It’s always great to dive into a new environment, and my first VoiceCon experience in Orlando was no exception. After I arrived in Orlando, and before I could even blink, the conference was renamed to reflect the rapid change in this industry, and is now ‘Enterprise Connect’.
This name change underscores the customer need for better collaboration, and the move to multi-media business communications that are available anytime and anywhere. The excitement for the next wave of unified communications was clear on the show floor, and in the discussions I had with many of you at the conference. The sentiment now is that voice is no longer an island – because voice, video, and data each have equal importance and a role to play in communication. They will soon be integrated into every part of business. On the UC team at Microsoft, we’re working to make this a reality today.
While I’m new to the UC team, I was closely involved with the group through my previous work on Office and Online services. Today, I’m immersed in communications and collaboration, leading the OCS product team as we work to introduce Microsoft Communications Server ‘14’ in the second half of 2010. It’s an exciting time to join the team, and I’m looking forward to seeing these products come to life. We’re also excited to have Eric Swift, the previous OCS marketing leader, in his new role leading SharePoint marketing, bringing UC and SharePoint even closer together.
If you caught Gurdeep Singh Pall’s VoiceCon keynote you know that we’re about to enter a time when VoIP, video conferencing, e-mail, and instant messaging will come together via a single point of entry—secure identity. With the first public demonstration of ’14’, Gurdeep demonstrated how Communications Server will usher in a new era of seamless communications, including full telephony capabilities. Partners also announced products and services that are being built to compliment our software platform, including lower-cost phones, branch office appliances, E911 solutions, and much more.
Coming from the Office team, it’s made a big impression on me to see how much interoperability with other Microsoft applications has resonated with customers, and particularly with their end users. Several people at the conference told me they thought the ability to integrate with Outlook, SharePoint Server, and Exchange Server 2010 will make ‘14’ the most exciting release to date.
For example, the interoperability with SharePoint goes beyond knowing who’s online and offline. Now, inside of SharePoint – employee photos, expertise areas and other relevant details are available with just a click. With ‘14’, we leverage these employee details so you can search for people by their areas of experience and expertise, not just by their name - and connect to collaborate with them in an instant, using Communications Server and SharePoint together.
Custom integration with SharePoint-based workflows and line of business applications demonstrates the possibilities for UC-enabled business processes. For example, during Gurdeep’s keynote, Clarity showed the audience how the company built a hosted contact center on the UC Managed API in a matter of months. We’re seeing many other customers and partners build UC into business applications, no matter what industry they are in.
Microsoft Communications Server ‘14’ delivers on a vision that grew out of the need for an open and flexible software platform broadly adopted by the industry. The adoption has been so quick, in fact, that for each of the last three years, we’ve seen double digit growth in Office Communications Server – making it one of the fastest growing servers at Microsoft.
I’m looking forward to all that’s in store for customers and partners with Communications Server ‘14’, and welcome your comments and feedback as we prepare for the next generation of communications and collaboration.
Senior Director, Office Communications
Senior Director, Office Communications
Kirk, I definitely agree that OCS 14 was one of the big stories of Voicecon...I mean, Enterprise Connect. But it's also been interesting to see how Microsoft has built all the pieces for Unified Communications, including some that other vendors have ignored: voice recognition, email, interoperable applications for IT, Sharepoint collaboration and presence. And, most importantly, understanding that voice is a necessary, but not wholly sufficient, application for converged and unified communications.
Coming from an IT bent, I've got to admit that I'm hoping to see things go even further with integrating OCS with Microsoft Dynamics and Office Business Applications. The sky is the limit!