Polycom will be the first to put people at the center of collaboration: Minhaj Zia

Polycom's solutions brings ease-of-use to customers with advanced visual collaboration solutions, says Minhaj Zia, Managing Director, Polycom India & SAARC.

The style of work has significantly changed from a place we go to, into something that we do, irrespective of time, distance and the devices we use. Traditional workplaces and old meeting rooms are giving way to open areas and mobile spaces, and small/huddle rooms, all of which present challenges for effective collaboration.

In order for collaboration to thrive in future workplaces, enterprises require the right solutions. Collaborative solutions need to be easy to use and fit into workspaces of any size. Polycom claims that its latest solutions are designed to uniquely address these challenges with elegance and simplicity enabling customers to collaborate more effectively across a broader array of workspaces.

In an interview with Minhaj Zia, Managing Director, Polycom India & SAARC, he tells how Polycom's solutions brings ease-of-use to customers with advanced visual collaboration solutions.

Also read: Polycom adds four new solutions to its UC collaboration platform

What are some of the new customer trends that you have been witnessing in the video conferencing space? What are you expecting to see in near future?

There are various customer segments when it comes to conferencing and video collaboration in Indian market. Some of them are really advanced technology adopters while some are lagging. The primary focus for most customers today is to increase the productivity of their workforce in order to reduce costs and enable their people to come together as dynamic teams despite of their location. In terms of early adopters of technology, there are three influential factors specifically when it comes to video collaboration.

The three important trends we are witnessing in the space of video conferencing and video collaboration are—seamless experience that a user is expecting in terms of video, audio and content; on demand service of cloud, the best way to serve video conferencing to customers; and interoperability with the ecosystem and inter-vendor collaboration.

According to reports, Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS) is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 34 percent through 2020. New and improved video collaboration tools are making it possible to conduct business meetings anywhere, anytime. The meeting room of the future will also no longer necessarily be a physical location.

How are emerging trends impacting collaboration technologies? How is Polycom integrating video conferencing with some of the latest trends in enterprise technology?

Mega trends such as mobility, cloud and social media have a huge impact on video conferencing and collaboration. Today's customers just don’t prefer talking on the phone, instead they would like to see the person and work with them despite the distance barrier. Video and visual collaboration makes this entire experience very enriching, and productive.

With visual collaboration, Polycom is making the software available for all the kinds of devices; mobile devices, laptops and desktops, or room based communication. We aim to connect people working from offices with their large chunk of workforce outside the office periphery.

We have introduced new solutions and services, which will provide flawless visual collaboration and will seamlessly connect with all the devices and tools in an organization. Visual collaboration is something which can be easily hosted by a service provider in a virtualized environment and this can then be consumed by the users from anywhere, anytime.

Polycom also provides video content management, which can—with open APIs—be plugged into any social media platform and integrated tightly into this. This will provide customers visual collaboration inside their social platform, which will help them in starting a discussion, moving onto a voice call or a video call, and start sharing content anywhere, anytime.

What are Polycom’s key differentiators with respect to the video conferencing market in India?

As we see businesses are moving faster than ever, we feel that workplaces need to adapt to the change. To compete more effectively, organizations need to adopt world-class workplace collaboration solutions that fit the way their businesses work. With these state-of-the art solutions, enterprises can get proven ROI, reduced costs, increased productivity, and elevate the way information is been shared.

One of our recent product launch—RealPresence Debut, is a product which we believe is simple and affordable to use, which brings enterprise grade video collaboration to the huddle room. It has an easy, elegant design that enables high quality visual collaboration for smaller room environments, as well as for SMBs with limited IT resources.

Along with this, we also have other innovative collaboration solutions, such as RealPresence Trio, RealPresence Centro, RealPresence Medialign, and Polycom Concierge, to advance the workplace of the future.

At Polycom, our goal is to help our customers unleash their power of collaboration by providing a superior user experience, technology that's easily integrated into their businesses and the flexibility they need—and that’s what makes us stand out in this space.

How are you focusing on the SMB market in India? And how it is turning out for Polycom?

Polycom has always been passionate to help small and medium-sized businesses to grow. We use the most advanced collaboration technologies— ranging from communication activities, telephony, video conferencing, to tele-presence—with unified communications to create solutions that are powerful, affordable and easy to use.

We realized the huge demand of conferencing and visual collaboration among SMBs, and therefore we have hired a new distribution model for them—where we have expanded our horizons from 36 cities to 70 cities. We also suggest enterprise vendors to educate and make them aware about the benefits of visual collaboration.

Recently we have partnered with Microsoft in the hopes of taking a greater share of the collaborative workplace market, with a focus on video collaboration for SMBs. One of our main products for SMBs is Polycom RoundTable 100—a video solution that uses either Skype for Business or Lync 2013.

With geographically-dispersed workforce, SMBs need innovative ways to get in front of their customers more frequently, and to empower remotely located employees to work more efficiently without the time and cost associated with travel. The result is a high-performance workplace with easy access to information and faster decision making.

What are your new channel initiatives towards making Polycom India more partner-friendly?

With the focus to increase our presence across the country, we started operating from 70 odd cities, where we have partners’ presence who implement, resell, host, manage, integrate with, and support Polycom solutions.

Our partnerships serve two purposes—meeting the needs of customers in specific market segments, and offering solutions that help our customers leverage and protect their existing IT investments. In another six to eight months we are expecting to expand our horizons to 100 cities in India.

We have also recently rolled out a new channel partner program, which involves certifications and extensive training in solution selling aspects of the business. We are also looking to train a lot of the channel partners in solution selling, instead of box pushing as margins. We also have partner programs to recognize and reward our top-performing channel partners—and to help them make more money.

These programs reward partners who develop closely related technologies and offer advanced services through our service and technology specializations. We are also introducing new minimum volume thresholds and investment requirements across all program levels to provide investment protection for top-performing partners.

What are Polycom’s future plans?

The amazing potential of collaboration is transforming everything about the way businesses work. For the future, our vision is to unleash the power of human collaboration and making it easily available to one and all. Small and medium enterprises are going to be a big revolution in Indian market and we are definitely trying to focus our strategies to build that up.

We have recently marked our 25 years of industry leadership by announcing innovative solutions that will transform collaboration experiences and be the first to put people at its center. Our new products are immensely beneficial to educational and healthcare institutions, as it is now easy for them to avail high quality video conferencing with crystal clear voice technology at a low bandwidth.

We see a huge opportunity in the Indian market following the Union Government’s recent initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and plan to raise 100 smart cities. And that’s why we are also working to expand its footprints to 100 Indian cities by June next year.

Education, healthcare, and manufacturing industries are going to be three of the major focus areas for us, as we see tremendous amount of growth possibilities in them. For us the future is where we are able to help the society to be able to learn, serve the nation, develop new products cost-effectively, and to do things more with less resources—this is where we want to take our customers with the help of our technologies, bridging the gap of time and distance.