Monday, August 9, 2010
Unified Excellence: Rodman's view of the Polycom-Microsoft alliance
Microsoft has been an interesting duck for a long time. They’re popular by many measures: they’re big, they’re found on the majority of corporate computers, their stuff is fully featured and functional, and they make a wide variety of software tools that function with, and on, devices and platforms from just about any vendor out there.
That last point evolves into an interesting challenge with Microsoft’s continuing move into Unified Communications, initially via OCS and now with the next step of Communications Server Wave 14. By moving deeper into UC and the mainstream of live human communications, this extension has positioned them in a place where they’re now measured by a whole new set of metrics. Real-time human communications are different from traditional text-based channels because there is an inherent philosophical shift: ideas are no longer funneled through the time-insensitive construct of "text", but are swapped back and forth in real time, through our voices and our vision; we're chatterboxes, our expectations become the same as we have when we're together in person, and those expectations are high. But further, they require different techniques, different measurements, and a lot of very specific expertise to do the job well.
If you're a company that begins raising your presence in a new part of the market as Microsoft is doing, it's not a bad idea to identify and partner with the strongest expertise and track record in that market.
In announcing a new strategic alliance with Polycom (see Information Week, http://bit.ly/9M8nPM), Microsoft revealed exactly that strategy today. Polycom and Microsoft have extended their strategic relationship, and have committed to a substantial dedication of resources and investments to make Polycom’s highly regarded video and voice solutions an integral part of the comprehensive Microsoft end-to-end UC solution set. That’s a big deal; both Polycom and Microsoft are known for being selective about the partners they choose, and this collaboration holds high promise for transforming how people communicate. I’ll be writing more in the next few days to describe a fuller picture of how and why this partnership is so compelling, but it's a classic synergy play: two market leaders, each in their own field; each is positioned to maximize the strengths of the other, and everybody benefits.