When I first saw the title of this session, I thought this was going to be a short and easy write up. But then I had chat with Albert up front, and realized this could quite possibly be one of the most difficult blog posts I had to do this week.
Although the question "Is voice in the cloud for you" seems simple, this is a really hard question to answer. And the answer to this will vary from customer to customer, and might even vary from department to department and region to region within a company. And that is what this session was really about.
A brief look at the journey
To understand where Microsoft is headed with voice in the cloud and if this is right for you, you also need to know where it all began and what the journey has been so far. Albert gave a "brief" walkthrough of that history, and where that leaves us with the different options we have today. Through that journey, things change and evolve. Even the way we work and collaborate changes. Teams is the natural result of the evolution so far, but it is far from finished. Expect the evolution to speed up and bring more features in future. The only constant is change.
Looking at voice delivered from Microsoft, there are really three basic alternatives: Your own on-premises deployment, a solution based upon SFBO or the new and coming options of using Teams. One of the first steps in answering the question, it is important to know what the different models can offer in terms of functionality.
Importance of personas
Another important thing to have in mind, is what kind of "personas" the company has. Most companies have different groups within their company, with different needs. Some might be on the road all the time, others may be using the phone no more than a couple of times during the day. And then, there may be those who work in a call center scenario, answering or placing calls constantly. They might have requirements like intelligent call routing, efficient call handling or post call operations to think of, including integrations with customer databases or ticketing systems. Microsoft has identified 8 major categories.
Where to go and what to do
Going for one of the voice options mentioned in this session can be more than enough for one group, but not such a good choice for other groups. This is why it is so important to sit down with partners and UC experts to discover the true needs for your organization and the options available. During this phase, it is important to have in mind what the overall cloud strategy the customer has, and what the end goal is. And to remember the cloud is evolving really fast, and things that might not work today, will work in the cloud tomorrow. So you do not want to make a decision which will block your choices down the road. Luckily for us, an on-premises solution can be switched to a hybrid solution, and a hybrid solution can be turned into a pure cloud deployment over time. And the hybrid version is here to stay, and protect your existing investments until the cloud is ready for you.
Don't pull the big switch
One of the key takeaways from this session is this: Don't pull the big switch and feel you have to move all users at once. Identify users who's requirements are covered by Teams, and move those. There will be interoperability, so even if you have users on different platforms, they will still be able to communicate with each other. All users can still have Teams, and those who still use SFBO for voice, should participate in Teams to enjoy all the other features. The switch from SFBO to Teams will not seem so big, if the users are already used to the interface and application. Start small, move the users over time.
The future is happening now
Now, Let's discuss the real transformation this week's announcements really means in terms of functionality in the cloud. As the voice load is now being moved away from an "isolated" platform such as SFBO, and onto a pure cloud infrastructure, it really opens up a wide range of capabilities. And I do not think we are really aware, or capable to understand where this can take us. We were shown in Lauri's keynote, the concept of how the meeting lifecycle was divided into "before", "during" and "after". And I found the things shown in the "after" phase very interesting. A playback of the meeting, with a transcript in your own language (9 languages live right now), and the capability to search for words used in the conversation and to jump straight into that part of the meeting.
Let your minds and thoughts run wild for just a second, and grasp the implications of how meetings and personal calls in the future may really change the way we work and communicate. The question should not be "Is voice in the cloud right for you?", but rather "Can you afford not to move voice to the cloud, once the features available are ready for you?"
"Intelligent Communications is really happening now, right in front of our eyes."
A recording of this session can be found in the techcommunity: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Ignite-Content-2017/Is-Voice-in-the-cloud-right-for...
If you want to hear more from me, you can find my personal blog at http://uc.lawedo.net, or follow me on twitter for more unformal updates @lawedo
And please engage in the community. Now question is to short nor to long. We are all here to help eachother, and not just for Ignite. The techcommunity is the place to ask questions and have them answered. It's also the place where you can contribute with your own experience and answers.
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