final part. Once everything is up and running, your organization should know that Polycom is there to help you, ensuring that your collaboration systems work in the most efficient way, provide you with reporting and analytics so that you can demonstrate the ROI and assist you to continue to refine your solution to deliver the best experience possible for your users.
To bring these words to life, listen to Jonathan’s 90 second poem and learn about Polycom services and how they can help your organization be successful through every stage of your collaboration journey.
Communication is not just the words we say but also how we say it. There is a well-known study that identifies 7% of communication is our words, 38% is our tone and 55% is nonverbal. That data is great and all but what would this look like in an actual workplace?
Let’s pretend you missed a meeting but someone transcribed every word that was said throughout the hour. Somewhere near the end, you read the words: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Depending on the context of the rest of the transcription you would likely deduct that someone believes the aforementioned idea is indeed, great.
Ok, now let’s try to add tone to that message. Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Depending on the tone and inflection of the person’s voice you might perceive something a little bit different. The emphasis is on great so again, we would likely deduct that the individual was enthusiastic about this idea.
Finally, let’s add nonverbal cues to make sure we receive 100% of the message. Yeah, I think that’s a great idea (eye-roll and slight shake of the head). Suddenly, the message changes. The person speaking doesn’t think this is a great idea. In fact, this person seems to be mocking the idea and the person suggesting it.
Even the slightest nonverbal cue can make a huge difference in the meaning of the message and our ability to communicate effectively. Now, you may think that having video conferencing solves this problem since you can visually see people. While video conferencing is a critical first step, it isn’t the complete answer. Think about this scenario which happens thousands of times, every single day:
You’re sitting in the back of a conference room with another colleague but don’t adjust the camera view. The people on the other end of the video call see a beautiful oak table and two people vaguely in the back of the room. Likely, they know who it is from the meeting invite but they aren’t seeing your body language or facial expressions. You present to them and while they can technically see you, they can’t really see you. They are only receiving 45% of your message. Don’t you want to make sure everyone receives 100% of the message you are conveying?
Now, imagine that same scenario above but instead of seeing the long oak table and two distant figures, the other side can see both of your faces. What if I told you that this could be accomplished without fidgeting with the remote control? Polycom’s Producer camera is smart enough to detect that there are people in the room and will automatically zoom in to frame both of you in the room. Everyone can now see body language and other vital nonverbal cues. Even when a third colleague joins you fifteen minutes into the meeting, the camera will see this individual and reframe the view to show everyone without having to do anything but sit there and look pretty.
This technology has existed in Polycom’s portfolio for a while, but now it goes one step further by zooming in on an active speaker. It’s inevitable that you will need to present, ask or answer a question during a meeting and this technology ensures that 100 percent of your message is received. As you start speaking, the camera recognizes you as the speaker and zooms in, similar to how people would react in the room. Everyone on the other end can not only hear you clearly, they will see you clearly as well, ensuring that no non-verbal ques are missed. As someone else in the room starts talking the camera will adjust to show them and when there are no active speakers, it will go back to framing everyone in the room.
Granted, speaker tracking technology isn’t new but this is the first time that it’s been available using only one camera and with an incredibly affordable price tag. If you already own EagleEye Producer, it’s a simple software upgrade so additional hardware is not necessary for this new capability.
Video is the next best thing to being there in person, but not if everyone looks like distant figures on a screen. It’s time you recognized the full benefits of video conferencing and ensure people are receiving your message loud and clear.
The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) Benchmark Study provides companies with a readout to help them understand their offerings compared to other organizations in the technology industry. The comprehensive report we received from the benchmark of our Managed Services highlighted Polycom’s strengths, as well as opportunities for improvement.
This benchmark re-enforced the importance of focusing on the business outcomes and solving problems for our customers where we go beyond developing, implementing and onboarding a solution, but take it further by creating a relationship to truly ensure customer success. The main takeaway here is that we need to continue focusing on this customer service model.
The question we ask ourselves is, “How do we help customers drive back operational efficiencies and increase adoption while not only meeting their expected return on investment, but exceeding it?” This is how we drive customer success. Polycom does a great job here, in helping customers manage any on-premises solutions they may have while also helping them plan and navigate for the migration to more cloud-based operational systems.
Polycom, like many other managed services organizations, started out with a traditional deploy and support services methodology, but what we are realizing is that our customers are looking for a stronger business relationship. They are looking for someone who can work with them through the transition, who has experience, who has helped others facing the same challenges and knows how to go beyond the IT department to also address the needs of other lines of business across the organization. Many of our customers are both interested in and apprehensive of moving to the cloud, and we help them make the change comfortably.
We are also helping customers in various managed services situations. We tend to see a lot of requests for remote monitoring and management, but we’re also seeing an increasing number of customers interested in full private cloud and transformational models. In all these situations, we strive to provide the best experiences possible. We support interoperable solutions that work with various vendors’ equipment and solution ecosystems. For example, we regularly leverage Microsoft solutions like Office 365 and Skype for Business to support customer’s needs.
Polycom is an expert in the journey to cloud services. We focus on lifecycle management and help customers through the migration to cloud based solutions all the way through adoption and renewal stages and beyond. Our strategic initiative is to develop a holistic solution for our customers and to ensure robust capabilities that drive their success.
Taking the time to participate in this benchmark study shows Polycom’s willingness to open up for constructive criticism and feedback which will help us improve the Managed Services that we provide to our customers. Overall, we discovered that Polycom can always evolve to deliver better managed services that meet customer expectations and we are prepared to adapt to this rapidly changing industry. The TSIA benchmark was also helpful in validating Polycom’s current strategies and making us more aware of our successes in this area.
The London School of Economics (LSE) has just published some interesting research on the long-term impacts of home working. As a flexible worker, I was interested to read the results, however, I was disappointed by the article on the news in The Times because they had clearly misunderstood the outcomes, focusing on how ‘working at home can foster bad habits’… But home working isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of flexibility.
When we dig a little deeper, it turns out that the LSE research confirms what we all know to be true; people like to have a choice about their place of work. The study found that employees disliked being forced to work at home, just as much as they disliked being forced to work in an office. It seems you can’t please them all!
However, as both a part-time home worker and full-time anywhere worker, here are my tips on how to combat the issues flagged by the research.
1. Crystal Clear
“If the company expects homeworkers to be a lot more productive or workers expect employers to give them a lot of flexibility and not have to reciprocate in kind, one or both are likely to be disappointed.” - Dr. Esther Canonico, LSE
Anywhere working requires clear communication, and an established trust based on conversations prior to commencing a flexible arrangement. As a manager, you need to confirm whether you are offering the flexibility of location, hours, or both. It’s also important to have a policy that clearly states whether employees must request to vary their set hours or workplace in advance of every instance, or if they have the freedom to work in their preferred way every day. That way there is no confusion and no disappointment.
2. There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM…
‘Those at home every day also become “socially and professionally isolated”, increasingly feeling out of touch, losing confidence in their skills and no longer able to “accurately interpret and use information”. Emails can be misinterpreted, whereas the signals are usually clear in a face-to-face meeting.’
It's easy for someone to feel overlooked or undervalued if they never get to see their boss or their colleagues. As a manager, it’s up to you to ensure your team feels included. You could ensure that your team uses video collaboration for all meetings so that everyone can join face-to-face, wherever they are. Conducting as much team communication face-to-face as possible eliminates the misunderstandings that can arise from email. You could hold virtual ‘coffee breaks’ and ‘lunches’ to ensure team members feel included. And as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, if you are meeting one-to-one with your reports regularly you both benefit. You know first-hand about their achievements and are able to provide them with the same attention and recognition as those based in the office.
3. All by myself…
‘Sitting alone and focusing intently on a piece of work for several hours without a chat at the coffee machine can be negative. “The intensity of homeworking accentuates the negative impact of professional isolation on job performance.”’
Of course it’s easy to fall into negative behaviours if you feel isolated from the rest of your team, so it is essential that both yours and your team member’s mind-set be aligned right from the beginning. I would advise that managers still organise in-person meetings and team building exercises on a regular, if infrequent, basis. Using video collaboration solutions, can help maintain team bonds between dispersed members until they can be in the same place at the same time. Anywhere working doesn’t mean that you should never spend a day in the office with your colleagues, through the use of technology it just means it doesn’t have to be an everyday occurrence.
Work to Live…
One thing that is really important is to achieve balance. Any place, any time, any device can be a double edged sword, which is why the individual needs to find that balance. Work-life balance doesn’t always mean less time in the office, or working all hours; it means finding a solution that best suits the individual and enables their maximum personal productivity. That balance can shift with time, as our personal circumstances change, or our role does. Both employees and employers need to be flexible beyond home working to achieve the best possible results.
The event this year is being held 26th – 30th September, Atlanta GA and Polycom will be there as a Gold Sponsor at Booth #1624 - and we are going to be very busy!
Ignite is the coming together of up to 20,000 Global IT Professionals, IT Decision Makers and Enterprise Developers from around the world.
As well as a packed agenda there will be an EXPO and Polycom will be there showing all the latest roadmap developments that creative productivity solutions built on Office 365 for voice, video and video interoperability.
Please use this invitation to visit our booth where you will see how:
You can have complete Office 365 collaboration with Polycom
Polycom is the only solution provider to complete Office 365 collaboration end-to-end
Our breadth of our portfolio is second to none for Office 365
How our native integration of Polycom devices into O365 drives rapid adoption
And how our deep expertise and global reach helps rollout our rapid deployment of solutions.
…and it doesn’t just stop there. Throughout Microsoft Ignite 2016, Polycom will be presenting a number of speaking sessions too! More details below…
Session 1: Complete Collaboration with Polycom and Office 365: a Partnership Overview
Monday, September 26 – 2.00 - 2.45pm
For over a decade Polycom and Microsoft have been working together to create the next generation workplace. In this session, Ashan Willy, Senior Vice President at Polycom, will give an overview of the Polycom and Microsoft alliance and how Polycom’s solutions for Skype for Business and Office 365 enable employees to truly collaborate from anywhere.
