Lync Development: What’s Possible
Microsoft Lync is a big product, and it can have a big impact in an organisation.
It can change how people work, how they interact with each other, how they communicate.
There are lots of different tools for developing applications in conjunction with Microsoft Lync, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. What can you build on Lync? What’s possible?
This is a hard blog post for me to write, because there’s an unlimited number of things you could write that interact with Lync. What I’ve decided to do instead is focus on one particular fictional company and describe ways in which they might have chosen to develop Lync applications.
Let’s assume this is a small online retailer, let’s call them ThoughtShop! They make products in an on-site warehouse and also deal with lots of different suppliers to fulfill orders to customers. They have deployed Lync 2013 with full voice capabilities (Enterprise Voice) to everyone in the company.
The ThoughtShop Story…
The first thing ThoughtShop did was to drop pre-built Lync controls into their existing Customer Management System. That way, rather than just seeing that an order has been “QA Checked by Bill Smith” – a user can see Bill’s contact card, looking just the same as the Lync one, and can easily click to start an IM conversation with him. It was a really quick win, and helped make Lync a more integrated part of company’s workflow.
The next change they made was to fix an old problem they had with their previous phone system in the warehouse. Frequently phone calls would be missed because the ringing tone couldn’t be heard over the noise of trucks. What they did was buy a cheap USB flashing light and had an intern from their IT team spend half a day writing a small Lync desktop application which turned on the light every time there was an incoming call. Simple but effective!
Some of ThoughtShop’s suppliers are Lync federated with them. This means that they can put their supplier’s contacts on their contact lists, and communicate with just, just the same as their co-workers. They created a Conversation Window Extension (CWE) which they could open when in a conversation with a supplier, and which would automatically show additional information about the supplier such as the products ThoughtShop bought from them, any current issues etc.
When ThoughtShop replaced their old phone system with Lync they had to decide what to do with their incoming customer care line. They wrote a UCMA application which they linked to the number and which answers the call and acts as an IVR. It transfer calls to different people or departments based on the inputs the customer selects. Customers can also type in their order number and the application will look up the order in the back-office Orders Database and then tell the customer the state of their order and any messages on the account. Suddenly ThoughtShop have an enterprise-grade customer care experience with Lync without the costs traditionally associated with it!
Finally, ThoughtShop have cautiously decided to partner with their arch-rivals, BrainStorz so that their research departments can collaborate on a mutually beneficial project. BrainStorz were keen to Lync-federate, but ThoughtShop had concerns. They’d heard of other companies having their staff poached by BrainStorz and they didn’t want this happening over Lync! Therefore, they decided to use MSPL scripts to block any traffic between ThoughtShop and BrainStorz unless it was between certain individuals in the research departments.
That was just a silly example, but hopefully it shows you all the different things you might do with Lync Development, and the huge potential you have with Lync.
If you’ve got ideas for what you want to build, but don’t know which of the many APIs or SDKs for Lync you should be using – check out my post on Choosing the right API.