Polycom Unveils Services to Spur Adoption of Video Conferencing

The new services will enable businesses to sell the idea of video collaboration to their employees, and to gauge how the technology is being embraced.

Polycom officials are rolling out services designed to make it easier for businesses to adopt and deploy video collaboration solutions based on the vendor's RealPresence video conferencing platform.

Polycom's Adoption Services are designed to help businesses adopt the video technologies, encourage employees to embrace them and then track how employees are using the solutions and how much money the companies are saving by deploying them.

The highly competitive video conferencing space is led by established players like Cisco Systems and Polycom, but a growing number of smaller businesses, such as Vidyo, are seeing revenue increase as they position themselves as cost-effective-and software-only-alternatives to their larger brethren. Businesses see video collaboration as a way of increasing employee productivity at a time when more workers are going mobile. At the same time, it enables businesses to reduce their spending on travel.

However, like other segments in the IT industry, the video conferencing space is being impacted by the uncertain global economy and reduced technology spending in the public sector, according to IDC analysts. In August, IDC said that video conferencing revenue fell 10 percent in the second quarter from the same period in 2011, to $564 million.

Polycom officials are looking to make it easier for businesses to adopt video collaboration technology. The vendor's new services, announced Sept. 6, will help businesses more easily deploy and manage their video environments, and ensure that employees will leverage the solutions, they said.

"Today, Polycom sets a new standard by introducing new services specifically devoted to helping customers create a culture of collaboration across their enterprise and, in doing so, accelerate user adoption and their ROI [return on investment] from Polycom RealPresence solutions," Sudhakar Ramakrishna, Polycom's president of products and services, said in a statement. "Polycom Adoption Services, and the methodology on which they are based, focus on the user experience from the earliest planning phase through implementation and beyond."

The four services within Polycom's Adoption Services are based on an adoption methodology created by the vendor, and use best practices that Polycom has developed and used to expand the adoption of its RealPresence platform among customers and partners, according to officials.

The services include Adoption Counseling, in which Polycom consultants, through surveys and interviews, help businesses map out their video collaboration needs, goals and technology environment. They also help determine what individuals need, with an eye toward creating a solution plan that meets those needs.

The Adoption Portal, which enables businesses to create customized online user resources, offers businesses an alternative to more expensive on-site training, according to Polycom officials. The portal includes everything from FAQs to how-to videos to other content. The Adoption Campaign service-including banners, posters, emails and videos-helps businesses reinforce the value of video collaboration with employees.

RealPresence Analytics is a cloud-based reporting service that enables businesses to monitor the adoption of video among employees, and creates reports that track the adoption. It also helps businesses better develop strategies and allocate resources by touching on usage patterns and cost trends.

The goal is to encourage employees to use video collaboration, Polycom officials said, adding that the benefits to companies can be significant. The vendor said that its customers report that Polycom's video conferencing solutions have saved them an average of 24 percent in sales-related costs and 30 percent in travel expenses.

Time-to-market also increased by an average of 24 percent, they said.

Polycom officials, who built the business on the strength of the company's hardware offerings, are now making an aggressive push in its software and cloud offerings. On Sept. 5, Polycom announced an initiative with IBM Research to jointly develop new solutions around cloud-based video collaboration applications. The solutions will leverage the company's RealPresence platform, and will come at a time when businesses increasingly are looking at video as a service (VaaS) through cloud environments-public, private and hybrid.