Having attended analyst events by Cisco and Polycom in the past month I'd like to share my key takeaways from the announcements for the companies' positions in the videoconferencing and collaboration software markets.
CEO Andy Miller called October 8 the "most important day in Polycom history" when the company made a wave of announcements on products it will release over the next six months:
Cloud AXIS, a browser-based videoconferencing service promises to simplify connectivity. Videoconferencing in a browser window without the need for any downloads will help promote adoption. It could also make other enterprise videoconferencing initiatives — B2B, desktop-to-room connectivity, and BYOD — easier to achieve. We can see the promise of browser-based connectivity in BlueJeans' introduction of the technology, where it already accounts for 25% of endpoints on calls using the service.
SVC and multi-stream videoconferencing architecture lower the cost per port. Room-based videoconferencing vendors are under growing pressure to provide alternative deployment options to the expensive transcoding MCU. By supporting the SVC codec as well as interoperability with mainstream AVC, Polycom can offer the best of both worlds. Also, Polycom is using the same flavor of SVC as Microsoft in Lync 2013, maintaining the synergy of a Polycom + Microsoft strategy.
Like many others in the New York region, I am writing this in a cold, mostly power-less house, without landline telephone or Internet connections. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of a neighbor with a generator, we have an extension cord that is powering the refrigerator and one light, plus charging of various iPhones, iPads, and PCs. With a gas range for cooking and intact house, we are basically engaged in high-class camping, with both the pleasures and discomforts that entails.
Right now, my only electronic connection to the outside world is through my iPhone, which did provide email through the storm, though cell voice service went missing for 36 hours after Sandy hit. I am writing this on my laptop, which doesn’t have Internet access, because I refuse to write an article like this on the keypad of an iPhone. (Yes, I know, I should have bought the iPad with 3G, but do I really need to spend $600 just for that?) Once I get this written, I will head to the nearby Starbucks and use their Wi-Fi to post this blog.
What this experience has reinforced for me are four lessons:
For some reason public safety has been a hot topic for me of late. I recently presented at ZTE’s Public Safety Summit in Dubai, where there was an audience of public safety officials and telecommunications ministry representatives from the Middle East and Africa. One element of the presentation that sparked interest and audience questions was citizen engagement.
We often think of public safety in terms of emergency services – police, fire, and ambulance; and, for many people, public safety first conjures up images of the police chasing bad guys – likely the effect of too many TV shows like Cops or Southland. But as I defined it in a previous blog, public safety covers a broad range of issues that touch a city’s inhabitants: crime prevention, traffic control, health services, public infrastructure management, and any of a list of emergency services including those for natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding or incidents like urban wildlife sightings as well as fire or riots.
In order to better act as the eyes and ears of the city – particularly given the mandate of doing more with less – many public safety organizations are returning to a kind of community policing – through better engagement with citizens. This isn’t a new concept.