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Microsoft Lync Moves to the 'Must-Have' List

Instant messaging and presence may have been a "nice-to-have" requirement for businesses in the past, but the fully connected world is moving them to the "must-have" list on project proposals. Fortunately for Microsoft partners, Lync has matured as a unified communication (UC) platform to scale across business size and industry.

The Maturing Market for UC
As director of unified communications for Perficient, Matt McGillen has seen a fundamental shift in the types of UC project engagements.

"Several years ago, customers just wanted to put in unified communication for IM and presence. It generally wasn't business-critical," McGillen said. "But over the last couple of years, as the product has matured, we have also seen customers' thinking evolve about what communications can do for them. Businesses have to support a distributed workforce so they need better communications strategies."

With Lync, communications projects can replace or augment current business communications through a single source for voice, IM, audio, video and Web-conferencing.

"Our clients are using Lync to facilitate day to day interactions," McGillen noted. "They are connecting everyone together with presence, taking advantage of drag-and-drop conferencing and screen-sharing for ad hoc collaboration -- everything that the departments within enterprises need to work together."

Emerging Midmarket Service Opportunity
As an NSI partner with 14 competencies, Perficient historically works with customers in the enterprise space, but sees a growing opportunity in the midmarket.

"A Lync project for a small to medium-sized business customer is really good consulting business. The value of Lync's components is exponential and the midmarket clients are better able to make it all happen at once," McGillen said. "We get in the door with Lync and really demonstrate our value. We have access to the top decision makers to earn their trust for further work."

While Perficient works with clients from all industries, McGillen finds that professional service businesses like accounting, advertising and engineering firms quickly see the value of Lync consulting.

"We found that professional services companies with a mobile workforce and people working from home -- where communication in real time is important -- those are the folks that immediately grasp what Lync can do for their business," he said.

Consumerization Driving UC
McGillen believes that the proliferation of communications in the home is driving change in the enterprise.

"Five years ago, we got funny looks from clients when we talked about OCS [Office Communications Server]. Now, when we go in to speak with a customer, they talk about how much easier it is to communicate at home than it is in the enterprise," he said. "The days when the IT department says it would be too hard to implement and train employees on unified communications are gone. The mindset has changed."

"As the workforce gets distributed and people bring their own device, we see communications fracturing," McGillen added. "Lync is the way to bring the people in a distributed and disparate workforce together."

Strategic Business Opportunity
As McGillen's team at Perficient has found, workforce transformations are taking communication system implementations to the strategic level. For those partners looking for differentiation in a crowded field, Lync may provide the opportunity to build a stronger advisory relationship with customers.

What services are you delivering to support Lync? Add a comment below or e-mail me and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on January 04, 2013 at 11:58 AM