I am often asked this question, and there are numerous answers and reasons as to why I believe this. To illustrate, let’s start with a simple exercise. Load up Google, and enter these two search phrases:
What is Microsoft Lync?
What is Skype?
What explanation do you get?
Basically, the same explanation if you ask a random number of IT professionals. The typical keyword answers will be:
- Unified Communications
- Productivity Experience
- Instant Messaging
- Video (webcam)
- Messaging (IM)
So, which do you find easier to relate to? While both are essentially nonsense words, Skype is far better known than Lync due to its massive global user community for PC-based calling. The enterprise world cannot compete against that critical mass in terms of sheer numbers, but even within the business world, Lync is not a household name. Pretty much everyone knows – and uses – Microsoft, but not Lync. Not only is mindshare relatively low, but the name has only been in use a few years.
The simple name change is a clever tactic from Microsoft which I believe will open new opportunities and widen conversations. If you view Unified Communications as a key enabler for driving employee productivity, then SFB may well prove more effective than sticking with Lync. The language cited above for Lync is well understood in the enterprise world, but for UC to be effective, employees need to embrace it. Not everyone is tech-savvy, and to achieve mainstream adoption, the everyday language associated with Skype will resonate more with end users. Those keywords describe what people need to do to be productive, and they couldn’t care less about how it works.
Furthermore, on a technical level, SFB brings elements to Lync that will make UC adoption easier. Key examples include simplified consumer-friendly interfaces, tighter and easier integration between Skype and Lync’s UC features, adoption of standards-based protocols such as H.264 and H.265, and a move towards standards-based integration utilizing VIS.
All told, I believe there is exciting upside around the name change, and as the SFB moniker takes hold, there will be great successes ahead for Microsoft in 2015 and beyond.