What does Lync mean for pro AV?

What does Lync mean for pro AV?
As enterprise adoption of Microsoft Lync skyrockets, so do fears that it will marginalize AV integrators and vendors. But as Tim Kridel found, Lync's rise could grow the videoconferencing market rather than commoditise it.

If Microsoft Lync seems to be everywhere these days, that’s because it is. For who haven’t noticed, the company tweeted a photo of a banner outside its headquarters: “Lync is now the fastest growing business at Microsoft with FY13 revenue exceeding $1Billion.”

Lync revenue grew 30% in FY13’s final three quarters, and that streak has a good shot at continuing. One recent reason is integration with Skype, which expands the number of people – including consumers – whom organizations can use Lync to communicate with.

“Sixty percent of enterprises 500 seats and above are deploying or planning to deploy Lync in the UK,” says Robert Pope, strategic partner and acquisition lead at Outsourcery, a UK-based company that provides Lync on a hosted basis.

Those numbers suggest that Lync is well on its way to becoming the dominant unified communications (UC) platform. In the meantime, it’s already changing how enterprises and other organisations make AV decisions.

“It’s actually driving the AV strategies of most organisations,” says Julian Phillips, Whitlock executive vice president. “If you can’t or don’t want to play in the UC space, then you’re going to have that AV strategy dictated by others.”

One Whitlock customer shows how that scenario plays out. The company wanted to extend videoconferencing beyond its existing rooms and onto desktops and mobile devices.

“They now want to have a single user interface for all of their video meetings, and they want it to be Lync,” Phillips says. “They’ve got to figure out how to integrate their existing room systems into Lync. Their whole strategy is now driven by their UC strategy, which is choose a UC platform and then figure out how to integrate AV into that rather than the other way around.”

In some cases, Lync isn’t just complementing traditional videoconferencing systems; it’s displacing them. Case in point: Whitlock, whose internal use of Lync has idled a lot of its MCUs and other traditional gear.

“Eighty to 90 percent of [our] video communications is being done on Lync and not on those legacy platforms,” Phillips says. “Nobody joins from a meeting room now. We all join from a desktop device into a Lync meeting space. We see our customers going pretty heavily in that direction, as well.”

Tim weighs up the opportunities and threats of Lync as well as the pressure it puts on AV integrators to add skills or partner to meet the needs and expectations of IT managers. To learn more from experts from Crestron, Outsourcery, Saville Audio Visual, Polycom and Electrosonic read the full article in InAVate now.

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