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Law firm CIO makes the case for Microsoft Lync

Thor Olavsrud | April 8, 2014
Law firm Holland & Knight already had a who's who of best-of-breed communications products deployed when the firm's IT team decided it needed to replace the tangled mess of PBX systems that provided voice lines at its many offices. It chose to jettison them all in favor of an infrastructure built on Microsoft Lync Server 2013.

"For improving responsiveness, the five-digit internal dialing and voice over IP (VoIP) calling alone make the change worthwhile," Leung adds. "VoIP enhances accessibility as it uses our office-wide Wi-Fi coverage to augment areas where traditional cellular coverage is weak or nonexistent. We're also enabling colleagues to reach each other more quickly through Lync features such as presence and instant messaging," he says.

"In addition to the speed of collaboration, we're boosting the ease with which attorneys and staff around the world can work together to resolve client issues," Leung says. "For instance, they'll be able to escalate a voice call to include video and screen sharing for ad hoc, peer-to-peer collaboration in one step, without having to find an empty videoconference room and deal with Cisco telepresence and other separate components."

Lync Federation With Skype Was a Big Factor

In addition, he says, Holland & Knight's Latin American and Middle Eastern offices have been pushing to use Skype, because that is a primary way that clients expect to communicate in those regions. With Lync Federation, Lync can connect securely with Skype. As an added bonus, that means attorneys working long hours can use Lync Federation to connect with their families who use Skype — the attorneys may still be in the office, but at least they can see their kids and spouses to say goodnight.

Lync 'Phone+' Functionality Isn't Perfect

That said, Leung concedes that Lync isn't perfect. As a phone replacement, it's more than satisfactory, he says, noting that one of the first things his team did was replace conference room phones with Lync-enabled phones.

"People don't even realize it's a Lync phone system," he says. "The core infrastructure is functional. We've had over 30,000 minutes of conference calls on those phones without people realizing it."

It is what Leung calls the "phone+" features — like the capability to seamlessly go from a call to a conference call to a video call to whiteboard functionality — that still need work, he notes. The features work, but are not always easy to find without some training.

"The phone+ functionality, it's not as intuitive as I would have wanted," he says. "That was some feedback I actually provided to some developers at the Lync conference recently. The single pane of glass is fantastic, but it's a little bit of a kitchen sink. The menu structure should be contextually aware. If you're on a phone call, you should get a ribbon that shows you the core functionality that you need while you're on a phone call. That sort of thing."

How to Achieve a Successful Deployment

Still, Leung says the phone+ functionality is "about 85 percent" there, adding that staff and attorneys (not all, but many) are taking up the technology and running with it. He points to two things that led to the success of the adoption: good change management and marketing.

 

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