According to Gartner, by 2017 25% of organizations will lose their market position due to "digital business incompetence,” and by 2020, 75% of businesses will be considered a digital business or will be preparing to become one. How does this impact employee recruitment and engagement? What do organizations need to do today to prepare for the workplace of the future? These predications and questions are top of mind in the C-Suite and will be the focus of the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit May 18-20 in Orlando, Florida.


HB Communications and Polycom have teamed up for this event and will showcase several solutions perfectly suited for the modern workplace. We sat TedThompson.jpgdown with Ted Thompson, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at HB Communication, to discuss workplace trends and the upcoming Gartner Digital Workplace Summit event.


Tell us about HB Communications and your role within the organization.

Ted: HB Communications delivers unified audio visual experiences that enhance the way customers communicate and conduct business.  With more than  $120 Million in 2014 sales and more than 400 employees, HB is one the largest AV Integrators in the United States and a well-regarded leader in providing innovative solutions for collaboration.  Our specializations span audio visual, video collaboration, unified communications, digital media and broadcast solutions, global managed services, and live event services.  HB supports its customers across the U.S. and in over 30 countries worldwide.  As the CTO of HB Communications, I am responsible for presales and systems engineering for HB’s video collaboration and unified communications business. I meet with HB customers on a regular basis to discuss strategy, workflow, technology, solution design and how HB can help.


The role of technology in the modern workplace is evolving, what is the impact to your customers?
When I meet with customers we usually start out by discussing business drivers, how they work today and who can benefit from collaboration technology within their organization. That discussion eventually shifts to platform, existing investment, technology and ultimately the measure of success. Many times our customer is the IT department and it’s their job to invest in the right technology and solutions. This is why it’s so important to focus on business drivers at the onset. In order to be successful, technology in the modern workplace needs to be easy to use, transparent and workflow oriented in order to address total business needs.


How is HB Communications evolving to address the needs of the modern workplace? Can you share some examples?
HB is building more expertise and core competencies around Microsoft Skype for Business. Many of our enterprise customers are using or planning to implement Skype for Business. This is precisely where workflow comes into play. As our customers evolve around Microsoft workflows, HB is well suited with Polycom to provide solutions that fit that need. Polycom® RealConnect™ and Polycom® CX5100 are great examples of solutions designed to maintain Microsoft workflow.


How will HB Communications and Polycom’s partnership address this shift in the workplace?
The workplace is evolving around business leaders, knowledge workers and their teams. They work in new office workspaces, at home, on the road, WPOTFC.jpgwith customers, patients, partners, manufacturers and more.  Collaboration tools are available regardless of workspace or device and the experience is essential for meaningful communications. Using these tools needs to be simple—to the point that technology becomes transparent and communicating over video becomes second nature.


Polycom creates solutions focused on experience, simplicity and ease of use with deep integration into UC platforms like Skype for Business. HB has the best customers in the world and it’s our job to make them aware of these solutions, show them how they can take advantage and implement with simplicity and experience in mind. We need to help customers drive adoption in order to help them achieve their ultimate goals, whether it’s in business, healthcare, education or government applications.


Can you provide some examples of HB Communications and Polycom working together to reduce productivity impediments in the workplace and improve experiences for knowledge workers (i.e. customers)?
No two customers are the same and everyone is at different points in their journey. We talk about this in terms of a collaboration maturity model. Are they a video-first company, or moving toward that model? Are there standards that help drive greater adoption? Is Microsoft Skype for Business in their roadmap? How are they enabling their mobile workforce and knowledge workers? Who are the champions for better collaboration within their organization? This is where Polycom excels, and together with HB, we can impact the way organizations communicate and collaborate. 

Two great customer examples include a CSO at a global reinsurance company and a Dean of Classroom technology at one of the largest hospital systems in the U.S. who both believe collaboration is essential to each organization. Both customers are going through large acquisitions where HB and Polycom solutions are playing a key role to bring new colleagues, business leaders, doctors, teachers and medical staff together. 


Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2015 will take place May 17-19; could you give us a snapshot of what you’ll be demonstrating at the event? What can attendees expect to see?
At Garter Digital Workplace Summit we’ll be demonstrating solutions that focus on Microsoft Skype for Business workflows, streaming media and video content on demand in the HB Communications Learning Lab. We will also demonstrate:

  • Polycom CX8000 for Skype for Business + endpoints
  • Polycom Group Series endpoints and Polycom Eagle Eye Producer
  • Polycom RealPresence Platform and Polycom RealConnect working with Skype for Business.
  • Polycom RealPresence Capture Server and Video Content Management


What are your expectations/ predictions for the show? What do you think is top of mind for attendees?
Attendees will be looking for:

  • How to leverage technology to enable new workflows.
  • Learning about new collaborative workspace design
  • Mobility solutions and how employees can take advantage to enhance productivity and communicate more effectively both inside and outside of their organization

Microsoft rolled out Skype for Business in April while customers were still in the midst of Lync 2013 deployments. I think attendees will be interested in making sure they’re investing in technology that works seamlessly with these solutions. I’m focused on measuring the success and ROI on these deployments to help justify the expense. We’re challenged as integrators and manufacturers to help customers in this regard.


Ted Thompson, Chief Technology Officer - HB Communications Inc

Ted has been with HB since 2001 and has more than 20 years of experience managing information technology at the enterprise level.  Before coming to HB, Ted  was Director of IT for CNET Networks and Ziff Davis Publishing (eWeek, PC Magazine, ZDNet) in Cambridge, MA. In addition to go-to-market and IT strategy at HB, Ted manages pre-sales and systems engineering teams for video collaboration and unified communications.


Additional Resources:
If you're in Orlando for Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, visit  the HB Communications Learning Lab.
Follow us @hbcomm or @Polycom on Twitter and the search the hashtag ##GartnerDWS.


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The on-demand webcast about Polycom's new breakthrough solutions is available for replay. Watch it now.

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