Session 2: Best practices in Building a Collaboration Strategy: a Conversation with Polycom and Microsoft
Tuesday, September 27 – 9.00 - 9.45am (Breakfast Session)
Skype for Business and Polycom are changing the way organizations communicate and collaborate. During this session, Microsoft and Polycom experts will address best practices around getting the most out of your Skype for Business and Polycom deployments. From finding the right partner to help with your journey to driving end-user adoption, Polycom and Microsoft will share their experiences from the field.
Session 3 & 4: Technology Deep Dive into Polycom Voice and Video for Office 365
Tuesday, September 27 – 4.00pm
Wednesday, September 28 – 10.00am
Do you have technical questions around deployment of Skype for Business or Office 365 and Polycom products? Our Solution Architects and Microsoft MVP’s will present Polycom’s collaborations solutions and how they integrate with Skype for Business and Office 365. They will be available to answer any technical questions you might have around deployment, product updates, and voice and video endpoints.
Session 5: How to Prepare for the Cultural Evolution of Video: Strategies for Success from a Microsoft and Polycom customer
Thursday, September 29 – 10.00 - 10.45am
Video is transforming the way employees communicate and collaborate. Preparing for video requires an organization to think beyond the technology and evolve people and culture. Hear best practices from Polycom’s VP of Global Solutions Marketing, Amy Barzdukas and first-hand experience from Chris Bryant, Sr. Vice President, Enterprise Applications & Technology at Operation Smile
Expo Hall Theatre 4 Session: Complete Collaboration with Polycom Voice and Video for Office 365
Thursday, September 29 – 2.10pm
Trying to determine a device strategy for Skype for Business and Office 365? Working through interoperability challenges between Skype for Business and your other voice and video endpoints? Polycom helps global organizations with these questions every day. Discover why 70% of customers choose Polycom when choosing the right partner for Skype for Business collaboration.
See how Polycom and Microsoft joint solutions can transform collaboration across your organization. We can’t wait to see you there!
Imagine that it is 2:30 on a Friday afternoon, and you are on a conference call with an important client and colleagues across the country, racing to finalize a project by the end of the work day. Suddenly, Mr. Loudmouth, in the next cubicle, is bellowing out his plans for a “totally awesome” weekend with his friends.
Only a few years ago this would have meant that you apologize profusely, hang up your phone and move to a meeting room to re-dial and resume your conversation with a now frustrated group of colleagues and clients. At moments like these, don’t you wish there was a technology to block out those annoying, embarrassing interruptions from your busy day? Well, now there is.
Polycom’s Acoustic Fence™ mounts an invisible sound barrier even where walls do not exist. It is designed for today’s open office environments, and keeps your audio conference on track by blocking out background noise. It works exclusively with Polycom VVX™ business media phones. With the Acoustic Fence, callers hear only you and your participants’ voices – not distracting background voices or sounds.
Whether you are calling from your cubicle, your home office, using a handset or headset, the acoustic challenge facing your telephone is unique to that environment at that moment. The Polycom Acoustic Fence technology evaluates surrounding audio and performs noise cancellation during any given call by capturing sounds from inside the virtual fence while blocking those from outside, enabling unparalleled audio collaboration.
This boundary is created using multiple microphones that listen to sounds originating outside of your meeting space; the Acoustic Fence uses sophisticated algorithms to remove non-speaker noises from the encoded audio stream. Put simply? It cancels them out. Having great quality audio is critical for a seamless phone call, which, in turn is critical for effective business communications. At Polycom, we continue to innovate with new technologies to meet the needs of all workplace dynamics and teleconferencing environments
While it’s great for enhancing communication in any VVX call, Acoustic Fence is particularly helpful if you work in a call center environment. It also works wonders if you are on a conference call in a busy office - or conducting a video seminar from a locale where there is a considerable amount of noisy background activity.
Brugerfladen og brugeroplevelsen er en essentiel del af enhver IT-baseret løsning og nogle af de største teknologi-virksomheder som eksempelvis Appel har bygget hele deres succes op omkring en velfungerende en af slagsen. Kvaliteten af brugerfladen er i høj grad med til at bestemme hvor tryg brugeren er ved en given løsning, men trygheden og læringskurve afhænger desuden af om det er tale om et personligt device eller en gruppeløsning.
På personlige enheder ser man en meget høj tilpasningsrate fordi folk har det fint med at begå fejl. Folk føler sig trygge ved deres egen smartphone, tablet eller laptop, hvor de typisk er alene og bare finder ud af tingene hen af vejen.
Når det derimod drejer sig om gruppeløsninger som eksempelvis videomødeløsninger, hvad enten det er til de små møderum eller de store konferencelokaler, er presset på brugerens ”tekniske formåen” langt større. Kollegaer og chefer kigger en over skulderen i det øjeblik, man melder på/ringer op og stressfaktoren er i top da, der sjældent er tid til fejl eller til at prøve sig frem.
En af de bedste måder at komme denne modvilje/utryghed til livs er at rydde unødige hindringer af vejen ved at skabe ensartede brugerflader. Brugerne skal kunne gå fra den personlige løsning til gruppeløsningen uden at mærke forskel og dermed føle sig sikre. De skal kunne bruge de samme ikoner og følge den samme proces, når de foretager opkald og deler indhold. Alle løsninger skal se ud og føles på samme måde. Uanset hvor nyt eller gammelt et system er.
Undersøgelser viser, at fortrolighed med et system giver en større tilpasning, som i sidste ende skaber den bedste interaktion mellem brugere. Løsningsudbyderne bør ikke tvinge brugerne til at forlade en brugerflade og gå ind i en anden for at kunne planlægge og administrere et møde.
Inden for videomødeindustrien taler vi om ”en halv meters” versus ”en tre meters” brugerflade, og det skyldes størrelsen på de traditionelle videokonferencerum. De var tidligere ligesom bowlingbaner, hvor du stod mange meter fra skærmen i et stort konferencelokale.
De nye løsninger har taget livet af den gamle metode. De førende virksomheder på området har valgt at sige, at ”den bedste brugerflade er ingen brugerflade”, og de har undersøgt, hvordan mennesker samarbejder mest naturligt i videomødesituationer.
De har lagt mærke til, at folk elsker at gå rundt i lokalet og at de har det helt fint med at se hinanden i øjnene. Det er også konstateret at fjerndeltagerne er meget engagerede, når de ringer ind i et rum fuld af mennesker.
For at gøre det muligt at bevæge sig naturligt skal kameraet automatisk kunne tilpasse sig din højde og bevægelser i rummet. Der bør ikke være nogen unaturlige begrænsninger for din adfærd som bruger.
Det næste trin for brugeroplevelsen er at gøre systemet 100 procent automatisk. Det indebærer, at brugeren blot skal kunne logge sig på systemet, som så tilpasser sig brugerens præferencer, trækker brugerens meste brugte indholdsdelings-metode op i forgrunden, ligesom det tilpasser volumen, tilretter kamera etc. Disse faciliteter vil gøre møder, som er baseret på samarbejdsteknologi, meget mere effektive. Også selvom vi ikke er nået helt i mål endnu.
It seems like just yesterday, I was in Virginia packing my belongings to start my year long journey as a digital nomad. Here I am in Lisbon, Portugal my fourth city working from a container called the Village Underground Lisboa. This might sound weird, but the container has been refurbished for co-working spaces which includes desks, chairs, printers, Wi-Fi and most importantly air conditioned rooms. It’s really HOT in Lisbon, AC is a rare commodity. For private calls, we are given the option to book a bus that has been transformed into a conference room. The concept is one of a kind and it works. This is only one of the three co-working spaces for this month. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post each city’s co-working space is completely different and unique to the city.
The first week of each month I spend my time finding my way around the city, specifically the co-working space(s), and my housing. The second week is spent establishing a routine that works best for my work and personal schedules. The third week, I am comfortable with the city, I feel like a local. For example, I know where to buy my groceries, how to get home without relying on google maps or city mappers, I can even say simple phrases in the local language. Ultimately, I start to call the city my home. Finally, the fourth week, is emotional and daunting. The routine I have created comes to an end. I have to start packing my belongings and mentally prepare myself for the next city, then whole process starts all over again. This constant change is bitter sweet, it keeps me on toes and teaches me how to embrace change.
On this journey, I’ve been fortunate to have developed some great friendships with many individuals from all over the world who have so much passion and drive. Being surrounded by writers, IOS developers, marketing analysts, scientists, entrepreneurs and has broadened my horizons on life and work.
One of my good friends Andrew J Clark is an iOS developer that works for a podcast company. He’s also working on a couple of side project while on Remote Year, a social networking platform app and bi-weekly podcast “A Nerd Abroad.” He recently launched his beta for his social app named Asocial, anonymous social network where you can be you. He has pitched the idea for this app to our group for feedback and testing. Andrew actually mentioned his social media app to me the first few weeks in Prague, seeing his idea come into fruition has been really exciting!
Then, there’s Molly Falco another good friend, who was my roommate in Belgrade, Serbia. She is a bright and creative individual who has her own company “Chronicle” focused on branding and marketing strategy. I had the opportunity to hear her speak to a group of us at our monthly networking event about the importance of choosing a name for a company product. I learned so much from her presentation about how names can affect us psychologically and the science behind choosing a name.
Each of the professionals on Remote Year has their own traits, skills sets and passions that set them apart from the rest. I wake up every morning with an urge to start my day and accomplish my responsibilities and execute what I’ve set to do for Polycom’s Channel team. Being around such positive energy excites and inspires me to do my best work!
