Microsoft OCS & Roundtable

I had a great Live Meeting with a customer day where we discussed how Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and the MS Roundtable device is helping them in their organization…and I have to say it was one of the most positive chats I’ve had with a customer for quite a while!

They are a very large international organization with operations on pretty much every continent (save Antarctica I believe) with 100’000s of users across 100’s of countries. As you can imagine, that means there are a lot of meetings to be had and thus a lot of flights to be made and hotels to be stayed (in). There international travel costs come to 1,000’000’s of Euro’s a year and that is something they wanted/needed to cut-especially in the recent climate.

Using Live Meeting and Roundtable for Video Conferencing means some individual sites are saving over £1,000 per week in travel costs alone! Certain people were flying to Europe 3 times a month and that has now been reduced to once every 2 months at the most…as well as the cost savings, the reduction in carbon emissions is phenomenal 🙂 Since it’s installation, OCS has been used for 12,000,000 minutes of remote conversation!!!

The customer termed Live Meeting/OCS & Roundtable as “the dog’s bollocks” 😉

Live Meeting’s ability to share desktops and applications as well as Powerpoint slide shows makes it the perfect medium for showing remote workers how to use a new system, showing technicians the error you’re experiencing as well as standard presentations etc. Also, the fact that you can take control of a remote desktop means Helpdesk’s can use it to quickly see and solve user’s issues. The Roundtable, with it’s full 360 degree panoramic display helps remote users feel more connected to the information being delivered and the people delivering it!

One situation where Video Conferencing comes in very handy is with pregnancy. Both us internally and the customer I was talking to have got staff who’s wives are very close to giving birth…but there are also important European meetings close on the horizon…”ruh roh” as Scooby may say! Usually the choice would be:

    • Don’t go
    • Go and risk missing the birth

Neither of these are brilliant solutions, so Video Conferencing gives us a 3rd option:

    • Stay here and conference in with full video and VOIP audio.

That way the user can still make their contributions as well as learn from everyone else, while being close enough to home to dash off to the hospital at a moment’s notice!

Jabra/Microsoft Unified Communications Headsets

I was talking to our account manager at Jabra today about their latest range of headsets and they’re really impressive.

Jabra were the first, and I believe still the only, company to have their headsets certified by Microsoft as “Optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator” which is a nice badge to have 🙂

I’ve got the M5390at work and it’s a great bit of kit, especially now I’ve worked out how to use it properly! I’ve always held out against headsets, always said I “need to have a phone in my hand”, always thought headsets were a little bit “Posey” but not any more.

I’ve had the M5390 for about 4 months and find it to be great…the best thing is being able to type properly whilst on the phone, particularly during webcasts, conference calls etc. As the headset is wireless with up to 70M range, I can wander off from my desk to pick up a fax, make a brew, buy a Wispa and all sorts of things, that extra bit of freedom really does help increase productivity.

Also, I’ve got it paired to both my desk phone and my PC “softPhone” so it can hook into Microsoft Office Communicator really well. It also means that you can use it to listen to internet radio, Youtube etc during your lunch hour (of course!) and then webcasts and the like during work hours without bothering any of your colleagues.

Jabra OCS headsets

Sorry the text is a bit small, I’ll try and rectify that ASAP 🙂

Microsoft OCS 2007 R2- More Info

Microsoft OCS 2007 R2, the new version, was recently (14/10/08) announced at VoiceCon. My other posts talk about the features that were expected to be included and can be found here.

BrettJo has got some links with extra info over at his blog, and some of the info from those is below.

The “Communicator Attendant” is a PC Client that adds a whole host of traditional operator features to OCS 2007; it’s advanced features allow you to transfer IM’s (Instant Messages) and/or typed notes along with a phone call <–that’s pretty cool 🙂

Also, ACD Response Group includes a set of workflow and routing rules, IVR and queuing, agent presence, Music on Hold (MOH), and inbound call context. also says:

“Other new telephony features include Delegation (assistant/executive support capabilities), Call Monitoring (call records, call voice quality, usage reporting, and ROI analysis), and SIP trunking direct from the OCS 2007 Mediation Server to the ITSP (PSTN and Cellular networks) without need for a premises SBC.”

Video Conferencing sees a number of improvements including VGA as standard with an HD option and one click screen sharing from Office Communicator, with Polycom & Tandberg endpoints being supported.

Dial-in Conferencing (scheduled or ad-hoc bridging) with VOIP or PSTN access is do-able and the Conferencing Attendant enables you to see the call roster, drop callers from the conference and more.

Another new feature that could lead to some really cool things is the ability for developers to add presence information to other MS AND 3rd party applications such as CRM. So if you’re in Finance and you’ve got a question about the latest order on the Jenkins account, you could see the presence of the customer account manager and contact them via chat…still within that application!

The guys over at TechWorld.nlhave got a video which includes an interview with Senior MS Director Eric Swift and a great demo of the new OCS 2007 R2 features:

If anyone can translate the Dutch article over at Techworld that’d be cool 🙂

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