This article excerpt, by Jon Arnold, originally appeared here: https://ubm.io/1glmfWc
The Beatlesque phrase would have made a good theme song for the recent Microsoft Lync conference, and it certainly reflects the worldview Microsoft would like enterprises to embrace. I followed the event closely, and the takeaways served to reinforce my thoughts about Lync.
Lync is quickly growing to become a leading UC platform – of that there is little debate – and whether you remain software-based or move to the cloud via Office 365, Microsoft is well positioned for where the market is heading. And although Microsoft now calls UC “universal communications,” in terms of most core unified communications applications and capabilities, Lync is a natural solution. The messaging coming from the conference reiterated this in several areas:
- Nobody straddles the business and consumer spaces better than Microsoft, at least where the desktop is involved. This matters because UC is steadily shifting away from the desk phone to where the screens are. Even though PC shipments seem poised for terminal decline, the PC is still where most work gets done, and most businesses remain standardized around Microsoft. Because its products are so ubiquitous, the integration between home and work environments is seamless. That plays well for trends related to decentralized businesses and virtual organizations.
- All the multimedia endpoints are covered. As above, with the shift in UC utility moving from desk phones to screens, Microsoft has made sure Lync works on every screen beyond the desktop. It doesn’t matter which smartphone or tablet you’re using – you get full UC functionality wherever you’re working. This is a key part of the value proposition, since UC is about supporting multimedia applications. This is in direct opposition to the voice-centric, siloed focus of an IP PBX.
- Microsoft is clearly supporting video, not voice. That’s where the messaging from both the conference and attendees was most focused. At the heart of this is Skype, which Microsoft has long struggled to leverage among its other assets. Skype has worked with Lync for audio and IM for some time, and has had some success federating Skype across businesses. The next step is to add video, and that was a key item from the conference. If this gains traction, Microsoft will have a leg up when it comes to building productivity bridges for both businesses and consumers. This could actually strengthen the company’s contact center initiatives for businesses that want to integrate video into the customer care experience.
- In case you’re wondering, Microsoft hasn’t abandoned voice; it prefers to view it in a world that doesn’t need desk phones. Skype is a bigger part of the Lync story now, and aside from the above-stated focus on video, it handles voice quite well, even in a business setting. An even bigger push in this direction will be the ability to do PSTN calls using Lync Online. This ties into Microsoft’s push to provide fully featured UC from the cloud, and represents another telephony option without the need for a phone system.
- Continuing on the cloud theme is JLync, which by all accounts is a version of WebRTC. All vendors are chasing WebRTC at top speed, even though monetization is largely missing. Microsoft has been pursuing its own WebRTC path apart from everyone else for a while, and JLync is another step in that direction. The stakes are potentially high here, since this could allow Lync users to launch Skype sessions in any browser without needing a plugin. Given all the applications that Skype now supports within Lync, plus Skype’s proprietary nature, JLync could give Lync a distinct market edge for becoming the UC platform of choice.
There’s a lot at stake here. Ultimately, the winners will be those that are properly positioned for how the tea leaves are reading. Even if PC shipments are declining, Microsoft can deliver UC anywhere your employees are. Whether they’re relying on voice or video, Lync could very well be all you need.