Another benefit of working remotely and being a digital nomad is the opportunity to meet co-workers around the world. Last month in London, I had the opportunity to visit Polycom’s offices (Slough and EEC in London), it was nice being in an office environment. I even had the pleasure to spend some quality time with my fellow colleague Helen Grimmett who is part of my extended World Wide Channel Operations team. I had worked and collaborated with her on Polycom® RealPresence Desktop™ video calls for a couple of years, seeing her in person was a whole different experience!
Thanks to our already established video conferencing relationship, we were able to connect instantly at a personal level. Thank you Helen and your daughter for being my tour guide during my time in London, it was lots of fun!
In the months to come, I will visit a few Polycom offices in South America including Mexico City and Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to meet more of my Polycom colleagues in person, who I have the pleasure to work with virtually these past three years at Polycom.
Wherever you are in the world, and whatever type of organization you work for, there’s a strong possibility you could benefit from moving to a Managed Service for your video collaboration environment – through reduced risk, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), improved uptime, accelerated return on investment (ROI), the financial predictability of operating vs capital expenses (OPEX vs CAPEX), and more. A new white paper from Polycom provides a detailed overview of Managed Services.
These kinds of benefits make the business case for Managed Services compelling – especially if video collaboration within your organization has become mission critical, your collaboration solution spans multiple countries, or the complexity of your environment has increased. Misunderstandings about the nature of Managed Services and what they encompass can lead to organizations missing out on all of the advantages.
What are Managed Services?
According to industry body Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), Managed Services is “the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities as a strategic method for improving operations.” In its simplest form, leasing a car or moving into a condo where much of the property management is addressed by a homeowners association is an example of Managed Services. Within an organization, outsourcing responsibility for your IT infrastructure is a common scenario for Managed Services.
Polycom Managed Services can help you address all of these issues, and deal with an extensive range of challenges related to business transformation, collaboration, and IT resourcing. You should seriously consider Polycom Managed Services if:
Your IT support staff’s time is needed for other strategic initiatives.
The demands of maintaining and supporting your video collaboration system are outside the expertise of your IT staff, or you’re struggling to find and/or keep the right technical talent to meet these demands.
Your business is expanding its footprint globally, or you have business units demanding greater access to visual collaboration tools.
Your organization is about to undergo a significant business transformation, IT migration, or upgrade.
Your current infrastructure is nearing capacity, you’re unable to scale it fast enough, or you need to get a fully functioning solution envisioned, designed, and deployed in the shortest possible timeframe.
You’re looking to add significant new video capabilities for mobile or desktop users; want to integrate Polycom video with Skype for Business; or need a trusted partner capable of managing legacy or multi-vendor video solutions and endpoints.
Your video collaboration solution is falling behind the most recent software updates and revisions, meaning employees aren’t experiencing the latest benefits.
Your current Managed Services provider is not meeting all your needs–for example, if you feel you are not getting the value you are paying for, you want a more proactive approach, or you want a provider who will commit to continuous improvement of your solution throughout your contract period.
Your collaboration solution is not delivering the results you had hoped for; you want to use it for more mission-critical applications than your current solution can support; or you would like help with driving technology adoption, utilization, improving scheduling, simplifying the user experience, etc.
In addition to addressing these kinds of challenges, a move to Polycom Managed Services makes sense if:
You want to avoid or reduce business risk and lower TCO, while keeping up-to-date with the latest technology.
You’re looking to restructure more of your purchases as operational expenses, or replace CAPEX with OPEX projects as a way of better managing your cash flow.
You want to address unpredictability of your IT operations– in terms of finance, performance, etc.–through a predictable, stable and reliable environment, cost model, and service level objectives (SLOs).
You’re already outsourcing some of your other IT applications or moving them to the cloud–e.g. by switching to Microsoft Office 365–and would like to do the same for video.
You’ve been considering outsourcing video to a public cloud provider due to the flexibility and speed of deployment available, but have concerns about security, Quality of Service (QoS), interoperability, the lack of opportunities for customization, etc.
Polycom’s approach to Managed Services is to offer a solution covering as much or as little of an organization’s collaboration environment as they require. This could include professional services, support services, licensing, training, and even product, all rolled up into a single integrated solution governed by an agreed set of success criteria, and paid for using your preferred financial model.
Polycom’s Managed Services team (often alongside one of our authorized partners) will also act as a trusted advisor, augmenting–not replacing–your existing IT resources, by supporting them in areas that are otherwise preventing them from concentrating on other strategic initiatives, or enabling them to offload tasks for which they do not possess the required level of skills or expertise.
What is vidiquette? Polycom's Vidiquette Expert, Polly Calm explains.
What is vidiquette? It’s about etiquette for video collaboration. But what is etiquette? Despite what you might think, etiquette is not a stuffy set of rules about which fork to use and what color jackets the groomsmen can wear for an afternoon wedding. Modern etiquette is about courtesy, and helping us navigate how to behave with new technologies and capabilities – in our work lives and our personal lives. We all know that courtesy goes a long way toward making workplaces and work teams better. “Vidiquette,” then, is how to apply courtesies to video conferencing – technology that is just now becoming widespread enough that people around the world are looking for guidance and best practices.
I have been known to refer to people who aren’t aware of these courtesies as “vidiots,” but I say it with affection. Video collaboration is breaking down barriers in our modern workplaces, and I’m excited to see so many companies and institutions leveraging the power of face to face connection, even when they are thousands of miles apart. Spend a little bit of time with me and you’ll be a vidiquette expert in no time – getting the most out of every videoconference so you can be as productive as possible.
In this piece, Frédéric Batut, Southern Europe Area Sales Vice President, talks about his first year at Polycom, the milestones and the challenges
So, Polycom, one year later… was it everything you anticipated?
I have worked with Polycom for over fifteen years in various different positions so the whole transition was smooth. The role of Area Sales Vice President demands higher responsibility but the good thing is that I could utilise quite a few elements of my existing business knowledge in my new role.
Some tasks were bigger as well and consumed a lot more time than expected. ‘Change’ is never easy – you need to firstly put a plan in place before you could even start thinking about implementing your plan. Channel strategy and developing competitive accounts were my main priorities as the regional business leader.
Have you made many changes since you joined?
I had a good understanding of how Polycom was operating in Southern Europe and one of the main things I did in this new role was re-aligning the local business strategy.
In France, the team was given opportunity to develop their roles further. The newly redesigned team now looks after not only the key accounts but also competitive accounts. This way everyone will get the opportunity to shine. In terms of channel, I implemented a new tool which provides a clear segmented view of the new business opportunities. The tool allows the team to view the customer and partner requirements not only from the vertical market perspective but also from the Polycom solutions offering perspective. This has helped improve our results many folds over the past year.
In Italy, we developed strong relationships with a number of key customers and I am pleased to say that we have also doubled the number of competitive accounts over the course of last year. Voice and AV is a big part of the Polycom business here and our aim is to penetrate deeper into the video market so we can help more customers. We looking at the partner network very closely to continue identifying new ways of working together with different and new partners, and to deliver top-notch service to our customers.
Our voice solutions are becoming popular in Spain, and we are seeing a continuous rise in demand in the region. Due to the market structure we have been assisting the SMBs more, and my team’s renewed focus is now on expanding the remit to all market segments, including the enterprises. In Portugal, Microsoft Skype for Business is being used far and wide, and this means that we our solutions are a perfect fit for this market too. We are working on expanding our partner network across the whole of Iberia.
Do you have any highlights from the previous year that you want to reference?
Polycom celebrated its 25th anniversary in the previous year and marked it by launching the newest generation of ground-breaking new solutions. The market was receptive and it demonstrates that we are a developing company who is amongst the front runners when it comes to understanding market trends and doing thought leadership. The new voice, content and video collaboration solutions, including the existing products and Services portfolio, meant that we needed more helping hands. In addition to re-focusing our business approach, across France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, we made several new hires to renew the team spirit and we took measures to improve the overall talent retention rates. Faouzi Bounakhala was promoted to be Channel Director – Southern Europe, Fabio Sambrotta and Marco Iorio were appointed as Major Account Managers in Italy and Rome, and Simona Maccari joined us as Channel Business Manager in Italy. In addition, we also welcomed Juan Carlos Garcia as the Channel Manager for Iberia and Hugo Delmas as the Inside Sales Manager for France and Iberia. So, we now have a full team in place. We are already seeing the success translate into revenue in our region and we have started working on a couple of multimillion dollar accounts across insurance and global banking industries.
What has been the biggest challenge? Has anything in particular surprised you?
Rebooting the sales spirit was the biggest challenge and my job isn’t finished yet. There are always improvements to make and morale to boost when it comes to running a successful regional business. I am encouraging my team to meet the customers even if in the first glance it doesn’t look like there is a need for our solutions. Why? Because we have started thinking about the adjoining solutions that are currently already in use. For example, if a customer already has a Microsoft Skype for Business environment in place it doesn’t mean that is all they can have. There are ways of improving their workplace collaboration experience and that can only be identified if you get up close and personal with the customer in need. Also, at times, the names of smaller subsidiaries of major companies get lost in translation. We previously didn’t use this approach however moving forward we are going to work separately but closely with main firm as well as their subsidiaries to drive business growth.
What is on your hit list for the region in 2016?
Drive a consistent revenue growth and utilise the new tactics, such as the newly introduced channel tool, to its full potential. Sales momentum is key to success and we have a more strategic outlook towards the competitive or greenfield accounts now. We are on the road to success and it’s important we expand our partner portfolio taking the regional business users’ needs into consideration. We can help customers resolve their business challenges swiftly, using the best-in-breed workplace collaboration solutions. Businesses are working towards their own workplace of the future and we have become their trusted partner as we have firsthand knowledge and experience of helping businesses benefit from streamlining their collaboration and meeting experiences. We are keen to share this experience and knowledge with our customers and partners in the Southern Europe and beyond.
