Polycom Rebranding Highlights Software, Mobile

The rebranding effort, which includes a new logo, is part of a larger shift by the UC company away from hardware to software.

Polycom is introducing a rebranding of the company to emphasize its continued shift away from being a video conferencing hardware vendor to its software-based approach to communications technology.

Polycom executives last year began to talk about the 22-year-old company€™s shift toward a software focus, and much of what Polycom has done in recent months has been in support of that initiative, from the expansion of its RealPresence unified communications (UC) platform to efforts to extend its collaboration capabilities to such mobile devices as tablets and smartphones. The software push also can be seen in recent acquisitions, including the deal in October 2011 for ViVu, whose software solution makes it easier to embed high-definition video into Web-based applications.

This transformation comes amid various trends in the enterprise€”including bring your own device (BYOD), cloud computing and virtualization€”and shifts the businesses' demand away from hardware devices and more toward software solutions that make it easier to collaborate with them and manage them. Polycom executives have said their goal is to enable collaboration any time, from anywhere and on any device.

Polycom€™s software efforts mirror those of other tech vendors€”such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell€”and the rebranding May 24 came the same day that rival Cisco Systems announced it was ending investment in its Android-based Cius enterprise tablet in favor of focusing on software solutions like the Jabber UC platform and WebEx online meeting platform.

Given the moves Polycom has made in recent months, a rebranding of the company€”complete with a new logo€”made sense, according to CEO Andy Miller.

€œJust as our company has evolved, so too must our brand evolve to reflect the impact of our innovation and the value it brings to our more than 400,000 customers,€ Miller said in a statement. €œVideo collaboration is mission-critical in organizations today. It€™s improving the way we work, create and design, learn, run governments, protect citizens and save lives. Our vision is to make video collaboration ubiquitous, and we€™re delivering on this vision through creating software-based innovations for mobile, social and cloud platforms, and by working with our nearly 7,000 partners to drive interoperability and extend the reach of video.€

The new logo can be seen on the company€™s home page, at Polycom€™s headquarters in San Jose, Calif., and at its new customer experience center, also in San Jose. The new brand will be on full display at the InfoComm 2012 show in Las Vegas in June.

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, applauded the move by Polycom, calling it overdue. In a May 24 post on the No Jitter blog site, Kerravala said that over the years, the company had been content with letting Cisco blaze the marketing trail for video and UC and then reaping the benefits with its own good technology as an alternative to Cisco. However, with the rise of BYOD, cloud, virtualization and mobility, Polycom not only is dealing with competition from Cisco, but with having to negotiate the rapid transformation of technology. With all that comes the need to get ahead of the transformation in tech, and Polycom€™s software strategy€”and rebranding€”are indications that the company understands that.

€œGiven the rapid adoption of low-cost, high-quality video endpoints, this [software] strategy is sound,€ Kerravala wrote. €œIf Polycom is going to thrive in this new world of IT, then multi-vendor, interoperable, ubiquitous video must happen. However, video ubiquity isn't just having a video endpoint everywhere. It's really more the thesis that video becomes embedded into applications and business processes. This is what makes continuing to push the software strategy the company outlined a few months ago a critical component of the transformation of Polycom. It's good to see Polycom pushing for industry transformation rather than waiting for someone else to do it.€

The key for Polycom now is executing on the software strategy, he wrote. The challenges include changing the sales execution and how it manages the channel and partners, as well as creating a community.

€œIf video is indeed going to become a mainstream communications tool, then it can€™t exist in the islands that it has in the past,€™€ Kerravala wrote. €œShifting to a software company will enable Polycom to take more of a €˜platform€™ approach where you start to see its €˜RealPresence€™ functionality built into more applications. This makes Polycom the center of an ecosystem instead of a product company, which opens up new go-to-market opportunities for the company.€

That said, he wrote that given what Polycom has done up to this point, the company €œis aligned to industry trends better than maybe at any other time in the past decade.€