There is little better example of integrated communications software than Microsoft Lync 2010. Microsoft Lync 2010 is a communication and conferencing suite that includes an impressive array of communication tools including, video conferencing, VOIP telecommunications functionality, document management and collaboration software, instant messaging capabilities, application & desktop sharing functionality and more. All of which can be used in countless ways to streamline communications throughout an organization and, of course, to improve communications to customers. At its core, however, this functionality is really just a combination of existing Microsoft products brought together to create a comprehensive suite of communication tools including Exchange (e-mail & calendaring), SharePoint (document management & collaboration), Office Communicator (instant messaging), and Office Live Meeting (web & video conferencing) .
Microsoft Lync can be deployed in one of 3 ways: onsite, Microsoft-hosted, or hosted by a 3rd party (datacenter).
The onsite deployment requires a server (physical or virtual) and appropriate client deployment software (depending on what functionality you’re deploying).
Deploying the Microsoft-hosted solution is even easier because the infrastructure is already established and data simply needs to be migrated to the “cloud.”
Deploying to a datacenter may be the most complicated because it is similar to the onsite deployment, but since an offsite, 3rd party is involved, some additional complexity is included.
Pricing & Licensing
Pricing for each option can be found here
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Integrated communications is, on a very simple level, little more than making sure you can communicate well throughout your organization and to your customers. It’s an important concept to understand because it can often lower your fixed costs and improve your ability to serve your customers. In essence, the simplest definition may be “the ability for businesses to communicate quickly and effectively internally and to customers.” Integrated Communications can include both hardware and software technology such as phone systems, e-mail systems, messaging software, mobile phones, remote access technologies, Internet service, websites, social media, and more. Deployed well, the advantages of Integrated Communications can be very powerful. Here are a few common advantages:
- Creates a platform for developing new processes and efficiencies that drive competitive advantage
- Allows businesses to do business anytime, anywhere
- Enhances collaboration activities and improve organizational productivity
- Creates an environment with multiple communication redundancies
- Enables new service delivery methods by integrating voice, video and data communications
- Enhances mobile workforce communication
- Optimizes your communications and networking environments for cost-effective performance.
For example, at ITP we provide many different ways for our customers to contact us including phone, e-mail, and web access methods. We manage all our client’s issues through a ticketing system that streamlines internal communication between engineers, operations, and our back-office support staff. Doing so has increased our customer’s service experience enormously by allowing them to access ITP’s staff and services in the way that works best for them AND it has ensured our internal communications are efficient and seamless.
A few other examples of where these advantages could be realized would be:
- Deployment of a SharePoint server to allow secure document access and collaboration across multiple sites or between a geographically distant workforce
- Deployment of a VOIP phone system like a Shoretel phone system to save telecommunication costs between sites
- Deployment of MPLS Internet access to deliver secure communications between office locations and reduce hardware expenses.
- Implementation of a social media strategy
Ultimately, any technology initiative should be driven by business need or strategy. However, with the response times customers have come to expect from all businesses today, along with the need for businesses to communicate quickly and efficiently to satisfy those expectations, deploying an integrated communications strategy is almost certainly a quality investment.