Do you see UC like I see UC?

That’s a hell of a mouthful I hear you scream.

But it does, for me sum up fact that Unified Communications means different things to different people, and more often than not, reflected in what the vendor has in the “bag” to sell you.

I guess I am therefore no different, as I have chosen to partner with Microsoft with their Lync solution – why?

Well it’s a simple as this – It is by far the best USER EXPERIENCE of anything I’ve seen in the market today, and it is actually a UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS solution. So it brings together all the modalities of mainstream communications today: Instant Messaging – available on pretty much any device anywhere; Email – most of us start our day in OUTLOOK, and Lync embeds here beautifully, so you can simply interact with the sender of an email in any of the available modalities; Conferencing – a simple IM, can move to a “chat by “dragging” other contacts into the chat window, and then a mouse click (or screen press) to escalate to an audio conference, followed by another click/press to add video (with an impressive multi-party gallery view in 2013); PBX replacement – Lync allows you to take your extension anywhere and on any device, so enterprise staff are completely mobile and no desktop audio device beyond the PC/Laptop/tablet/mobile is necessary (save perhaps for a headset). So come snow, rain, hail or train strikes, I can log in and be at work (even if it means walking to the coffee shop first)

But words simply don’t do this solution justice – I suggest you try it for yourself – it is easy enough to do and I’d be happy to show you mine (excuse the innuendo)

Beyond the user experience, there are a many significant reasons why Lync makes sense

But what do I know…..

Is Partner becoming an overused term for suppliers?

I was musing language (as I often do) again today and thinking about the initial engagement in any situation, but probably I was thinking mostly about the very first engagement in a sales situation. This could be a conversation, either by phone or face to face, or more often these days, an email or other form of non-real time communication. Whatever the channel, I was considering the impact of language and in particular the meaning that the recipient makes of the words and structure of those critical first few phrases. I am a firm believer that the conversation needs to be about “the client” and not about me and more importantly what the purpose of the contact is! This thought process led me to consider the positioning of the potential relationship and the consideration from the recipient’s perspective as to whether this was at all important at this early stage, or actually at all.

Inevitably when language becomes mainstream, or commonplace, it loses some of its caché and “advantage” (if it ever had any), and can become almost counter-productive as we see it as “hackneyed” or over-used, and this could be the case if positioning yourself as a partner – rather than just another supplier.

I like to seek out relationships whereby my value can be of real benefit to a client and that is all about “valuing the difference”. In this case the difference is the particular skills and knowledge I have acquired over many years in the telecoms and Unified Communications space, and that which can be of use to the client. I might frame this as me being a “partner” rather than a supplier, i.e. my value is not about a race to provide the lowest cost items, but about taking the stress out of understanding the options and possibilities as well as the unique aims and business values the client holds dear. Marrying these pieces together and considering the real business value of the solutions available merits additional value, which is often unappreciated. My view – for what it’s worth is that if you are investing in a technology that is dynamically changing and evolving, and competitive with multiple strong vendors in the race, then looking way beyond the investment is critical and a trusted advisor relationship is definitely desirable – But what do I know

What do you do when your friends need your help?

PLEASE READ AND SHARE!!!!

“Your only child has a malignant brain tumour.” The words no parent ever wants to hear, but sadly that is exactly what Steve and Anita Purvey were told a few weeks ago. Their son James had the tumour removed but was discovered to have Metastatic Medullblastoma (CANCER). It is inoperable. Therefore, James is now facing a long and tough battle to survive.

Steve and Anita have learned of some pioneering Proton Radiation treatment but it is only available in the USA. It is a very aggressive treatment with long term side effects but necessary for any chance of survival especially with Jamie’s High Risk Medullblastoma.

However, they need to get James to the USA for up to three months, and become short term resident there to see the treatment through and it’s estimated that this will cost £250,000 – £300,000.

So, I am asking you to consider a donation of any amount even if it’s just a few pence and then to share this. If you can’t personally donate please just share this with anyone you know.

We are also looking for auction prizes for an upcoming fundraising event so if you can or know anyone who can donate a prize, please get in touch.

If you do want to make a donation please visit http://www.justgiving.com/jamiesfund

To know more you can visit http://www.jamiesfund.com/

It’s happened – I’ve “become”

Is it just me becoming the inevitably grumpy old man, or are there others who see what I see when they encounter the Out Of Office email response!
To be precise I’m not bemoaning all OOO responses, some are delightfully informative and helpful. After all if you know that you are going to be in a long meeting, it’s actually helpful to know who to go to in your absence.
What I am referring to are those “I’m not in the office therefore I’m incapacitated and the device you know I’m carrying no longer functions or I’m simply having a lazy day away from all the hustle and bustle but trying to kid you all I’m so busy that communication is simply impossible” out of office replies.
I’m not sure exactly what these say about the person brushing us off – are they saying we should believe communication with us is now impossible without some miracle, or are they assuming that all but them know that the technology has not only been around and in use for many years but is now indeed mainstream.
I think at the core I feel somewhat insulted and agitated that anyone would think this is an acceptable way to (un)communicate….. There rant over!

