HP Acquires Poly
Deal will provide HP with a full portfolio of workplace collaboration solutions
HP Inc. is acquiring Poly, a workplace collaboration solutions provider, in an all-cash deal worth $3.3 billion. The deal infuses HP’s office technology portfolio with proven workplace collaboration products including headsets, phones, video conferencing equipment, and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions.
What Is Poly?
Poly makes audio/video equipment that is used in UC&C systems, as well as device management, private video conferencing, and interoperability software. Poly also offers a range of managed and professional services for businesses that don’t want to deal with the day-to-day duties of managing their own UC&C environment or that need help designing a solution that works for their business.
The company was born just over 60 years ago after two entrepreneurial airline pilots, Courtney Graham and Keith Larkin, set out to create a lightweight, convenient, and comfortable headset for airline pilots (and later, astronauts). Over the next half-century, Plantronics, Inc., grew considerably, acquiring a few companies on their way to providing everyone from airline pilots and astronauts to office workers and gamers with communications equipment.
Then in 2018 came the big one—headset maker Plantronics purchased Polycom for $2 billion. Plantronics wanted to be the “partner of choice for the communications and collaboration ecosystem.” By folding Polycom into the mix, the newly formed company would have all the pieces and prestige that it would need to achieve its goal. The following year, Plantronics rebranded as Poly, “a technology company focused on the human experience of communications and collaboration, aiming to make communication as rich and natural as in-person.” Now, HP wants to do the same.
Poly’s Workplace Collaboration Solutions Bolster HP’s Robust Office Equipment Portfolio
Prior to the deal, HP’s workplace collaboration portfolio was thin. The company didn’t have a true workplace collaboration product—just basic peripherals like microphones, headsets, and webcams. But the HP engineers and product designers had put considerable effort into ensuring its Elite line of laptop offerings were ready for remote work and collaboration with features such as Auto Frame, Lowlight and Backlight adjustment, and AI Noise Reduction technologies to optimize visual and audible acuity on conference calls. The company also sells the Elite Slice and Presence All-in-One conferencing PCs provide audio, video, and room control technology for Zoom and Microsoft Teams Rooms. Absent from HP’s portfolio is a solution that can manage all its UC&C hardware and integrate them with the UC&C, video collaboration, contact center, and VoIP solutions.
After the Poly acquisition closes, HP will have a full line of workplace collaboration hardware and software that works with leading VoIP, unified communications and collaboration solutions, video platforms, and call center platforms, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, RingCentral, BlueJeans, GoTo, and many others. In other words, HP can step into virtually every business in the world right now and outfit them with all the headsets, phones, video conferencing equipment, as well as all the software they need to manage their entire communications and collaboration environment.
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
Hybrid and remote work are not going away. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s Future of Office Survey 2021, 94% of knowledge workers surveyed prefer to work at home at least part time. On average, respondents said they want to work three days at home and two in the office. In other words, businesses are going to need technology to keep their home- and office-bound workers connected with each other. At the same time, print in general is in decline. That means businesses that make a significant percentage of their money selling print, need to find a way to replace that lost revenue in the short term and find a new pillar to support their business in the long term.
The move helps HP do both. According to the press release announcing the acquisition, the office meeting room solutions segment is expected to triple by 2024. So, in the short term, Poly’s portfolio provides HP with a full suite of highly sought UC&C solutions that they can start selling right away. Thinking longer term, it provides HP with yet another product that will be used in the new office for decades to come, helping the manufacturer sink its teeth even further into their clients’ IT environments.
We are interested to see how this shakes out for dealers who already sell Poly. The press release notes that “HP will be able to cross-sell across its global commercial and consumer sales channels,” so HP print dealers should be able to start as soon as possible (if they haven’t gotten into UC&C business already). But what if you sell Poly UC&C solutions, but also sell against HP in the print space? Will HP implement two-tier pricing for Amplify and non-Amplify partners? Only time will tell.
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