Wake up! Why Microsoft could be missing the opportunity of a lifetime with Lync – Part 2 of 3

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Now what is the problem with providing a Lync Room System? Obviously the benefits touted in the release blogpost are mostly true. You do save time on starting meetings, it will bring better utilization than the old conferencing systems, it does provide more screen real-estate and therefore better interaction, and meetings do get easier to manage.

[pullquote position=”right” hidden=”true”]Microsoft are taking micro-steps when they should be swinging both arms and throwing game-changers from the roof-tops.[/pullquote]

The problem isn’t that this isn’t a step forward, but that it is a very small step forward, and they need much more than a small step.

Firstly because it takes more than a small step to disrupt this market. A video-conferencing room starts at around €8000 and goes steeply upwards to around €120.000, and even though the MS partners solutions on this come in at the low end of the scale, you’d have to be in a pretty lucrative business to just throw out all that investment and replace it with yet another two screens with a camera on top.

Secondly, because most other players in this market are also introducing nice tablet remotes to make them easier to use, start meetings faster, and make meetings easier to manage. The only new things MS is bringing to the table are the Lync client, which Cisco is already doing their best to copy, and the Lync user-base. A small step is therefore nothing more than what everybody else are also doing.

Thirdly, because the video-conferencing market is overripe for disruption. Nobody in their right minds is going to pay €8000 for two flatscreen panels and an HD camera with a bit of software thrown on top any longer. Just using off-the-shelf USB hardware I’m rolling out rooms at around €200 across Carlsberg right now, and before you get too excited that these are all for Lync conferences, consider the fact that this is standard USB hardware. I could switch them to Google Voice or FaceTime in a heartbeat, so it’s not going to protect MS if a more progressive player comes along.

The net result is that Microsoft are taking micro-steps when they should be swinging both arms and throwing game-changers from the roof-tops. They have momentum to start edging out established players, but they’re not changing the world and the world is about to change on them.

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