Polycom CEO: Selling Today, for the Future

From the Road

When you think about Polycom, you probably conjure an image of its triangular speakerphone. But CEO Andrew Miller wants you to know about the company’s unified communications and collaboration software. Miller and I talked via Polycom’s high-definition telepresence system about the impact of business trends and the changing competitive landscape.

Customers’ Motivations Change

The reasons customers will, or won’t adopt unified communications and collaboration technology have changed over time. As recently as two years ago, customers based their investment decisions primarily on cost savings: how many hotel rooms, airplane flights and car rentals might be avoided. Technology advancements–such as the ability to run high-definition video over IP networks–has changed the value proposition. “We’ve moved away from ROI to a much more business continuity/productivity perspective,” Miller said. In addition, “the next-generation workforce that grows up on Skype or FaceTime will require visual participation versus audio.”

Hone Your Elevator Pitch

Given 30 seconds with a senior IT executive, Miller steers clear of technical details and product names: “I tell them that we’re a leader in unified communications, that we have a very differentiated, best-in-class approach in terms of how to increase productivity and drive business continuity, that this technology is a productivity tool that will not only yield results today but be a platform to grow all of the attributes of next-generation technology like mobility, like social media, with a partner you can trust for today and for tomorrow.”

Partner Strategically

Polycom differentiates itself against its largest competitor, Cisco, in part by touting how easily its software integrates with enterprise applications. It also partnered with seven vendors who compete with Cisco, in deals that, as of 2011, accounted for 23 percent of Polycom’s revenue. The benefits accrue three ways. Partners buy technology from Polycom, they include Polycom in projects they do for their customers, and they resell products under an OEM relationship.

Read the complete interview here.

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