Collaborate, Communicate and be Productive

Date:   Wednesday , February 01, 2012

Sudhakar Ramakrishna is the EVP & GM-Unified Communications Solutions and Chief Development Officer at Polycom (NASDAQ:PLCM), a leading provider of standards-based unified communications (UC) solutions for telepresence, video, and voice. He joined Polycom in 2010 and is responsible for defining and delivering best in class unified communication products and solutions and driving revenue growth and profitability.

Before Polycom, Ramakrishna was Corporate VP and GM for Wireless Broadband Access Solutions and Software Operations at Motorola where he was instrumental in scaling the 4G (WiMAX and LTE) and Software business, and led large multi-function teams of more than 2300 employees, and businesses across the globe. Previously, he held senior management roles at Stoke Networks, 3Com, U.S. Robotics and other companies.

Key trends driving the industry and the company

One of the key goals at Polycom is to make video collaboration ubiquitous. How can you make it much more pervasive, much more easy to use and cost effective so that the adoption grows dramatically? One way of doing it is to cloud enable the application and deliver it to the service providers. Cloud is going to be a major driver in the coming years and keeping this in view we have rolled out the first phase of implementation of our cloud strategy early this year — enable service providers to offer cloud-delivered, Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) solutions to its customers. Polycom® RealPresence™ Cloud is the first in this family of solutions. RealPresence Cloud solutions are designed specifically for service providers to equip them with the carrier-grade infrastructure, endpoints, and services they need to offer businesses of all sizes subscription-based solutions for video collaboration. The new offering for service providers is designed to accelerate the penetration and adoption of Polycom video collaboration solutions among SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) and enterprises who want either a hybrid solution of both premises-based video collaboration solutions and video on demand, or a pure VaaS solution.

Polycom RealPresence Cloud solutions compress the time-to-market and time-to-revenue for service providers to deliver VaaS solutions. Powered by the Polycom RealPresence Platform, a complete and interoperable solution for universal video collaboration, RealPresence Cloud provides the carrier-grade scalability, reliability, availability, and security required for service providers to offer VaaS to SMBs and enterprises. RealPresence Cloud solutions encompass a fully managed multipoint video service that supports a multitude of connectivity options between standards-based room, mobile, PC, and Web-based endpoints, as well as Microsoft Lync 2010, IBM Sametime, and endpoints supporting the non-standard TIP protocol. Service providers can leverage Polycom RealPresence Cloud solutions to offer their customers a true business-to-business VaaS solution without having to fully integrate and support the core infrastructure on-premises. This solution leverages the Polycom RealPresence Network (formerly the Halo/HVEN network acquired from HP in 2011) to allow service providers to fast-track their capability to deliver video from the cloud.

The other key driver is mobility. One of the things we have to make ubiquitous is to deliver the services and capabilities on the devices of customer’s choice and enable trends like BYOD. Thus instead of building our unique device, we are trying to enable devices like mobiles, tablets independent of the OS they run on and convert them into an enterprise application which can be used for multitude of purposes.

The final key driver is social collaboration. In Novemebr last year, we acquired a young startup Vivu, which integrates video within Social Media. We are trying to integrate this into our social collaboration initiatives for certain verticals. Today several of our client’s applications such as Tibco’s Tibcast is powered by this.

Market, Opportunities & Competition

The market for UC is growing at a frantic pace and estimated to reach $20 billion in next three years. Within the UC market its self, we are identifying new trends, one such being the ‘non-real time conferencing’. Today all the video communication happens in real time but how would it be if you could start a conversation or a meeting with your peers from where you left last time. This is an area of our interest and we are trying to deliver non-real time capabilities.

As the market for UC continues to grow, so does the competition. Yes there is a large competition but we prefer to see this as a good thing as many are betting on this space and it means we are on the right track. Our competitors play across several horizontals while we are solely focused in UC market.

Market Challenges

Despite the growing rate of the UC industry, from an adoption standpoint, the numbers are quite low. The analysts predict the current penetration of UC to be less than 10 percent. But we see this positively as this means there is a huge market opportunity for that additional penetration. The reason for these low numbers may vary from region to region. For example in India it might be the bandwidth which is the reason for low adoption by CIOs. Due to this, the experience of video conference is not great. Another is the complex nature of the solution. Hence, it makes us wonder constantly as to how we can make our solutions simple? How do we demystify the complexity of the concept?

Also when we talk to CIOs, they have addresses certain concerns as well. Their primary worries include how candid the interface will be and how is their investment be protected. As much as you want to invest in new solution, you still want your older investments to not to go waste. This is where our approach plays a huge difference. As a company we believe in playing to the standards and enable inter-operability. The fact that we do not develop proprietary solutions gives CIOs tremendous confidence in standards, operability and longetivity of their investments with us.

Fostering Innovation:

Innovation has been a core part of our business and we have always strived to infuse it in every product and solution we develop. The India R&D centre has been quiet active in this regard. In fact, the team here is currently active in exploring the opportunities in non-real time collaboration.

At Polycom, we realize that innovation cannot be forced. Hence, we are realistic when it comes to what is capable and what is not within the realms of the company. Hence, whenever an opportunity arises, we as a team readily embrace innovation from outside the organization. For example, Vivu was hot startup that had successfully managed to collaborate video with social media. This indeed was one of a kind innovative solutions and we felt it could be easily integrated with in our solution portfolio. And we are today quite proud to have Vivu as part of Polycom.

My top three priorities: In the next three to five years my priorities are:

*Realize the cloud vision - Cloud based delivery model is the way to go in the future.

*Ensure that the user experience of making a video call is as simple as that of making a phone call.

*Want to be known as the company that helps people communicate better, collaborate better and be more productive.