When setting up for hybrid work, you first select a platform for collaboration and conferencing and then choose the hardware that will be used both in the conference room and by the employees who are attending remotely. At Zoomtopia this week, Poly showcased an impressive lineup of hardware for both those in the conference room and for those attending remotely.
Let’s talk about Poly and Zoomtopia this week.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams are the most common platforms I see in use in the market. I’ve long thought that with Cisco’s telephony background, all it needs to do to dominate this space is integrate WebEx with its telephone solutions. This would make moving from an audio to a video call seamless. But the company doesn’t interoperate well even with its own solutions, which has largely eliminated this advantage and significantly reduced Cisco’s total available market.
Zoom is popular because it is relatively inexpensive, very easy to operate and interoperates with a lot of different hardware. It reminds me a bit of how Microsoft became so powerful by leveraging partners and interoperability. It is somewhat ironic that Zoom appears to be doing an even better job at this than Microsoft, which allows Zoom to compete with these two much larger and more powerful companies effectively.
AI will certainly shake up this segment. Since Microsoft is the most aggressive with AI technology now, it could change this dynamic, but for now, Zoom stands out, much like Microsoft once did, by being willing to work with anyone.
A case in point is Poly which announced several compelling new products at Zoomtopia. Leading the charge was the Poly Studio Bundle with smart E70 cameras, the TC10 controller, and an integrated HP Mini Conference Room PC. This relatively easy-to-use solution sets up larger conference rooms with full camera coverage and automated camera switching. This is an effective solution when coupled with Poly sound bars for small and medium rooms. For large rooms, you might consider a far more powerful soundbar solution from Poly partner Nureva. I had a chance to try out the Nureva large-room solution, and it is impressive.
For those calling into a meeting from home, in transit, from a cubicle or in a conference room with a lot of ambient noise, the Poly Voyager Surround 85 Unified Communications Bluetooth headset stands out. With cradle charging and wireless support, this is an impressive noise cancelling headset. With 21 hours of talk time, it’ll even work on an overseas air trip without needing to charge it. And it doesn’t hurt that the headset is nice looking.
In concert with HP, Poly announced two desktop webcams, the 430 and the 435. These are relatively inexpensive HD (not 4K) headsets that look good on top of your monitor and can travel with you on the road if you don’t like your PC camera. Both have dual built-in microphones for sound and come with long USB cords.
Finally Poly and HP announced two keyboards and two mice. A lot of PCs purchased over the pandemic will now likely need a new keyboard and mouse due to the abuse these things have been getting over the last several years.
Overall, it was an impressive showing from HP, Poly and Nureva at the Zoomtopia event.
Zoom is fascinating because, as a far smaller company than either Microsoft or Cisco, it should have been competitively wiped out. Instead, it seems to be doing fine because of a tighter focus on its customers’ needs coupled with decent execution. Zoomtopia was a showcase of that execution. Partners like HP, Poly and Nureva highlight this advantage through strong interoperation and ongoing impressive improvements on usability.
We don’t really know where this remote work thing is going to end up, but as long as companies like Zoom, Poly, HP and Nureva keep stepping up with impressive hybrid work conferencing systems when it comes to meetings and collaboration, we know the end will be productive.