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Polycom Beefs Up Collaboration Suite

We've seen a lot of chatter on No Jitter and elsewhere about the changing business environment and the concept of the workplace of the future. Opinions differ on what that "workplace" looks like, but visualizing something that's so much more than a physical space is hard. This is really about an experience or a way to work, which vendors must keep in mind as they design tools for use in the workplace of the future.

Polycom understands this mandate, as evidenced in three new RealPresence Platform solutions it announced this morning at InfoComm 2015. It designed the new products specifically to address the workplace of the future by improving the user experience and productivity of collaborative engagements.

Here's a look at the new offerings.

In addition, Web Suite includes multistream document sharing, whiteboards, blackboards, and annotation, enabling users to share, mark up, and save as many as six documents simultaneously. It also features adaptive resolution, adjusting automatically to provide an optimized experience for video participants. And, for those users who can't join a meeting via video, Web Suite offers a content-only mode.

The Polycom RealPresence Web Suite lets users share, view, compare, and annotate multiple documents in a collaborative environment.
Recording Studio
With the RealPresence Media Suite solution, business users can record, share, playback, and stream video recordings. Polycom has had this functionality for some time now, but it wasn't the easiest to use. A user could record a session, but had to rely on the helpdesk to retrieve the file, identifiable by username and time, and send it via email. The user could then manage the content manually. With Media Suite, Polycom now offers a robust self-service portal. Through the portal, users can perform all the functions required to manage the lifecycle of media sessions without any IT support.

Media Suite is a full turnkey solution that's built to scale. Polycom said it can handle up to 100 concurrent video sessions, stream up to 50 live events, and reach 10,000 Web viewers. Given the workplace of the future isn't static, the ability to record collaborative sessions for future playback, review, and archiving is key to extending the value of meetings and improving productivity.

To optimize performance and keep network utilization down, Media Suite Pro Edition offers turnkey appliances or virtualized nodes for enterprise content delivery network functionality.

Video as a Service
Not all customers want to manage their own video infrastructure. Those that don't will likely to turn to the cloud for a solution. As the name indicates, RealPresence Cloud gives customers an "as a service" virtual meeting room (VMR) experience.

The new service, which Polycom channel partners will offer to customers directly, is now available globally. It offers support tools and analytics for Polycom partners, and delivers a streamlined and engaging user interface. Any enterprise that wants to add VMRs to their collaboration tool kit but pay for it on a usage basis can leverage RealPresence Cloud. Each user license includes a desktop and mobile client.

While the desktop client has some importance, in my opinion, the real value lies in the mobile client. Mobile workflows work best when the back end is in the cloud, and RealPresence Cloud can make mobile video something that's easy to do and scalable. RealPresence Cloud uses WebRTC to drop the plug-in requirement, further adding to the ease of use.

The workplace-of-the-future concept has been gaining momentum, and plenty of vendors are building products to address this market. However, collaboration tools in general and video conferencing in particular have been difficult to use and are known to require technically savvy users to derive any value at all. The new RealPresence Platform products are the latest in a long line of Polycom initiatives designed to improve the usability and overall experience when it comes to enterprise collaboration.

The workplace of the future can't have tools that are too complicated, or we'll stay in the workplace of today.

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