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Microsoft announced the new name for the next generation of its real-time communications products. Microsoft "Lync" is the new name for its Office Communications Server (OCS) product family. In this podcast, UCStrategies UC Experts Jim Burton, Marty Parker, Blair Pleasant and Art Rosenberg discuss Microsoft's announcement, the reasons for the name change, and how the name implies what is in the plans for future releases.
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Jim Burton: Welcome to UCStrategies Executive Insights. This is Jim Burton. We have a special podcast today, because there is a major announcement. Microsoft has renamed what they have historically called Office Communication Server, and more recently Communication Server. The new name is Lync. They have chosen this word for a variety of reasons. I was fortunate enough to be briefed on this several weeks ago and in that, they gave me the outline of what some of their objectives were. And they had some really important objectives. One is to shorten it quite a bit so that it was an easier thing to write and remember. They also wanted something that was one syllable, which of course when I first heard that, I thought, “that is going to be challenging,” but it looks to me like they have come up with a good term. They also wanted something that would appeal to the consumer. And when I say consumer, these are the business executives and all the enterprise staff that is traveling, at work, away from work, on vacation, who may time-to-time, want to get engaged in a conversation, with a colleague, inside the enterprise. And so having a term that would appeal to those people, so that we can “lync up” tomorrow...meaning we’re going to have a conversation through some form of what Microsoft offers for ways for people to communicate. So, it seems to me that they’ve achieved their primary objectives, and I have several colleagues who have been updated as well on Microsoft’s objectives here, and I thought I would pass it along to Blair and she can pass along her comments.
Blair Pleasant: Thanks Jim. Basically Microsoft said that they wanted a new name to get into the next generation of communications, and to embody the spirit of this new generation and this new version of the product. So the new name is the combination of link and sync and what I like about it is the ability to use the name as a verb, so sort of like it will be the Kleenex and Xerox and Google of office communications, I guess. You’ll be able to link with somebody and you know, "let’s link tomorrow," or whatever. I really like the verb aspect of it.
And Microsoft did mention that a lot of the other solutions out have already been using the term, “communicator.” So this is a way for them to differentiate their product and also be more in the minds of users...thinking about it as a verb. I do like that aspect about it a lot. Are they going to lose some brand equity they built up with OCS and Communications Server? – probably, but it's Microsoft so we know that there’s going to be a lot of marketing behind this and they will quickly build up the brand recognition.
What I don’t know yet and what I would like to see is, the proper pronunciation when they do come out with this new branding, letting people know how to pronounce it properly, because I can see there being some confusion about that. But, I think it's a great new name and it fits along with Microsoft’s strategy of being for both office use and for people who are away from the office doing their business and trying to communicate from wherever they are, whatever location they are in. And I think it's a pretty cool name. Marty what are your comments?
Marty Parker: Thanks Blair and Jim. I thought your points were really well made Blair, so I don’t want to repeat those. I think an exciting part of it is that there’s always a marketing thrust that comes with new branding. So I think it will refresh the conversation. You are right, OCS Office Communication Server has a lot of brand equity, but this will give Microsoft a chance to kind of refresh, restate, the brand value and I hope they do that and I hope they do that with some assertiveness, because from what we saw in the Gartner Magic Quadrant Report on Unified Communications here in September, Microsoft seems to be making the most progress of anyone in deploying UC solutions into the enterprise. Whether that’s what’s reputedly hundreds of millions of seats of their standard client access license—inother words, instant messaging, presence, click-to-communicate, in other words, “click-to-Lync,” I guess they will now say...through voice, web, or video, or whether it's what is reputedly or reportedly tens of millions of license seats for their enterprise client access license, which includes the whole enterprise voice communication suite—conferencing, voice, web, and video, links into – and by that I mean links plural, l-i-n-k-s...into the PBX, which I guess you’ll say is now your link to the legacy. But that link is there, and so they are going to be able to talk about a lot of this, as well as the hundreds of case studies that they have up, such as we refer to in our Case Study Library on UCStrategies.com. So, I think the refresh conversation will be good.
