By Corey Moss

As I usually like to do, I wait a bit for the smoke to clear before writing any kind of piece where I will begin to provide informed insights beyond the news that’s released by the company itself. Last week UC provider/headset maker Plantronics stated that it would buy AV/conferencing/collaboration standard-bearer Polycom – here again are the details. If you want the news, it truly needs to come from a most reliable source (Reuters was the source as specified in the post) – and for this story, detail reporting was certainly of the utmost importance.

A little backstory here before I move on. In January 2016 I reported a story (for another publication) where the industry and certain of its other publications, podcasts and more went out with wild assertions about a particular story that “shook” the industry. I had already had early information on the story that I was privy to, though I sat on it until I knew the entire story, with a great measure of research to go with it – while watching the AV media Wild West unfold in front of me. For me it went all the way to the top echelon of this particular manufacturer, a noted major worldwide publication reporter (including a close watch of his Twitter site the morning he broke the story), and an overseas agency he had been working with. And no one else – I mean no one – was on the right track.

Why? Because the industry at the time didn’t have the true wherewithal to report the story and all of its critical elements. An overall, informed knowledge-base must be brought to the table where such a story is concerned, and I had been studied for a few years in the subject matter.

I defer here to the publication No Jitter and an article Why Plantronics’ Polycom Acquisition Is a Great Move, as I consider No Jitter (produced by Enterprise Connect) to be one of the publications to provide the true informed detail and opinion on this. This article came out the same day that the news was released, and I would expect a publication like No Jitter to be one that would inform, and not provide conjecture. The author Alaa Saayed (ICT Industry Principal – Digital Transformation, at Frost & Sullivan) talks about how he has watched both companies closely for more than ten years, and considers Polycom to be a missing piece to the Plantronics puzzle – where Plantronics would be gaining the following benefits:

  • Expand into the Open SIP Phone Realm
  • Gain a Leadership Position in the Audio Conference Endpoints Market
  • Strengthen Endpoints Leadership in the Microsoft Ecosystem
  • Gain a Comprehensive Video Conferencing Tech Portfolio
  • Enrich its Software-as-a-Service and Cloud Management Portfolio
  • Strengthen its Channel Partnerships
  • Grow its Professional Headset Business

Read the story for further information on these excellent insights.

Now I’ll provide some insight of my own as I’ve been in and around the videoconferencing/UC&C space for years in both commercial integration and media. I have known Plantronics as a long-time leader of headset technology – a very important player in the industry. Last summer Convergent AV (along with others) reported a feature story about Plantronics’ new Habitat Soundscaping technology, and soon afterward I interviewed Darcy Harrell, Channel Development Director, Innovation Waves at Plantronics about it. With this, Plantronics looked to branch out into a new technology space in the AV industry, and you’ll find out more about this when listening to the discussion.

As for Polycom, I have been very close to the company since the late 90’s when I began my almost 15 year career in commercial integration sales, providing for customers what will always be considered the true origin of the modern conference phone – the SoundStation. I had explained to Polycom Co-Founder/Chief Evengelist Jeff Rodman in an interview that I did with him just why I had felt the SoundStation sold so well, this after he turned it around and asked me that question. Listen to the interview for this, and more – including the invention of this world-renowned conference communications device.

In May of 2017, Polycom announced a partnership with Zoom to bring the power of video collaboration to more businesses worldwide with the Zoom Connector for Polycom®. Not a bold move, but a right move for the time as Zoom proved to be the leader in the cloud-based video communications space. Eric S. Yuan, CEO and Founder of Zoom stated, “As leaders in video conferencing, Zoom and Polycom are coming together to make it easier for customers to collaborate in any environment.” Polycom CEO Mary McDowell stated, “Strong partnerships and open standards have always been the foundation of the value we bring to our customers.” An important moment for video conferencing and collaboration in the industry? No doubt.

Polycom’s Trio has truly caught fire as the conference call hardware device of choice, and in September 2017 Polycom unveiled the Polycom Trio™ 8500 as a new standard in conference performance for mid-sized conference rooms, to go along with upgraded video capabilities for the Trio 8800 for larger conference room spaces. The new Voxbox was also introduced.

In December of last year, I witnessed history as the SoundStation was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and this was followed up by a round-table meeting with CEO Mary McDowell – enlightening, engaging… and visionary.

I ended that article like this:

Will end users take true advantage of the power that data analytics, the potential of AI, and a more enhanced and engaging meeting experience can bring to them? Mary McDowell is confidently betting on it, along with a bold future for Polycom.

As it looks, Plantronics is taking that bet (and more), and looks like they will be a winner for it – and so will UC&C and AV. With the acquisition, Plantronics has also announced the ‘Better Together’ hashtag #TOGETHERWARE.

More to come.

Note: Here is Plantronics’ news release on the acquisition.

Header image: 123rf, royalty free. 

Me at Barco

With 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. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn