Polycom tries to set the PACE

By Irwin Lazar
On Jun 04, 2014
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
As I write this I’m returning from Polycom’s recent analyst conference (Dubbed PACE – Polycom Analyst Conference Event) held this week in Austin TX, home of Polycom’s U.S. R&D center. Polycom has been through quite a bit of change over the last year, with Andy Miller leaving last July, replaced recently by Peter Leav, formerly of NCR. As one of the two largest players in the video conferencing market, Polycom has suffered from the recent perception that video conferencing is on the decline, and that once again the long-held promise of video conferencing to reshape collaboration is out of reach. Just last week yet another news story broke reporting “dismal” sales for the video conferencing market.

But Polycom is more than just a video conferencing vendor, a substantial portion of its revenue comes from its phone business, selling endpoints for SIP-based IP telephony service providers and for Microsoft Lync customers requiring a hard-phone or USB-phone. Presenters at the event noted that the phone business accounted for $120 million in revenue, and it is growing. Overall Polycom executives reported growth in margins and positive cash-flow, thanks to the diversity of products and services.

Polycom is also benefiting from its partnership with Microsoft on the video side, where it provides qualified endpoints and infrastructure to enable Lync customers to scale video and integrate Lync video with room systems.

Still, Polycom is under the same assault as the other endpoint and hardware vendors from an ever-increasing array of cloud providers including BlueJeans, Fuze, and those like Acano and Pexip that provide platforms for service providers to sell their own cloud services. More recently both Google and Lifesize expanded their cloud video offerings, representing yet another threat.

According to our 2013-14 benchmark, video conferencing adoption continues to rise, with broad increases in desktop video and mobile video. Nineteen percent of companies are already using some sort of cloud video conferencing service. At the end of June we’ll release our 2014-15 benchmark data where we again looked at adoption, and also utilization of video as well as cloud video and changes in the room-system landscape (clients get access starting June 11). Stand by for more….