Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
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Michael Finneran | February 26, 2014 |


What Lync Can Learn From LinkedIn

What Lync Can Learn From LinkedIn LinkedIn understands that big companies don't communicate, people do. Lync should take that message.

LinkedIn understands that big companies don't communicate, people do. Lync should take that message.

Along with many of my colleagues, I was at the Lync Conference in Las Vegas last week. It was indeed exciting to see how far the Lync community has come. Not surprisingly, much of the enthusiasm centered on "taking it to the next level" as a real telephony solution and not just IM and presence. As a recent Lync adopter, I now find I have a deeper first-hand appreciation for the product and some definite ideas about where Microsoft has to take this thing.

As just about everyone else has gotten their posts up before me, I've had the opportunity to see what Eric Krapf, Jim Burton, Brent Kelly, and Sheila McGee-Smith had to say. First off, whether we call it "unified communications" or "universal communications" doesn't much matter to me. I never thought "unified communications" was a very descriptive name anyway, and as Brent pointed out in his post, most customers didn't seem to know what it meant either. I was very impressed with how far the UC Interoperability Forum (UCI Forum) has come with UC SDN, and Eric Krapf did a great job of summing it up. Having spent countless hours trying to set up QoS the "old fashioned way," I can see immediately how this could be a major advance for both UC and SDN.

However, my own experience with Lync has been something of an ordeal. I recently moved my email to Office 365, and you essentially get Lync as a free add-on. The trouble is, I currently have only 3 Lync contacts (one of whom, I don't even know where they came from). I am close to giving up hope on ever getting any more. I'm thinking the mindset at Microsoft is focused far too much on large enterprise deployments and missing what could be its biggest opportunity for Lync.

The thing that Microsoft needs to remember is Metcalfe's Law, coined by Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of Ethernet. Metcalfe's Law states that "the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system." Expressed another way, unlike most products whose value increases with scarcity, the value of a communications network increases with each new person you can talk to. The problem I'm finding with Lync is that it's just too difficult to find people, and if you do, you're faced with an overly contentious connection process.

Microsoft claims to have tens of millions of Lync users, and I have no reason to doubt that claim. I have about 2,000 entries in my address book, about half of which are business contacts; given the circles I run in, I'm sure a lot of those are Lync users. Why can't I see who's available to connect with through Lync? More than that, why don't they announce themselves automatically in Outlook and ask if I want to connect?

Let's look at a company that does this "networking thing" the right way. Every time I log into LinkedIn, I'm greeted with suggestions to connect with dozens, even hundreds of people I might want to add to my connections. I presume all of those suggestions come from LinkedIn's computers relentlessly combing through its database to see who's connected to whom.

All of my contacts are in Office 365, and what's more, I've gone through the trouble of linking the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles for any of them I'm connected with; it took me 3 hours one Saturday to do that. So, it's all done, and Microsoft has all of it!

In his keynote at the Lync conference, Gurdeep Singh Pall of Microsoft was talking about "analytics" as the next big step in UC. Hey Gurdeep, forget Bayesian inference, we're talking about "connecting the dots!" If you're looking for practical applications for UC analytics, try this one!

The thing is, once I'm actually connected with someone, it's great. I still can't make voice calls to the public network (why that is, I still can't understand), but the broadband voice, video connections, and screen sharing capabilities are great.

I will readily admit that I'm not a patient guy; I think this should have been done not "yesterday", but two years ago. Further, I have great faith in the ability of our technical folks to do amazing things, so long as the parties directing them provide clear objectives and priorities.

Both Lync and Skype have great capabilities, but given the way we have seen consumer apps blow past their enterprise counterparts in the mobile space. I fear Lync could become the "dull second" to Skype. You see, Skype has to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn while Lync is in a powder-puff match with similar lame offerings from the likes of Cisco and Avaya.

Lync is about "networking," and Microsoft could "smother the baby in the cradle" unless it starts looking at "networking" as something that extends beyond a single enterprise. Forget "federation" or the job of connecting one big company--that's small potatoes. Big companies don't communicate, people do.

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Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
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March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.