The idea that this has some value outside the enterprise into the consumer world...I think I have heard someone say consumer world—but I hope that the conversation is more about linking into “the community” and not the consumer. The social networking world, Blair, you’ve taught us, is so important and businesses operate in a community—a community of partners, suppliers, customers, prospects, clients, whatever you want to call them...citizens if you are part of a government agency. So, link to the community may be a really powerful opportunity, because I know that it will federate with what I understand is 300,000,000 or so users of Microsoft Live. I think they’ve got a great opportunity here to use rebranding as a great re-communication vehicle, and I am fine with Lync. I think it's a nice clear simple word.
Blair Pleasant: Marty, I really like your comment about maybe it will be called “Click-to-Lync,” instead of Click to Call or Click to Collaborate. I think that’s really going to change the terminology that we use in some ways. So, instead of differentiating between Click to Call and Click to Collaborate, it will just be linking and connecting with people, which I really like. I don’t like the differentiations that some companies are doing – you know, is it Unified Communications?...is it collaboration?...is collaboration something separate? So, I think this brings it in together that communications, collaboration, UC are all one and the same thing.
Art Rosenberg: This is Art. I agree with everything that you both said. It was something that I have been doing battle with, because how do you describe a new flexibility, if you will, in how people communicate on an individual and user level. Whether they are inside the company or outside the company, business is business, and you don’t just do business with the people inside your company, that’s for sure. So, if we have a way of communicating with anyone that you are doing business with, in a flexible way, which is not necessarily talking or exchanging information in various forms, but it could be all of the above and that’s something that is selectable and it also can be dynamically changed depending on circumstances, especially with mobility and multi-modal devices, like a smartphone, which says, “I can do anything you want – what do you want to do, now, or later, or tomorrow, or whatever? You need that flexibility and you want ease-of-use, obviously, in there. And putting a name on that is tough and using multi-modal, that’s a big mouthful that I don’t even like to say. I trip over it. But I like Lync because it's something that is short and sweet and gives you the image of getting connected. And getting connected is step one – somehow getting connected, but it doesn’t have to be real time either. But getting connected is very key to any form of communication or access to information and exchange of information. So I like it.
Jim Burton: One comment I would like to make and this gets back to that community group that we have talked about, or consumer, as was also mentioned...is we are ready to see the release of their next major milestone and what will be Lync and that’s Wave 14, which means they are now preparing for Wave 15 and I believe that this term gives us an indication of things that we can expect to see in the future. More social networking, more ability to communicate with people that may not be on exactly the same products and services you are--whether those are mobile devices or whether – and it gets back to what Art has been saying about multi-modal capability – I think there’s a very interesting insight into what we can hope to see from the next release from Microsoft, which we assume will be called Wave 15.
Art Rosenberg: Interesting. In terms of using the term community, as opposed to consumers, I agree with that. And community, at this point in time has kind of a stable image, like I belong to a community...for a long time. As opposed to a customer saying, “hey I want to buy something and I’m going to be having a relationship for maybe a few minutes or a few days as a customer and then I am gone...don’t include me in your community for crying out loud...” But it’s a step forward.
Jim Burton: Marty had some very interesting comments about that when we were having the discussion with the Microsoft folks.
Marty Parker: My sense is that a consumer is an individual with change in their pocket, that you’re trying to get out of their pocket. And as Art suggests, it may sometimes be pretty transactional...buy this now, impulse buy, advertising. Direct TV now has a market cap bigger than RIM. Why? Because they are selling on-demand gratification to consumers. And so, I think that’s a different image, not that the people don’t get value from that, that’s fine, but the idea of community goes, as Art suggests, to building a lasting relationship. And of course, the call center industry was built on that idea of a lasting, repeat relationship. And I think that’s a possibility here for Microsoft...if it's linking into a community to which people want to belong, I think that could be really effective.
Jim Burton: Well, thank you all for your input today. I look forward to hearing any comments that anyone that is listening to this podcast or reading the transcript might have to say on your thoughts about this new name and how it might fit into our overall marketplace. Thank you, everybody.
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