Polycom: Infusing Life into the Virtual World of Video Conferencing

CIOReview Team | Monday, 19 May 2014, 06:36 IST
Monika Tripathi, an HR Manager in an MNC in India, picks her smartphone whilst at home and checks in for a video conference through RealPresence CloudAXIS to interview a candidate from New York City. The candidate clicks on the link shared by Monika and here he is live on her smartphone. Unlike traditional video  conferencing where one can just view people sitting across borders, Polycom's RealPresence CloudAXIS empowers a person connect the conference just through a click on the link send across by the host. For instance, an HR can take the interview over phone whilst being at home. HR could virtually see everything one looks for in a face-to-face interview: body language, audio nuances and even his eye contact. Through comprehensive host control features that include high resolution content sharing, she can give presentations and have group chat with the candidate. The conference can be recorded for future references and put on company's social media for knowledge sharing.
Such is the beauty of Polycom's RealPresence CloudAXIS developed completely from Polycom India which is currently lead by Minhaj Zia. CloudAXIS is a video collaboration and conferencing software solution that enables business collaborates with other businesses or individuals easily and securely, independent of application, system or device. It is a software extension of Polycom's RealPresence Platform for private and public cloud deployments enabling universal access to enterprise-grade video conferencing to B2B or B2C at the highest quality, interoperability, reliability and security. 
Though the company is a pioneer in video collaboration space and its innovation since its establishment in 1990 in San Francisco, they are constantly on their foot to provide solutions on cutting-edge technologies. Their technology helps unleash the power of human collaboration through video, voice, and content collaboration & communication technology. Currently it has a market capitalization of $1.71 billion and is listed in NASDAQ under the ticker symbol PLCM. Today, Polycom's technology has grown leaps and bounds to become a global leader in collaborative solutions serving industries of all shapes and sizes including business functions, business services, education, entertainment, financial services, government, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, oil, gas and energy, pharmaceutical and retail. While Polycom has offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific and Caribbean & Latin America; India has always been crucial for Polycom both as an innovation center and market alike. 
India - The Critical Facet of Polycom
Though the company is much ahead of the curve in providing latest technology to customers, it is made possible due to extensive investment in R&D. Polycom has been awarded Video Conferencing Equipment Vendor of the Year in 2011 for their investments into growing the market and continued investments in R&D units to deliver bandwidth-effective video systems. Their R&D centers are spread in several countries, but India plays a major role changer for the company that has two innovation centers. These centers are based out of Bangalore and Hyderabad that extensively focus on delivering cutting edge technologies to customers globally. 
The R&D center in India traces its history since 2007 when the first center was established in Hyderabad with a focus to support the U.S. But the extensive contribution from the center and the resources here propelled the establishment of Bangalore center. In last couple of years, the focus has changed and India has become a part of the core investment strategy. Today the two centers are state-of-the-art and drives innovation globally. These centers have extensively taken up roles in contributing to the development of Polycom's latest products. In past, researchers based out of these centers have played a critical role in the development of the triangular phones, videoconferencing and video-as-managed services. Today, technologies developed here are used globally to get connected with reduced cost of bandwidth required to run video conferencing setup or at your home broadband network, which has poor quality, up to 50 percent. While the Hyderabad R&D center is focused on integration of various services, video and audio hard end-points, browser infrastructure and others; Bangalore center focuses on Halo services (basis acquisition from HP) and Immersive tele-presence products. 
The India Innovation centers are leading development of Polycom flagship solutions, Voice Endpoints (VVX and Lynx), Video Endpoints (HDX, Group Series and Immersive Studio), Video Application-as-a-Service (VaaS)/Cloud, and Content Collaboration. The centers focus on innovation that is customer centric, making video collaborations tools more accessible. The company looks to increase the experience value of their products for their customers through these centers and provide 'value for money' to them. 
More than two years ago, Polycom saw a major opportunity to drive video collaboration to the next level, mass optimization and envisions making video collaboration ubiquitous. To accomplish this, the company has created product roadmap/major global R&D (Rama) effort that would deliver breakthrough innovations and solutions to drive mass adoption of video and address impediments. This will also help in addressing user experience/simplicity, interoperability, deliver future-proof platform and universal access. Polycom is working to bring video everywhere through private, public and hybrid clouds and deliver more software-led innovation as today around 85 percent of R&D is software-based.
