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S4B: A Promise Unfulfilled or Simply Delayed, Again?

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 11:45
Skype for Business S4B Ignite

Skype for Business (S4B) Announcement at Microsoft Ignite

There was big news at the recent Microsoft Ignite event, their annual partner conference which took place in Atlanta at the end of September. In the William Blair note covering the event, there was a “major reshaping” of the leadership for Skype for Business (S4B). Gone are CVP of Skype Gurdeep Singh Pall and CVP of Skype Business Services Zig Sarafin. Additionally, the EVP of Applications and Services Group, Qi Lu, is stepping down as well.

The long-term implications for Microsoft’s Skype for Business platform remain to be seen, but one could easily see a near term where the disruption in leadership will delay the continued, and critically needed, evolution of the platform.

S4B Delays a Sign of Shortcomings?

As it exists today, S4B simply cannot meet the full range of complex communications needs of today’s enterprise.

Delays are something that enterprise CIOs have come to expect when it comes to advancements in capabilities delivered by S4B. The tantalizing prospect of collapsing significant amounts of infrastructure into the already existing desktop environment, replacing a telecommunications technology stack with already-licensed applications are too valuable to ignore.

The reality so far, however, has been quite different, with numerous delays in the capabilities roadmap. As it exists today, S4B simply cannot meet the full range of complex communications needs of today’s enterprise. 


Will S4B Be Too Late to the UC Market?

With unified communications evolving rapidly and providing real value, today, firms simply cannot afford to wait before deploying these capabilities at scale. S4B does offer important capabilities today, but as a component of, not as a replacement for, a fully featured UC solution. Integrating a broader solution set with S4B Server can yield real benefits where telephony, if provided at all, is an adjunct to a more capable system. 

As Microsoft initiates this pivot towards artificial intelligence, a great many exciting possibilities come to mind. How might that technology impact workflows in general, and enterprise communications in particular? It will certainly be fun to watch. But in the here and now, there is simply too much at stake to delay implementation of powerful UC solutions while the world waits for Microsoft to sort out this latest shakeup. Today’s solutions are simply too good, offering too much value, to warrant further delay in hopes of what amounts to vaporware – even when it’s very exciting and very nicely packaged.

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