Jeffery Rodman, co-founder and chief evangelist at $2 billion Polycom, has seen work places transform. Rodman says companies are changing the nature of workspaces – from closed offices to cubicles and now to open spaces with walls coming down completely. “Conference rooms are making way for huddle rooms for four to six people. Work places are also diversifying and work is happening in all kind of places from homes to coffee shops,” says Rodman.
So when they want to talk to each other or collaborate with other teams they tend to use video conferencing much more now than in the past. But open spaces come with their own problems of acoustics and disturbances from other sound sources so the market for Polycom’s voice, video and content sharing products is thriving.
Polycom sees a role for itself in the workplace of the future with technology changing the dynamics of the traditional workplace and the role of collaborative technology gaining importance as users defy distance with secure video, voice and content.
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But there is competition from the kinds of Skype, Face Time to Facebook and Whatsapp to communicate. Then there is virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other technologies emerging. Will video conferencing/audio conferencing be able to compete? Rodman is unfazed and says competition has not recognised the importance of the last mile in this communication.
His company’s strength is in providing this last mile network and it is this last 10 feet where the difference in performance shows. The devices where the competing platforms work on are designed to do everything and is not optimised to do video conferencing, says Rodman.“Other challenges such as security is a serious concern for enterprises,” he adds. While he agrees VR, AR, holography are emerging and have a lot of potential, but the VR headsets are heavy and ugly and make people go dizzy and have a long way to go before coming to mainstream.
Polycom is working on new technologies in the lab but is not yet ready for prime time.
Rodman, considered to be leading technologists and among the founding father of Silicon Valley and the unified communications industry, visited India for a roadshow to showcase Polycom’s products and its association with Microsoft.
For Polycom, India is one of the fastest growing market, says Rodman. Availability of bandwidth was a challenge initially but now that bit is going up and costs are coming down which is good news and is showing in Polycom’s growth rate in the last two to three years, he says.
“We have our R&D centre in Hyderabad and a third party R&D centre in Gurgaon. We are looking at launching one to two products relevant for the Indian market and then taking these products to other markets in South East Asia,” Rodman said.