Polycom & Plantronics – The Acquisition We Should Run to and Not From

November 25, 2019

2018 has been an interesting year for everyone in all phases of life. We’ve been dealing with climates that almost beg us to react with caution, or at the very least with some trepidation. At the largest level we’ve seen that attitude reflected on Wall Street and of course in the political arena. It’s no wonder that mentality has trickled down to our world in technology. A great example would be the recent acquisition of Polycom by Plantronics. A truly great example of how we need to go all in and leverage the incredible downstream benefits to the market, especially for those of us investing in huddle spaces.

Let’s begin with the fact that Plantronics has been setting the standard in the UC market since Neil Armstrong first strapped on his headset and transmitted his now unforgettable quote, “That’s one small step for a man…”. Plantronics has since been a pioneer in the communication market, even leading them to expand into the residential sector with some of the most advanced gaming communication solutions today.

On the other side is Polycom, who has maintained a strong position in the video conferencing endpoints and infrastructure market. Over the past several years they have been energizing their video conferencing portfolio, bringing new products to market, improving the user experience, strengthening its capabilities in video content management, and expanding its ecosystem of partnerships. On the back-end, they are taking a leadership position on back-end services and analytics services.

What Does This All Mean for IT Teams Who Pump the Breaks at the Word Acquisition?

Along with creating one of the market’s most comprehensive video conferencing tech portfolios, the marriage of Plantronics & Polycom begins with providing a powerful and integrated solution across the $39.9B UC and Collaboration market. This is fueled by innovative AV capabilities and growth opportunities through data analytics and insight services.

That’s just the headline. Now let’s dive deeper beyond the general market opportunity. This acquisition will strengthen their collective endpoint leadership position within Microsoft Ecosystems. Here’s why. Polycom is one of the leading IP desktop phone brands deployed for Microsoft ecosystems. Plantronics has shipped approximately 8 to 9 million headsets to support Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business (now Teams) environments, (The exact spaces that Polycom is competing for). This acquisition of Polycom will enable the leader in professional headsets to build a stronger overall endpoints position within the Microsoft ecosystem, with a wide array of Microsoft-qualified and -certified endpoints.

It All Comes Back to the Huddle Space

In so many ways the Huddle Space remains an enigma. Everyone does them differently, they serve different functions for different organizations, and what once was supposed to be an “inexpensive” space is now seeing greater investments. While all of this may be true, that does not minimize the vital role they play in today’s business. Just as huddle spaces are vital to business – the acquisition of Polycom to Plantronics is vital to the functionality of the huddle space. I would also argue that the acquisition will better assist organizations deploy more collaborative work spaces that support aggressive ROI models on the technology supporting these spaces.

Here is the real opportunity. Less than 5% of the 50M huddle spaces Wainhouse Research estimates are deployed around the globe are video-enabled. Even more dramatic is they have concluded that only a small minority of those are even equipped with more than a table and seating! This research shows that there are millions of spaces deployed that cannot connect a device, collaborate in a meaningful way, or communicate using video conferencing. Stated differently, business and productivity is quietly being crippled by a lack of base line in-room technology.

The market can now lean on this acquisition and benefit from Polycom’s robust video conferencing portfolio and leading integration with Microsoft. The result is stronger adoption of video in diverse meeting environments like huddle spaces, with the rapid adoption coming from the next-gen, budget friendly devices used in huddle rooms and open meeting spaces.

Plantronics / Polycom Are a Technology Force That Must be Considered

Ending where we began. We understand the knee-jerk reaction to take a “Wait & See” attitude towards companies who have been acquired. However, you must evaluate the companies taking part in the merger and evaluate it against the market. In this case, you have two leaders in VC & UC solutions that are coming together at a time when huddle spaces are gaining further traction and investments. You also have Microsoft taking more share of the collaborative work space market whereby the need for Plantronics / Polycom solutions are crucial to deployment. The combined power that is coming together thru the merger, market demand for huddle spaces and power Microsoft brings to the table makes the Plantronics and Polycom merger one of the most natural and powerful fits for virtually any organization.

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