It sucks to be Anoop. The room is probably set up for 400 and there are probably no more than 50 people here, despite the fact that it’s 15 minutes late starting.
The talk is titled "Real-Time Internet and the Future of the Information Work". The theme of the talk is about productivity and the information work. He begins with a "Near Future Video".
Scenario: Key presenter at a seminar in DC is stranded in Chicago. Using presence, tablet PC’s, and smartphones, the office follows him. He’s able to be productive in his hotel room with a combination of video, application sharing, and video conferencing.
It’s a slick, and very polished video, tying a number of themes together. Anoop’s point that VoIP is larger than just replicating PSTN features on IP comes through loud and clear.
Microsoft’s Unified Communications Vision is about people centric communications. At the center of his vision are people, roles and identity. The onion skin around people, roles and identity is the layer that adds intelligence: context, policy, presence, and relationship. He talks about selectively managing presence based on relationship and context. The next layer is the different modalities of communication: calendar, data, web conferencing, voice, video, IM, SMS, and email. He ties applications into this three layer platform. Communications is a component in the business platform. One application he describes is an "information agent" built on this platform.
Finally he talks about a series of characteristics for sucess: making them work across devices, networks, home and work, trustworthiness, and so on.
Anoop thinks this vision is closer than a lot of us think. It’s not five or ten years away, he contends. He shows outlook with integrated presence, the teamspace portal with presence. He also shows how you can launch conference calls, and other kinds of calls from within Microsoft Communicator, and Microsoft Outlook. Presence becomes richer with information from the directory: currently busy, free at 9:30 AM.
It’s a funny presentation. The first part is a vast vision, which seems completely unrealizable. Speaking as a business person, my take was that smaller, nimbler players would come along and slice out small pieces of that vision and realize them. With Voice 2.0 and loosely coupled Web 2.0 services, this vision could be realized as an ecosystem of cooperating partners working together, rather than a monolithic vision delivered from Microsoft. The second part is intended to show progress toward that vision, but it’s a hodge-podge of tiny steps — dial by name rather than number, presence integrated with Outlook. It doesn’t give the impression that Microsoft is making concrete steps toward the vision articulated in the first part.
He summarizes with the pillars of the vision:
People-centric, presence-based communications.
Connected modalities with simple, intuitive user expereience.
Contextual availabilty providing integration with applications and business processes.
Universal availability across devices, networks, and home/work/mobile.
Breathrough total cost of ownership and security, leveraging existing enterprise infrastructure.
Rich platform and parnter ecosystem.
He talks about doing this in a partner-centric fashion, but it feels like the only partners that Microsoft is interested in are hardware partners. I see little room for software partners.
How does this fit / collide with IMS? When will it really start to roll-out?
UPDATE: Comments from Rich Tehrani are posted here.