Poly takes-off in SA

Read time 4min 30sec
Stanton Naidoo, territory account manager for Poly South Africa.
Stanton Naidoo, territory account manager for Poly South Africa.

Unified communications company Poly has officially launched in South Africa. Poly is the result of the recent merger between US companies Plantronics and Polycom.

Last year, New York Stock Exchange-listed Plantronics acquired Polycom for $2 billion, and last month, the companies rebranded to become Poly. This week, the company officially launched locally with the first event in its launch roadshow in Johannesburg yesterday, followed by events in Durban and Cape Town today and tomorrow.

"Plantronics acquired Polycom almost a year ago and we are in the final stages of integration. [The rebrand as Poly] was not taken lightly, as you can imagine taking two companies with turnover of more than $2 billion and completely rebranding is not an easy task," said Dan Engel, Poly senior regional sales manager for Turkey, Israel, Southern Africa and Greece, who joined the Johannesburg launch from Israel via the company's video conferencing solution.

Founded in 1961 by two pilots, Plantronics' first products were lightweight headsets for airline pilots. It later became known for selling headsets to NASA, including the one that broadcast astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement during his first moonwalk in 1969.

Polycom develops video, voice and content collaboration and communication technology and was founded in 1990 in the US.

Poly, which comes from the ancient Greek word for 'many', leverages the audio and video expertise of both Plantronics and Polycom. Poly's headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are now used worldwide.

"Technology is in our blood and we are investing a huge amount in research and development (R&D) to continue to lead the technology development in this space. This is our number one mission. We will continue to invest in growth and will expand our partner ecosystem.

"We are also looking to increase our total addressable market within the segments where we are playing, joining these two companies together which were not competing, but are complementing one another, it opens up a great opportunity for all of those in the channel business and also for the end-user," Engel added.

"I think for the organisation it's the coming together of a lot of different portfolios and the coming together of many technology solutions and a lot more innovation in the end-user space, which is something which is for me personally the right approach for the day-and-age we live in," Stanton Naidoo, territory account manager for Poly South Africa, told ITWeb about the merger.

"The merger is complete in the sense that we are all under one umbrella, but the R&D component will take a bit of time to merge everything under one portfolio, but the process has already started and we see that with some of the products that are already out. I think the most important component would be the management hub, where voice and video headsets are managed under one portfolio that would deliver a unique offering to our local market."

Nielle Truter, COO of Headset Solutions.
Nielle Truter, COO of Headset Solutions.

Channel changes

Naidoo said the merger means a more comprehensive portfolio for local distributors, channel partners and end-users.

"In terms of the changes for the channel, they now have a more optimised portfolio to bring to customers; there are a lot of incentives available for them to get benefits. From a management perspective, utilising the technology that Plantronics has, it has a complete management solution end-to-end from end-point devices right down to headsets and installed rooms, which makes IT management provisioning of software a lot easier."

Headset Solutions was previously the sole SA distributor of Plantronics headsets and will now be a distributor for the combined Poly portfolio.

"For us it's a big step, it's a much bigger portfolio for us. We used to do the headset side only and now we have the audio conferencing and the video as well. It's also a better solution so we can now offer customers solutions instead of just hardware, and I think that is what customers want," said Nielle Truter, COO of Headset Solutions.

"We have about 780 channel partners in South Africa and then we have another 500 channel partners across Africa and they mainly service end-users. But we have an end-user sales team, so we go and promote the product at the end-user and drive the business back for the channel partner and in that way we make sure, because we are specialised, that the customer gets the correct solution to solve its problems," he said.

Truter believes the merger is a positive for the channel in South Africa.

"For the channel partners it will equate to more revenue per customer and it's an easier sale because of the collaboration between the products," added Truter.

Poly has two other distributors locally: Westcon-Comstor and Kathea Communication Solutions.

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