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By choosing a single brand identity for everything they do that’s UC, Microsoft makes it that much easier for decision-makers at the C-level and in the business units to understand their positioning.
I want to pick up on one point that Dave Michels makes in his most recent No Jitter post, and pose a question: What's the best-known brand in Unified Communications?
I've not seen anyone survey this question in exactly this way, but if someone did and then asked me to bet on the results, I'd put my money on "Lync." That's not a value judgment about whose system is best or which you should buy or which fulfills my definition of "Unified Communications," or yours, or anyone else's. It's just a question about branding.
Why would Lync inevitably rank high(est) in such a survey? Obviously, Microsoft is a major player, and Lync is the newest Big Thing in our space, so it's gotten plenty of buzz. But I think Dave puts his finger on something important: Whatever you buy from Microsoft, if it's UC, it's called Lync.
In his post, Dave positions this as, if not a negative, at least something that can lead to confusion: "It's increasingly common for an enterprise to be running Lync, but there's no way to ascertain if that means IM, voice, video, and/or conferencing," Dave writes.
From a market observer's perspective, he's right. When Microsoft cites some large number of enterprises using "Lync," they don't always go out of their way to get specific about just what those enterprises are doing with Lync. You get the distinct sense that if someone assumes all those folks are doing the full suite, up to and including Lync Voice, Microsoft won't strain themselves to correct the impression.
However, what's confusing for UC-focused people is likely good for Microsoft. Microsoft seems to have hit upon a strategy that's well suited to an emerging climate for enterprise decisions--one where C-level and business unit leaders have increasing influence over technology decisions.
By choosing a single brand identity for everything they do that's UC, Microsoft makes it that much easier for decision-makers at the C-level and in the business units to understand their positioning, and to view Microsoft as the default choice for UC.
I don't want to overstate this. It's not like these higher-level decision-makers aren't smart enough to know that the same company that makes their routers or their legacy PBX also makes next-gen UC. Nor that they want to make a quick, sparsely-informed decision at the expense of due diligence and good procurement practices. But I do think it's one of the factors that's helped Microsoft gain so much mind share so quickly.
Furthermore, I think it's where our industry is going. Hardware gets branded differently than software: Each piece of hardware gets its own brand name, but enterprise software comes in suites, and applications have names. I believe that most of the vendors in enterprise communications do get this, but as legacy players, it's a longer process for them to actually make the transition. Many are moving in that direction, which is a good start.