What’s your favourite thing about the company culture at Polycom?
The company DNA. The video culture, the team spirit and portfolio of products we have developed are valuable to Polycom. I can meet anyone, anywhere and this helps to maintain that team morale and spirit no matter where my team is based on each working day, resulting in each meeting being personable and productive. I am not expected to be in Italy one day and somewhere in Iberia two hours later as I can complete most of my work virtually, thanks to Polycom. We are a company that is focused on being the workplace of the future and I am pleased to be a part of this journey.
My two weeks are up! Here’s what I learned: Once you’ve gone video, you can’t go back!
Image is based on true events and hand drawn with a #2 pencil
This is true for me at least.
My experiment is (finally) over. For the past two weeks, I switched from video conferencing to audio conferencing. If you’d like a more background on why, check-out my initial blog, “We’re Going Back, Back in Time!”
When my colleague started at Polycom earlier this year, he wrote an article featured on The Huffington Post, “What I Learned after 30 Days of Video Conferencing.” My article, if following that same format, would aptly be named, “You Never Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone: What I Realized after 14 Days of Audio-Only Conferencing & Give Me Back My Video. Now.”
Yes it’s a long title, but I feel it’s appropriate.
Not going to lie—the first day of my experiment was rough. I thought going audio-only was going to be as easy as dialing the numbers and turning off my camera, but turns out trying to find a loop-hole to video was a bit tough from my side. My colleagues were using video and I couldn’t ask them to turn off their cameras—I mean, why should we all suffer?
Here are five things I realized when I switched from video to audio:
I felt disengaged and left-out during meetings. While everyone else was enjoying each other’s company and jokes, I was left not really understanding what they were talking about.
“It’s really hard to remember you’re there,” said my manager. “What Jackee’s working on—wait you’re here. I keep forgetting!”
During one call we were going over an old deck and the group started gushing over how cool something was, and with me being on audio-only I had no idea what they were talking about. Sharing and receiving content was a bit tricky since I wasn’t necessarily staring at a screen, and no one bothered to send the content around through email before the meeting because in reality, there was no need to. Polycom has a plethora of ways to share content virtually. (Image source: Polycom)
I was saying things, but was I being heard? Not being able to see anyone’s reaction to content, ideas or suggestions started to take its toll on me. I started to feel like I wasn't a part of the meeting. According to an article on Inc.com, research shows that 60 to 90 percent of communication with others is nonverbal (body language), which stresses the importance of being able to see others.
It took more energy. Audio-only calls took more mental power than I thought to pay attention. Instead of using your eyes, ears and body language to engage in a conversation, you had to refocus your energy on deciphering and absorbing all the information. I had to pay close attention to who was speaking, who chimed in and if they were talking to me. By the end of a 30 minute call, a part of me felt mentally exhausted.
Quick tip: I learned that focusing on an object while someone was speaking helped me keep up with the conversation better. Towards the end of my experiment, I may have gotten bit desperate.
Multitasking was difficult. Yes, multitasking during meetings is a big no-no, but in this case multitasking was as simple as typing on my laptop and taking a sip of coffee.
For a few of my meetings, I decided to use the Polycom VVX 500 sitting at my desk. To be honest, I’ve never used the thing and it was covered in a thick layer of dust. At first, there was something comforting and nostalgic about holding an actual telephone with a windy cord attached, until I had to take notes with my computer.
Here came the awkward phone-between-shoulder-and-head trick. As I’m already spending more mental energy listening to the conversation, I had to spend more physical energy to hold the telephone, type and take a sip of coffee.
& in true millennial fashion, I Snapchatted my struggle.
I was constantly worried about the pitch of my voice, the volume or if I was breathing too hard. (I’ve been on calls where someone on the far end was unknowingly breathing directly into the phone.) I wasn’t sure how to control my voice. I would enter the call with “HEY GUYS. IT’S JACKEE,” then feel self-conscious that my greeting was too loud, and lower my voice to a quiet “i’m here on audio."
Professor of Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA Albert Mehrabian determined that tone of voice is one of the three components that make up successful communications. (Along with the words you use and your body language) The tone of how you're speaking can instigate emotions and possibly put off other participants in the call.
Without video, I couldn't gauge anyone's reactions and had a hard time finding the right volume and tone to consistently speak in.
It’s actually not that bad …as long as you have great audio quality! The actual audio part was not as bad as I thought mostly because all of Polycom’s solutions are HD voice and audio enabled, so it was nothing like your standard telephone call from back in the day.
For our weekly team sync, I decided to dial in through one of our latest solutions, the Polycom RealPresence Trio, one of those ‘peculiar’ devices that sit in the middle of huddle rooms. Since the RealPresence Trio has Bluetooth capability, I paired it my phone to it and played a couple morning jams to get me pumped for the call. There were going to be about 5-8 people on the call, so I had to make sure my ears were mentally prepared for the work they were about to put out.
I left the Trio in the middle of the table and dialed in through my phone and was connected. I didn’t have to worry about reaching across the table to adjust the volume or to mute myself. All that could be done on through my phone—no extra apps needed. Using the Trio for a big team meeting was much more relaxing than my other audio-only days. The quality was amazing, and it was comforting to have something in front of me to focus on while talking to my colleagues.
Here are two more things I learned from my experiment:
If you have video, keep it! But know you audio options too. It can be a life saver. Even though audio isn't my fist choice, it's still a great alternative when video just isn't working. Sometimes you need to take a call in the car (headset of course!), or the remote location you're at doesn't have great WiFi (and noone likes a choppy video).
You don’t need video to do great things, but it definitely helps. A lot. Video makes all the difference. When you’re remote or working with dispersed teams, video helps you be there without physically being there. It helps you be involved, be heard and be understood.
It surprises me that companies out there don’t make video conferencing readily available to their employees like Polycom. I can’t imagine working without video, especially after this experiment!
Have you ever decided to do something yourself only to discover pretty quickly that you would have been far better off letting an expert do it for you? Probably most of us have been in that situation at some point in our lives. And the more elaborate the “something” is, the more quickly and absolutely that realization strikes. Refinishing my own hardwood floors comes to mind for me. Take a look at our one minute fun video to see what we mean.
With video conferencing, joining and participating in calls has become increasingly easier (i.e., Polycom One Touch Dial App, RealConnect, etc.), while designing and operating an entire collaboration solution in a multi-vendor environment with more sophisticated and feature-rich technologies and a growing user base (mobile and desktop) has made the job of deploying, integrating, supporting and staying up-to-date more challenging than ever.
If you’re understaffed, missing the necessary skills or simply don’t have enough time to DIY (do it yourself) with your collaboration solution, you should consider working with a managed service provider like Polycom to run the show for you – think the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.
Polycom Managed Services allow you to outsource as little or as much of the day-to-day operations of your collaboration solution as makes sense for your organization. Service options run the gamut from remotely monitoring and managing your on-premises infrastructure (and endpoints if you like), to completely hosting and operating your infrastructure in a private cloud – and anything in between, including hybrid deployments and third-party management services.
That famous line from the Land of Oz, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” are wise words, whether you’re a young lady from Kansas, a scarecrow, a tinman, and a cowardly lion, or an IT person juggling a collaboration solution along with your day job. With Polycom Managed Services, our team will be behind the curtain on your behalf, and great and powerful things will happen as your team and organization drive better collaboration.
Why not “let the experts do it?” And in case you’re still not quite convinced, watch this short video and decide whether managed services experts from Polycom will help your organization be more successful.
Polycom is known by our customers & partners as a company that is at the forefront of innovation and as a visionary in areas of communications and collaboration. We are honored and pleased that we were recently named “a Leader” separately by two of the top industry analyst firms in the world – Gartner and IDC who released recent research reports evaluating providers of enterprise video solutions.
The research conducted by Gartner was part of a recent “Magic Quadrant” looking at vendors offering Group Video solutions to the marketplace. In the 2016 report, “Magic Quadrant for Group Video Systems”, released on July 14th, Gartner looked at 8 providers of this technology, segmenting them into four different categories, with the “Leader” quadrant being where the vendors who have a “completeness of vision” and the “ability to execute” are placed.. For the second consecutive year, we were highlighted as one of the leaders in this technology area.
In June, IDC released its “2016 Worldwide Enterprise Videoconferencing MarketScape” report which profiled 11 vendors in the global videoconferencing and telepresence equipment market. In this report, Polycom was labeled a “leader” for the third consecutive year in a row in this space.
We believe these distinctions came about as we released a truly unprecedented amount of innovation into the industry in the last 12 months.
Visual collaboration, or video conferencing, is the most effective medium of high value collaboration in the industry. We feel that visual collaboration is a strong component of the “Workplace of the Future” we’re creating in today’s digital workplace. Workplace of the Future isn’t just a slogan, but something we build towards as a company. Different and varied workspaces, consistent and delightful experiences and deep integration into your collaboration workflow has resulted in exciting new products such as RealPresence Trio, RealConnect, RealPresence Debut & RealPresence Centro.
In my opinion, these reports were the latest examples of why Gartner and IDC are such respected advisors to enterprise technology buyers. While their actual research and findings varied, both reports highlighted some of the most critical attributes that I hear from our customers in terms of why they chose Polycom.
If I was to add another, it would be our continued focus on innovation & experience. Experiences that make video easily adoptable. We have several customers I’ve met who are in the 100s of thousands of conferences monthly. Our relentless focus over the last 18 months on user experience and integration into multiple UC environments have yielded higher utilization with our customers.
What’s it All Mean?
