Remember when you and your team spent weeks or months deploying hardware upgrades or enterprise applications like Skype Enterprise Voice? Who didn’t enjoy the countless hours spent during the days, nights, and even weekends in front of their screen or KVM? Can my sarcasm be any stronger?
The engineers out there who have done this sort of work know exactly how this feels, and many of them are currently going through much of these pains with the roll out of Skype for Business and all of it’s touch point applications. The problem with the current model is that too much simply relies on manual man-hours deploying hardware and apps, when in fact those engineers could be doing more valuable work for both their companies and their customers.
Imagine if you could get 60% of your time back when deploying Skype, Session Border Controllers or other UC solutions? What might you do with that time? I can think of a lot of things—some having to do with work. This really hit home for me as I took in all the glory that was Microsoft Ignite a last week in Chicago. Amidst the brand hype and product announcements the conversations, particularly with large Microsoft partners, was all about the time-to-deployment it would take to actually deliver on the promise of Skype for Business to their customer base.
Standing alongside the 23,000 other attendees at Ignite one thought kept crossing my mind, where is the innovation for the partners? Of course we are seeing great strides in application features and functionality across the Skype4B landscape, and yes many of the Windows 10 announcements had the floor buzzing with anticipation. We expected these types of news announcements to happen at Ignite (and kudos for Microsoft on this first ever consolidated conference), but a void was very apparent in making all of these great products easier to deploy for customers.
Not Everyone Is Office 365 Compatible
Each day we work alongside some of the largest Microsoft partners, and they have their bag full of great (and frankly some not so great) products to answer their customer’s needs. The market might have you believe that everything today is so SaaS based that it is as easy as distributing credentials to each employee, which ironically isn’t even that easy. The truth is that many large enterprises are not suited for an Office 365 environment for a variety of reasons. And, of course, these are some of the largest deployments of products like Skype4B. So, again I ask, where is the innovation in helping these partners deploy these enormous instances, save time and money for their customer, AND help ensure they don’t lock their customer into one hosting vendor in case business dictates future change, which it always does?
That is three (or four?) questions rolled into one, I understand, but I think this is an important conversation for us all to consider as we get ready this summer to execute on the new vision of Microsoft.