Top 10 tips for Unified Communications with Microsoft Lync

Unified Communications is a concept used to describe the coming together of devices and applications used to enrich how we communicate with each other, increase our productivity, enable more efficient team collaboration and to streamline business processes.

As an integrated solution Unified Communications can greatly increase the productivity of an organisation, allowing users to make decisions on how to communicate with each other, based on the detailed presence status of the person or people they want to contact.

1. Assess your existing infrastructure

Assess your existing infrastructure to determine what aspects of unified communications best suits the need of your organisation to help increase productivity and profitability. Identify your current communication barriers.

2. Understand the business case for Unified Communications

We are faced with an ever-increasing number of ways to communicate which can result in information overload and lack of control. The bottom line is that communicating efficiently becomes increasingly difficult, through lack of closure on questions or processes, or duplicated communication attempts. All of which add up to a potentially frustrating and unproductive business environment. Running all the disparate means of communication we use today can be costly, each with their own network connection, own billing structure etc.

Unified Communications greatly improves business productivity by simplifying and streamlining the process and costs are consolidated and reduced.

3. Ensure that business telephony is an integral part of your Unified Communications strategy.

Converged communications removes the inefficiencies having separate networks for telephony and data by delivering multiple services across a single IP network offering not just technology advantages, but real business benefits.

4. Host your Exchange server

Hosted Exchange brings a rich set of new technologies, features, and services and has been re-engineered to improve the administrative and management experience by using new server roles that align with how messaging systems are typically deployed and distributed across an organisation. Hosted Exchange is also designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft Lync, delivering an unprecedented level of functionality.

By using a service provider to host your Exchange server you can:

  • Remove the costs associated with hosting the hardware and software onsite - powering, cooling, monitoring.
  • Greatly reduce the risk or server failure, by protecting your exchange server for business continuity
  • Benefit from world-class data centre facilities and 24 x 7 monitoring
  • Have access to as much extra processing power as you want, when you need it using virtualisation technologies

5. Consider hosted Microsoft Lync

By opting for hosted Lync you can remove the need for large capital investment. You can get started straight away, no hardware, powering or cooling costs, and you also benefits from having Lync experts on hand to ensure the smooth implementation of your Unified Communications solution.

6. Enable corporate instant messaging

Hosted Lync is a highly available, secure alternative to public instant messaging tools, which have become critical to many businesses, providing a Unified Communications capability that helps people be more productive by enabling them to communicate easily with others in different locations or time zones. Using a range of different communication options, including text based instant messaging, voice, and video.

7. Use presence for more intuitive communication

Presence is the ability to detect another user's availability on the network. Using Microsoft Lync, users can display their status - for example, Available, Away, Do Not Disturb or Offline - to let others know their availability. You can view the presence information of another user in your contact list and can organise and group these contacts by department, for example. Users may also search their company's address book to find other users in order to detect presence or send an instant message.

8. Seamless escalation from email/instant messaging to phone call or video call

A Hosted Lync service also allows you to make calls directly between computers using Microsoft Lync as a soft phone. This function allows you to escalate an instant messaging conversation to a call, and add in other contacts through the same functionality.

9. Move meetings to your desk

Hosted Lync has a powerful conferencing solution that helps users streamline communications with colleagues, customers, and suppliers. It allows you to form connections across and between organisations with online meetings, events and training. Meetings can be more effective with integrated audio, video and rich media and as a hosted service it frees up IT resources to work on other business-critical projects. Time saved by hosting online meetings and conferences, in place of actual meetings can result in huge savings for your businesses. The cost of travel and the time spent travelling are eliminated, allowing you focus more time and resources in other areas of the business.

10. Plan your Unified Communications journey

The journey from your traditional PBX system and network to a Unified Communications solution can be complex. Make sure you take the time to plan each stage along with your Service Provider, giving consideration to the platform on which the solution will be built, it must be flexible and scalable.