Polycom – Smooth Transition Of Leadership

Affirming Polycom’s faith in Andrew (Andy) Miller’s strategy (he has been the public face of Polycom’s drive to develop an open collaborative ecosystem), the board announced today that he will replace Robert (Bob) Hagerty as CEO. Mr. Hagerty is also leaving his position as Chairman of the Board, where he will be replaced by lead outside director, David DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, who has been on Polycom’s board since 2005. Bob will be retained in an advisory role by Polycom’s Board of Directors, and will support Andy in executing his strategy, but primarily he plans to pursue a more relaxed pace of business activity following his departure.

Andy Miller joined Polycom approximately 10 months ago as executive vice president of global field operations, having been a senior executive in the industry for nearly two decades. Mr. Miller held senior roles at Monster and then IPC Systems (a communications reseller/integrator) after serving TANDBERG as CEO from 2001 to 2005. Prior to joining TANDBERG as CEO, Mr. Miller had been with Cisco Systems serving in a variety of senior marketing and sales roles. Mr. Miller has been a vocal proponent of delivering video and audio communications (not just conferencing!) in the context of the open, unified communications value chain. He is the executive I believe to have been most influential in the formation of the Polycom Open Collaboration Network, and I expect to see more from him and Polycom on that topic soon!

That’s the news, but this transition comes quite rapidly and begs the following question: “What will Andy do differently?” So, I got on the phone with Andy and asked him. In the wake of the change of watch at Polycom, I expect to see an increase in the focus on channels and open interoperability — following the continuing trend of consolidation of unified communications and conferencing, as well as collaboration, capabilities that I have written about in my reports. Andy told me that his top priorities include:

  1. Executing the 2010 strategic plan with an objective to return to 20% operating profit based on the products that came out of increased R&D expenditures in 2008 & 2009
  2. Continuing focus on Polycom Open Collaboration Network – work with partners like Avaya, HP, IBM, and Microsoft to deliver the highest functioning, lowerst TCO, open interoperable collaboration solutions in the market.
  3. Developing the breadth and depth of Polycom’s development and leadership teams.

Will Polycom take advantage of the coming market changes to re-shape the company, as well as its go-to-market plans? I believe so. While Andy would not speculate or comment on rumors, I see real opportunities for Polycom to join forces with industry heavyweights like Microsoft or IBM in refining its go-to-market plans. I expect the company will:

  1. Refine interoperability standards and certification between its products and UC solutions from partners.
  2. Ramp up efforts to recruit and certify VAR channels to install and configure solutions.
  3. Define and deliver a managed service offering to include turnkey, pay-as-you-go unified communications and collaboration solutions.

There are also opportunities to combine with a company like Glowpoint or BT to offer a full suite of video services and equipment and deliver video-communications-as-a-service — perhaps offering end-point subsidies for video conference rooms, like cellular carriers offer subsidies on smartphone handsets, in exchange for long-term contracts. Andrew is committed to investigating any organic or inorganic growth opportunities to profitably grow his business and compete in the unified communications, video conferencing, and collaboration markets.