Polycom Offers New UC Analytics, Managed Services

The company's RealAccess services platform gives businesses greater insight into how their collaboration tools are being used and are performing.

video conferencing

Polycom officials want to enable organizations that are spending millions of dollars on unified communications technologies to better evaluate how their employees are using their collaboration tools.

The company is unveiling RealAccess, a cloud-based services delivery platform that collects personalized and near-real-time data and makes it available to IT departments via a cloud-based portal. Through analytics capabilities available through the portal, IT professionals can determine how the collaboration technologies are being used and how they're performing, and then make fast and informed decisions regarding their unified communications (UC) environments.

RealAccess is one of several enhancements Polycom officials said the company is making to its UC portfolio to make it easier for businesses to get more benefits from their collaboration technologies. A growing number of tech vendors are offering tools to help IT departments better analyze and evaluate how employees are using UC tools and what can be improved. For example, Dell late last year released its Unified Communications Command Suite to give organizations a single portfolio of products they can use to gain greater visibility into their UC deployments to ensure employees can find the best ways to use them and that the businesses are getting a strong return on their investments.

This is particularly important in a fragmented market with a broad array of vendors, from Cisco Systems and Avaya to Microsoft's Skype for Business (formerly Lync), Dell officials said.

Enterprises see benefits in UC tools in terms of greater worker productivity and cost savings, but complexity and the quality of the user experience are key hurdles to adoption. If employees are intimidated or confused by the technology, or find the experience isn't worth the trouble, they won't use it. Dell officials noted that Gartner analysts, in a report last year, said there are several areas UC vendors need to focus on to drive product adoption, with user experience being among the top five.

Polycom's RealAccess platform offers several services that are designed to give IT departments data on everything from utilization to capacity to success rates. Asset Management delivers visibility into endpoints, from their locations to the software versions running on them to the types of systems they are. The Analytics service offers data and metrics on how the collaboration tools are being used, to what extent they're being used and how they're performing. Calls and their durations can be measured and analyzed, as can system types, bridge utilization and other factors, and the data can be displayed on a graphical dashboard.

The platform also includes more than 60 short how-to training videos to help employees become more comfortable with the collaboration technologies, which officials said will drive up usage and reduce help desk calls.

"In an increasingly complex world with constantly changing technologies, and mountains of data that threaten to overwhelm us, we need to work smarter, not harder," Kimberly Kelley, senior services marketing manager for Polycom, wrote in a post on the company blog, noting that RealAccess gives users "the power of actionable information about [their] collaboration environment."

Polycom also is expanding its managed services offerings for the company's RealPresence video conferencing platform and endpoints the customer uses. Polycom offers monitoring, management, hosting and transformation services, taking the load off IT departments. The services can protect businesses from outside threats and resolve problems, and also include diagnostic and reporting tools.

In addition, businesses can determine the level of service they need, according to Polycom officials.

Polycom also is bringing support for Microsoft's Skype for Business to its VVX business media phones through its VVX Services for Lync.

Both RealAccess and Managed Services are available immediately. VVX Services for Lync will be available later in the spring.