Based upon our years of experience working with the Global Fortune 500 Enterprises, we know that Microsoft Lync is big and complex. It's like a "lifestyle" change for your organization and for the business. It's also a "workstyle" change for the employees.
The transformation to Lync comes with all the nuances and challenges that a change of that magnitude would include. And for many IT leaders, Lync is a pass or fail initiative. There is no grading on a curve. And at the end of the day, it is the USER that defines your success.
In our experience we have found that the key to Lync success for the global enterprise is user
adoption. To ensure end-users can and will use Lync, it is important that the business measures themselves from this point of view. We believe that there are three main KPIs that are based upon the end-user
perception that can help a business drive healthy Lync adoption and therefore a successful UC transformation. Those KPIs include:
End-user Perception of Availability
You are probably already familiar with the standard IT metric that measures availability of servers and services in the data center. With Lync you should also be including measurement of availability from the vantage point of the end-user. Lync is an integrated solution that goes beyond the walls of the data center.
To monitor availability correctly, you
have to think differently. Simply speaking, you should be testing and
measuring that end-users can make and receive calls, collaborate with
each other as well as create and join conferences 24hrs a day, 7 days a
week. It's only through an end-to-end measurement of availability will
you truly know if Lync is operating correctly.
Not only is it important that the end-user can make the call or participate in the conference, it's even more important that there is good quality of the voice communications. Measuring and improving voice quality across the different network classifications as experienced by the end-user is a key factor in your success.
Lastly, the ultimate measure is how satisfied the end-user is with their experience with Lync. Unlike other IT initiatives such as Microsoft Exchange, Lync is highly democratic. If the end-user doesn't like Lync, they will find another way to communicate. If they don't use Lync, then the ROI of the initiative is lost as well as the transformational promise of unified communications.
In a simple and perfect world, a typical deployment cycle looks something like the diagram above. You start out with an architecture design for Lync and then you move onto deploying Instant Message and Presence. That seems to work well because the technology is compartmentalized and works pretty much like other Microsoft products that the IT team has experience with. IM/P isn't very demanding on the underlying infrastructure and it's usually not mission critical.
So, if you are like most companies you proceed onto the next step of the Lync life cycle where you add internal conferencing or start an enterprise voice pilot with a controlled group of users. In that ideal world you keep on moving into full deployment across your company, retire your legacy PBX systems and you ultimately get to a healthy run state with Lync. But that's not really what happens...
Unfortunately the world we operate in is neither simple or perfect. In our experience we often see a critical inflection point between this pilot state and the ongoing efforts to reach full deployment. What's so critical you ask...
Typically this is the stage where the rafters start to shake and the issues such as dropped calls and poor call quality start to show up.
At this point, it becomes a much more visible problem than IM/P and IT
is at an exposure point because conferencing and voice are both mission
critical to the business and the stakes are higher. We are often
brought in at this stage to help companies. Ninety-nine percent of
the time the root cause of the problem was the original architectural
design for Lync itself or the fact that one wasn't really done. The Lync software is stable
but needs to be built and implemented on a well architected
infrastructure that matches the needs and expected usage of your end
Also, typically missed, is the operational excellence phase that you'll
notice was inserted in the life-cycle image above. This should actually
be done BEFORE you enter deployment. You must plan in advance for
questions like: Who is going to support this Lync environment and manage
the end-users day to day? How do you measure and track if Lync is
working properly? What happens when something goes wrong? Who decides
on what modalities to add, when to add them and for which users? It's
about being able to see how Lync is serving the user base as the user
base is growing in its adoption and then on an ongoing basis to get to a
healthy run state and stay there.
This is the Unify Square Mission: To Make Microsoft Lync Work BEST for YOU!
We have a series of consulting service offerings from the very beginning
with the architecture design through to your end state. With planning,
deployment and operational readiness services. We also have
operational products to enable you to manage to a healthy run state with
end-to-end availability monitoring, voice quality and user adoption
analytics, provisioning and user satisfaction measurement. All of these
are built with that end-user perspective in mind.
And like other mission critical applications, you will need third tier support to provide that extra insurance you need to address those tricky issues. Our prescriptive support capabilities can augment your internal staff to keep Lync healthy for your organization.
The advantages we bring to our clients reside in our services, software and support that are backed by industry experts and leaders in this space. Our founders and experts were the originators of much of the underlying technology of Lync, edge servers and user adoption. We are the ones that made Lync work at Microsoft.
We have serviced over 150+ global companies and more than 45 of the Fortune 500 where we have impacted over 3 million seats of Lync. We use that data and experience to fuel everything we do so that you gain the benefit of all that have gone before you. As a global company, we have offices around the world to meet the needs of your international enterprise.
Just as every Lync deployment has a similar life cycle, every global enterprise has a similar set of tracks that must be completed on the way to a healthy run state. As depicted in the graphic above the tracks you're going to encounter include:
Strategy & Design
Defining the business strategy and overarching goals for the Lync initiative are important to the widespread success of the initiative. The strategy provides the input needed to drive important decisions around big picture design of the Lync infrastructure and 3rd party ecosystem. Design must also take into consideration the nuances of country compliance requirements as well as telephony and connectivity challenges.
