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

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So what is it that Microsoft should be doing? Well, before I go into that, let me start by saying that I’m perfectly aware that the team working on this are dealing with a ton of commercial, organisational, and technical constraints that I’m completely oblivious to. No input from my side should therefore be taken to imply any disrespect. I am simply stating what I, as representative of a somewhat largish customer and tasked with the responsibility of ensuring we invest our money wisely, would like to see them do.

They could just give away the LRS software, let people like me roll out our €200 meeting rooms, and stand back and watch the Lync licenses pour in while the competition goes up in smoke.

Firstly, I’d like to see them leverage the fact that video conferencing today is grossly overpriced. Sticking a Rasperry Pi in a TV-set with a camera on top doesn’t make it worth €8000. It’s the software that glue it together and their competition have based their business on bundling everything into packages. Microsoft doesn’t have to do that. They could just give away the LRS software as a stand-alone (or developer package), let people like me roll out our €200 meeting rooms, and stand back and watch the Lync licenses pour in while the competition goes up in smoke or lower their prices. It worked for Android now let it work for you.

Secondly, I’d like to see them step up their Lync Online game. Routing traffic over your own WAN or replacing your ISDN/PBX with a Lync Server is probably a hot item with many “traditionalist” customers, but why cater to them when you can change the game? Offer ISDN gateways, distributed local break-outs, and everything else needed to replace WAN traffic and PBX’s via a service instead, and they’ll have pulled the carpet under Ciscos incessant “we have the routers, only we can guarantee the quality” sales pitch.

My respectfully anonymized manager and me (with my back turned) playing around with the Kinect retail system. Everything we touch on the shelves is recognized by a Kinect in the ceiling and sent onto the monitor in the foreground. You can see the item I'm currently touching and a heatmap of where we've walked around.

My respectfully anonymized manager and me (with my back turned) playing around with the Kinect retail system. Everything we touch on the shelves is recognized by a Kinect in the ceiling and sent onto the monitor in the foreground. You can see the item I’m currently touching and a heatmap of where we’ve walked around.

Finally, I’d like to see them thinking outside the box. In the retail space Kinects have already proven that they can pinpoint exactly where you hold your hand when placed in the ceiling. Why not use this to pinpoint where I’m holding my finger on a whiteboard? Why not use this, with the projector that’s already in most meeting rooms, to create a two-way interactive whiteboard? Why not also show me where the guy in the remote room is pointing on the whiteboard or the presentation? Isnt’ this what you’re already showing in your future vision?

It may be that Anton Krantz and the other guys in the Lync team are way ahead of me on this. Maybe they’ve already developed it and are holding it back for a reason; maybe they’ve decided not to do it due to factors I’m unaware of; and maybe they’re just better at their job than I am, because let’s face it it: It’s their job and not mine.

The only thing I can say is that, as an enterprise customer with at least 500 meeting rooms spread across the world and in full swing with deploying Lync Online to every user, the LRS, as it stands today, is not something we are going to invest in anytime soon.

It’s too much like everything else  in a market, where changes require huge investments. So although Microsoft may very well win in the end, their strategy so far could make them miss the opportunity of a lifetime: To define new rules, carve out a greenfield market of their own, and set a new standard for enterprise video-conferencing.

Update:

Just had a chat with one of the guys in the Lync developer team, and apparently they’re already working on at least two of the above suggestions, so good on ya! Can’t wait to try it out! 🙂