On May 12th 2011, Microsoft (Software Technology Giant) bought Skype (Voice-over-IP giant) for $8.5 Billion dollars. It's been the buzz recently for bloggers everywhere, but I'd like to break this down for you on how this event really could be a game changer for our business and personal lives. Yes, I do believe this will change how we do business much like how the fax machine, and then email has reshaped our business processes. Let me show you and explain the pieces that are in play...
Some of you may use Microsoft Office Communicator in your business. This required a server install locally and could be integrated with your Exchange Server. This allowed you instantly to ping/instant message your co-workers, internally on the corporate network. In 2010, Microsoft rebranded this handy tool and called it Microsoft Lync. Right now, Lync is in full production and this tool has evolved into a Unified messaging platform; with integrations to exchange (email), LiveMeeting (collaboration-video and voice), enterprise voice (VOIP), group chat, and more! Microsoft also has Lync Online (which is in Beta, and packaged with Office 365), a cloud based, hosted solution for those who don't want to have this locally installed on a server or who have employees distributed across multiple locations.
In September 2010, it was announced that Avaya, Inc. (Enterprise Telephony Giant, formerly known as Lucent and AT&T) entered into a strategic agreement with Skype. Well over 10 years ago, Avaya initiated the enterprise class integration of their top notch PBX phone systems with Microsoft products. I remember back then, when there was just talk of Voice of IP, I was amazed when I could read a transcribed voicemail in my MS Exchange email. If Avaya had this technology long ago, and now they are fully immersed with VOIP configurations, the integration of Skype would give them a clear advantage over Cisco (Their biggest competitor). So with the collaborative union of these two companies, I was expecting really great things!
The last piece is Skype. Check out this article Skype By the Numbers: It's Really Big. In this article, it's noted that "35 percent of Skype users utilize it for business purposes." wow! That's it? only 35%? I believe that strategic agreement with Avaya started to morph them from a company that was primarily used personally, to one that could be enterprise class for business. With Skype's growth, there was a need update the infrastructure in order to begin to play with the big boys in terms of quality of service. Avaya could definitely help Skype there.
What it all means
Okay, now that I've laid the pieces on the table, it's really clear to me how things will play out. The future holds Microsoft Lync not only being the premier enterprise tool for collaboration, voice and video chats, but imagine it with a Skype backbone thrown into the mix! We will be able to use it for internal corporate chats, but also for video conferencing and meetings with our customers externally, all from the comfort of our offices! It will allow Lync to easily break the barriers that confined it to internal corporate networks. Think about how we all do business these days. There's way more email than phone calls. I would even consider more texting than phone calls. It's going to be nice to have face to face conversations, the ability to read body language, instead of trying to interpret (or misinterpret) tones in emails. Yes, if we all wanted to, we could get a webcam and do video conferencing, but the integration of these tools will make it adoptable by the Corporate masses easier, as well as become a consolidated power tool for small and medium sized businesses.
June 2010 at E3 Expo in Los Angeles, CA, Microsoft's unveiled Kinect, an add-on to their popular Xbox360 gaming system. Kinect is a motion sensing device that allow you to use your body to play video games without any cords or handheld devices. This was one of the must-get-toys for Christmas 2010. The coolest thing about this device is that I was able to watch my niece and nephew open their Christmas gifts on my television via Kinect and Xbox Live. 3000 miles apart never felt so close!
So now imagine utilizing Skype instead of requiring Xbox Live. Everyone would be able to video chat and video conference though Kinect or a Kinect like device in their homes. This would really allow us to easily connect with loved ones far away, not just on special occasions, but it could be something that is used EVERY DAY.. Yes, once again, you could use a personal web cam now, but the idea of Kinect is not just person to person communication, it's living room to living room with the technical ease of turning on the TV.
Imagine Windows 7 mobile phones with Skype as a core component! Is Microsoft taking a huge leap into the mobile carrier division? There is some speculation. Maybe cell phone service might even become affordable!
Now can you see how this really may change our lives? The possibilities are endless!