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The Truth about Conference Calls

This video is hilarious.

We’ve all been on one of these conference call… in fact, this probably represents most conference calls. Its got nearly 7m views, so it must be good.

 

What tips and tricks do you have to run a productitive conference call? Please dont hesitate to contact me if you’d like to talk about our Hosted Lync conferencing solution.

Tim Murphy
tim.murphy@strencom.net

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Unified Communications- Top 5 Reasons UC Projects Fail

STCM All POSIt’s estimated that over 80% of Unified Communications Projects fail, and only 1 in 10 is transformational to the business, helping to achieve business goals.

Of course there are far more than 5 reasons why UC projects fall. But I thought that 5 of the highlights would be a good place to start if you are considering a UC implementation, whether that be Hosted or On-Premises.

As we are a provider of Hosted Microsoft Lync, UCaaS, and having the largest Hosted Lync UCaaS in Ireland, our experience is in this area based on hundreds of deployed seats, but the same rules apply for On-Premises Projects, and you’ll see that from the high level outline below.

1. The Pilot Trap
Doing a pilot of UC, without planning it out will almost certainly lead to failure. Many organizations believe that the technical installation is the biggest hurdle. It is a challenge, but there are far more important areas to address before you should even consider the technical implementation. These include the next 4 items on my list.

If you have enterprise licenses as part of an agreement with Microsoft, the tendency can be to implement UC yourself. The licenses are free, so why not, Right? Don’t get caught in this trap.

Microsoft Lync is probably the only one that this applies to, as the other vendors (Cisco, Shoretel, Avaya, etc) aren’t really in the same position as Microsoft when it comes to licensing. By going down the DIY route, you’ll probably get so far, but won’t really get the juicy functionality, such as federation, voice/video conferencing, external call capability and much more. And what tends to happen is that the technology is blamed for the failure, and it’s left on the shelf, never to be resurrected again.

2. Executive Sponsorship
Unified Communications is all about collaboration, both within the business and with external stakeholders too. While it should be possible to show actual euro savings from a UC Solution, the greatest gains to the business are found in the increased productivity gains.

The senior management and executive team love to hear that a technology will increase productivity and reduce costs, but they need to be using it too. Pick an executive sponsor who is somewhat disposed to using new technology as part of your “Pilot” users, and they’ll do all the work for you to get the budget, because they’ll love it.

3. User Adoption & Training
All the Unified Communications software vendors will tell you that their UC is so easy to use; it’ll become second nature in no time. That’s somewhat true, and in fact you’ll find that some users will be so into it, they’ll find innovative ways of using the technology. They’ll even train colleagues, without realizing it.

However, the early users should get some level of training to get them off to the best start. This will encourage user adoption, and give the project the best possible chance of success. Strencom and most of the Hosted Providers offer user adoption dashboards available in real time, so you can measure it daily. Here is an example of one of these dashboards.

 

Lync adoption dashboard

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o:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
w:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}
.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}

4. The Network – LAN & WAN Readiness
LAN – The main thing to get right here is internal LAN routing. This is even more important if you are using a Hosted UCaaS solution.

To call another user in your office, the call is initially setup by the UC server, and then the 2 users are connected directly, with just logging info being sent back to the servers during the session. If you don’t have LAN routing the call between 2 users will go through the UC server all the time, and this can lead to poor call quality, increased and unnecessary server activity, and ultimately, a poor user experience overall.

WAN – UC is all about the ability to connect everyone, everyplace (office, home, remote location) and every device (Smartphone, tablet, Laptop). To achieve this, calls will have to go out through the internet in certain cases, so a good quality connection from a business provider is essential.

Here is a free tool to check the quality of your Internet connection and specifically its ability to support a UC solution – http://mcs.strencom.netFor a more detailed quality check, give us a call and we can give you access to another free tool that will simulate multiple calls from your LAN over a period of 5 days.

By the way, don’t skimp on headsets either; there is a valid reason for the price difference.

5. Choose the Right Partner

We may not want to admit it, but UC is still a technology in its early days (at least from a deployment standpoint, versus the technology itself) , and while many IT Partners will claim to be able to deploy a UC service, you should look for an IT Partner that has experience with previous UC projects.

There is of course the technology capability, and it should be a minimum requirement that they can deploy a UC Solution, but it should also be a company that understands the benefits of UC to the business, how it can increase productivity and collaboration, and ultimately how it can address the goals of the business. A UC Solution must demonstrate an ROI that the business can see and measure.

