Tuesday, 9 November 2010

TechEd Europe: the Lync user experience

Session UNC201 - Jamie Stark on stage. Dublin Room. Tues 09-Nov 10:30

The aim of Lync is to unify the communications experience - single user authentication, a common interface, connected services and information from across information sources - mail, calendaring, SharePoint sites, multiple devices etc.
To make things simpler, Microsoft have renamed the family to Lync. A common name for the server product (which was Office Communications Server 2007 R2) and the clients (Office Communicator client)

Lync Client
If you're familiar with the old Office Communicator client then you'll notice a number of key difference. The focus is on people, you see pictures of their faces, people in your organisation and those you connect with externally. It's showing people not devices, phones or addresses.

Lync uses a single entity for each user, straight from Active Directory. BTW, those pictures in AD are used by default by Lync for each person, but you can replace that by specifying a URL for an external picture if you wanted to use something else - from LinkedIn or Facebook for example.

There's an Activity Feed in the Lync client too, when you update your status/location/OOO etc. it looks like a mini Twitter feed. Useful within a business to see what your colleagues are up to, where they are etc.

Conversation History is managed withing the client now, that's a good addition, it was held as text in Outlook with the previous clients. You now get the full conversation and participants recalled into the client interface. You can restart that conversation/call also.

The video and calling demo worked well, with scale-up to full screen HD, full fidelity sharing of presentations (it's using Silverlight to do this). Interestingly you can use policies to control the number of calls and video calls on specific network links.
(sidenote:  It's well worth checking Jamie's Voice Infrastructure session on Wednesday. UNC304: Wed 0900-1030 in Paris-2 - Lync Server 2010 Voice Deployment)

Lync Developer integration
There was a simple Contoso demo using Lync Chat from a sale website into an internal contact centre. It's the same functionality of LiveChat and similar tools available today, but it was interesting to see that the Lync SDK had been used to add some context to the chat session - the Contoso agent could see which item in the sale website shop was being browsed at the time of instantiating the chat session.
The website also showed the status of the contact centre agents and the number of agents available for chat. The Lync client had been extended to show customer information and stock data from other data sources.

The second demo showed the development and integration capabilities for extending and using Lync to automate business process.   We saw a workflow which used the presence status of people to determine the best recepient to instantly sign-off a document, i.e. is chose someone that was available, not someone that was busy or away.   The link to the document was presented in the Lync client, it was checked out of the SharePoint site, approved etc.  When the document status changed to approved, Lync was used to notify the persons involved in this workflow - 3 people in a conversation sharing the Word document.   It was a simple example, but showed the powerful possibilities - it would be simple to connect Lync with SharePoint and Dynamics CRM to improve day to day productivity within a business.


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