Microsoft’s unified communications solution, Lync boasts a strong ecosystem of developers building innovative solutions that extend what it can do. We chose five apps from the Lync app catalog to illustrate some of the many ways they can increase the rich functionality of the platform.
1. smarter meetings
The Lync Room System (LRS) by Smart Technologies is a video/audio/content conferencing system built around Lync.
These systems add features to the core system: giant screens make virtual meetings feel more intimate, while support for touchscreen devices enable outstanding collaborative features, such as:
- drawing on virtual (or real) whiteboards
- document, spreadsheet and presentation collaboration
- instant polls of participants
Such systems consist of hardware and software, such as giant monitors (potentially touch-activated), a touchscreen display on the desk, microphones and video cameras.
Microsoft claims customers struggle with joining video conferences and on average spend the first 5-10 minutes of meeting time working to join the conference – does wasting time like this make sense to your external or internal business relationships?
Other vendors offering similar solutions: Crestron and Polycom.
2. building the contact center
Lync allows enterprises to build contact centers with fairly advanced functionality very easily without the need to buy additional expensive equipment. For example Workstream People’s Anywhere 365 solution allows enterprises to build sophisticated skills-based routing by defining by the employees skill and their level of expertise. This allows incoming calls to be easily routed to the best available agent simply via the company directory and presence indicator.
The system integrates with the CRM system so that future contacts can be routed directly to the agent that dealt with them previously. The system isn’t just for calls, of course, contacts can be maintained across email, chat, web chat, voice, video, Web forms and more. One more thing: built in call management tools mean calls can be recorded even as they are swapped between your employees.
Other vendors offering similar solutions: Voxtron and Zeacom.
3. the virtual reception
Not every enterprise can afford a receptionist at all times – and yet everyone who visits your company premises will need a little help to make their visit worthwhile. This is precisely what virtual concierge systems such as VisitorLink try to achieve.
Instead of speaking to a receptionist, visitors to your premises access the system using a touchscreen display hosted at your front desk. A few taps and they can announce who they are, why they are there and swiftly be connected to who they need – or someone else if they aren’t available.
The Lync integration means the person they are trying to contact can be informed of the event in real time using almost any device. And you’ll never miss a delivery again. These systems can work with your existing front desk presence to make sure no one who turns up at your premises ever finds an empty desk – even if your human receptionist is out to lunch.
Other vendors offering similar solutions: Zylinc
4. smart training
Staff training is hard. Your people are too busy to devote themselves to it meaning you must identify how to deliver training in small snippets. That’s fine, but when you email these assets they’re either ignored (at worst) or filed for later action (at best) and you have no way to check progress.
Modality Systems’ presence based training solution Train Me is here to help. Because it is built around Lync alerts of new training materials or tuition sessions are less likely to be ignored, and management gain better insights into just how far along staff are in the training routine. These systems also makes it far easier to integrate time-poor but knowledge rich experts into your training, enabling them to contribute training materials when most convenient to them.
Other vendors offering similar solutions: Eventbuilder and Desire To Learn.
5. local knowledge
Being human helps make a difference in any B2B or B2C call, whether it’s a sales, a contact center or an internal business conversation. ThoughtStuff Information Dashboard adds context to your conversations by showing you what’s happening where the person speaking with you happens to be. Local weather, news reports and local time will all be visible to you based on the location of your contact.
Some contacts may choose to share their location, but the system will record and remember it across all your Lync-connected nodes once you enter this data once. This may not seem much, but it will empower you to echo a little context into your conversation, enabling you to improve the experience your customers and contacts enjoy when dealing with your business.
Other vendors offering similar solutions: NTeam
These are just a few examples of innovative and useful third party applications being developed for use with Lync. You’ll find solutions for health, health and safety and more, each leveraging Lync’s collaboration, presence and communications technologies to change the way you get your business done.
After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.