The world is changing. Business used to be straightforward – you create or produce something, then you market and sell it. There was always some level of ownership involved; and there’s always been some level of local infrastructure in play. But, today, when you look at some of the most successful businesses in the world, they don’t own or produce their own products.
- Facebook is the biggest repository in the world, yet it doesn’t create any of it.
- Alibaba is the world’s biggest retailer, yet it doesn’t manufacture anything it sells.
- Uber is quickly becoming the most successful car service, yet it doesn’t own a single cab or limo.
- Airbnb doesn’t own any of the residences it rents out.
These are merely globally recognized brands that have one thing in common: They exemplify what is driving Microsoft’s strategy, according to Satyen Trivedy, Productivity Specialist at Microsoft – the cloud is the workplace of the future.
“We are officially in a mobile-first, cloud-first world,” he said at a recent Skype for Business/Office 365 tutorial. “Microsoft realizes this and is building its future around it.”
As we have watched technology evolve, the focus has always been on the devices and the physical servers that run applications in the data center. Everyone worked the same way, used the same devices, and did it in the same offices. Today, that is quickly fading away, and the new workplace is being built around personalization and user identities, unique digital lives, network- and location-agnostic service availability, and cloud operating systems. If this seems a lot like your personal life, it should.
Apple and Android have shown us that consumers don’t follow business, rather, it’s the other way around. So, when many pondered the sanity of the Lync to Skype rebrand, they were overlooking the fact that everything really revolves around the consumerization of IT today. Knowing that, turning Lync into Skype for Business made all the sense in the world.
It’s a recognized brand and interface, which is now being paired with traditional enterprise credibility built up over the years by Microsoft. The result will be a continuation of the blurring of work and personal communications and identities, in the sense that they will look more and more alike, and we will be able to do anything, communicate via any device, across any medium, whenever we want.
Location won’t be an issue. Device won’t be an issue. Network won’t be an issue. Perhaps most importantly, the experience won’t be an issue with Microsoft’s goal of delivering an entirely consistent communications experience across all use cases, leveraging the cloud and contextual intelligence.
“It’s about delivering universal communications,” said Trivedy, noting that, by 2017, any features available in an on-premises Lync deployment today will also be available in the cloud via Skype for Business. “You will be able to reach nearly everyone on Skype with full federation between Skype and Skype for Business, and it will be a full multiplatform system that will allow anyone to join a meeting on any device.”
That includes integration with the Office 365 suite, as well as the increasingly popular browser-to-browser option, via WebRTC, which will likely be a major topic at next month’s Ignite conference in Chicago.
But, when you consider the idea of universal communications, the adoption of Skype as not only the brand, but also the look and feel of the platform present a compelling opportunity. After all, currently, 38 percent of international calls traverse the Skype network; there are 350 million independent Skype users, and though there is an investment, ROI can be reached in just 14 months.
“Microsoft has already changed,” concludes Trivedy. “The world is now changing with it.”
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Edited by Dominick Sorrentino