After all – What do I know?

Unified Comms Nirvana

UC is a philosophy and a culture underpinned by technology. It’s about communications and collaboration which are people centred rather than technology lead. UC is a journey towards a better personal and customer centred environment, that is not about just a technology refresh or buying new. As there is no universally accepted definition, this presents a challenge of common understanding in discussion, which can be overcome by simply investing a small amount of time to work back from a future vision to a current position. In doing this, the language can be neutralised as a potential barrier to common understanding. One of the key challenges beyond the definition is that of “baggage”. What I mean by this is that we are all a product of our experiences and whilst in many or most cases this can be a real asset, in the world I am discussing here, I see it as a potential pinch point. My rationale here is that telephony in particular has worked in a certain way for many years and in particular PBX functionality has been somewhat staid, and most people still use telephony in the same way they always have:

Scene 1
* Phone rings
* Answer phone (if you’re lucky)
* Conversation and perhaps transfer or enquiry
* Terminate call

Scene 2
* Pick up handset dial number speak and disconnect

Now when you start to shift your thinking – the whole communications experience can become enriched and the process cycles reduced. In the above examples, there are often additional actions that will take place after the call, such as an email will be sent to support the call, or to confirm the conversation or a document is shared via email. With a UC solution such as Microsoft Lync, the experience could look more like this:

Scene 3
* Lync client alerts to inbound call
* Click to answer and talk on your headset – hands free
* Caller shares a document with you and a focused conversation takes place
* You decide to bring in a third party who works for a different organisation, but because you federate your presence status you can see (using the rich presence capability) that they are free so you can simply “drag tham” into the conference.
* The call continues and you need to leave the office you transfer via a mouse click to your mobile device and continue the call * Whilst in the call, you send an IM message from your mobile to your colleague to ask a question not for general consumption, and get a response in seconds
*Call terminates and the project is advanced.

Scene 4:
* You want to convene an ad-hoc conference call so you click on meet me and add the participants from your lync client.
* Meeting commences as colleagues join you record the call and share the recording for others as reference point to agreements and actions and whilst on the call schedule the follow up.
* Call ends and project is progressed

This is a paradigm shift in the way we think about communications and collaboration and has to be experienced to be really appreciated but for sure it is a move in the right direction. Why not check it out – you will be glad you did…

Reduce your email traffic? Yes please.

It’s all got a bit out of hand now hasn’t it? Email started off so well too. Immediate communications from your desktop rather than the lengthy process of “word-processing” a document, printing it, fetching it, walking to the fax machine….. You remember that – right? Then the traffic began to build, and build, and build. Where do all off the emails come from. Conversation being held via email, copying “all” followed swiftly by a “copy all” WILL YOU STOP COPYING EVERYONE ON YOUR RESPONSES.
So is it any wonder that the introduction of a tool that’s”fit for purpose” is gaining high rates of adoption. Microsoft lync’s instant messaging does exactly what it says on the tin, removing the need for protracted email conversations AND because presence status shows availability and out of office message before contact is attempted, unnecessary traffic is avoided. In addition to which this capability can, through federation, function beyond corporate boundaries with clients, suppliers and partners within your chosen ecosystem.
The user experience is best in class, and you don’t even have to be at your desk to access it. Lync sets you free to work from wherever you can access a data connection….. Which also reduces your call charges.

Why wouldn’t you want to consider lync?

5 reasons you might want to consider Microsoft Lync UC

So if you made it here beyond the title, it’s very likely that you at least have an acquaintance with Lync and that in itself is reason number 1. If you have an awareness of the experience that Lync affords you, then the other reasons could well push you over the edge to a full deployment or at least a Proof of Concept.
2. Your Microsoft licencing could already include the Client Access Licences (CALs) that are required, and so your cost of deployment could well be lower cost than you had imagined.
3. You have complete flexibility to deploy a solution that uses servers on your own premises, or simply go straight to the cloud and take advantage of a hosted service and just pay as you go.
4. Lync is a Microsoft integrated offering that embeds communications into the fabric of all your applications and especially Outlook where most workers spend most of their working day.
5. By deploying Lync and federating your presence outside your enterprise AND taking advantage of future federation with Skype, you could substantially reduce your call charges…
Above all of this, the Lync EXPERIENCE is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Worth a look? If I can help, I’d be delighted to.