The Power of Unified Communications

Woman at desk with monitor and tablet running Windows 8It took only my first audio call to a public phone number from a Microsoft Communicator client on my Windows desktop and I was hooked on unified communications (UC)– the power to phone anywhere in the world from my computer was empowering. It felt like the first time I sent an email halfway around the world.

As I started specializing in UC at Dell Software, I realized that the body of knowledge and expertise I was gaining would benefit others, so I took the leap and started blogging about what I was learning from both the technical and business side.  I say “leap” because until you’ve blogged or posted external content, it’s a vulnerable feeling. Once I started getting the feedback from others out there in the community, it motivated me to keep going.

Fast forward seven years – many, many blogs and commentary on a gamut of Lync and UC topics later. I have been able to learn and gain a lot of experience from participating in the Lync and UC community, and my contributions were recognized with the Microsoft MVP honor for the fifth straight year!  The MVP award is very special – to myself and in the industry – and I am still as grateful to receive it this year as the first year I was awarded.

This MVP recognition has brought me closer to other Lync experts, users, and companies all around the globe, which has been fantastic, but on the flip side it made me think: I didn’t really have a good sense of what was going on in my own home town.  The last few years I’ve seen a huge uptick in Lync deployments in the Ottawa area – fueled by adoption at the Federal Government level and some larger private companies.  Co-founding the local Lync Ottawa Users Group allows me to stay in touch with what is going on at a local level and contribute to those initiatives, with an added bonus of meeting face-to-face once in a while to discuss Lync and UC.

Example of Lync on Windows phoneUnified Communications and Lync by their nature are inherently complex – technically and from a business enablement perspective. Rarely are there any easy answers (except for “should I get rid of my existing PBX?” – yes!). The questions that really make me think are about Lync Enterprise Voice – connecting Lync to the public phone system. There are millions of ways to make it work and each way has advantages and disadvantages. Interacting online with Lync technical communities has become a natural progression for me. Part of my job at Dell is designing world-class management tools for UC so when I see something that the world needs to know about during the course of my ‘day job responsibilities’ – either technically with Lync or in the UC world at large – it’s a natural process to make the time to put in a digestible format for people to benefit from it. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about adding value to your customers.  There’s nothing better than seeing someone loving and getting value out of a solution you had a hand in creating.  Technology is basically useless unless it is useful to someone, which brings to mind one of my favorite customer interactions. I was on a conference bus at the Microsoft Exchange Conference several years ago, and sitting next to me was a guy who happened to be a customer of a messaging product I had a hand in developing. When he learned of my involvement in the product, he was truly appreciative that we met and raved about the product for the better part of the next half hour, even going out of his way to introduce me to his colleagues because they loved how much the product had improved their business.  It doesn’t get much better than experiencing first-hand the value that one of your solutions delivers to people.

I’m thrilled to be maintaining my Microsoft MVP status for another year and look forward to what the future holds for unified communications.  Who knows? Perhaps an Office 365 MVP recognition is in my sight down the road? That could be exciting!

Learn how you can find the return on investment from your Lync deployment in this video:

About the Author: Curtis Johnstone