HP’s $3.3 billion acquisition of Poly (formerly Plantronics and Polycom), a $1.7 billion global provider of videoconferencing and audio peripheral solutions, is a bold move, as it looks to capitalise on audio visual (AV) and IT convergence in the hybrid workplace. Although Poly has a long and strong history within the AV market, it has started to lose a degree of traction as more user-friendly systems such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have come to the fore.
In its official announcement, HP stated that the acquisition supports the acceleration of its strategy to create a more growth-oriented portfolio. The company also underlined the industry opportunity it sees in hybrid work solutions and indicated that this area is important for generating long-term sustainable growth and value.
HP expects to achieve $500 million in revenue synergies by fiscal year 2025. It also anticipates growth in Poly’s revenue by an approximately 15% compound annual growth rate over the first three years after the closing of the acquisition, “driven by scale efficiencies across supply chain, manufacturing and overhead.” The company expects to realise substantial revenue synergies in peripherals, as well as meeting room and workforce solutions. It plans to cross-sell across its global commercial and consumer sales channels, while driving incremental sales from combining Poly’s products with its own PC portfolio.
To add to the momentum behind the announcement, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has spoken about the benefits of bringing HP and Poly’s offering together and the “new opportunities to partner with Zoom to turn any space into a hub for dynamic video collaboration.”
However, this is not HP’s first foray into video collaboration. In 2005, prior to the company split into HPE and HP Inc., it launched Halo, a fully managed telepresence platform. Halo offered an immersive virtual meeting experience through offerings such as the HP Halo Collaboration Studio. However, the hefty price tag and the emergence of more cost-effective cloud video collaboration platforms limited adoption. Ironically, in June 2011, HP sold its Halo division to Polycom.
More recently, in October 2021, HP launched HP Presence to expand its reach into meeting rooms. The portfolio includes meeting space bundles, PCs, 4K cameras, audio and video bars, and microphones, as well as room controllers.
With video collaboration now more pervasive across the hybrid workplace, and demand for higher quality audio increasing, this acquisition enables HP to capitalise on the following key trends:
1. AV and IT convergence
The AV market has evolved significantly from stand-alone equipment to become more closely integrated into the IT ecosystem. The IT department is increasingly responsible for managing a broad array of AV technology, such as displays, interactive whiteboards, cameras, and audio equipment that runs over IP-based networks. This requires broader AV expertise from the traditional IT reseller channel. The acquisition offers expanded opportunities to both the Poly and HP channel to compete more effectively in the market for hybrid workplace technology.
2. Shifting workplace dynamics
With hybrid work and remote working here to stay, organisations must create an engaging and productive work environment for both remote and office workers. An effective hybrid strategy is key to attracting and retaining talent, enabling increased productivity and collaboration equity regardless of where employees are located. HP’s expanded virtual collaboration portfolio can help level the playing field between remote and office workers with high-quality audio and video and collaboration devices.
3. The meeting room metaverse
Organisations are rethinking the use of meeting rooms for more engaging collaboration and expect innovative solutions that support flexible meeting spaces. Think huddle rooms, video walls, and smart cameras. HP points to the low penetration of video solutions into meeting rooms – today just 10% of an estimated 90 million meeting rooms worldwide are currently video-enabled. HP predicts that the sector will triple in just two years as more meeting rooms are furnished with fully interactive video technology. With immersive meeting technology set to shape the future office metaverse, it will be interesting to see if HP revives the Halo platform and makes it more accessible for the average organisation. Meanwhile, HP already has AR and VR technology that can further extend its immersive meeting collaboration portfolio.
As established industry players strive to innovate in their traditionally mature markets, acquisitions such as HP and Poly are likely to proliferate. The evolution of the workplace and higher expectations for sophisticated collaboration technology will likely see other established firms investing in companies that broaden their technology portfolio.
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