Fine-Tunes Its Critical
BY ROBERT J. BOWMAN
Polycom Inc. turns to a specialist in expedited logistics, to ensure rapid turnaround of defective and
spare parts in its reverse-logistics chain.
or all the communications technology in the world, there’s no
substitute for face-to-face contact.
Or so goes conventional wisdom.
Polycom Inc. is banking its fortunes on the opposite belief.
In fact, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based
maker of video “tele-presence” systems
enjoyed “a stellar year” in 2011, according
to Robert Velten, director of Polycom
Global Services for North, Central and
South America. The company saw revenue
growth of 26 percent, and solidified its market position with the acquisition of Halo,
the videoconferencing unit of Hewlett-Packard. Earnings were up 50 percent in the
Polycom can set up a teleconference
with rooms that accommodate up to 20
people, joined by a link that is instantaneous, Velten says. The company also has
an audio division which makes phones for
conference calls and equipment for communicating over the internet.
Polycom began life as an audio company in the late 1980s, venturing into video
with the acquisition of Picture Tel Corp. in
2001. The move greatly expanded its market presence, while complicating the global
With the growth in business came additional pressure to maintain high levels of
customer service in its maintenance and
repair operation. In the early 2000s, Polycom was experiencing inconsistent performance on the part of a prior logistics
service provider in North and South America. The company depends heavily on an
outsourcing partner to maintain its returns
distribution chain and ensure on-time
shipments, complete with accurate documentation.
In 2007, Polycom made a change,
selecting Pine Brook, N.J.-based Flash
Global Logistics Inc. as its new LSP and
operator of parts depots. Velten says the
company was impressed by the consis-
tency of Flash’s processes and systems at
its various locations.
Tracking the Tracker
Polycom manages the depots directly, but
leaves hands-on operations to Flash, which