Next week sees the kick off for TechEd New Zealand 2014, the annual Microsoft conference for developers and IT professionals. So we’ve put together a few thought starters below on why there is such a powerful link (no pun intended!) between unified collaboration and Microsoft Lync.
If you need help convincing the IT decision makers inside your organisation about the benefits of MS Lync, then read on. We hope you find it useful and welcome your thoughts.
If you are based in NZ and heading to TechEd, make sure you check out our stand, located in ‘The Hub’. If MS Lync is on your radar, have a chat with our NZ team who will be showcasing our latest unified collaboration solutions for Lync and catching up with customers and partners. They can help deepen your understanding of our technologies and demonstrate how they will help your organisation work smarter.
The link between MS Lync and video collaboration
Today’s workplace collaboration has morphed into a combination of verbal communication, shared documentation and enhanced video experiences. Many organisations are choosing to expand upon their existing investments in Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange by rolling out unified communications (UC) with Microsoft Lync. The opportunities for improved collaboration using a UC solution that works natively with Microsoft Lync are significant. If Microsoft is your collaboration platform and you are thinking about embarking on a Lync enabled UC journey, then consider these points:
Addressing Network Complexity
An essential part of creating a UC strategy that works within a Microsoft Lync environment is creating the right network infrastructure. Instead of having isolated worlds where the key collaboration platform and video conferencing solution operate independent of each other, the content and communication worlds connect to create a seamless end-user experience. This allows users to focus on what they are seeing and hearing instead of worrying about how the technology works - which also means less pressure on IT resources. It is challenges like this that have been traditional barriers to entry – if it doesn’t work easily, people get fed up and revert to traditional ways of communicating.
Simplifying the User Experience Ensures Anyone Can ‘Fly the Plane’
To drive adoption of any new UC environment you must focus on creating a user experience that is so simple that anyone can use it from anywhere and on any device. Most users are already familiar with Microsoft’s operating systems and software. So, the migration to video collaboration is far less daunting when it merges seamlessly with what they already know – familiar user controls with integrated address books and calendars provide comfort to users. An essential platform for simplification is driven by a common security and identity model. If your people need to log in more than once, using multiple passwords, then it’s possibly too cumbersome and it’s likely they won’t use it.
Boosting Your Bandwidth
If you are investing in video you need to make sure your network’s bandwidth can cope. Integrated video collaboration will increase the demands on your network therefore network configuration and prioritisation will need to be reviewed. Bandwidth size will depend on how you plan to use the system and your reseller can help you assess this.
Understanding Which Microsoft Lync System is Right for You
There are three areas to think about here:
Telephony: This is where we’ve seen the majority of adoption among New Zealand Lync customers and it represents a great entry point which can be added to if needs change at a later date. New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) recently deployed a Polycom and Microsoft Lync telephony based solution, including replacing multiple aging PBX systems with a connected UC system.
Video: How do you want to deploy video within your Lync environment? Is it one-to-one video via desktop or are you looking to integrate desktops with room based systems and mobile devices? Take the time to think through where video can improve collaboration by job function and the location of your people (mobility workers versus office based teams).
Content Management: Will you need a system that’s enabled for messaging, presence and conferencing? Or will you also need voice and video to share content and collaborate? Integration with Microsoft’s productivity suites and SharePoint delivers the potential for creating an end-to-end content solution. Think about how people work and share information within your organisation and any existing communication roadblocks that need to be overcome.
Leveraging Your Existing IT Investments
Creating a Microsoft Lync UC environment also helps protect your current IT investments, as in many cases you will not need to invest in new technology but can easily integrate with existing solutions. This delivers value for money against investments already made. The delivery of a common Microsoft user interface also means that you will save money on training and support costs due to user familiarity.
Remember, the nature of any emerging technology or movement is that it is heterogeneous and the value is in that. A unified communications environment integrated with Microsoft Lync will drive productivity across your organisation, no matter where people are and what devices they are using.
Finally, Five Things to Think About When ‘Making the Call’ on MS Lync
Investment Protection: Having interoperable solutions protects the current investment of the customer – video and UC investments can be scaled to meet a company’s requirements.
Ease of Use: Companies get a common user interface so adoption rates are typically higher, there is less pressure on training requirements, and it keeps support costs lower.
True Interoperability: Given the multitude of IT solutions on offer, companies often operate a heterogeneous IT environment – having true interoperability alleviates the complexity associated with this.
Video Dial-Tone: If we are serious about enabling companies to make a video call as seamlessly as an audio call – UC vendors need to deliver interoperable solutions that work in tandem with existing end-user deployments.
Open Standards: Business value is no longer defined by the individuals who sit behind a company’s firewall or wear a company badge. The technology infrastructure that enables them is equally as important, so it is essential to ensure that solutions are based on open standards.
Find full details about Microsoft TechEd NZ 2014, taking place 9-12 September, on the event website.