So, while none of this is a surprise to Polycom, we are honored by the praise and acknowledgement of respected industry observers such as Gartner and IDC. For customers, this research is a positive validation by well-respected third-parties that they made the right choice. For companies considering making investments in video conferencing solutions and/or end points, this research confirms what they already know: Polycom is a proven leader and innovator, and that we will be there as their needs and their workplace continues to evolve.
For Polycom, while the praise is appreciated, our work is far from done. With leadership comes responsibility, to ourselves, our customers and the broader industry. We’ve been a leader since our inception and we’ll continue to innovate. Watch this space!
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Group Video Systems, Mike Fasciani, Robert F. Mason, Tom Eagle, 14 July 2016.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
I read with interest Oleg Vishnepolsky’s piece on ‘Do NOT Work from home’ if you want to progress in your career. I have to say it read like an article from an era, when we had dial-up internet, people could only work between 9-5, and church and paper shops were the only places open on a Sunday.
Like many others commenting, I am also going to disagree with you Oleg, because working for a video solutions provider, means I can work from home or in fact anywhere I choose.
Being a professional working mother who is reporting to a direct-line manager situated in the US, means I have many demands on me to be flexible. From dealing with nursery drop-offs to dialing into important meetings at 8pm – which, I am glad I can do, from home in the comfort of my own surroundings and not at my desk in Slough (45 mins away).
There is a mention of career progression being stunted due to not being ‘physically present’. Surely most people these days want to work for an organisation that trusts its employees to get the job done, as opposed to working within set hours at a set location?
I know that there is still a 9-5 culture in some organisations and even in specific job roles. However, in the near future, this is set to change as more millennials join the workforce. They particularly value the idea of flexibility with 45% of them saying it takes precedence over pay when choosing a new job. With this in mind, I suspect there will be more demand for flexible workplaces that also provide career progression opportunities.
In fact, I am actually a case study of how it can be achieved. I have worked in my current position for nearly five years, and in that time I have been lucky enough to have been promoted three times, and have two children in between. I have possibly worked from home during half of that time, and having a boss in the US means I only see him for half of his day too. So you could say I stood next to no chance in being promoted – but I managed it, so I am sure others can too.
In fact, in order to be successful if you are a home or flexibly worker, you can apply these tips to get you started:
1) Application: It goes without saying, ensure you apply yourself to the job in hand – start your day with a daily to-do-list of jobs and deadlines
2) Status Check: Ensure you meet with your manager to regularly set and review goals / objectives – and check status of those at least bi-weekly over video
3) Communicate: Make sure you engage with relevant stakeholders / peer group regularly over video to ensure they are aware of what you are working on and to keep on top of the agenda
4) Manage your time: Take time back if necessary, perhaps you had a deadline to meet which meant you worked until 9pm one evening, but as result you missed your spin class – take the time back and go to your spin class
5) Technology: It always helps to have the right tools in place, if you want to work from home or flexibly, invest in collaboration solutions – IM, Video, Email - are all ways you can stay in touch and stay present – without ‘being present’
Anywhere working (what was ‘working from home’) is quickly becoming a well-recognised workplace approach, in fact Lancaster University’s Work Foundation predicts that flexible working will be the main way of working for 70 percent of organisations by 2020. With a flexible work culture, no one is bound by geographical location which provides the capability to hire the best talent in the world, literally… The bottom line is you can have it all ways – you can have that flexibility to live your life and get ahead too.
There’s an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to video collaboration, so how can you choose the solution that’s right for you and your organisation?
The world is full of choice, have you tried to order a coffee lately? By the time I’ve chosen my brew, size, milk, and flavour, I’m exhausted. And it can be the same with video collaboration; there’s a such a wide range of solutions that it can be difficult to select the option that best meets your needs. Fear not, I’ve got a simple three-step process for making the best decision, every time.
The importance of integration
The reality is that you are going to have some existing collaboration solutions, and more often than not this includes a Microsoft environment, including email and IM. In this situation the sensible decision is to choose a solution that natively integrates with Microsoft, including the new Office 365 platform, as well as the key collaboration proposition that is Skype for Business. Beyond this, solutions that are open standards-based are interoperable with endpoints outside their own ‘family’, making it easier for you to design a truly unified collaboration experience for your organisation.
Choose solutions that integrate, not cause headaches!
2. Innovation inside
You don’t want solutions that are practically outdated the day you install them. Look for solutions which are cutting edge, and come from a vendor with a strong track record in delivering game-changing technology to the market. Innovative doesn’t mean wacky - it means well thought out and based on research into end-user habits and preferences. Innovations might not be visible, but they will make a huge difference to the quality and efficacy of your collaboration. Clever noise management technologies auto-mute non-active speakers, and create virtual fences around those in open-plan spaces, to ensure background noise, keyboard clicking, and crisp munching don’t interrupt your meetings.
Choose solutions that think for you, with innovation built-in.
3. Inspirational ideas
The biggest concern for anyone when selecting a new video collaboration solution, is how to drive adoption of their purchase by the end users within the organisation. The simple answer? Make it easy to use. Choose a solution that has a simple and intuitive user interface, and a consistent user experience across all of your meeting rooms, desktop and mobile applications, and huddle rooms. This will help people feel more confident using video collaboration without IT support. Solutions that encourage people to collaborate in natural formations – in the round rather than a bowling alley seating plan – inspire the best possible ideas in meetings.
Choose solutions that inspire confidence, not hinder adoption.
Want a solution that incorporates all of these criteria? You should choose Polycom RealPresence Group Series. With limited time offers, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of our Technology Refresh Programme and bag yourself a bargain.
Need more reasons to Choose Group Series? Watch the video below for three great ones!
Polycom Executive Experience Centers (EEC) are spread across nine locations around the globe. The team who runs these immersive centers are just as spread out, with some of them not even living in the same city as the center. But just because they aren’t in the same city doesn’t mean they haven’t built strong and meaningful relationships.
Recently, the team hosted a surprise baby shower for one of their own, Virginia-based Shaina Horka.
But this baby shower wasn't like any that you've ever attended.
With a team dispersed across the globe, they came together—in spite of time differences and distance—all thanks to the power of video. Shaina, the mom-to-be, is based out of Herndon, Virginia, while many of her colleagues are either traveling across the country to meet with customers, traveling abroad for summer vacation, or work from home in remote locations.
One colleague was on vacation in Israel, while another is working abroad as part of Remote Year and dialed in from Serbia. Teams were gathered in San Jose, Austin and New York City at their local EECs while others joined from their remote offices.
“With the power of video, we were able to bring together so many people from around the world for this special occasion,” said EEC Events and Customer Engagement Manager Annie Habermann.
The power of video affects more than just collaboration. Without video, moments like this wouldn’t be possible. This type of bond between colleagues near and far rely on that ‘face-to-face’ interaction that only video can provide. Video allows teams across the globe to connect with each other on a professional and personal level so that they can get together and make great things and celebrate life’s special moments.
“As a remote worker, I feel like I miss out on celebrations that happen in the office,” said Annie. “Being a manager, it’s important to me to build meaningful relationships with my direct reports—being able to plan a shower and ‘attend’ from 3,000 miles away builds camaraderie within my team, and brings other departments together to commemorate big life moments.”
In what ways has video helped you connect and create special moments with colleagues?
During my second month of Remote Year in Belgrade, Serbia, I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with one of the founders of Remote Year, Sam Pessin, and heard firsthand about his passion for connecting with people globally through the program. He provided insights and thoughts about the future of digital nomads and shared best practices for working remote.
The Beginning of the Remote Year Program
Sam Pessin grew up traveling the world. These experiences as a young traveler inspired Sam to eventually think differently about the way we look at work and travel.
Over one year ago, Sam Pessin and fellow Remote Year co-founder Greg Kaplan were in Chicago and had an idea about the concepts of work and travel. Sam had previously been a consultant and Greg started his own company. Together they created a website to gather data from professionals who enjoy working and traveling. Based on the results from their site they realized that there was an abundance of interest in this topic. This interest led to the formation of Remote Year. The inaugural program included a 12-month itinerary including locations to facilitate co-working environments and an application process; the first group launched June 2015.
The purpose of Remote Year is to connect professionals, from all types of organizations and locations with different backgrounds, cultures and customs; through the program participants are immersed in communities around the world. Remote Year enables professionals to continue working while traveling.
Technology is a critical component of being a successful digital nomad. Essential tools include a laptop, reliable internet and a platform for communication with your team and company.
Another technology tool that Remote Year employees and participants use to stay connected is video conferencing. Remote Year instituted a policy that requires everyone on the Remote Year team to have video. Video conferencing helps to facilitate productivity, builds rapport and helps teams stay connected even though they are dispersed across many countries.
Sam’s Three Tips for New Digital Nomads
At the beginning of any digital nomad journey, over-invest and build trust with your manger and team to start off on the right foot.
Be organized about your communication – communication is incredibly important and builds on the foundation of trust that has been laid.
Bring the things you learn to the table
Learn from other people and cultures and translate that into value for your company. Demonstrate that value to yourself then to your team and company.
The future of Digital Nomad
Sam strongly believes in the benefits a co-working environment can bring to the workplace, including much needed diversity and cultural understanding. Working with people that have significantly different backgrounds than the typical HQ office environment is quite powerful. Sam has seen companies embrace the benefits of co-working spaces by actively participating and sending employees to take part in Remote Year.
Remote Year helps to create a dynamic work environment for companies, providing new ways for their employees to grow. Polycom is a case study, I am the second person from Polycom to participate in this program which demonstrates the workplace of the future and that productive work anywhere is possible!
Follow me on this journey as a #digitalnomad! #workAnywhere
This year we are continuing to see the incredible success of our solutions being endorsed by third parties and since there are more than a few to name, I must admit that we have been extremely busy over the past couple of months.