Implementation & Deployment
The Lync environment consists of multiple modalities that can be implemented at a variable pace. This may include the implementation of Lync room systems at HQ, video conferencing across EMEA or outbound PSTN dialing for a specific region, just as a few examples. And when the roll-out is ready to proceed globally, enterprise wide deployment can benefit from a predictable, repeatable process to transition each site around the world.
As with any new technology, user training and education is imperative to success. From early analysis of the user needs and requirements to onsite white-glove transition support to ongoing training and support materials, the User Adoption track has a few stops you'll need to consider.
Typically the most under-rated track of them all is operations. This is the track where your team works across groups to plan for and operationalize the day-to-day operations, management of users, monitoring of the system, readiness of first responders and the measurement of a healthy run state.
The Unify Square Consulting team partners with enterprises to help them through all of these different tracks, no matter where they may be today. From strategy design sessions to global voice deployment programs to user adoption analysis and operational readiness services, we are here to support you on your journey to a healthy Lync end-state.
We make it easy for companies to engage with Unify Square no matter where they are along the Lync life-cycle or along the different tracks. Our first engagement with you is called the UC RightTrack and it is roughly a four-week program that will put your Lync journey on the path to success. This structured program is low risk and provides you with expert advice and tangible results along the way.
A team of our experts will meet with your organization and learn more about your business goals, your environment and what you have accomplished to date. We will then work with you to baseline your technical environment, make initial recommendations on architecture and even help to fix those most critical issues that may be holding you back.
We'll also baseline end-user satisfaction to find out what the users have to say about your environment and perform a user adoption audit to better understand the challenges you face.
At the end of the engagement you'll have a long term phased plan that is aligned to your business goals, a prioritized project task plan for the first phase, a prioritized fix-it list, a series of recommendations on how to accomplish your overall goals and a good sense of what you'll need to do to operationalize Lync for a healthy run state.
Many have said that what gets measured gets done. As mentioned earlier, a healthy Lync initiative is measured from the users' perspective and in the areas of Service Availability, Voice Quality and User Satisfaction. It is this new way of looking at the Lync initiative that influenced the products that we have developed.
The above sets of measures are real-world examples from one of our clients over a period of three to six months after deploying our solutions. As you can see from the charts, the customer has shown excellent improvement.
In the area of service availability, the customer implemented our end-to-end monitoring solution which has been able to identify problem areas and alert the Lync administrators to issues fast. This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of hours of downtime and their service availability increased by a significant margin.
On the voice quality measurement, the customer began using our Big Data Analytics solution to really look at the root cause for bad call quality and apply long term fixes. You can see that the results are on an excellent trajectory just after a few months.
The latest snapshot of the end-user satisfaction came in at 155. For those of you unfamiliar with the Microsoft derived NSAT methodology, anything above 140 is considered very good and a score over 150 means your end-users think you are doing a world-class job.
With Unify Square, it's all about getting your organization to operational excellence and improving the health of Lync on an ongoing basis.
Measuring Lync service availability from the perspective of the end-user answers the question, "Is Lync Working?" With Unify Square PowerMon you get a clear understanding of the ability of end users to make calls, join conferences and collaborate.
PowerMon is a proactive, end-to-end user-centric availability monitoring solution in the cloud. Using synthetic transactions that simulate real user activities, the solution continually exercises Lync to identify problems and prioritize by business impact. The solution also provides expert guidance in the form of root cause analysis enabling IT first responders to quickly pinpoint and resolve issues.
PowerMon helps organizations to deliver a world-class Lync experience to their global users.
Voice Quality is a key factor of end user acceptance of Lync. Just because a call connects doesn't mean that both parties can communicate and collaborate. Unify Square PowerView is a big data analytics solution for Microsoft Lync that helps organizations to identify, analyze and improve voice quality issues while also providing a centralized view of service utilization and user adoption information.
PowerView helps IT teams to visualize their data, make smarter strategic decisions and target more effective tactical interventions. With PowerView organizations can better understand how to define a road map to achieve operational excellence in the endeavor of providing great Lync voice quality to their end users.
Measuring the overall user satisfaction with Lync is just as critical as the more technical measurements of end-user availability and voice quality. Asking users directly about their experience with Lync can uncover problems or issues not reported and not easily identified by technology.
Unify Square PowerSat is a presence-aware IM survey solution delivered through Microsoft Lync. Unlike other survey tools, it uses the underlying collaboration and presence technology of Lync to capture feedback when it counts and when the user is available. As a result, PowerSat clients see response rates of more than double that of standard email or web survey tools.
With PowerSat an organization can continually engage with their user population to uncover potential issues, identify at-risk users and improve their overall user adoption levels.
We often find that the Microsoft Lync initiative is similar to other mission critical applications when it comes to needing support, where third tier support is necessary. Getting Microsoft Lync operational across the business with conferencing and enterprise voice is a great achievement, but keeping it running 24hrs a day, 7 days a week can be a challenge where many organizations can benefit from our experience.
Unify Square Power Assurance is a subscription service that can help your Lync initiative thrive. Power Assurance includes continuous Lync environment monitoring from our own 24hr Network Operations Center, leveraging the advanced capabilities of Unify Square PowerMon. When incidents occur our team takes ownership and works the issues through resolution keeping your team in the loop the whole time.
On a regular basis our team provides strategic and tactical advice focusing on long term health of the Lync environment. Finally, Power Assurance gives your technical team access to our 3rd tier support experts that can help to identify root causes and solve those hard problems.