I am sure that the title of this post will draw criticism and arguments from many in the industry, but give me a chance to explain myself.
Consider all the devices that we use today, ranging from mobile phones, tablets, laptops, PC’s, Smart TV’s and others. Each of these devices has multiple ways for us to not only hear each other but see each other with high quality video. Audio and video has become a standard function across all these devices and even an expectation. But where these devices are lacking is the ability to take this one step further by allowing us to COLLABORATE, which I define as being able to create and manipulate content with the same people we can already hear and see.
We still have some progress to make in being able to provide collaboration across all devices so that we can manipulate any content, but we have come along way in the last couple of years. We are seeing various applications and platforms that are starting to provide this capability which includes the standard audio and video, including the one I spend the majority of my time with being Skype for Business.
If we go back to 2007 and Office Communication Server 2007 R2, Microsoft finally admitted “We are the PBX”. This meant that the predecessor to Skype for Business did not require a PBX in order to provide dial tone. At this time in 2007 I was working for a Telecommunications Carrier as a Microsoft resource promoting the fact that OCS was a PBX. As you could imagine I had a target on my back everywhere I went. But over the next few months we started to see a change, not only with our customers, but with our company and even some of the die hard PBX resources in the company.
Over the next several months the changes we started to see where IT companies and specifically Microsoft Partners were moving into the voice space. This meant that the competitive landscape providing voice grew substantially. But what does this have to do with audio, video and collaboration?
In my opinion we are seeing a similar change to an industry being initiated, once again, by Microsoft. This time it is not Microsoft becoming a PBX but instead Microsoft releasing products either themselves or with other hardware vendors that promote collaboration, not just audio and video, in the boardroom.
It has been a few years since the release of the Lync Room System, now referred to as the Skype Room System. Microsoft has released their own boardroom device, the Surface Hub (see my previous post on this truly unique device) and up and coming devices being released with Logitech and Polycom under the name “Project Rigel”. All of these end points promote collaboration and are designed to accommodate almost any size of room and participant numbers. Of course all are native Skype for Business endpoints so they take full advantage of experience users have grown accustomed to so that adoption can be fairly quick and seamless. Not to mention you are not giving your IT department some unfamiliar 3rd party device they now have to support. All of these devices run Microsoft.
So similar to 2007, Microsoft is changing our industry. As a Microsoft Partner we have embraced this change. Yes, we have had to also adapt the way we work with our customers and retool for this change in our industry. But this is Information Technology so if you are not constantly adapting and learning you will just may become a dinosaur as well.