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Polycom: A Strong Voice (Still) in the Videoconferencing Market


August 12, 2013

For more than 20 years, Polycom has led the industry in setting the standard for enterprise-class communications. From its immersive telepresence systems to video desktops to sound stations and accessories, Polycom technology is an integral part of the way companies around the world do business. Yet while Polycom continues to push into the videoconferencing market, it still boasts a very strong business in voice as well. The name Polycom has long been shorthand for the best voice communications experience with its enhanced audio capability including Polycom HD Voice, Voice over IP and portable audio-conferencing technology (SoundStation Connect), giving end-users the freedom and high quality to conduct meaningful and secure business anywhere.

Voice is still important to Polycom and its customers – and it’s a critical part of success in the videoconferencing market. While some industry-watchers believe voice is becoming less important, Polycom believes that voice is undergoing a renaissance, not least due to its role in video communications.

TMCnet recently spoke with Chris Thorson, director of product marketing for voice and video devices at Polycom:

TMC: Everyone’s talking about videoconferencing these days. So is why is Polycom so bullish on voice technologies?

Chris Thorson: I think most would agree that the overall voice market is a mature one with relatively stable growth rates (7.5 percent compound annual growth rate from 2009-20013, according to Frost and Sullivan 2013). However, what most people don’t think about is how the market is undergoing a shift from traditional single-vendor, on-premises solutions to open-standard and cloud-based solutions. This category, where Polycom is a leader, has very healthy growth rates of approximately 31 percent CAGR from 2009-2013. Additionally, we see explosive growth out of our Microsoft Lync endpoint business where we own about 75 percent of the market.

TMC: You say voice is undergoing a renaissance. How so?

CT: Just like other industries that embraced open standards, the shift to Open SIP in the telephony industry is changing the game, and creating new winners and losers. Rather than getting locked into one vertically integrated communication system from one vendor, now customers and service providers can choose the best-of-breed solutions at the endpoint, call control and application layers providing better overall value.  Additionally, voice services are increasingly being deployed in a hosted model so customers don’t have to worry about any unnecessary or complex installation, provisioning or ongoing management of their system. All of that is handled by the provider so end-customers can focus on their business, and integrating their communication system into their business processes.

TMC: What makes voice technology a critical part of the videoconferencing industry?

CT: Both voice and video technologies share a common bond; they are both just different ways to allow individuals and groups to communicate. Separately, they each have their place with voice being the incumbent communications system and arguably the most ubiquitous technology in the world today for desktop, mobile and group communication. Video also stands on its own when you need face-to-face collaboration for things like distance learning, hiring, telemedicine, project management and so on. Where they intersect, and why Polycom is so passionate about voice, is that a voice call can stand on its own without video, but a video call relies on high quality voice to hold its value. That’s why we put so much effort into providing a reliable, high-performance voice experience that simulates the full-range of sound as if the two participants are sitting in the same room.

Polycom, as the hands-down industry leader in voice technology, continues to innovate and build upon our legendary performance and design to deliver the best quality conference experience possible. Some examples of our differentiators include HD Voice, Polycom Siren, Voice ‘SVC’,  voice lost-packet-recovery, and background noise-canceling technology.

TMC: Where do you see the voice industry going in the next decade?

CT: One thing you can say about the voice market is that it doesn’t change at the same rapid rate as some other industries, and that’s probably a good (and necessary) thing. Over the past several decades, the changes have largely been around getting more efficiency out of the underlying technologies (e.g., analog to digital to IP). More recently we are experiencing the shift to mobile devices and unified communications where voice -- along with many other technologies -- are coming under one roof. Going forward, I think we’ll see the continued shift to hosted solutions as I mentioned before, as well as an overall performance improvement and higher expectations, in terms of quality, from our voice solutions.  For example, we’ve been using Polycom HD Voice for years now within our ecosystem of partners, but I would bet that most of the readers out there haven’t really experienced a high-definition voice call on any platform. I see those technologies starting to come to the masses. I also see more convergence of the voice and video industries with video becoming much more ubiquitous and available to users within and between companies.  We’re already seeing this now with our own line of VVX Business Media Phones and also our CloudAXIS solution, and I expect there will be more companies to follow.