UC Summit Preview – the Channel Opportunity with Lync
The 2013 UC Summit is around the corner, and it’s a good time talk things up. First, a bit about the event and then I’ll move on to the topic at hand, Lync. I’ve been part of the UCStrategies group for a while now, and last year was my first UC Summit, held in a very Zen-like setting in La Jolla, CA. It goes without saying that the wine was very good, but more important was the concentration of time and focus on UC among a pretty smart group of people from across the space. I should add that it’s an invitation-only event catering mainly to the channel community, but it’s not too late to be considered. The process is pretty simple – here’s the application form which will be quickly reviewed by UCStrategies, and if you’re in, we can compare notes at the Summit.
Whether you’re there or not, I’ll be speaking at a breakout session about a topic you’ll likely be interested in. I’m co-presenting with fellow Torontonian and UCStrategies Expert Kevin Kieller, and we’re doing the opening breakout on Sunday, April 28th at 2pm. Our talk is titled “The Elephant in the Room: Lync,” and the focus will be on monetization opportunities for channels. I’ll share some thoughts in advance here, hoping to pique your interest in joining us, and giving you a good reason to get there right at the beginning.
So, you can choose to think of Lync as the quiet elephant you don’t want to agitate, or as a white elephant that nobody ends up using. To be fair, Microsoft has had its share of hits and misses, but so far, I’m not seeing a white elephant with Lync. Similarly, Microsoft has certainly been agitated more than once, and they’re pretty good at defending their territory. Say what you want about this being the post-PC era, but Microsoft has no peer when it comes to dominating a space they pretty much invented for this amount of time. This is all the more impressive when compared against the post-PBX world, where the incumbent vendors - who pretty much invented that space – now have a pretty shaky grip on a market this is under far more siege than software. In that regard, I think Microsoft is in a pretty good spot.
That brings us to Lync, which truly tries to bridge both worlds. Previous incarnations of Lync – namely OCS – were not voice-centric and had limited ability to interwork with IP phones. Similarly, the predecessor to the IP PBX – the PBX – was totally telecom-centric and had no tie-in to data networks or software platforms. Now, all the telecom vendors are morphing into UC providers, and it’s really no surprise that Lync is offering a similar comprehensive solution by going the other way to include voice as a native application.
Of course, there’s much more to it than that, but given Microsoft’s continued dominance on the desktop, virtually all UC solutions need to integrate with them one way or another. Lync gives businesses the option to go all-in with Microsoft, and potentially dispense with the phone system altogether. This makes for some interesting balance-of-power dynamics between telecom vendors and Microsoft, and that’s creating a lot of tension for channel partners. Ultimately, it comes down to what the end customers want, and while Lync can be more cost effective, the track record isn’t there yet to say if it should displace the incumbent telecom vendors, with whom channels have long made a good living.
I hope that sets the stage for our session, which I’ll kick off by talking about what Lync is and is not. My focus as an analyst will be to talk about Lync in the broader context of what businesses need along with what factors need to be considered when weighing Lync against other options. Being a consultant, Kevin will provide a more hands-on analysis about specific opportunities and strategies channels can use to make money with Lync. Aside from his front lines expertise, I think you’ll find the counterpoint between Kevin’s consultant perspective and my analyst focus a nice balance that channels don’t often hear at the same time.
Lots to talk about, and if you can’t join us, there will be tweeting - #UCSummit – and I’ll blog as time allows. Of course, we’re just the opening session, so there will be almost three full days of sessions and keynotes covering the full UC gamut. As I learned last year, being there is time well spent, and otherwise, we’ll be posting updates here on the portal both during and after the summit.