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Poly Expected to Make More Remarkable Changes at EC20

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Road with forward arrows
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Part of my pre-Enterprise Connect ritual is to consider the changes that have occurred over the past year – and a helluva year it was. There has been a tremendous amount of change as cloud-delivered services matured, and AI has affected so many processes. There’s been several major announcements, new products, and acquisitions. However, few, if any, companies have experienced as much change as Poly.
 
A little more than a year and a half ago, Plantronics announced its acquisition of Polycom. Last March at EC, Joe Burton, the company’s president and CEO unveiled “Poly” as the new company name. It was a pretty big deal – as the company had placed its new name all around the conference venue, and it was covered until the big new brand reveal that took place on the first night.
 
Now, just weeks before EC 2020, we learned that Burton stepped down. What took place over the past 11 months has been nothing short of remarkable. Poly wasn't just a rebranding strategy – it was a new company, created by merging its predecessors, both of which boasted a long, glorious past. Burton compiled a stellar leadership team that included Tom Puorro, Dave Danto, Darius Jones, Amy Barzdukas, and most recently, Carl Wiese.
 
Poly may be a new company, but evidently, its labs weren’t.
 
Announced at EC2019

 

Since EC2019 
  • Poly announced the G7500: This is a new flagship video conferencing solution— which operates on an entirely new next-generation video architecture. The G7500 supports 4K ultra-HD video and whiteboarding for modern collaboration.
  • Poly introduced its next generation of Savi wireless headsets: I believe that Poly was the first enterprise headset company to offer a DECT headset with active noise canceling.
  • Poly, along with 8x8 and ScanSource, launched CloudFuel: The trio joined forces to launch this program, designed to assist channel partners to accelerate their migration from legacy premises-based product sales to cloud-delivered solutions.
  • Poly announced the Studio X Series room system: CEO Burton made an appearance during Zoom CEO Eric Yuan’s keynote at Zoomtopia 2019 in October to launch the all-in-one Poly Studio X Series room solution. Studio X resembles USB conferencing solutions but has a built-in processor that can run installed conferencing applications (such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams) without the need for an additional computer.
  • Poly introduced Poly Studio X Series and new phones for Microsoft Teams: Just weeks after Poly announced the Studio X Series, Microsoft endorsed it as a solution for Teams Rooms. It’s the first room system solution for Teams that don’t run Windows. Microsoft describes this new class of device as a collaboration bar. Also, at the fall of Microsoft Ignite 2019, Poly announced the CCX line of business desk phones, bringing back Poly telephone endpoint to Microsoft Teams. The company also announced that Poly Studio, Trio family, CCX phones, Calisto speakerphones, and Voyager 4200/5200 received Microsoft Teams certifications.
  • Poly's announced new Office Series BT headsets: The Voyager 4200 and Voyager 5200 headsets connect to a desk phone, PC, and mobile.
  • Poly announced new devices for contact centers: Poly's EncorePro family of headsets and MDA 500QD Series audio processors expanded its portfolio of contact center devices.
  • Poly introduced Poly Lens: This new management and insights service and platform positions Poly for intelligent and enterprise-wide, cloud-delivered services. Poly is positioning Lens to unite its management platforms with next-generation analytics.

 

That’s a pretty extraordinary year in terms of launches. Unfortunately, Poly hasn’t had the best year for its investors, which may relate to Burton’s departure. The company had its share of revenue challenges in 2019, but that didn’t appear to slow its innovation.

The Studio X Series appears to be a hit. It’s channel and partner-friendly, inexpensive, and quick to integrate. The product has been in short supply since the launch date, but I still expect to see several in partner booths at EC 2020. Also, I think the CCX phones will be well-received by Teams customers that have been missing the quality of Poly devices.
 
I’m sorry to see Burton leave Poly. I met him not long after he joined Plantronics back in 2011. Now, Poly has begun a new search for a CEO. In the meantime, Bob Hagerty, chairman of the board, is the acting CEO. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the CEO of Polycom from 1998 to 2010. Since Hagerty left, Polycom had four other CEOs (including Burton). I saw Hagerty (and Burton) just a few months ago at an IMCCA event, where he was awarded a lifetime achievement award. 
 

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Dave Michels and Bob Hagerty

Dave Michels (left) and Bob Hagerty (right)

Image: Dave Michels - author
 
 
It’s disappointing that Burton is no longer at the helm, as I expect Poly to have a reasonably strong 2020. I also have high expectations for what the company will announce at EC20, where it will be in the Exhibit Hall in booth 519. I look forward to following Poly’s journey with new leadership.
 
 
Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Analyst at TalkingPointz.