Future of Communications: Rehumanizing the Experience from the Living Room to the Boardroom

The following is a post from Tony Bates, President, Skype Division at Microsoft.

I’m excited to be in San Diego today giving the inaugural Lync Conference keynote address. We have a sold out show with our growing community of customers, partners and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). Key industry influencers from the analyst and press communities have joined us as well.

From the living room to the boardroom: Our vision for the future of communications
I am excited to outline our vision for the future of communications in my keynote today. It’s about re-humanizing communications “from the living room to the boardroom.” People are at the center of this vision. All day, every day, we are all simultaneously consumers and professionals, friends, family and colleagues – and our communications technologies need to move between these dimensions as seamlessly as we do.

Today people adapt to the requirements of technology. Multiple devices, applications and networks each have their own rules and identities and require that we conform to them. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Our vision puts people first by focusing on these core fundamentals:

  • People-centric design. Creating a common user experience that’s simple, convenient and natural.
  • Access and reach. Breaking down the barriers that separate one channel from another to allow people to communicate how and when they want.
  • Endpoint device choice. Designing services that fit the devices people choose and how they use them.
  • Security, reliability, services. Taking care of reliability and security so people can focus on conversations and content.

Lync 2013 momentum
Today we are also celebrating the momentum we have on Lync in the enterprise. Specifically:

  • Enterprise voice growth. We now have 5 million seats of enterprise voice deployed, up from 3 million just 14 months ago.
  • Large customers. 90 out of the Fortune 100 companies are Lync customers.  We have been honored by the adoption of Lync and I encourage you to check out the new customer references we have for Lync 2013 available as of today.
  • Partners are betting on Lync. Our partner ecosystem continues to grow. We now have 1000 partners that have chosen to bet their business on a software-centric solution for communication. This means that, since launching Lync 2010, every business day a new partner is choosing to become a Lync partner.

Showing our commitment
We are announcing 3 product enhancements that will accelerate this momentum:

  • Lync and Skype connectivity. We’re proud to announce Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, IM and voice will be available to all Lync users by June. This move will begin to enable what we call B2X. B2X places the focus of business communication on enabling human interactions. B2X puts people first and looks at communications in a unified way, not as disparate technology silos focused on one task or protocol. 
  • Lync Room System. Customer research showed most businesses were not getting the best experience from collaboration-enabled conference rooms. For example, it can take almost 15 minutes to start a meeting with video and content. Time is money and to make organizations more productive, today we are unveiling Lync Room System. Lync Room System makes it easy to share any content on your computer as naturally as you share video—and it is all automatically configured so you can start your meetings without technical difficulties. At today’s conference, Crestron, Lifesize, Polycom, and SMART announced their intent to bring Lync Room System products to market to meet the growing need for collaboration-enabled conference rooms.
  • Mobile app availability. Lync 2013 mobile apps for Windows Phone 8 and iOS will be available in early March, with Android coming roughly a month later. We’ve added VoIP and video over IP to all of the apps, and added the ability for iPad users to view shared desktop and application content in a Lync meeting. We’ve built these apps with real users’ needs in mind—and have even designed in features that preserve mobile battery life.

Microsoft is also committing to additional product delivery in the next 18 months:

  • Lync online/server updates. Lync Online updates will be delivered quarterly to enable rapid customer adoption, and we will release a new Lync server version in Q2 of 2014.
  • Enterprise voice in the cloud. Add enterprise voice support to Lync Online/Office 365.
  • Lync meetings. Add structured meeting support to Lync Online and the next version of Lync Server enabling remaining Live Meeting customers to fully transition to Lync.
  • Video connectivity and interoperability. Make rich video more pervasive and accessible by adding video to Skype + Lync connectivity and native interoperability between Lync and 3rd party VTCs.

“From the living room to the boardroom” is not just a tagline for us—it is our guiding principle. As consumers, professionals and decision-makers for our organizations, we need to put people back at the center of communications. Together, we’re excited to embark on this journey!