Microsoft Lync 2010: The Future of Communications, Right Now

November 17, 2010 by | Comments

Nov. 17, 2010 — Three years ago, the introduction of Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) changed the way people stay connected. An individual’s identity and presence became the center of business communication, thanks to the integration of unified communications across e-mail, voice, instant messaging, audio- and videoconference tasks — and even desktop sharing. People could choose how to manage their conversations, redirect calls, set their level of availability, and decide how and when they could be reached.

In 2006, Bill Gates talked about the magic of software being poised to help people manage communications amid the rush of business life, often filled with an unrelenting combination of conference calls, e-mails, faxes, voice mail messages, business trips, in-person meetings and instant messages.

Microsoft knew the time had come for a communications platform that could help people navigate through all types of communication with colleagues, partners and customers — to get work done faster and with less frustration.

Office Communications Server has been one of the fastest growing solutions at Microsoft, experiencing double-digit growth over the past three years. Fortune 500 companies, top pharmaceutical firms, successful financial institutions and large communications providers have chosen Microsoft’s unified communications platform to set their business up for success.

Employees can connect with others inside and outside an organization in the most effective way — just by clicking on someone’s “presence” status to tell immediately whether the person is available for a phone call, instant message, videoconference or e-mail.

Today, with the introduction of Lync at a customer and partner event in New York City, communications takes another giant step forward. Lync is the next generation of Microsoft’s Office Communications Server, and makes staying in touch with others even easier, more engaging and more intuitive. Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Lync and Speech Group at Microsoft, said Lync delivers on Gates’ vision, using the power of software to make communications simpler, more open and more cost-efficient for businesses of all types and sizes.

“Lync meets the toughest enterprise standards, but was built with the way people like to communicate in mind,” said Pall. “Any interaction can now feel like a face-to-face conversation, because it can include video- and audioconferencing, application and desktop sharing, instant messaging and presence, and telephony. Lync works with the applications people already use, so it’s easy to become comfortable with the technology.”

Organizations of all types and sizes are already committed to deploying Lync and benefitting from this next generation of business communications —including Boeing, Estee Lauder, Shell, France Telecom, Marquette University, Nikon and Dow Corning.

A.T. Kearney, a leading management consultancy firm that serves all major industries, deployed Office Communications Server 2007 R2 three years ago so that its highly mobile consultants could communicate more effectively with clients, colleagues and family members. In the process it helped improve the work-life balance of its consultants who have demanding, travel-heavy schedules.

The company recently upgraded its communications solution to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 to take advantage of Lync’s advanced architecture, enhanced videoconferencing, and increased ease of management.

“We rely heavily on our Microsoft communications, collaboration and messaging infrastructure to help our employees provide the best service and complete projects on time and on budget,” said Kevin Rice, global network architect at A.T. Kearney. “We provide the latest technologies to help our consultants be successful, and we upgraded to Lync for its communication capabilities, flexible environment and ease of IT management.”

Lync provides A.T. Kearney with the communications tools offered with Office Communications Server 2007 R2, including presence, instant messaging, robust conferencing and enterprise voice. But Lync also includes improvements to deployment and management tools. A.T. Kearney expects to deploy Lync to all its 3,400 employees in 37 locations across the world by April 2011.

No matter where they are, A.T. Kearney’s consultants have a familiar and powerful way to communicate and collaborate using a sleek, simplified Lync client that works with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Exchange, with a platform that allows the company to embed communications in applications. With a glance, consultants can tell if the person they need to talk to is in the office and available to take a call. When consultants are on the phone, they can move from a two-person conversation to a conference call with a click of the mouse, or switch to a videoconference that includes colleagues and partners from around the world.

“Many of our employees work in small offices, at home or at client sites — so the ability to communicate from all these locations has delighted our employees,” said Rice.

Business Savings

Companies expect Lync to benefit employees, plus it also benefits their bottom line. Forrester Consulting recently published a Total Economic Impact (TEI) report that found Lync 2010 offers customers 337 percent ROI with a total cost benefit of US$18.6 million over three years. Lync 2010 can save customers $3.8 million in travel costs while offering over $12 million in increased worker productivity over the same period of time, with a payback period of 12 months.

Today, Microsoft partners in practically every industry — from consumer goods, healthcare and legal and professional services to public safety and emergency systems — are announcing 70 devices specifically designed for Lync. Hardware products include headsets, webcams, Internet protocol phones, telepresence systems and USB endpoints optimized for Lync, from partners including Polycom, Aastra, Plantronics, Jabra, ClearOne, Logitech and Radvision.

Microsoft Lync Online will be available as part of Microsoft Office 365 next year, for businesses of all sizes. Because Lync’s open platform provides extensive interoperability across a wide variety of operating systems, it is expected that Lync-based solutions will develop across a wide spectrum of personal computing devices, browsers and mobile devices in 2011 and beyond.

“Five years ago, Bill Gates predicted software would change the way people communicate,” said Pall. “Lync delivers on that vision. It is a complete platform built on software — marking the dawn of new communications possibilities. While Microsoft is excited about this future, the most important thing is that our customers and partners are fired up about the technology. Not just about what is here today, but what’s to come tomorrow.”

–(Microsoft PressPass, Information for Journalists – Feature Stories)–

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