When modern workers move from smartphone to desk phone to IM to email to conferencing—and from desktop to laptop to tablet and back to smartphone again—the conversation can get a bit muddled. But since each medium offers unique capabilities and strengths, none is likely to disappear in the short term. And the BYOD trend—whether contained, discouraged, or cultivated in your organization—surely adds more complexity.
That’s why more enterprises are pursuing unified communication strategies and solutions—ones that can help today’s mobile workers take advantage of all the communication tools available so conversations are enhanced, not fragmented.
Microsoft Lync is one such solution drawing increasing attention from enterprises determined to leverage diverse communication types, not restrict them. Why is this relevant now?
- The impending arrival of Windows 8
- Recent news that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will all launch Windows 8 Phones this fall
- The likelihood that multiple tablet platforms will be with us for a good while
- The imminent launch of new Windows 8-powered tablets, including the Lenovo Windows 8 ThinkPad Tablet , which also got some hands-on treatment by Engadget
What is Microsoft Lync?
The solution, comprised of client components and server technology that works in conjunction with Microsoft Exchange Server, brings together all of today’s major communication modes—instant messaging, email, voice telephony, voice, video and web conferencing—and lets users move seamlessly among those modes. It can replace traditional telecom switches with full-featured VOIP, and all communication modes share a unified contact list, visibility into who is available, and are easy to integrate and use. There’s also tight integration with many Microsoft Office apps (notably, as you would expect, Outlook).
Lync lets an organization extend these communication and sharing features to other enterprises (as in trading partners, or important industry resources) and to public platforms such as the Windows Live IM platform. With Microsoft Lync, the enterprise and the person are truly integrated and working together.
Here are some of the solution’s highlights:
- Real-time presence information—including photos, status and location
- Full-featured IM with enhancements such as a built-in language translator, connectivity with public IM platforms, and sort-able contact lists
- Scheduled and spontaneous conferencing with application sharing, recording and publishing options, virtual whiteboard and more
- Enterprise-class telephony sporting traditional IP switch features—dial pad, missed conversation data, etc.—seamlessly integrated with IM and conferencing functionality
- Microsoft Office integration that lets you do things like search for employees (or colleagues in your extended enterprise) with specific skills, expertise or interests
- Mobile client apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 (and of course on the forthcoming Windows 8 tablets).
The result? A consistent experience across computers, browsers, telephones, mobile phones and tablets.
Will Microsoft Lync be widely adopted?
All signs point to “yes”. First, the platform is highly extensible: APIs make it easy for software developers to integrate new apps with Lync, extending that consistent experience to specialized apps critical within many industries. Also, the option for enterprises to form federations with trusted partners, key customers, suppliers and others—and to let employees connect with colleagues, customers and other resources via public IM platforms—means people can communicate more effectively and efficiently, using their preferred combination of media.
Back in 2010 it was anticipated that enterprises would choose unified communications solutions like Lync for other compelling reasons—among them, legitimate cost savings over traditional telephony switches (you can review the ROI opportunities in a Forrester study called “The Total Economic Impact Of Microsoft Lync Server” (PDF). But perhaps the greatest benefits that have been realized go to individual users—who can get more done, more quickly, working seamlessly with the people and devices of their choosing.
Is your enterprise developing a unified communication program? Will BYOD or enterprise-provided tablets be an integral part of that strategy? (It should be.)
Gartner predicts that 80% of businesses will support a tablet-toting workforce by 2013. Are you ready? Get a better grasp of how your IT organization can empower knowledge workers, increase the efficiency of remote customer service teams, and enable field sales professionals to deepen customer relationships in this practical guide to tablets in the workplace.