We sat down recently to talk with Ted Colton, Polycom’s Group VP responsible for partnerships and alliances to get his take on industry trends - covering everything from video collaboration to the effects he sees in Microsoft transition of Lync into Skype for Business.
On the topic of video, Colton agreed with other industry executives we’ve interview that the demand for video as a collaboration tool is growing along a continuum of people, locations, and devices. He did not that from his perspective, the demand growth is not at the expense of room-based systems; rather it is an expansion of other options and use cases along that continuum. Colton continued to say that a large part of that demand growth is attributed to a cultural shift with the familiarity of video collaboration and communications, along with advances in the technology that make video much easier to use than it was in the past.
Last month, Polycom announced a purpose-built voice and video collaboration solution designed to be used with Skype for Business. Called the Polycom RoundTable 100, the device sells for under $1000 and targets small to midsized businesses teams who have a Skype for Business account. The product was built jointly by Microsoft and Polycom developers. Circling back to Colton’s premise about the need for ease of use, the RoundTable 100 design includes a native Skype interface so that Skype users will already know how to operate the system. The device also includes native registration and integration with Microsoft Office 365. The RoundTable 100 will be available this summer.
Commenting on Microsoft’s move to Lync into Skype for Business, Colton believes the evolution is a very powerful strategy for two reasons. First, with a base of 750 million users, the Skype interface is well understood and it has been proven as easy to use. Second, the federation of 750 million Skype users with the base of Skype for business customers enables finding and calling another user very easy. Widespread carrier support for hosted Microsoft 365 services and Skype for Business further enhances the value of the evolution.
Speaking about the future of Polycom devices and Polycom’s close relationship with Microsoft, Colton said to expect more new devices that incorporate joint development and native interfaces from the two long-standing partners. As for industry trends, he foresees continued innovation not just from Google and Microsoft, but from a range of traditional infrastructure providers and from new entrants.