In the UK, Polycom® VVX® 410 Business Media Phone bagged the ITSPA Award 2016 in the Best VoIP CPE category. And, the whole range of Polycom® VVX® Business Media Phones was endorsed as the Channel Product of the Year – Hardware, in Comms Business Awards 2016.
How would this success transform into customer benefit?
The customer is no longer looking only to purchase a solution – they are looking for an investment into their future and ways to improve their business productivity. This is where Polycom can help by developing solutions that are not only easy-to-use but can also integrate with the existing UC systems as well as Microsoft Skype for Business environments.
At Polycom, we have started thinking about the next steps in the light of rising real estate costs and credit crunch, the combined blow of which is making many businesses think about what else they could improve to achieve a profitable growth. The customer can steer themselves onto the desired path by firstly encouraging modern ways of working as applicable for their business, such as remote or anywhere working – an approach that will can help control the costs incurred by both parties as well as provide the essential work-life balance to those in need. With the rise of mobile and remote workforce, in this instance, comes the challenge of finding the right technology and we urge everyone not to forget the smaller nooks and corners when reviewing that requirement. According to Wainhouse Research, there are an estimated 50 million smaller meeting rooms or huddle rooms globally, showing that virtually all enterprises can capitalise on the potential of these small spaces. These huddle rooms could be equipped with audio and video collaboration solutions such as Polycom® RealPresence Trio™ and Polycom® RealPresence Centro™ that are specially designed for huddle spaces so the office staff, including mobile workers, can simply walk into one of these smaller rooms for a meeting when they require to do so. A recent article in The Sunday Times advocates the changes that are taking place at the customer front in line with our vision of the workplace of the future.
Customers are also feeling the pinch of the rising cost of maintaining the traditional PBXs for their telephony requirements. One of the main reasons why Polycom® VVX® Business Media Phones saw a huge success is that it can assist those migrating from analogue to IP with only a little investment. We work with a plethora of ITSPs, including BroadSoft, 8x8, RingCentral, GENBAND and Fuse. In addition, our solutions natively integrate with Microsoft Skype for Business and Cloud PBX. For the large enterprises, this migration initiative becomes a major project mainly due to the size of the company and requires considerable amount of time and resources. Our recommendation for the small- or medium-sized businesses, however, is that it is in their best interest to adopt the OpEx model offered by hosted telephony sooner rather than later.
What role does the channel have to play in this revolution?
The channel we work with consists of both traditional Audio Visual partners as well as the larger Service Providers. Both are witnessing a sharp rise in the demand for technology that can natively integrate with Skype for Business environments. This movement is driving the way businesses are looking to review their collaboration technology requirements.
The larger Service Providers are already well equipped to stride the waves of this movement and we are making sure that we help our traditional Audio Visual partners by providing appropriate training and education. This is an extremely important aspect of our regional channel development plan.
If the second half of 2016 is going to be anything like the first half then we are in for an amazing year! In March at Enterprise Connect, Microsoft announced expanding the reach of Skype for Business meetings so customers of all sizes will be able to leverage their existing video investments, and there’s a recap of it available here. Also announced was the news of certifying our industry-leading RealPresence® Group Series, as well as the Polycom line-up of room solutions purpose built for Skype for Business to support Project Rigel.
We’ve talked about cloud interoperability previously and just this last week Project Rigel and Video Interoperability appeared on SkypePreview.com. The momentum with Microsoft continues and customers can now see these solutions as part of a preview, and as mentioned within our previous announcements, Polycom is fully aligned with Microsoft to support this. For further insight on Cloud Video Interoperability Service, Meeting Room Devices (Project Rigel) and PSTN Calling, visit SkypePreview.com or of course talk to me or your Polycom rep.
Project Rigel Customers who are looking at Project Rigel can expect to augment with Polycom solutions, in particular, those that are going to be certified as we are to bring the video room continuum together.
What does this mean to our customers?
This is about ease of use, and it’s about adoption. As part of the workplace of the future, we talk about user experience, workspace and workflow. Everything we are doing around Polycom RealPresence Group Series, Project Rigel and Polycom® RealConnect™ in the cloud drives this ethos and strategy for customer success.
User Experience – it’s about ease of use. We’re creating a common look and feel across all devices with Skype for Business.
Workspace – we have a choice for customers to achieve their room strategy with Project Rigel and RealPresence Group Series.
Workflow – Polycom RealConnect. And soon it will be in Office 365. We really have a model that meets the customer requirements around Office 365, with includes the newest feature - Polycom® RealConnect™ one click connection and 360 degree Roster View.
You’d think the summer period would mean things are a little quieter on the business front as many of you are away enjoying well earned breaks, but at Polycom we have been steaming at full tilt!
In July we attended Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. This is the coming together of thousands of Microsoft partners to hear about Microsoft’s FY17 strategy. What an amazing event! It’s all about cloud, but also about helping customers drive transformational change.
In September we gear up for Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta which is Microsoft’s major customer event. Polycom will be there showing customers the widest portfolio for Microsoft Skype for Business and Office 365. Come back soon to hear more on this!
As I look back at the last six months and look forward to the next six, I am so excited because never before has such a platform with Microsoft been so aligned to Polycom’s portfolio.
Budgets are tight and given the reliability of modern technology, it might be tempting to think that support for your video, voice, or cloud collaboration solution is an expense that may not be necessary. But there are solid business reasons to invest in Polycom support – solutions such as video collaboration have become mission-critical and increasingly sophisticated, so the classic break/fix model is rapidly being enhanced by support programs focusing on individual customer success and positive business outcomes.
Alongside our Premier, Advantage, and Advantage Plus support services at Polycom, there are now more than 40 different ways in which these services can be tailored to meet your particular needs. And you can find all you need to know about them by downloading our new whitepaper, ‘Which support service is right for you?’
What are the options, and what can they do for me?
Determining which Polycom support service works best for you depends on a range of factors, such as whether your collaboration solution fulfils a mission-critical role within your business; is experiencing increasing utilization and adoption; requires 8x5 or 24x7 support; or you want to access direct input from Polycom subject matter experts to help optimize your solution and its operation.
And now you can mix and match our Premier, Advantage, and Advantage Plus services to meet the requirements of your environment. For example, if you’re operating a global video collaboration infrastructure, you’ll almost certainly want to cover this with Advantage for its 24x7, ‘follow the sun’ support. However, as your endpoints are unlikely to be needed out-of-hours, 8x5 support for these may be more appropriate. For example, Polycom gives you the flexibility to reduce support costs by choosing Advantage for your collaboration infrastructure, Premier support for the majority of your video endpoints, and if you want, Advantage support for endpoints used by your C-level or high profile, power users.
We also have cloud and voice support offerings – including our enterprise-focused Technical Phone Support for Audio Endpoints, and new low cost Limited Lifetime Hardware Replacement service. There are ways in which you can tailor support to meet your requirements in areas such as endpoints, onsite support, new Advantage Plus modules, Skype for Business and Microsoft integration, immersive telepresence, security and more.
The Polycom support portfolio may have evolved substantially since you last reviewed your options, so download the whitepaper now to read examples of positive business outcomes being experienced by a wide variety of organizations and learn ‘Which support service is right for you?’
We took the challenge of working on Polycom’s first in class video solutions and contributed several innovations to the Polycom® RealPresence Group Series™ solution. As we have completed our first year, we want to share our experiences and lessons learned at Polycom.
Meet the Team:
Mullapudi Chaitanya Sravanthi
Education: Graduated from IIITH
Hobbies: Travelling, singing and playing table tennis
Education: B. Tech in Electrical Engineering from IITH
Hobbies: Reading, watching movies and playing table tennis
Education: B. Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from IITH
Hobbies: Reading books, badminton and table tennis
Expectation vs. Reality: Before joining Polycom, we had different perceptions of what being a software developer meant based on feedback from our friends and classmates. We thought we would be working in an office that looks like a five-star hotel, filled with people immersed in their code, occasionally looking up and sipping coffee. All in all, our initial expectations were that we were joining a stereotypical software company. We were wrong.
The major difference between our expectations and reality were the people and workload at Polycom. We assumed that we would be forced to work day and night—being new graduates. But our decisions actually mattered, we were constantly motivated and treated like employees who could make a difference, despite being new to the company and young in our careers.
Fun & Work: In the words of Dr. Bruce Banner, “That’s the secret—I’m always angry.”
We had a secret, too. We were always having fun.
From coding at 7 p.m. to playing ping pong at noon, from team meetings to team outings, and early breakfasts to late night pizzas with the team. We were ready and raring to go! This environment made us feel like we never left college, but were finally making an impact.
Naturally, not every day is filled with sunshine and roses. There were crucial times where we needed to put pressure on ourselves to get the job done. But the workload never bothered us, and for that we would like to thank our Polycom friends.
Technology, Passion and the Future of Work: Technologies like Polycom Acoustic Fence, Polycom EagleEye Director, and content sharing with Polycom RealPresence Centro may not sound like exciting innovations to most, but the experience of seeing these solutions in action within the workplace, making a team’s life easier during their day-to-day, makes us feel like super heroes and innovators.
Now we tell students at our alma maters, IITH and IIITH, that although the basic concepts of coding and knowledge of operating systems and networking is necessary, that alone will not make you a sure candidate for the job. Polycom searches for candidates who are curious to learn new technologies and can easily adapt to change.
If innovation is a driving point for you, if you love to solve real life puzzles and problems, and if you have the zeal to provide solutions to the world by enhancing collaboration techniques, then Polycom is the place for you!
We would like to mention that Polycom is our first step into the real world. The work, the challenges, the team and the environment are extraordinary. Choosing Polycom is one of the best decisions we have ever made.
