Microsoft's Enterprise Voice offering continues to grow at a rapid rate, with the company's intentions very clear to enable voice communications for all of their users. The recent announcement of the E5 licensing (to be discussed in an up-coming post) provides a clear path for organizations to migrate from their existing PBX, to a hybrid solution and, eventually, to a full-blown Microsoft deployment.
Enterprise voice provides the ability to place phone calls over the public telephone network. So instead of just calling a colleague down the hall or a colleague in another building using what we would call voice over IP (VoIP), you now have the ability to dial a standard number, whether it's a cell phone or whether it's a customer landline. Thanks to a combination of familiarity, ease of use, and compelling features, we're witnessing growth in the double digits.
At last count, Microsoft had well over 100 million Lync / Skype for Business users. About 10 to 12 percent of those users are now leveraging the capabilities of Enterprise Voice. Microsoft has done a very good job of owning the desktop, there is a lot of familiarity with it. To have users who are already comfortable with using Skype for Business for internal voice and video calls, make the jump to Enterprise Voice is relatively straight forward. Particularly if they are already familiar with the Skype software. Users also appreciate having a single solution that allows them to call coworkers, family, and friends.
The growth in Enterprise Voice's popularity is shifting the balance of power away from other vendors towards Microsoft. Power is also shifting within organizations themselves. Where an organization would traditionally have a voice team, responsible for real-time communications, and a server team, responsible for Microsoft technologies, these lines are becoming blurred as Skype for Business truly opens up the world of Universal Communications
As a result, we are seeing an increase in organizations choosing to outsource workloads to System Integrator's (SI's). Traditional SI's are now deploying and managing the IM, presence, and video features. SI's are observing that their customers want these features taken care of for them so that everything just works. Since it's not the core focus of their business, they would rather leave it up to the SI and let them act more like a service provider. As we continue to work with some of the largest SI's in the world, focused on Skype for Business, we're seeing them build out their service provider capabilities so organizations are able to leave their UC to the specialists and focus on their core competencies.
The ease of use in Enterprise Voice has caught many people by surprise. When organizations do a small pilot on Skype, all of a sudden it grows like wildfire. IT departments likely hadn't planned for such rapid growth. As a result, it makes sense strategically for them to turn their workload over to SI's. Then, all they have to worry about is how their users interact with the system instead of also having to manage the back-end. It's causing a pretty big shift that wasn't accounted for six to twelve months ago.
SI's are now rapidly developing a service offering around Skype for Business. Six months to a year ago, their focus was on deployment and letting the organization's IT department worry about management. With this change, service providers now have a new recurring revenue stream from ongoing management. Of course, it does take some time for them to catch up to demand and build out those capabilities.
We've been fortunate enough to help businesses that are in that exact situation, using Prognosis to assist with the real-time analytics to provide real-time insight and visibility. When they do roll out these capabilities, they can deliver Skype for Business to their customers with five nines of availability.
I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on whether Enterprise Voice is, or will be, right for your organization and how you might deploy and manage it.