It seems that the theme of digital transformation at GITEX this year might be the ideal trending topic to think about when you consider all the significant changes that have taken place within the UC Sector. From companies like Cisco exploring new technology like VR and artificial intelligence to brands like Avaya looking forward to their exit from Chapter 11, the industry is in a state of undeniable transition.
One of the biggest changes to hit the news in recent weeks has been the announcement made at Microsoft Ignite, that Microsoft Skype for Business will eventually morph into Microsoft Teams. We caught up with the EMEA director for the Polycom Microsoft Alliance, Charlie James, to discuss Polycom’s focus for the time being.
How has Polycom Responded to Microsoft Ignite?
As a powerful member of Microsoft’s partner community, it makes sense that Polycom would be affected by the recent Teams announcement more than most. However, the company has responded to the Ignite update with confidence and focus, ready to take their customers into the future – no matter what. I asked Charlie how Polycom felt about the Ignite event, and what the focus for the company is now.
“Ignite was an incredible show for us. We were gold sponsors at the event, and we had an amazing booth designed to help us show customers the three pillars that we’ve created around the Microsoft Portfolio, including the rooms, voice and video, and the interoperability options within the cloud. We had already achieved our booking target before we got there, and the event was incredibly busy.”
Charlie went on to note that following the Teams announcement, the main topic of conversation for Polycom had been around the concept of “interoperability”. Customers are looking for ways to bring diverse UC worlds together, and that gave Polycom a chance to show off their Polycom RealConnect solution, while simultaneously putting consumer minds at ease about the future of Teams.
“We had our own press release after the Ignite Microsoft announcement, to let everyone know that we’ve been working with Microsoft through a strategic alliance for some time now, and in our opinion, this whole thing is simply par for the course.”
So, What Does Being Ready for Teams Mean to Polycom?
Charlie highlighted that Polycom is ready and available to help their customers make the seamless transition to getting the most out of Teams whenever the time comes. He said that, for Polycom, the aim right now is to offer reassurance to customers about what the future will look like.
“A lot of our customers are concerned about the changes that are being made in Microsoft. They want to know if they should still be investing in Skype for Business, and what the updates mean to their Polycom investments. However, as we’re trying to remind our network – Polycom has been through this process before and our solutions are designed to adjust to a changing environment. This is what we do, and everything we showed our customers at Ignite will go through its certification for Teams, rebrand, and work with teams at the right time.”
The takeaway message that Polycom is pushing today, is simply “Stay calm, everything will be fine.” It’s easy to believe this statement when you consider the fact that Polycom has been through several rebrands with Microsoft in the past, including the big transition from Lync to Skype for Business. For Polycom, there’s really nothing to worry about.
“If we were just calling this the next version of Skype, no-one would panic. It’s the rebranding that makes people nervous.”
What’s the Plan for Polycom Support?
Of course, Skype for Business isn’t necessarily going away anytime soon. The new Skype for Business Server is coming out next year, and while we don’t know yet how long Microsoft will be offering support for the service for, there are no huge changes in the works for the next year or two. Charlie commented that Polycom is simply here to “steady the ship in case there’s any turbulence from the recent announcement”.
In terms of a roadmap for the future, there’s still a while to go before Teams will completely replace Skype for Business. Charlie noted:
“We’ll probably see some rolling out across different spaces at different times, depending on local regulations. If you look at RealConnect, for instance, we started introducing the system in North America last year, then moved into different regions. Today, the technology for RealConnect is available globally, but there are still agreements to be signed in different areas. It’s likely to be the same for the new Teams solutions.”