India and China boast of a strong pool of highly skilled engineering and research talent for both products and software. India's workforce is much younger who doesn't have much experience, yet very talented as these youths bring fresh ideas to the table. Thus, while hiring Polycom looks for various talents like problem solving, talent for programming languages and others. In addition to degrees and academic qualifications, the company looks for a strong cultural fit - the CAN DO spark to make innovative products - before hiring. The company is strongly committed on reversing the male dominated skew, thus focuses on tapping suitable talent from women engineering colleges as well. 
Polycom provides an innovation driven culture for their employees to outshine par excellence in their skill sets. Several engineers have filed patents and brought in dozens of patents as well. Polycom is also functioning very closely with IIT and BITS Pilani. "We do not just believe in empowering organizations, we believe in empowering education as well. This is where we are closely working with IITs and have signed a MoU with IIT-Hyderabad. We are working on collaborative research to bring in new efficiency in the collaboration space," says Minhaj Zia, Managing Director, Polycom India & SAARC. This will help them shape the R&D community in India to a world class organization. The company's strong values and innovation driven culture is helping engineers come on board and simultaneously empowering the leadership and management for deliveries and operations. This strategy is constantly equipping the arsenals of employees to serve the underserved SMB market in India. 
"I have been interacting with several customers in India and found that though they are eager to use video conferencing, what holds them back is the ease of technology. While big organizations have already made a shift towards video conferencing, SMBs who are larger pie of Indian economy cut themselves due to ignorance of technology usage. We are running several campaigns on user adoptions giving them inputs on how well they are using technology, the benefit of it, and how easily they can save on your travel cost," adds Minhaj. This is where products like CloudAXIS which is hassle free and can be accessed just with a click on the link sent by the host with no other technology complications involved is becoming their hot favorite. 
The current economy fluctuation is pinching the pockets. Organizations, especially SMBs, don't want to deploy the entire infrastructure required. This is where the complex technology for many organizations lies. They can't deploy the backend infrastructure on their own and maintain them and seek for technology which can be deployed on the cloud and managed by service provider or solution provider who can then deliver the solution on a pay-as-you-go model.
Polycom has partnered with Trimax to provide the best infrastructure for video-as-a-service. Mobile is penetrating deeper into the crust of users and customers are seeking for solutions like video or tele-presence that can run on their mobile devices and enable them to connect to a conference from anywhere, anytime. Identifying the trend, Polycom developed mobile solutions that run both of Android and iOS based devices. 
Polycom has patented several correction techniques to ensure best in class video experience even if the network is less than perfect. Polycom has technology that can transparently accommodate in the background  large amount of data as the information that's transmitting could be lost even with high quality connection. Their solution allow users to have a high quality video experience with the bandwidth being safe compared to the other solutions available in the market. While Polycom is engaged in providing such cutting-edge technology to their clients globally, their India R&D center is busy bringing these cutting-edge and innovative technologies into life. 
Road yet Crucial
Though Polycom is a pioneer in the space, they still have several hurdles and laps to be crossed. One such defy is network infrastructure which is not at par with international standards and restricts them to provide the best of the solutions they have in their kitty. Spicing this up is the fluctuating Indian currency which refrains the users from leveraging such technology. 
"Though network infrastructure and currency fluctuation is out of our control, we still believe in working towards making our products more user friendly and automated unless it reaches a state where there is no technology into it that users have to learn," concludes Minhaj. 
The company is in talks with several collaborations for some of the emerging technologies such as WebRTC. They are not just focusing on being at the forefront but ahead of the curve on these innovative collaborative technologies. The key is to deliver value to the customers and ensure that they get the maximum RoI. Polycom looks forward to grow the market, especially SMB segment that holds huge potential, create awareness that technology is not just about saving cost but also about productivity and saving human resources whilst bringing in expertise on demand anywhere and anytime. "To be more productive as an organization, we have to bring the best resources together and keep innovating to make the change happen," concludes Minhaj.
Source: Silicon India