IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Polycom's Jeff Rodman on starting small, innovation & success in Silicon Valley

By Sam Worthington
Fri 3 Mar 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Jeff Rodman is the Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at Polycom and is also considered one of the world’s leading technologists and a founding father of Silicon Valley.

He recently made a trip to Australia to discuss the power of innovation and idea creation within the age of digital transformation. 

We were lucky enough to pick his brains in between a very busy schedule to find out what it’s really like being one of the top dogs in tech and how his journey to the top started.

“As a kid, I loved playing the piano, playing with electronics, and all the darkroom stuff involved in photography - when it still depended on a real dark room and chemicals,” he explains.

“When I got into college, I knew I had to decide what to do for a living, and realised that I could support a music hobby by being a professional engineer much more easily than the other way around – I just wasn’t that good a musician.”

Rodman says that as it turned out, applying technology to sound and images became yet another passion.

“I think it adds a depth of perspective that’s often missing when people just design products to fill a hole in the product line,” he explains.

So with a passion for technology that started from a very early age, it was only natural that Rodman would make his way to the San Francisco Bay Area and kick start the wild ride that is Polycom.

“I first came to Silicon Valley from Los Angeles in 1980 with my soon-to-be-wife.  The first thing that struck me when was how much driving down the streets of San Jose was like reading data book titles on my bookshelf: Intel, AMD, National, HP, Cypress, and a lot I hadn’t yet heard of,” he explains.

“Silicon Valley felt like it was still mostly hardware then, and for most of us the internet existed only as direct point-to-point data lines and dial-up modem links – not much of an internet at all, in other words.

However much like today, the spirit of invention and innovation was very much alive in the early days – the evolution of the microprocessor is just one example of this.”

And then came Polycom.

“Its founders, Brian Hinman and I, built this really innovative videoconferencing company called PictureTel, which developed video compression concepts that are still at the root of DVD and streaming internet video today,” he explains.

“Time had passed though, and we wanted to build a company that did more: not just bringing video together, but bringing people together. We wanted to enable all the ways that people want to communicate, including voice, and video, and visual, text and so on.”

Rodman says they eventually set their priorities to create a voice product first – they thought of the goal as the “best speakerphone ever”- and with a lot of digital signal processing and innovative acoustics, they did it.

“We kept adding more products, more complete integration, more ways to let people collaborate, but we also put a lot of work into enabling other companies so the industry would grow more coherently, both through partnerships and by being really liberal about releasing our communication methods into the public domain,” he explains.

"We knew what we wanted to achieve, which was to connect people, and we did this by using technology already at hand; in a few cases, technology that was visibly approaching. We always evaluated risk and reward so we’re keeping quantum computation out of our huddle-room video systems for the time being.”

For the future tech leaders of Australian and New Zealand, Rodman says its okay to start with a big vision, but commence your journey with a small slice of it at first.

“We could have gone much bigger on day one, launching whole developments for video and graphics and networking - but we would have risked dilution. The result would have lacked focus and quality and connection to the original vision,” he explains.

“And that’s if there was any result at all – I think we would have just burned through a lot of money. Doing one thing at a time and doing it really, really well has always been key to Polycom’s best successes.

Understand your goals, and keep evaluating and refining them.  They don’t all need to be moon shots. Something simple, done really well, can be much more successful than something complex that doesn’t really serve a market.”

For organisations hoping to climb the ladder of success, digital transformation seems like it is a key element these days. However, Rodman believes the term has lost meaning along the way.

“It’s defining a major change by a single vague – or extremely broadly described - technology, and that doesn’t really teach you anything. The introduction of digital technology has been a continuing process for decades, and what matters most is not whether something is digital, but how well it does its job,” he explains.

“How it’s using whatever its technologies may be to deliver reliability, robustness, security, and to perform whatever its key features may be.”

On the topic of success, Rodman stipulates that nobody can be the best at everything, it’s all about recognising your strengths and using those to leverage strengths in others.

“I think that the Polycom and Microsoft partnership is a stellar example. We are doing is a lot of work extending what is already a pretty impressive a set of integrations with Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Skype for Business,” he says.

“One of the things we are doing is putting increasing effort into strengthening relationships with partners, and particularly, as we are moving into enabling more over the cloud. While Polycom has a cloud solution of its own; what we are starting to do is look at other cloud solutions out there,” explains Rodman.

Looking ahead to the future, the Silicon Valley local says tomorrow’s technology needs to be flexible enough to meet the demands of different work styles and collaboration requirements ranging from group brainstorming to talent acquisition and training.

“Likewise, the ability to collaborate seamlessly is expected to be an integral factor in the design of future workspaces. Expect more open meeting spaces, huddle rooms and personal workspaces; as well as home offices,” he says.   

“Empowering innovators wherever they are, and bringing them together in virtual teams that work across geographies is also a major opportunity.”

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Fortinet introduces self-learning AI in latest offering
Fortinet is introducing self-learning AI capabilities in its new network detection and response offering, FortiNDR.
Story image
Informatica, Oracle enter strategic global cloud partnership
Oracle named Informatica as a preferred partner for enterprise cloud data integration and data governance for data warehouse and lakehouse solutions on OCI. 
Story image
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
MedCart achieves close to AUD$10 million in sales with help from Marketplacer tech
Australian health and medical start-up MedCart has achieved annual sales of close to AUD$10 million in less than 12 months, utilising Marketplacer marketplace technology to help achieve successful results.
Story image
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
The paradox of change, and how to get around it
The business decision to technologically transform should not come from an IT department but from the business itself.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
MEC spending for private cellular networks to reach $5.8b
A new ABI Research report finds the revenue for Multi Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments for private cellular networks will reach USD$5.8 billion by 2030.
Story image
Consumer relationships with digital services continues to change
Two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services, new research has found.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Barracuda expands cloud-native SASE platform
"The expansion of Barracuda's cloud-native SASE platform for hybrid deployment models and IIoT environments solves a number of challenges."
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Australian space tech startup secures SpaceX support
Space Machines Company has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner in carrying SMC's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle to space next year.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Frost & Sullivan recognises Genesys as leader in new reports
Frost & Sullivan has recognised Genesys as a leader in the cloud contact centre market for its robust cloud and digital capabilities.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Microsoft previews Power Platform website design offering
Microsoft has announced the preview of Power Pages, the fifth product in its Power Platform family, designed for low-code makers and professional developers.
Story image
BYOD / Bring Your Own Device
How zero trust can lead the battle against ransomware
SecOps teams champion a zero trust strategy to support the fight against the escalating risk of cybercrime and help monitor threat actors across a network.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Harnessing digital innovations to maximise loyalty programmes and improve CX
When it comes to the retail sector, merchants have never had access to so many different client touchpoints and data to understand their customers better.
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
Customer experience
Phone, internet complaints increase for first time in five quarters
Phone and internet complaints have increased for the first time in five quarters, according to a new telco report from the Ombudsman.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
MailGuard warns of new scam targeting Telstra customers
Telstra customers in Australia are being warned of a new scam involving "Unsuccessful Payment" messages.
Story image
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Microsoft, Cloudian partnership offers data center flexibility
Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage platform is now integrated and validated to work with Microsoft SQ Server 2022, offering more flexible and scalable data centers.