Ask for references of past deployments, in the same size and budget as your project. Make sure that you speak to the references. Nobody’s perfect and there will have been challenges along the way, so ask the reference customer of any pitfalls they experienced, and then ask your partner, how they have addressed them and why the same issues won’t happen again.

Finally, the partner should have the certifications relevant to the UC vendor solution that they are promoting. For example, if its Microsoft Lync UC, then the partner should have a minimum of Silver Certification/Competency in the specific area; UC, Communications, Hosting, etc.

Whether On-Premises or Hosted, please give us a call if you’d like to discuss how UC can really benefit your business. We can have a Hosted Lync UC Pilot running for you in a matter of days; something that will take months to get up and running on-premises.

We have found that UC solutions are of particular benefit to businesses that have a large export business, have multiple locations, and/or a work force that is spread out throughout the country, or throughout the world.

A here’s something to make you smile… we’ve all been in one of these conference calls.

 

 


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Microsoft Lync Powerd by Strencom & Skype

Microsoft & Skype announced integration between Lync and Skype in May, Microsoft Lync Powered by Strencom provides this functionality to organizations utilizing Strencom’s Hosted Microsoft Lync.

This allows Lync users to Skype-Lynccommunicate directly with the over 320 million Skype users from their corporate Lync account. Lync users can currently communicate via IM and voice with Skype users with video and other modalities coming later in the year.

 

 

https://blog.strencom.net/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/media/moxieplayer.swf


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Who do you Lync?

LyncInfographicMicrosoft is reporting that Lync is now a billion dollar business, with 60% of enterprises surveyed deploying or planning to deploy Lync. Many of your customers and partners will already be using Lync. It’s easy to check just how many with the Who Can Federate Tool. The WCF Tool (who can federate tool) will scan through your Outlook contacts and give you a “heads up” on which of your business contacts have public Microsoft Lync or OCS federation enabled. Federation allows for Lync users to be able to view presence, send instant messages and place voice calls with OCS/Lync users from other federated organizations.

Microsoft Lync Hosted by Strencom also enables Skype federation. Users on Strencom’s hosted platform are able to send instant massages and place voice calls with the 600 million current Skype users.

https://blog.strencom.net/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/media/moxieplayer.swf


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Strencom Achieves Microsoft Silver Midmarket Solution Provider Competency

Strencom earns distinction through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment. STCM All POS

Dublin, Ireland — August, 7, 2013 — Strencom Ireland’s leading provider of managed networks and cloud computing services, today announced it has achieved a Silver Midmarket Solution Provider competency, demonstrating its ability to meet Microsoft Corp. customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment. To earn a Microsoft silver competency, partners must successfully demonstrate expertise through rigorous exams, culminating in Microsoft certifications. And to ensure the highest quality of services, Microsoft requires customer references for successful implementation and customer satisfaction.

Strencom, established in 2000, is a Multi-network operator and provides Next Generation Network (NGN) Managed WAN’s and Cloud Services as well as Business Class Internet connectivity to enterprises in the mid-corporate sector.

“This Microsoft Silver Midmarket Solution Provider competency showcases our expertise in today’s technology market and demonstrates our knowledge of Microsoft and its products,” said Tim Murphy CEO. “Our plan is to accelerate our customers’ success by serving as technology advisors for their business demands.” “By achieving a silver competency, organizations have proven their expertise in specific technology areas, placing them among the top 5 percent of Microsoft partners worldwide,” said Jon Roskill, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft Corp. “When customers look for an IT partner to meet their business challenges, choosing a company that has attained Microsoft competencies is a smart move. These are highly qualified professionals with access to Microsoft technical support and product teams.”

Attaining the Midmarket Solution Provider competency demonstrates partner expertise in the most current infrastructure solutions based on Microsoft desktop, business-management and server technologies. Equipped with exclusive training, the latest software and support, partners are able to implement solutions to meet midmarket customers’ unique business challenges and infrastructure needs.

The Microsoft Partner Network helps partners strengthen their capabilities to showcase leadership in the marketplace on the latest technology, to better serve customers and, with 640,000 Microsoft partners in their ecosystem, to easily connect with one of the most active, diverse networks in the world.

Our services include the design, integration, implementation, security and management of enterprise WAN Networks. Through our peering arrangements, the Strencom Network has connectivity to the world’s top Tier 1 networks including Verizon, Sprint, Tiscali International, BT, UPC, Vodafone, 02 and Eircom (to name a few), as well as peering with INEX & LINX. Corporate clients of Strencom include; Qumas Software, Netgear, RPS Group plc, Alliance Medical, Right Price Tiles, Tyco, and Gamestop