Working at Microsoft is really interesting in that I often see my work being used throughout the world. It was nice seeing the press about the Unified Communications launch, knowing that I helped participate. Executives here like to mention that we are changing the world and affecting people's daily lives - but the truth is I don't see this very often.
Sure, Office Communications Server is a ground breaking product. We are not just changing communications from POTS to VOIP, we are changing the way you communicate. It is the integration with Office and the APIs we provide that set us apart from competitors like Cisco. However, let's be realistic here. I have yet to hear reports of something whose life has improved due to enhanced presence.
Recently though, I have had the honor of being part of a project that did improve others' lives. Sure, I played only a small part but I hope I still had an impact. This was through helping one of our TAP program customers - 4PatientCare. For those of you unfamiliar with our TAP program, many MS products choose specific customers who have interesting product scenarios and partner with them. The partner receives direct access to the product team and receives early drops of the product. By the time the product ships, the partner has a fully functioning application running on top of our product. For Microsoft, this provides important feedback and helps validate the utility of the product.
Anyways, in short, 4PatientCare created a remote monitoring application that regularly calls at risk patients. If you are interested in more details I suggest you contact them directly, but the important result of the application is that people who would have ordinarily not called a doctor due to unusual symptoms now get the treatment they need. The application calls these patients at specific times and asks them a series of questions. Based on the answers to the questions, the system may transfer the patient to a nurse.
I will not reproduce the statistics here (because I do not remember them), but the numbers are staggering. The simple fact is, thanks to this system, there will be people who are still alive who otherwise would not be. This impacts not only these individuals, but everyone around them.
I had the privilege of advising 4PatientCare on how to best make use of Speech Server for this application and it is nice to know that, though I only played a small part, my work will dramatically improve the lives of others for years to come.