I may be showing my age a bit but I’ve been working in the video industry for more than 16 years. I’ve taken a few breaks from the action but I made my first foray into video for collaboration and learning in the mid 90’s. In fact, in July I celebrated my eight year anniversary with Polycom. Before that I was working for a small company based in Silicon Valley, California that pioneered interactive distance learning (IDL) solutions. The company was small but mighty and had a bragging list of top name customers that included HP, General Motors, Ford, Safeway, Social Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and others.
In the “early days” of collaboration solutions, the only way to realistically get live video to hundreds or thousands of people was via satellite. And because of the delay in getting to space and back, the video was typically one-way while any audio return travelled across the good old POTS lines. One-way video is a bit limiting, of course, and can even leave you a little confused when executives from Fortune 500 companies recognize your face from that demo you did last month but you don’t have a clue who the blazes they are.
Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and two-way video is a much better way to communicate and collaborate. It probably goes without saying but I am a raving fan of video and will sing its praises from the rooftops given the opportunity. All told, I’ve been drinking this particular brand of champagne for many, many years which means I’m pretty comfortable in front of a video conferencing camera. (Now a movie camera is a whole different story.)
Through the years, I’ve had my share of video faux pas, of course. As a part of our alpha testing for new software releases at my previous company, we would regularly do internal broadcasts from the quality assurance (QA) lab. I seem to have a special skill for unearthing bugs in technology products so I was often asked to be the “on air talent” for these broadcasts. Now folks who know me (or have seen me on video) will agree that my nose is not my daintiest of facial features. Come to find out, when you sit really close to a webcam in a space challenged QA lab, that particular feature gets even more enhanced, shall we say. A far end participant grabbed a screenshot that prompted me to exclaim, “Why didn’t someone tell me my nose was so big?”
But do you know what? Most of my colleagues didn’t mind that I wasn’t at my video best. Of course they were a friendly audience and I wasn’t making a formal presentation to my executive team, demoing the solution to a big customer or interviewing for a great new job. I was simply meeting with my peers and doing my job… through the power of video.
So my suggestion to you is, don’t be scared of video. Find a safe environment, like a team meeting or a water cooler conversation with a remote colleague, and just start doing it. It’s always a good idea, dare I say “best practice,” to check your self-view when you first join a call and certainly don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if you were in the same room, aside from wearing those bunny slippers of course. Otherwise I encourage you to go ahead and jump into the deep end of the video pool and let some great products and services help you enjoy the ride. A wise man once said, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933)
And if you would like some coaching on video etiquette, Polycom’s Amy Barzdukas has published a blog to help you avoid the most common pitfalls. Video really is the best way I know to Defy Distance in the Workplace of the Future.
In the meantime, be yourself, have fun and BYO bunny slippers.
At Polycom we’re a bit spoiled. We have so many stellar solutions to choose from when joining a conference call. Typically, people fall into the habit of using one or two solutions and don’t venture into new territory. As someone who has worked from home exclusively for my entire Polycom career (six years), RealPresence Desktop is my daily go-to. I can connect to my colleagues, share content, and collaborate straight from my laptop.
Despite our committed relationship, I decided it was time to expand my horizons and try out another one of the many Polycom solutions available to me. Enter RealConnect for Skype for business. My mission? Use it solely for a week and report on my findings.
From the very beginning, RealConnect made things easy for me. To schedule meetings, I simply had to go into my Outlook and click the handy “Skype Meeting” button. With that simple button click, all the necessary links and phone numbers automatically populated in the invite. No need to go searching for VMR (video meeting room) numbers or dial-in details. I was impressed.
When it came time to actually attend the meeting, that part was smooth and simple too. I made sure I was logged into my Skype for Business account and then clicked on the “Join Skype Meeting” link in the invite. Success!
My internal communications colleagues were willing participants as we tested all the usual features—sharing content, audio and video, muting, etc. (see below!)
The collective consensus was how easy RealConnect was to use. From scheduling, to joining, to collaborating within the meeting, it was all a cinch. Multitasking was also super easy and convenient (I will admit to this!) as when you click out of the meeting into a browser, Outlook, or anywhere else, a mini version of the RealConnect meeting pops up to the forefront so you can always see it. The content sharing experience was similar to when you share content via Skype for Business, so no surprises there. And Skype for Business made it easy to message links to each other directly in the meeting. We were COMPLETELY connected, and it worked!
For testing purposes, I joined one meeting using the Skype for Business app on my iPhone 6 Plus. That was stellar too. I was able to see my team on video, and was even able to share iCloud drive content via my phone. Impressive!
A colleague tested using RealConnect on her home Mac, and even that worked. She was prompted to download a Skype for Business browser plugin and install, but that took just a few minutes and she was then able to join the meeting just like everyone else.
According to my colleague in the Austin office, RealConnect looked just like a regular Polycom call except the video boxes were a bit smaller when dialing from a RealPresence Group Series (see below). It was also easy to dial into.
The only downside we ever experienced was due to what I mentioned earlier—we are spoiled with many solutions that provide exceptional video and audio quality. The quality on the RealConnect calls was comparable to a Skype or Facetime call, which as we all know gets the job done. But it wasn’t quite as crisp and clear as using something like RealPresence Desktop or RealPresence Group Series.
Overall, I was very impressed and have found a new go-to solution to schedule any calls that involve participants outside of Polycom. Not going to lie though, I do still love my RealPresence Desktop and don’t plan to break up anytime soon!
Q: What are some ‘Life Hacks’ you’d like to share with other interns?
Life Hack No. 1: Be open to criticism. Your coworkers have a lot to teach if you are willing to listen. Don’t take criticism as something negative, but rather view it as feedback that is essential for growth.
Life Hack No. 2: Always work hard. You peers will notice and will be more excited to recommend you in the future. A solid work ethic will lead to success. This is true in all aspects of life not just at work.
Life Hack No. 3: Take on every opportunity. You never know what you will love unless you try everything. Plus, taking on many different opportunities will only lead to more experience and knowledge. Everyone knows that knowledge is power.
Life Hack No. 4: Network. One of the best skills in life is knowing how to talk to people and make those important connections. Connect with the people you meet on LinkedIn as well.
Life Hack No. 5: Manage up. Don’t be afraid to work with your manager to adjust your schedule, change your workload, or inquire about an opportunity. Managers are there to work WITH you and help you achieve success.
Q: How has our culture influenced your job search? Ie. Flexwork, video
Polycom’s culture has validated my desire to work for a company that understands flexibility in the workplace. I have always been fascinated by the Remote Year program and aspire to travel the world. I love that Polycom supports employees who have this desire to travel and gives them the tools they need to work from anywhere. My job search checklist will definitely include this flexibility and freedom in the workplace.
Q: After spending nearly two months with Polycom, did your perception on future of work alter? How/why?
My perception of the future of work has been significantly expanded. Prior to my research, I had only considered the future of work as a concept of the future and did not look at it in terms of where we are now. The future of work is here. Although it will continue to evolve, there is evidence that the future of work is impacting the way we work currently. People are adapting to change and collaborating in new ways in today’s workplace. I cannot wait to see where this future of work takes us.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve had the support necessary to do a great job? What resources should companies provide interns to ensure success? Is there anything we should have done differently to support you?
My team is incredible. They are always willing to lend me a helping hand and give me feedback when needed. They help me learn and challenge me to do my best work. In my opinion, my team did everything in their power to support me and to help me have the best experience possible. Companies should always provide a mentor to interns to ensure success. Someone who can give direction and help interns meet their career goals is very important. Often times new interns do not know what to expect when entering the corporate world for the first time. Having a mentor to put them on the right path and to help them learn from their mistakes is crucial to ensuring success. Polycom gave me amazing managers that I could work with, ask questions, and learn from. I wouldn’t change a thing!
Q: Are there any things you learned or experiences in particular from your time at Polycom that you think will be valuable for your future career?
Resilience: I recently attended a Panel discussion hosted by the Women of Polycom. This conversation gave me an interesting perspective on being resilient in the face of change. I think I will carry this message with me and demonstrate resilience throughout my future career. “Resilience is used to describe leaders.”—Amy Barzdukas
Global experience:I was able to connect instantly using video and get updates from team members in APAC and EMEA. As an aspiring traveler, I loved getting to work with our team members in other regions of the world. I think that there is a lot you can learn by working with people from around the world. Having global experience helps you appreciate cultural differences and understand a little more about the people that you encounter.
Confidence: The Polycom internship program allows you to build confidence in your abilities to attribute to a team, produce quality work, and to try new things. Before joining Polycom last summer I was not as confident as I am now. I know that through working with my corporate colleagues and working on various projects I have gained confidence in myself. I now know that I have something to offer in a Marketing organization and that I am well on my way to being successful in business.
I’ve worked in the services field for over 20 years and have seen it evolve over time. In the last few years, the changes have been much more rapid and have driven technology vendors, like Polycom, to be ever more diligent in adapting to meet customers’ needs and requirements. It has not necessarily been an easy transition for some manufacturers or for their channel partners. When a company moves from a traditional product focus to a services focus, the changes can be daunting. One very big blue company took over 8 years to make this transition.
However, one key advantage to a services-led approach is that there are fewer limitations so there’s much more opportunity for manufacturers and resellers to adjust features and capabilities to fit the needs of individual customers. Solutions that are better integrated into existing technologies, workflows and processes are more likely to address the specific requirements of customers, provide the business outcomes desired, and drive a faster return on investment.
A vendor’s or reseller’s services portfolio might include professional services, such as consulting or training offers, or the increasingly popular “X as a Service”, including Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Video as a Service, and so on.
However, when manufacturers talk about their services, many people still think primarily about traditional support or break fix services. Indeed, traditional hardware companies and their customers are quite familiar with adding a support contract to a hardware product purchase. For customers, support is like purchasing insurance for a high value item.
