Last week Microsoft made a big announcement: the software giant’s enterprise communications software, Microsoft Lync, is now able to connect with people using it’s newly acquired, general purpose communications software, Skype. Skype users can now connect via audio or instant message to anyone using Lync. Video and other communication methods are still in development, but coming soon.
So, what does that mean?
Tony Bates, President of the Skype division at Microsoft, explains that people are at the center of communications.
We think it’s important to re-humanize technology so that consumers, professionals and decision-makers can interact with technology how and when they want – from the living room to the boardroom.
Microsoft Lync is typically used in office, enterprise environments. 90 out of the 100 Fortune Global 100 Companies use it. Check out last months article The Legend of Lync for more details on Lync. Skype has a much broader base of users with over 300 million around the globe. They both have similar functionality, giving users the ability to communicate via IM, voice, video, file sharing, screen sharing, etc.
So now, the robust, enterprise communication software can communicate to the free, every man software. That’s what Bates means when he says “from the living room to the boardroom.” Skype is completely cross-platfrom. You can run it and communicate from any device. Your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop, Windows or Apple. Lync, of course, is destined for Microsoft platforms but there is a Lync for mac and a mobile version available as well.
Encouraging communication from business to home, or wherever you may be and on whatever device, means giving people the ability to connect fluidly to anyone else and collaborate in a more efficient way. Finding the right person at the right time shouldn’t be dependent upon the software or the platform you are using or prefer.
As companies become leaner and start to rely on outsourcing many of their internal operations, they begin to rely on innovative contractors and outside consultants more and more. Communication with these entities requires cross platform collaboration so the focus can remain on the project, not the technology in between. Internal operations need to be just as coherent. Rarely do knowledge workers encapsulate work time from “nine to five” and business ideas don’t stop because you clocked out. Reaching across communication boundaries, from work to home, gives collaborative power to everyone in an organization, 24×7.
Good technology works smoothly enough to be barely noticeable, if at all. The union of Lync and Skype is a big step towards powerful, smooth communication, the ultimate goal of unified communications.