Mike Gotta of Burton Group has posted an interview he has recently done with Xuedong Huang, Microsoft’s General manager of Microsoft Response Point
On March 19, 2007, Microsoft announced Response Point, a VoIP phone system aimed at the small business market. From a technology perspective, the system is designed for simplicity from both a user and management perspective. The user experience relies heavily on a speech-enabled interaction model with little learning curve – verbal reserved words control system capabilities (e.g., voice mail, call transfer). An integrated PC interface supports additional management functions such as configuring Response Point for directing calls to role-based groups (e.g., a sales or marketing department extension). The PC-based user interface also creates an effective way for users and administrators to manage phone behavior. Users for instance can define settings through their PC rather than learning complex phone commands and navigation sequences.
The system integrates with Office Outlook and Exchange Server as well as Windows Live VoIP services. Response Point relies on OEM partnerships (e.g., D-Link, Quanta, Uniden) to deliver the solution to the small business market. While Response Point shares some “DNA” with Office Communications Server, each product is targeted at different audiences.
The technology around Response Point illustrates the breadth of Microsoft’s efforts in the Unified Communications market. However, what I found most intriguing about the solution has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with the manner in which Microsoft created, developed and launched Response Point. Rather than follow a traditional product research and development cycle within an established business unit, Microsoft incubated the Response Point team within Microsoft Research. The group was structured as a self-contained team. In essence, Response Point became a company-within-a-company. This type of organizational model I felt was quite innovative. Below are several questions I submitted to Microsoft with responses from Xuedong Huang, General Manager, Response Point: