SM: Yes, i remember, even in the 2001 timeframe the Polycom equipment was not that great. The pictures were horrible often.
BH: If you run it on IP, it runs pretty darn good. However, 90% of the installations were on ISDN at that time. The technology shift to IP changes it all. Plus, we have now said High Definition is the way to go, so the signals are much better.
We got to this point because of Voice over IP. We claim some pioneering in this. We have the arrows in our back from the early days. As people have developed their network to run voice real time over their network and now that it is there they can now just throw on the video. They do not have to learn how do to QOS on a network.
There was a learning curve, and I think in 2001 people had the academic training to understand it, but the frustrations of actually making it happen were significant. We used to see intermittent problems because one router was not configured right and would throw the whole thing off. People now know how to get these systems running. It is really amazing. It is an instant connection. Now.
SM: What is going to happen with this convergence device movement, which the iPhone is kind of driving?
BH: I think the converged devices are going to be great.
SM: You are on the board of Palm 🙂
BH: I am on the board of Palm. I think there are a couple of things happening in the converged devices. I think the phone, the telephony is a must. The value added is the applications you can put on it; whether it is a fixed device, a wireless devices, a mobile device, a dual mode device or a Wi-Lan device, it will be the applications which will make the difference. What we are seeing is a real trend towards applications. We are starting to build out our ecosystem around application providers. We want an ecosystem of applications which will run on our architecture.
If you are in a school district and you have a Polycom phone, there is an application which will allow you to do attendance through that system. If there is an emergency, you can have the alert go through the system and can drive the alert to the phone. It replaces a fire alarm for every type of emergency. You can log attendance; see who has called in to say what students will not be there. It is incredibly productive.
SM: Can you talk a bit about how you are developing this ecosystem?
BH: We have two programs. One is the VIP Program which is basically our interoperability initiative. When you work with a call manager like Broadsoft or Interactive Intelligence, we really test our protocols so every software release we do or they do have a full interoperability test. Interoperability is number one when working in an ecosystem, because that drives customer assurance.
The second program is the Arena Partner program. Arena Partners are folks who bring applications to the device. They use the device in a broader application context. We don’t make scopes that allow examining inside of the human ear. However, we work with a company who does, so they can allow remote or distance medicine programs.