Sadly, I'm not in San Diego this week to hear Tony Bates' keynote coming out speech in person. (Well, happily, actually, as I'm skiing with family in Vermont — great snow today!)
But I do have context on this announcement as I've been analyzing both the consumerization brand, Skype, and the enterprise brand, Lync, for years now. When Microsoft did the Skype deal going on two years ago, I posted on Microsoft's opportunity to bring Skype values to Lync customers and deployments as it has acquired a consumerization brand, a cloud service to sell, and a chance to do B2B communications properly.
At a glance from afar, it looks as if almost two years later, Microsoft under Microsoft Skype president, Bates, has kept its eye on this prize. What I see from Vermont is that Microsoft is in fact:
- Re-humanizing business communications, a good and much-needed thing. (Okay, I like the phrase re-humanizing. It must stem from having played rock n' roll fulltime in the Police-laden "rehumanize yourself"'80s.) If people can't easily use the tools, then they won't bother. This is the essense of consumerization: people using readily available and affordable technology on their own to get work done. Microsoft appears to be understanding and focusing on the consumerization values of Skype. We'll wait to see the Lync-meets-Skype experience, but it sounds good on paper, anyway.
- Keeping Skype is still on track to overhaul mobile and consumer video communications. As a Skype customer, I continue to see improvements in the quality, capabilities, and experience of Skype. At my house, we have finally figured out that if we push the Webcam back, our video chat is more like an across-the-table conversation than a crreepy, screen-filling talking head. Skype keeps us connected to family and friends across oceans and time zones. What could be better?
- Bringing Skype + Lync together so that CIOs can serve employees with B2B and internal communications. If the new mobile apps for Lync, the new room-based video conferencing, and the B2B communications works (lots of ifs, I know and do worry about), then Microsoft will have achieved the first step in blending Lync and Skype.
The proof will be in the execution, of course, so it's a bit early for Microsoft or you Lync-loving IT shops to declare victory. But at least in this announcement and at the well-attended Lync conference, Bates and Skype + Lync appear to have finally had their coming out party. Bully for them. Let's all keep Microsoft honest by keeping the bar high for executing smartly.