UC is a philosophy and a culture underpinned by technology. It’s about communications and collaboration which are people centred rather than technology lead. UC is a journey towards a better personal and customer centred environment, that is not about just a technology refresh or buying new. As there is no universally accepted definition, this presents a challenge of common understanding in discussion, which can be overcome by simply investing a small amount of time to work back from a future vision to a current position. In doing this, the language can be neutralised as a potential barrier to common understanding. One of the key challenges beyond the definition is that of “baggage”. What I mean by this is that we are all a product of our experiences and whilst in many or most cases this can be a real asset, in the world I am discussing here, I see it as a potential pinch point. My rationale here is that telephony in particular has worked in a certain way for many years and in particular PBX functionality has been somewhat staid, and most people still use telephony in the same way they always have:
* Phone rings
* Answer phone (if you’re lucky)
* Conversation and perhaps transfer or enquiry
* Terminate call
* Pick up handset dial number speak and disconnect
Now when you start to shift your thinking – the whole communications experience can become enriched and the process cycles reduced. In the above examples, there are often additional actions that will take place after the call, such as an email will be sent to support the call, or to confirm the conversation or a document is shared via email. With a UC solution such as Microsoft Lync, the experience could look more like this:
* Lync client alerts to inbound call
* Click to answer and talk on your headset – hands free
* Caller shares a document with you and a focused conversation takes place
* You decide to bring in a third party who works for a different organisation, but because you federate your presence status you can see (using the rich presence capability) that they are free so you can simply “drag tham” into the conference.
* The call continues and you need to leave the office you transfer via a mouse click to your mobile device and continue the call * Whilst in the call, you send an IM message from your mobile to your colleague to ask a question not for general consumption, and get a response in seconds
*Call terminates and the project is advanced.
* You want to convene an ad-hoc conference call so you click on meet me and add the participants from your lync client.
* Meeting commences as colleagues join you record the call and share the recording for others as reference point to agreements and actions and whilst on the call schedule the follow up.
* Call ends and project is progressed
This is a paradigm shift in the way we think about communications and collaboration and has to be experienced to be really appreciated but for sure it is a move in the right direction. Why not check it out – you will be glad you did…
So if you made it here beyond the title, it’s very likely that you at least have an acquaintance with Lync and that in itself is reason number 1. If you have an awareness of the experience that Lync affords you, then the other reasons could well push you over the edge to a full deployment or at least a Proof of Concept.
2. Your Microsoft licencing could already include the Client Access Licences (CALs) that are required, and so your cost of deployment could well be lower cost than you had imagined.
3. You have complete flexibility to deploy a solution that uses servers on your own premises, or simply go straight to the cloud and take advantage of a hosted service and just pay as you go.
4. Lync is a Microsoft integrated offering that embeds communications into the fabric of all your applications and especially Outlook where most workers spend most of their working day.
5. By deploying Lync and federating your presence outside your enterprise AND taking advantage of future federation with Skype, you could substantially reduce your call charges…
Above all of this, the Lync EXPERIENCE is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Worth a look? If I can help, I’d be delighted to.
Love it, or hate it, change is a regular and unavoidable occurrence in our lives and it seems that the pace of innovation and change is gathering pace. Never more so is this true than in the technology space and in particular that of communications and IT.
There is never a day passing without news of a new innovation that will sooner or later impact our lives, hopefully to show an improvement. Often it takes us a while to see these changes and certainly to get on board with the details of what the change is and its specific impact on our lives- working or personal. Within the IT and voice space especially the demarcation lines are getting ever more blurred between our business and personal lives and we see much talk about the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which is frequently tweeted about on twitter with the #BYOD hashtag, as well as the increasing trend towards home working. This is something that is becoming the norm rather than the exception and the freedom to choose where you work, or equally as important for nomadic workers like me, be able to work anywhere, is underpinned by some of the smart technologies emerging from the Microsoft stable.
Microsoft has for some time been on the fringe of “total” communications technology (TCT), delivering Internet Messaging (IM) and presence capabilities. This evolutionary journey began several years ago initially in LCS, then OCS, and now in Lync. What we have seen as a precursor to this TCT is Microsoft integrating their solutions into some voice vendor’s technologies with varying degrees of success – after all, when two large corporations come together, with the best will in the world, there is always a wrestling of “we do it like this so can you change that”. Notwithstanding that there have been some successful partnerships, but that has all changed forever, as Microsoft has declared their hand as a complete voice, and video enabled UC solution.
What for me makes this such a compelling offering is the usability and simplicity. Generally speaking when a “worker” enters the office (home or traditional workplace), the first place to go is OUTLOOK. Here, we can access all of our emails, appointments and contacts….. Contacts, with whom we wish to communicate. The simplicity of seeing the status of my (federated) contacts before I consider how to communicate is already a big bonus helping me decide the best mode to begin. Once I have decided, a simple click of my mouse initiates the call from whichever device I wish – so if this is my laptop, I could very well have chosen just a headset – This in itself brings huge benefits – NO IP PHONE = LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION – this is a good thing – right? NO PHONE ON MY DESKTOP = More space available – this too is a good thing – Yes? So we can reduce our carbon footprint, real estate costs and all from an integrated UC application – MS Lync, which means we no longer need a PBX – wow! Why would you not want to consider this?