The downside of a break fix approach, of course, is that it’s a reactive service, which means that problems are fixed after they occur. For lower priced products, an organization may decide to keep spare stock on hand rather than covering their assets under a support contract. But when we begin to talk about more critical solutions, a component failure could cause serious impacts to the business.
More and more, I’m seeing customers looking for a proactive approach to the service relationship. Managed Services, like Polycom’s Remote Monitoring and Management Service, take a proactive approach to supporting our customer’s environment thereby limiting risks and improving the reliability and end user experience. Outsourcing operational responsibility also frees up the internal IT team to focus on other strategic initiatives. Offers that encompass hardware, value-added support services and managed services are seen as end to end solutions.
Polycom’s approach to assisting customers with the remote monitoring and management of their collaboration solution brings numerous benefits. Off-loading day-to-day operations to skilled technicians that live and breathe Polycom solutions on a 24x7 basis allow internal IT resources to focus on other core areas of their business, reducing overall solution management risk, providing better uptime and ultimately increasing user satisfaction and solution adoption. With this service, Polycom will get the call at 3am not the internal IT team.
Over the long term when all service elements are taken into account, Polycom’s remote monitoring and management services save our customers money compared with them doing it themselves. A commonly asked question is “why should we use Polycom to manage our infrastructure?” Video collaboration environments today are typically a mission-critical part of the business. However, customers rarely have dedicated IT teams that are focused purely on the monitoring and management of their network which means they are more reactive as opposed to proactive.
There’s also a common misconception that it’s more cost effective for customer IT teams to contact a Polycom helpdesk to resolve issues as they arise. Unfortunately these internal IT resources tend to be limited and can be easily overwhelmed. This can have an adverse impact on the day to day requirements of managing infrastructure or endpoints when backups, patches, security, changes, or MACD (Moves, Additions, Changes and Deletions) arise and the internal team has insufficient bandwidth to manage them efficiently. If these elements are not properly managed, the risks of infrastructure outages increases.
By using Polycom managed services as the owner for the remote monitoring and management of a video infrastructure, customers are able to control, and reduce, their overall operating expenses. This service is provided as an OPEX offer meaning the cost is spread out over the length of the contract period (typically three years).
As with Polycom’s design, deploy, support and optimize offers, managed services are often delivered with or through a partner. Many of our partners have close relationships with customer organizations and use Polycom’s services to complement or augment their own offers. This approach, with its clear focus on customer success, offers a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
Okay, there is no “we.” More like “me.” I’m going back in time.
I’ve been with Polycom for about a year now, and video has become a part of my everyday life. I’m not just talking about video conferencing—I’m talking about Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, and Periscope—all video-enabled apps that have allowed me to connect with friends and colleagues regularly.
I’ve been in the professional world (post-college) for about five years now. Most positions I’ve held required very little video and audio conferencing. A few positions were at major tech companies, so apps like Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger were the main forms of communication. In other roles, our teams were in the same building so there was no need to dial-in through some peculiar device in the middle of the table, everything was done in person.
It wasn’t until joining Polycom that I truly understood the power of video. During my interview, two of the four people (who also became my managers) interviewed me over video. I was amazed. I’ve had video interviews before, but they were through your standard apps, so to experience the audio and video quality of an enterprise solution was something else entirely.
After my interview I was excited by the fact that working from home was the norm in some cases; that if I woke up one day and thought, “Eh, I’m not feeling too well and can’t make that commute today,” that I could do just that and still get work done.
Now a year has passed and here I am trying to figure out how to share with the world the importance and difference video makes when it comes to effective collaboration. I use it every day. My team uses it every day. My managers aren’t even in the same building, same state or even same time zone as me, but we manage to exceed all expectations when it comes to executing our goals.
All smiles here! Our weekly sync with our team across the globe.
As a millennial, I grew up with video and chat and all the apps, and I never got to fully experience audio-only conferencing. I still haven’t been on an audio-only conference, but I hear it’s… not so great of an experience. I’ve heard colleagues and friends complain about how painful and unproductive audio calls can be and how their lives changed when they joined a company so focused on quality audio and video collaboration.
So, I’ve decided to take a few steps back and switch from using Polycom’s video conferencing solutions to audio-only for the next two weeks. This means my colleagues on the far end won’t be able to see me and vice-versa. I’m going to document my experience using audio-only for the first time in my professional career.
But why put myself through this? It’s 2016—and you would think that the vast majority of businesses have made the switch from audio to video, so there’s no point in conducting this experiment. Surprisingly, there are still many out there who truly don’t understand the power of video collaboration.
For me, sometimes it’s nice to see where technology has been in order to appreciate and see where it’s going. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by all the innovative technologies in Silicon Valley, so “backtracking” a little to see what I missed out on should be interesting.
Yes, that means I will be the person on the call asking, “Who’s here? Can you hear me? Say that again, please!”
So, to my colleagues outside of San Jose, California—wish me luck as I go back to the stone age of conferencing!
This past weekend, I almost had a nervous breakdown while sitting in the irrigation aisle of a big box home improvement store. Have you ever wandered up and down that aisle? It seriously goes on for miles with a million different parts and pieces to build your own sprinkler system. We desperately needed a sprinkler system in the back yard and knew there were two ways accomplish it: pay someone to complete it or do-it-yourself (DIY). We’ve watched enough HGTV that of course we could easily install a measly sprinkler system, right?
On Friday night, we headed off to the store with plans of hitting Bed, Bath and Beyond if there was enough time. We started looking at all of the choices available to us: Eco-lock, PVC, flex, rotary, bubblers, and on and on. What’s the difference between PVC and Eco-lock? Which is best? Luckily, being savvy millennials we grabbed our smartphones and started researching. Until we hit information overload. When it appeared all hope was gone, I noticed a box on the bottom shelf. A sprinkler system in a box. I swear a light was shining down on it or maybe by that point I just had low blood sugar. Either way, I quickly realized this was the solution to our problem. No worrying about which pieces we needed because everything was included. It was simple.
We took the box home and of course I read the instructions since my husband is like most men and views instructions as optional. A few steps later and our in-ground irrigation system was set up to automatically water the grass on a schedule. I get why people are shifting towards wanting all-in-one products. No research, no stress, no fuss, just simple.
At the office, it’s no different. Let’s use the conference room as an example. You know you need video. We demanding millennials are, well, demanding it. So, you have conference rooms all over the world that you want to upgrade with video. You could easily pay companies to customize each room or you could DIY. Thinking about the hours you will waste in researching products may give you a headache but just like the sprinkler system, there’s an easier way to DIY. Polycom® RealPresence Medialign™, for example, provides everything for a successful way to install video technology into conference rooms anywhere in the world. No need to worry about choosing the wrong display or if the camera will capture everyone in the room or if you have the right length of cables. The experts at Polycom have packaged together everything you need, from the displays to the right size cables.
Remember how I said you don’t have to worry about everyone being seen? Well, that’s because hands-free camera technology is standard. What does that mean? Let’s pretend there are 3 of us in a 10 person conference room. The camera counts 3 faces and automatically zooms in to show all of us on screen. If another person enters the room, the camera recognizes that and will automatically reframe the shot to show all 4 of us. People on the other end don’t have to squint to figure out who is in the room. No more presets or fiddling with the remote control because that was SO 2010. Oh yeah, and RealPresence Medialign doesn’t need tools to install it.
You may be thinking that it sounds too good to be true. I thought the same thing in the sprinkler aisle until I remembered one product – the laptop. It started off as an “all-in-one” computer that included your processor, display, keyboard and speakers. Now this “all-in-one” computer is standard except for more specialized uses. All-in-one isn’t novel. It’s simple. So, what are you waiting for? Go pick up your own “video conference room in a box” and upgrade those conference rooms.
I have probably already spoken to most of you since returning from Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in the Alps, so you know that Team Polycom conquered yet another mountain range. This time our team of climbers, including myself, Neil Lombardo, Ibrahim Aoun and Murtuza Viramgamwala completed 4 Peaks in 3 days.
This climb was tough - as the heat, altitude, snow, nausea took its toll on several of our group this time. Day one was a 4.30am start, kit was all prepped the night before along with the sampling of the local reds so sleep was limited.
Unlike the Kili trip, we had to carry our own kit, so we had to be economical with what was taken this time, but even then our guides told us that we’d carried too much kit. After starting at 1,200m, the flag was raised on the Breithorn at 4,100m by midday but lots of us suffered.
Day two was a 5am start, it was a long way up, lots of stamina required and we reached the second peak, Castor at 4,200m at 9am. This was particularly challenging as we walked down a ridge about a meter wide with unbelievable drops either side, then the last 100 metres to the top was very steep and was essentially ice!
We were on our knees hanging on for dear life, but we kept pushing through to the top, adrenaline kicking in. Reaching the top left me with an overwhelming sense of achievement, which in many ways is the same feeling and buzz I get when we meet our business targets.
That afternoon and after a well-earned rest, and I caught up with the Polycom executive team on RealPresence Mobile to discuss the recent developments within the company. It is a particularly exciting time for us at Polycom – we have accepted Siris Capital’s offer. We have a bright future in front of us and I am already in the process of sharing this great news with the customers and partners.
Once business was complete, the next peak to conquer was Lyksams Nose another 4,200m which we did the following day before breakfast!
And before lunch, on our final day of the tour, we climbed the last peak Le Pyramide.
As you may have already gathered by now, I like climbing and setting myself tough challenges every few months. For me, it isn't just the physical kind of challenge that gives me the buzz, its also true in a business sense. There is nothing better than setting up a team, reaching a goal and then enjoying that success. I am a firm believer, if you put enough blood sweat and tears behind it, you can conquer anything, be it a mountain or reaching your business goals!
So I can now add Monte Rosa, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc & Mount Elbrus to the list. I am not done yet – next up is Aconcagua, Argentina in 2017!