SM: When you mapped out the acquisitions, were companies like PlaceWare and WebEx on your radar?
BH: We considered it.
SM: Was it too expensive?
BH: No, we did buy one actually. We bought MeetYou. It did not resonate with our company. It did not fit our go to market, although we were technically in love with it. We thought the technology was fantastic, and we saw lots of promise with it. Our go to market did not lend itself to that type of technology. Our go to market is packaged on a server which we want to sell for you to deploy internally. That is not the go to market with the PlaceWare and WebEx. Their’s is that you go around your IT organization and you buy it in snippets.
In a way that is how the speakerphones got going. That let us keep the pricing low enough so that we did not have to go through IT. With Video Conferencing, we are smack into IT. You have the multiple sales because you have to sell to the line of business and you have to sell to the IT organization.
SM: What will happen now that Cisco has bought WebEx, and they are trying to go after this unified communication vision? Microsoft has been talking about CTI and unified communications also.
BH: We are partnered with both. At some point and time, someone will be able to do everything. Today, you say UCC to someone, and they don’t even know what it means yet. It covers so many things. We have a nice place. We built a collaboration engine which sits inside of Cisco, IBM, Alcatel, Microsoft, etc.
SM: You are trying to be Switzerland.
BH: Our customers, who use our solutions, need to be able to connect to the other solutions. We build interfaces and interoperability with other solutions. If you choose to use web collaboration from Avaya, you would have a Polycom solution which would completely integrate into that. With Microsoft, for example, we are a launch partner for OCS2007. We make phones that are used in the OCS solution. We are continuing to innovate and integrate with them to enhance that platform.
SM: In terms of competition, whom do you view as the closest?
BH: The biggest competitor is the empty conference room. The market is still early. We have sold 2M conference solutions. It is a huge marketplace, but it is very hard to get at. The undiscovered conference room and the undiscovered desktop are the two things we are competing for.