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Malaysia's MYREN ramps up e-learning with Polycom solution

AvantiKumar | Oct. 8, 2012
Polycom's telepresence and conferencing solution has also speeded up decision-making and increased productivity, says Malaysian research network MYREN.


Lynne Whitfield,  Polycom Asia Pacific 

Photo - Lynette Whitfield, Director, Education Industry Solutions & Market Development, Polycom Asia Pacific.


Why do you think MYREN chose your solution?

MYREN deployed Polycom's RealPresence solutions at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and in outposts across Malaysia for various reasons. In particular, they needed to enhance collaboration among its educational network within Asia and extend e-learning programmes, while at the same time improving network performance and lowering latency. The technology is currently being used by members to facilitate e-learning, develop and extend programmes for its 88 stakeholders, as well as hold project discussions with the UNESCO office in Jakarta.

Polycom's interoperable features ensure that MYREN has in place a well-coordinated communication structure both within the organisation and among its members. Our solutions provide ample support and better technology, protecting IT investments and aiding in more productive output.

Fundamentally, the benefits gleaned include more effective collaboration, an improvement in response time-to-fault resolution by about 50 percent, and a significant increase in productivity as a result of on-the-job training for technicians. In addition, MYREN has also previously estimated that cost savings generated by the use of the technology could reach 60 percent of what would have otherwise been spent on travel. Besides cost savings, the technology will also result in greater efficiency and productivity as participants are not required to travel all the way to a physical venue for a meeting.  Instead, they can simply meet via high quality video right in the comfort of wherever they are.

All of the top five universities worldwide, as well as hundreds of schools and colleges are using Polycom to improve all facets of education - from teaching to course development to admin meetings. Such results essentially boil down to three core reasons:   

1. Commitment to open standards-based interoperability
A key advantage of Polycom's offerings, this provides organisations the freedom to choose best-of-breed solutions for various purposes and platforms, with the assurance that they will interoperate seamlessly within normal workflows, as well as deliver the essential system scalability, reliability, security and life-like experiences.

We have essentially adopted a two-pronged approach to achieve this: 
i. Deliver the most comprehensive, open standards-based software infrastructure for universal video collaboration via our RealPresence platform.
ii. Orchestrate interoperability across our global partner ecosystem through open standards and native integrations.

2. Global Partner Ecosystem
We work with unified communication (UC) providers that organisations know and trust - such as HP, IBM, and Microsoft - to ensure interoperability with the most popular business tools and common UC environments. Polycom partners with these industry leaders to natively integrate the RealPresence Platform within businesses' existing UC deployments. Together, we make it easy for people to communicate face-to-face with the applications and devices they have grown accustomed to using every day. 

3. Enterprise-level security and carrier-grade scalability
We can support up to 25,000 sessions and 75,000 devices in a single video event, while at the same time utilising minimal bandwidth to keep costs low - this is five times more than our closest competitor.

How does the Malaysian education sector's adoption of collaboration tools differ from other countries?

Polycom creates a lot of solutions for the education sector, primarily around content sharing and live lectures. The trend we are seeing today at a global level is that students are not attending lectures at physical classrooms as often as a decade ago. With the emergence of solutions that record lectures, archive them, and of course stream live learning - all delivered in secure HD format - the opportunity to learn is no longer geographically limited to where the teachers or students are based.

Although many Malaysian universities continue to rely heavily on face-to-face courses, there has been an increasing uptake of Internet technologies including e-mail, online chats and video conferencing. With high-speed Internet connection and broadband becoming more widely available across the country, a switch to the wider use of Web-based multimedia and Web 2.0 learning approaches is expected. These trends are further boosted by the Malaysian government's Vision 2020 initiative, which pushes for sustained, productivity-driven growth.

Tele-education provides real-time, interactive communication that is able to bridge the gap between students and education providers based in different parts of the world. So not only does this result in both time and cost savings, it also serves as a useful communication tool that can effectively bring about quality education even in rural areas. The concept is certainly taking off in Asia, in light of the continent's cultural reverence for education as well as the advancements in technology and Internet access. Pakistan, for instance, has demonstrated keen interests in having courses from the Indian Institutes of Technology streamed live across its universities via video conferencing facilities, enabling access to quality lectures and students.

Could you detail some of the challenges that Polycom helped MYREN overcome in the rollout?

Polycom's solutions were initially implemented as part of MYREN's technical network upgrade, to support data-intensive applications and information exchange among its members. Moving from a software-based solution that was provided internally, technicians at MYREN made use of the telepresence systems to carry out maintenance and troubleshooting remotely, enabling rapid response in any situation. Nevertheless, the system has since evolved into a tool for e-learning programmes, primarily facilitating closer collaboration among the participants as they participate in consultations and course discussions in real time.

Polycom's solutions were also used to stream courses by the Institute of Thailand and UNESCO. MYREN serves as a host to live lectures conducted by University Malaya and Kyushu University in Japan regularly - as members increasingly discover the capabilities and benefits brought about by video conferencing, the initial e-learning programme has since been extended to a tele-education initiative.

What other issues do you feel MYREN will need help with in the coming year (from the collaboration technology perspective)?

Improved efficiency within the network has allowed MYREN to extend education outside the walls of the classrooms and involve more members' participation. As such, following the success of the deployment, MYREN plans to incorporate distance learning partnership programmes as part of its long-term strategy, by essentially leveraging on the network to add more lectures and consultations. On top of executing this, we will also be assisting the institute with its plans to implement more projects to improve communications worldwide, thereby turning the capabilities of a collaborative network to reality.

What are Polycom plans for Malaysia and the region in the coming year or so?

In the coming year, Polycom plans to further penetrate Malaysia with the expansion of our Choice Partner Program in the country. With more than 7,000 alliance and channel partners worldwide, it demonstrates Polycom's commitment to cultivating the industry's most comprehensive, productive, innovative and cooperative partner channel.

The education sector remains a key priority for us in our bid to accelerate the adoption of video collaboration in the region. This has been prominently demonstrated in one of our partner initiatives, which specifically focuses on this vertical, called Coined Collaborations Around the Planet (CAPSpace), the programme involves building a large-scale global directory and professional network of educators for video conferencing project collaboration.

On a regional level, one of the most meaningful and exciting projects we have in the pipeline is the International Space-Time Concerto Competition, which Polycom will be supporting in collaboration with the University of Newcastle. The education-related project essentially seeks to showcase contemporary musical interpretations encompassing the latest digital technology.

On top of that, Polycom will also be showcasing our latest solutions at the SingTel i.luminate event in Singapore this November. The regional event essentially brings together leading industry partners to examine the forces that are shaping the market, discuss implications and showcase real-world ICT innovations.

Our latest achievement was recently announced in India, where Frost & Sullivan reported that Polycom led the country's video conferencing systems and infrastructure market in 2011 with 50.2 percent market share. Over in China, CCW Research also announced in July that Polycom held the majority market share for video collaboration in the country, with 51.4 percent market share.

In the region, Polycom was also recently named by Frost & Sullivan as the Enterprise Video Vendor of the Year in Asia Pacific for the third consecutive year. We had a record growth year in 2011, marking consistent and sustained periods of growth in the region for the past couple of years. This can be attributed to the significant rise in interest in the region on tighter integration of enterprise video solutions with larger organisational communications infrastructure, as well as the need for better interoperability, both of which Polycom has delivered on.

Forrester Research also recently ranked us top for video conferencing 'strategy' and 'current offerings'. In the new report on video collaboration solutions, Polycom received perfect scores in the categories of quality of experience, interoperability, product roadmap, partnerships and security and compliance.


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