Gartner positioned Microsoft as a top leader for unified communications (UC) measured by both completeness of vision and ability to execute, as shown below in the Magic Quadrant; Cisco, Mitel and Avaya trail close behind. UC is defined by improving user productivity and enhancing business processes.
Microsoft Lync is a real-time means for communications and offers a host of UC functionality. Basic features include instant messaging, Voice Over IP and video conferencing.
Let’s explore the benefits and limitations of Microsoft Lync for the legal industry:
• Instant Messaging can replace informal email messages, speeding up dialog and timelines
• Access to recipients accessibility prior to initiating dialog (e.g. Available, Away, Busy, Do Not Disturb)
• Viable across all mobile devices (Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc)
• Engage in dialog with multiple people simultaneously
• Ability to instant message with external parties also using Lync
• VOIP leverages a five-digit internal dialing code and existing Wi-Fi coverage (with the suitable licensing and on-prem Lync server)
• Can be a seamless replacement for traditional phones (more suitable for large firms)
• Fully integrated with Exchange so when you set up a new meeting, a dial-in number and meeting invite is instantly created with pertinent meeting details in Outlook
• Ability to initiate a new IM, Video Call, Call, Meeting and Email all from the same place
• Seamless meeting/calendar conference capabilities with iPhone/Android/Windows
• Replaces the need for multiple technologies lacking integration
• Can be used On-premise or in the Cloud
• Replaces traditional conferencing systems saving firms money (if part of existing 0365 license)
• Ability to route different methods of communication (such as, voice vs video calls) either over the WAN or Internet
• Conversations are not automatically stored and documented; this may prevent fee-earners from being granted access, discourage usage or limit content of what is discussed.
• Informal dialog with multiple parties makes it more cumbersome to track and bill time effectively.
• Multi-party conferencing can be slow and only up to five people simultaneously
• No telepresence/video room systems available
• VOIP Requires E4 licensing and on-prem Lync server
• Limited PSTN connectivity
• Potential distraction
The ways in which Lync can be leveraged will vary among firms. A firm larger in size may leverage all functionality of instant messaging, hosted Lync voice and video conferencing whereas smaller firms may only require instant messaging. Within the firm, support teams may use Lync extensively whereas fee earners rely on email to track client matter and limit Lync dialog to informal conversation.
Whatever the use and needs may be, Lync remains an innovative and productive way to conduct business. Employees benefit from added flexibility and increased timelines ultimately serving their clients more efficiently. Email volume is cut increasing firm productivity. The seamless integration between emailing, calendaring, instant messaging and video/voice calling is a huge win for Lync and ultimately your firm as it eliminates the need to create and maintain independent contracts with multiple vendors typically costing a fortune. In a world where legal professionals are forced to work smarter for their clients, Lync is a powerful tool.