Polycom revival bets on customer experience

To scale up India SDCs which employ 400 techies

Polycom revival bets on customer experience

 Polycom, a US-based leader in the voice and audio conferencing space, has seen its global revenues flat around $1.4 billion over the last few years because the overall market hasn’t grown and costs and unit prices have come down.

To kickstart growth, the company has adopted a four-pronged strategy which its executive vice president and chief marketing officer Jim Kruger recently outlined to Deccan Herald. One, it has innovated in both audio and video technology. In audio, its latest offerings now feature an acoustic bubble which drowns out all noise around the user.

So never mind that noisy air conditioner and the honks from the buses and cars from the road near your window — your listeners can hear you clearly. In video, it has built in facial recognition into its camera technology. With this, the camera first recognises who are all inside a conference room, and then zooms on them unerringly as participants take their turn to speak, Kruger said.

Second, it has rolled out an offering for small businesses which allows them to outfit a conference room with all necessary gear from Polycom for about $3,000. Kruger said Polycom does around 45 per cent of its sales with small businesses and it’s entirely driven by the rich experience in contrast to the free and bundled conferencing tools which provide a terrible user experience.

“The sound quality is terrible, you can’t hear people, you can’t decipher who is speaking, calls drop,” Kruger pointed out about the free offerings. “What happens if you get up to write on the whiteboard in Google Hangouts? How do you move the camera?” he asked. Incidentally, Polycom’s $3,000 offering for small businesses is now available in India too and it’s seeing traction in many markets, he said.

The third prong, Kruger said, is the video as a service offering. This pay-as-you-use model shifts capex for the client into operational costs which can be expensed from the topline. “It’s a cloud-based service that you subscribe on a monthly basis. You don’t deploy any gear. It gives you the capability to multipoint video. Again you can do it from your phone or tablet or from your conference room. But it all works together as a system.

It can mix not only audio and video but also content sharing,” he explained. Kruger said 18 of Polycom’s 200 partners have signed up for its video as a service, including Airtel.
India is another crucial prong for Polycom. Its software development centres in Bengaluru and Hyderabad employ around 400 developers out of its global strength of 1,800. Kruger said development out of India started in 2007 just to support releases. But now they are so crucial that they own 10-15 major projects for Polycom.

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