There’s a lot of buzz around the imminent launch of Microsoft’s Skype for Business, and for good reason. The launch will be a rebrand of, but also an update to, the excellent Lync platform. The hype preceding this launch tells us one thing in particular; the business world loves Lync. 60% of enterprises are either considering or deploying Lync as its Voice Platform. Everybody wants Lync and its momentum is so huge that organisations that historically wouldn’t have considered it now recognise the value it can offer.

 

What does this mean for Polycom though? Well, 76% of all phones sold with Lync are Polycom endpoints. Polycom has 40+ video, voice and content sharing solutions interoperable or optimised to work with Lync. It’s because of this tight bond between Polycom and Lync that we launched the product everyone is talking about.

 

The pervasiveness of Lync throughout the enterprise means that organisations have already invested a fair amount in infrastructure, endpoints and training for employees in order to ensure that the Lync workflow is integrated into the business processes. Evidence shows that customers who have built the Lync platform into their processes in this way save up to 30 minutes a day, shrink project times by 10%, and increase proposals delivered and won by 20%.

But large enterprises are slow moving beasts, especially when it comes to IT.

 

Many organisations have legacy systems which predate the entry of Microsoft into the UC arena, and they aren’t going anywhere. They’ve ended up with siloed products and systems that don’t talk to each other. It reminds me of a scene from BBC drama Downton Abbey, when the Grantham’s become proud early owners of a telephone. Great, but as Mr Carson points out, they need to work out who else has one they can call!

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Organisations are aware of the power of Lync beyond IM and presence and are keen to really derive the benefits of voice, video and content collaboration within this interface. They’ve bought Lync and now they want to drive usage and adoption of Lync, they don’t want to have their employees step out of that workflow. RealConnect enables this and luckily for existing Polycom customers this will be included as an automatic upgrade within their service contract.

 

Ultimately this is the way the UC, communications and technology markets are moving. Customers don’t want to be locked down into proprietary vendor solutions, they want best of breed solutions to work seamlessly. Within a UC context that means presence, IM, video, voice, content, scheduling and email is brought together by the Lync platform. The end user doesn’t care which vendor supplies what part, they just want it all to work together in an interface they understand. Users are beyond the days of mobile contracts that only allowed them to call others with the same operator. In the same way they expect any-network minutes they expect to be able to reach out to any of their contacts via any of the Lync communications methods. Thank goodness for RealConnect!

 

The continuing advancements of today’s collaboration technology make it possible to transform virtually any place in the world into an ‘office.’  These days, my ‘office’ is much more mobile, since I’m usually working on wireless from my laptop, tablet or phone rather than a traditional desktop computer. I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like to feel tethered to a desk.

 

Unified Communications, like Microsoft Lync, has also made us more productive and efficient. For most, instant messaging and VoIP calls have become second nature but for many, video is still in the early adoption phase.

 

So, how can we make video easier to access and more intuitive? Enter: Lync.

 

We’ve been working with Microsoft for a long time. So long, in fact, that we have the broadest set of solutions in the industry that are optimized for and interoperable with Lync (40+ options). In my role as a Marketing Program Director for Microsoft, I’ve learned about the challenges organizations face with video adoption. The solution, though, can be simple. Especially for organizations that have Lync, these tips can make a world of difference in speeding adoption and usage of video. The employees in the organization will be glad for it, because the ROI can be tremendous.

 

The Challenges to Adoption:

 

Customers we’ve met with have shared three distinct concerns about video:

 

  • Quality of Performance

  • Limited Leadership Buy-in

  • Interoperability

The quality is paramount to adoption. Steve Lohr of the New York Times reported in 2012 (two years is an eternity in technology) that even the blink of an eye – 400 milliseconds – is too long to wait for a web page to load. We’re spoiled and impatient!

 

A lack of buy-in and support can prohibit adoption. In some circumstances, leadership is not prepared for the changes UC can bring to an organization or they may lack the type of high-level, long term UC vision. In addition, smaller companies struggle with limited IT support.

 

Users need to connect to be able to connect with suppliers, colleagues and customers outside of the walls of their organization. Interoperability with other video platforms is paramount to adoption.  

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Our Recommendations:

 

To avoid the above uncertainties, we offer three recommendations that will make your video adoption seamless:

 

  • Ensure your network is video-ready

  • Have Adoption & Migration Plans

  • Identify Critical Success Factors and Measure Your Progress

Bandwidth plays an extremely important role in video conferencing. There is a strong correlation between how well your network performs and the success of your video solution deployment and adoption.  Introducing video to your network, you’ll want to understand the impact, bandwidth requirements and utilization in advance.

 

As mentioned earlier, application performance is absolutely critical to success. Having a plan – or plans – will ensure the end user is prepared, trained and approves of the experience.  Make sure your adoption plan includes…

 

  • …a communications plan: what are you rolling out?

  • …a training plan: how do your employees use it?

  • …a migration plan: when will employees transition?

  • …a support plan: who can help if something goes awry?

  • …an operations plan: which includes a series of tests to ensure proper bandwidth is available

Most importantly, after implementation, ask for user feedback – especially for early adopters. Understanding employee pain points and correcting them will allow them to gravitate faster toward embracing video.

 

Poor video performance can be a direct result of device challenges and limit your success. Consider assessing all performing devices – in the office and at home – to ensure they are Lync qualified and compatible.

 

Finally, measure your success! My colleague, Russ Colbert, recently published a byline in Federal Computer Week on the adoption of video in our Federal Government. Russ noted the Navy was one of the early adopters of video collaboration and his superior would ask him every day to estimate the return on investment. Positive ROI will help build support from senior leadership.

 

This is an exciting time for collaboration. To think we can travel around the world without leaving our office! Face-to-face collaboration is changing our business world, making us more collaborative, more productive, and more efficient while improving work-life balances. Video will soon surpass email and instant messaging as the most desired means to conduct business.

 

Is your business ready?

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