By Corey Moss

So you probably heard that the modern conference phone turned 25 this year, it’s certainly been a top trending story on Convergent AV.

Soundstation TBT

A Polycom Throwback Thursday Facebook post from earlier in the year. 

A month back, prior to Microsoft Ignite (and along with this), Polycom announced new solutions – including the Polycom Trio™ 8500, deemed by the company as the new standard in conference performance for mid-sized conference rooms.

Trio 8500.png

As I sit and reflect on being in the AV press/media space (for about 4 1/2 years now), there are numerous examples of influence that I can detail – a certain interview, a connection made, some like no other. I have come to know many great people in this time, along with those I had been involved with in my 15 year career in commercial integration sales.

As a press representative, I have covered numerous tech-related trade shows and conferences, from AV to IT to UC&C to cybersecurity. In February 2015, I attended Enterprise Connect as a media representative both writing and conducting interviews – a first time for that show. I interviewed many executives and employees of major companies in the UC&C space, and dealt with numerous marketing, press and PR people at the show, some on a pre-arranged basis and some actually catching up with me there to do a private interview with an executive or come to their company or client’s booth to do an interview.

It’s funny how I remember a different kind of situation there, getting a text from a friend telling me that someone, who was a friend of both of ours, was waiting at her booth to be interviewed toward the end of the show. I texted my friend back (who was in Minnesota) to keep her posted and relay messages to our friend at the booth. The show, as those who know Enterprise Connect is in Orlando. There’s communication and collaboration for you.

EC interview Michael Frendo.png

Enterprise Connect 2015 interview with Michael Frendo, EVP, Worldwide Engineering at Polycom

However, I digress. Polycom happened to be one of the many companies that I interviewed at the show (booth and executive as shown above), and I have worked directly with their marketing and PR, as with other companies, ever since.  One day in mid-2016 I was sent an e-mail by my contact about what I considered a great story, something having to do with my sales days.  It turned out to be a story about Polycom Co-Founder and Chief Technical Evangelist Jeff Rodman, a 95 cent book from Radio Shack and the invention of a device known well for years throughout the AV world.

Polycom_ Jeff_Rodman

The sales career now becomes the tie-in to this part of the story.

A little historical perspective to my immediately wanting to interview this particular person (though I don’t need a ton of reason to do an interview if it looks intriguing), as I had already pointed to, was my career in integration sales. The iconic (as Jeff Rodman refers to in the article) SoundStation, one of the greatest conferencing devices known to the world of audio visual, was one of the cornerstone products I demonstrated for executives and sold, that to go with the projectors, the interactive whiteboard, and more. Along with the numerous large room system integrations (the board rooms, lecture centers and classrooms), came the need for a tabletop audio conferencing solution in the medium-sized room (and some of the large-sized rooms as well) – a put it on the table, plug in the phone cable and go – and the SoundStation fit the bill perfectly.

I didn’t know of Jeff Rodman at the time mind you, however his invention – the SoundStation – opened a lot of doors for me in terms of new clients and continued sales with existing clients. Without the SoundStation, it’s hard to tell exactly how things might have been as it was certainly a product that just about sold itself.

And as Jeff stated in the article, “Not a bad payoff for a 95 cent investment” – that in terms of Polycom becoming a $2 billion company in 2016.

I had the grand pleasure of sitting down with Jeff to interview him a little over a year ago to talk about a number of topics, including how he co-founded Polycom, how he created the SoundStation and more according to the article. Earlier this year, a dinner was arranged here in Herndon, VA (where Polycom has an office close by), and along with good friend and contact at the company Andy Cuneo (who is their Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications), I met with Jeff and got to know the man behind one of the industry’s greatest innovations. We talked about the interview and the SoundStation, my further experiences in commercial integration, and current as well as future industry collaboration perspectives.

That to go with a truly great time.

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Jeff Rodman and I with my contact at Polycom Andy Cuneo. 

Here is the interview.

 

There will be more to come.

(Note: Ashan Willy, who was mentioned in the interview, is no longer with the company). 

Me at BarcoWith over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, The Collaboration Factor and Convergent Tech Talk. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers.