Avaya, Polycom push video

Amir Hameed and Jack Shemavon have been the tag team for converged communications applications for the past few weeks.

Hameed, director of applications sales at Avaya Canada, and Shemavon, vice-president of Polycom Canada, have been performing in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, trying to convince information technology managers that unified communications products from their partnership are right for businesses.

Their presentation is just the start of an onslaught of marketing IT personnel will see this year pushing them to buy into video as a solution to business problems.

The pair repeated the pitch to Toronto technology reporters just after the presentation there.

“There’s a war for talent out there,” Hameed said in explaining that buying latest telephony technology will help keep valued employees from wandering across the street to competitors.

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Shemanvon said “geopolitical unrest” in unspecified countries that limits business travel is another reason to value videoconferencing, in addition to just saving money.

Avaya and Polycom have big stakes in this battle, the shape of which is being drawn by the big guns in the war, Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

Video will be big this year for many reasons, according to IDC Canada communications analyst Tony Olvet. With many wireline telecom services reaching maturity, video offerings are one of the remaining areas they can expand into. Potential uses range from desktop video to video surveillance.

IDC estimates one-third of Canadian businesses use video surveillance, while one-quarter have at least some staffers using desktop Web cams.

Avaya is known for its IP PBX systems and handsets, while Polycom, largely known for speakerphones and audio conferencing technology, is broadening out into video conferencing video displays.

Although not exclusive partners, they consider each a prime partner in unified communications. Polycom has placed its codex on Avaya’s handsets and smartphones.

That means, Hameed said, that Avaya’s Communications Manager can be configured to recognize a caller and immediately open a video screen if both parties have Web cams.

“Video is just as easy as a phone call,” he said. Similarly, he said Communications Manager can sense Polycom’s new High Definition displays.

“The focus of the partnership is to allow Avaya customers to integrate video into their day to day technology to do their business,” said Shemavon in an interview.