There is, said Ergo’s Austin Hutton, a “divide” in how companies approach the subject of Microsoft Lync. Depending on whether you choose to go for the on-premises or Office 365-integrated versions of the product, you can “see it simply as a PBX replacement” or else a complete reboot of an organisation’s unified communications strategy.
In this context, the unified communications expert said in the case of the on-premises version some companies will “find it hard to justify the investment”, adding that standalone PBX options “can be cheaper”.
However, he said, “once companies are open to the overall communications advantages presented by the integration of the Office 365 version of Lync, on top of it being a PBX, then its value really shines through”.
With over 20 years of experience in delivering high quality ICT services, Ergo has, said Hutton, long provided customers with a “comprehensive range of solutions to help them achieve their business goals”.
“Continuing that tradition,” said Hutton, “we’re driving the revolution in telephony with Lync, turning voice into an application that can be managed more effectively without any of the overheads associated with traditional PBX systems.”
With benefits including increased productivity and efficiency, control of communication costs, robust support for the organisation’s mobile workforce, maintaining regulatory compliance and “becoming more responsive to customers, partners and employees”, Hutton said the tools which come as standard with the Lync unified communications platform have changed how “people work and communicate”.
Offering up a single interface which brings together voice, instant messaging, audio, video, and web conferencing into an easily manageable package, Hutton said “once businesses experience the advantages of working with Lync they couldn’t go back to working without it”.
With a low-cost pay-per-use licensing model available through Office 365, Hutton said this structure “makes enterprise class tools like Lync accessible to smaller organisations who otherwise would not be able to afford them”.
Once a company begins to utilise an Office 365 plan one of the first elements which makes a difference within a business is the instant messaging and presence elements of Lync. “It’s one of those things where it’s very hard for some people to actually see the advantages of it until they use it,” said Hutton.
“It gives you the visibility of the person you’re hoping to contact – you can see their status even before you’ve initiated communications. The time-saving qualities it offers over the week add up in that respect. It’s available as well across almost any device now with Lync clients available for Apple, Android and obviously Windows devices.”
Speaking of devices, he notes that with regards to the conferencing capabilities of Lync, “it allows members of the organisation to install it on their phones or use a web app or any other operating system” in order to allow them to utilise a thin client which can then be downloaded to become “part of the conversation”.
“So when you join the conference call the Lync client features come in tandem with it – meaning it’s accessible to everybody you’re dealing with,” said Hutton, who also spoke about the differences Lync is making to familiar Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
“That’s where Lync integrates nicely with Office 365 – when you’re using those standard applications. If you have a Word document you might want to speak with someone in your team about an edit they’ve made to the document or a particular note within it.
“Because you have Lync you have the option to integrate all the other Microsoft platform products with it. You can see the name of the person who’s made a comment and you’ll also be able to see their presence – whether they’re available to talk or not – at the same time. You can then communicate with that person within Word and pull the conversation into the actual application itself.”
Other Lync options which can make an immediate impact within a business once the platform is implemented include the ability to quickly escalate calls from quick chats to an “in depth video conference”, with “full HD video” capabilities on board.
“I know from experience if you have a video call from someone, you’ll get to the point quicker because you’re looking someone directly in the eye rather than going back and forth with messages, so that’s a big plus. It’s also huge for training as that video capability helps communicate the message better, not to mention keep someone’s attention on the task at hand,” said Hutton.
While in addition, he said Office 365 provides voicemail options which mean all voice messages are hosted within the Cloud. “You’ll get an email to say you have voicemail, it will send on an MP3 file of the voicemail and whatever Lync client you’re signed into a message will pop up as well,” added Hutton.
As for making sure that everyone in the company is taking advantage of these capabilities, Hutton said the key is to “get senior management on board and it will filter down from there if they’re all seen to be using it"
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