Business Productivity solutions, including Unified Communications, continue to gain momentum and increased business focus. Tim Clegg, Head of Transformation at SaintGroup, shares his considerations for deployment and suggests ways to gain maximum value for your organisation.
"I have been in the fortunate position over the last two years to have successfully delivered many transformation initiatives at SaintGroup, however without doubt there has been one initiative above all others that has seen significant improvements in the way SaintGroup staff are able to collaborate and communicate while also showing a clear and demonstrable ROI; that is our Microsoft Lync deployment.
Microsoft Lync is a Unified Communications (UC) solution that brings together a wide variety of functionality including:
• Presence and Instant Messaging
• Collaborative functions that include: desktop & application sharing, presentation delivery
• PC to PC Voice calling
• PC to PC Video
• Audio Conference
• Enterprise Voice
The business case for UC Solutions will vary based on current commitments that you are able offset and the deployment choices with your Microsoft Lync Service. However areas for consideration include reduced travel and related expenses, legacy voice maintenance costs, reduced call charges, reduced mobile costs, and reduced audio conference costs. Along with the many soft benefits, Microsoft Lync allows greater flexibility in ways of working that enhances personal productivity. Some organisations have used this to extend home working options that ultimately allow for a reduction in office space required!
SaintGroup’s own Microsoft Lync deployment saw an immediate reduction in travel costs of 27% which helped achieve payback on initial costs within 3 months, and we work with customers to establish a clear Return on Investment model for their deployments also as part of the engagement.
A straight forward definition of UC is “communications integrated to optimize business processes”. From a Microsoft solution perspective UC is seen as one of the disciplines covered in the broader context of Business Productivity. I see this as a result of the enhanced integration of the Lync solution with the other areas covered in the scope of Business Productivity including enterprise mail with Exchange and Outlook, the day to day desktop applications including Office, document management and collaboration with SharePoint and the bringing together with Microsoft Public Cloud offering with Office 365.
While for many, embracing UC is seen as a natural step and certainly in the current social media driven age, common to a lot of users, it may be an alien concept to others, and can bring a challenge of adoption and education in some organisations. For example the notion of “presence”, always-on visibility of your current availability and status, can be seen as intrusive, while 'instant messaging' equally is not a comfortable medium initially for some. Nevertheless these are set to become increasingly commonplace and UC very rapidly becomes a business critical line of business application that we will all look back and wonder how we managed without.
With end user access now available from your business PC, laptop or tablet, also available on variants of Mac operating system and with Lync Mobile available for Windows Mobile, Android and Apple IOS, Microsoft Lync is a platform ready for use from every device. Lync provides the ability to have online meetings with audio or video conference, integrated in to your local meeting requests and as necessary automatically include external participants with the download of Lync Attendee (where the user does not have the full Lync client installed). With the enterprise voice features your Lync client naturally becomes your phone; this doesn’t prevent you having a Lync enabled desktop phone, you just find for many types of worker it’s just not wanted!
With many Microsoft solutions already common place on the desktop, a deployment of Lync extends and integrates with many of these out of the box. The presence indicator for example lights up in many different locations including Outlook and SharePoint, the ability to send a file immediately via instant message to the co-author of a document direct from within Word. Many applications use the contact card to enable Lync features to be both visible and activated from within that application. Lync also uses integration with Exchange and Outlook with Instant Message conversations stored directly in your Outlook Mail and with Enterprise Voice features enabled your Voice Mail integrates logically right in your mail too.
Integration is not of course limited to the desktop, with Federation Services enabled you can extend the Lync experience to your customers and vendors, improving communications and service for your organisation. The published API is readily available for Lync and many third party organisations have created additional products that work alongside Lync and extend its functionality for specific requirements such as contact centre functionality. Additionally with a small amount of application development elements of Lync can be integration into your other Line of Business applications.
As part of any UC engagement, SaintGroup will provide a detailed design that meets the functional requirements for your operation, while also providing for the recommended, suitable and agreed deployment choice. SaintGroup is able to provide the following options:
• Dedicated on Premise – this provides the full Lync server components required in your datacentre, deployed on existing or new hardware.
• Dedicated SaintGroup Hosting – this provides a dedicated solution built as above but hosted on SaintGroup Hosted Infrastructure in our datacentre.
• Join SaintGroup Shared Platform – All the benefits of an enterprise class Lync solution delivered as a Software as a Service solution.
• Lync as part of Office 365 – Hosted by Microsoft, delivered by SaintGroup as a service, Office 365 provides Lync together with email and office desktop applications and SharePoint as a suite ready for use.
There are several options open to you with regard to licensing. For example, you may already have a Microsoft licensing agreement in place, and therefore consider adding your Lync licensing requirements to this agreement. Depending on your particular business drivers you may prefer a capital purchase or operational expenditure via monthly subscription. SaintGroup can highlight the options to suit your particular needs and ensure there is a clear definition of the overall service provision for your business, along with the recommended deployment choice.
The different functional requirements will also drive the license type that you will need. These are broadly covered in the different Lync license variants available, including.
• Lync Standard – Provides Instant Messaging and Presence and internal PC to PC calling
• Lync Enterprise – extends Lync Standard to include Audio, Video and Web-conferencing
• Lync Plus – extends Lync Standard to include Enterprise Voice functionality
• Lync Combined – Brings all functionality including Enterprise and Plus together
SaintGroup provides advice and guidance on all aspects of a Microsoft Lync deployment, including the information and support to enable you to maximise the return on investment. This includes making recommendations on bandwidth required, end user device options including headset choice, desk phones where necessary and options for Video Conferencing equipment. We can even support you running a pilot of Lync for a small team or department within your organisation, providing you with access to all the required functionality while enabling you to confirm the functional priorities for rolling out the full Lync service across your organisation and validating a business case."
SaintGroup delivers a range of Managed Services tailored to suit individual business drivers and works in partnership with customers to support their transformation journey, built around the core needs for:
• Data Centre Optimisation
• End User Compute Optimisation
• Business Productivity Services
SaintGroup will take the complexity out of your infrastructure; if you would like to understand how SaintGroup can support your business transformational journey, please contact us at