Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
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Zeus Kerravala | January 14, 2016 |


Polycom Aligns RealPresence With the Digital Era

Polycom Aligns RealPresence With the Digital Era Unveils RealPresence Clariti, cloud-first collaboration infrastructure software that features flexible pricing model and deployment options

Unveils RealPresence Clariti, cloud-first collaboration infrastructure software that features flexible pricing model and deployment options

Over the past couple of years, Polycom, like many of UC vendors, has pivoted its product strategy to be in alignment with the "workplace of the future." Digitization is at the heart of that future workplace, as businesses of all sizes look to harness the power of digital information to move with speed.

Make no mistake: Digitization brings Darwinism to the business world. Competitive advantage no longer means having the best product or the most resources. Rather, it means the ability to adapt to market changes faster than peers.

Polycom has designed its RealPresence platform with this in mind. It allows users to connect with one another quickly, from anywhere and on any device. Now workers can collaborate with the people they need to, both inside and outside the company, over a variety of mediums to make decisions at digital speeds.

However, while Polycom has done a great job of aligning its product strategy with the digital era, the same hasn't been true of its pricing and consumption model.

As is the case in much of the UC industry, infrastructure deployment typically requires understanding a complicated web of different products resulting in high upfront costs. Also, one of the challenges the UC industry has had is in calculating return on investment (ROI) for technology deployment. Once a business deploys the technology it can then build new processes. UC becomes a technology they can't live without, but building the ROI story is difficult to do without having that knowledge beforehand. Consequently, "sticker shock" combined with murky ROI has been one of the largest inhibitors to UC deployments, including for Polycom.

This week at the home of the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Polycom is holding its reseller event, TEAM Polycom. It's "walking the digital line," as Cash himself might have said, with its announcement of RealPresence Clariti, collaboration infrastructure software aimed at dramatically simplifying the selling, purchasing, and implementation of RealPresence.

Typically, to deploy a Polycom video solution, customers would need to purchase a number of discrete components, including audio/video bridging, call control, integration tools, and other items, and then pay for everything upfront. No matter how powerful a solution is, it's hard to ask a customer to pony up hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for a technology project.

The cloud-ready Clariti software comes with a simplified licensing model that includes subscription and "perpetual" pricing. The software bundles include all the infrastructure required to deploy a Polycom solution, which makes it easier for resellers to bid and customers to buy the solutions. Customers have multiple options for deploying Clariti as well -- on premises, via hosted infrastructure as a service, or in hybrid deployments.

One particularly interesting and unique feature is something the company is calling "cloud burst." With this capability, if a customer needs more capacity, it can just burst to the Polycom cloud. When deploying infrastructure, customers typically must choose between the lesser of two evils -- buy for peak utilization and have the system sit idle most of the time or buy for normal operations and have performance degrade during peak times. Now customers can buy what they need today, and then burst when required.

With Clariti in place the process to quote and buy has been simplified down to the following three steps:

  1. Determine the number of users. Clariti uses a per concurrent user-pricing model through which an organization can add more licenses at any time.
  2. Choose the appropriate license model -- either CapEx or OpEx.
  3. Select the best deployment option -- on premises, basic implementation, or advanced. The advanced option includes features such as analytics, remote management, and API/SDK support.

I talked to a number of Polycom channel partners at the event, and I can bucket their opinions into three general groups. The first group is on board with Clariti and looking forward to getting started with it. Those in this group tend to be systems integrators or partners with existing software/cloud businesses.

The second group is interested but concerned that Clariti has the potential to make deal sizes smaller for the same amount of sales effort. I believe this audience is thinking about Clariti incorrectly. The idea isn't to cut the partner revenues (or Polycom's). Rather, it's about using Clariti's low initial price point to bring UC into accounts where they previously haven't had access. They can also use Clariti to open doors with new buyers, such as line-of-business managers.

The last group has a surprisingly large amount of fear in changing to a recurring sales model as it completely changes sales compensation and the way the reseller interacts with the customer. I understand the fear with this kind of change, but the industry is moving toward pay-per-use pricing so partners can either embrace the change and lead it or go the way of voice reseller.

I think the Clariti launch is a strong step forward for Polycom. Last year the company spent launching a number of new products. In 2016, it must focus on sales execution to monetize the new products and simplifying the pricing model will be a big step in doing that. Clariti shows that Polycom is looking past just building a great product and aligning the purchasing and consumption of its products with the digital era.

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