In Tune With Lync
Microsoft partner Qubic Group has supplied a Lync-based set of productivity and communications tools for the London Symphony Orchestra to help it work and tour smarter.
The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Founded in 1904, it is now based at London’s Barbican Centre. Besides regular performances in London and on tour, it is also well-known for its soundtrack performances in films such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Harry Potter series.
The LSO has evolved over the last decade. It has changed from being mainly London-centric to embrace touring, with 25 tours a year worldwide. It has also expanded from 50 people to around 75, with an increased focus on fundraising and tour support. As it has grown, the average age of the workforce has fallen. Jeremy Garside, Head of Technology at the London Symphony Orchestra, says: “There are many staff in their 20s and 30s, and there’s an expectation of flexibility and being up to date with the latest technology.”
In 2010, Garside began reviewing the orchestra’s IT systems. In particular, he wanted to replace its ageing phone system with a more modern one that would support the new, more mobile organisation. He also wanted to update the applications that the staff used every day to communicate, prepare documents, promote the orchestra, and raise funds. While at first glance phone systems and productivity applications may not look like they go together, they are increasingly converging.
The LSO had recently installed a high-capacity fibre optic Internet connection, which meant that a voice-over-IP solution was very attractive. As soon as he started looking, Garside was “drawn to Microsoft Lync 2010 because of the degree of integration between it and Microsoft Outlook 2010. It looked strong.”
The combination of Microsoft Office 2010—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook—with Lync had other benefits. For example, it offered business-class instant messaging (IM). Many employees were familiar with this technology from social networking and other websites. But Lync takes it to a new level with presence information, document transfer, desktop and application sharing, and conference tools.
LSO chose specialist IT firm Qubic to replace its 10-year-old phone system with the Microsoft technology. After a successful pilot scheme, Qubic—which specialises in integrating voice and data systems—is rolling out the new unified communication system across the organisation. Joe Papa, Technical Director at Qubic, says: “The staff at LSO are absolutely delighted with it.”
Together, Lync 2010 and Office 2010 have given the LSO new tools for collaboration that support its active touring schedule.
• SUPPORT FOR REMOTE USERS. When the orchestra goes on tour, staff can continue working as if they were still at the Barbican Centre. They can pick up their email over an Internet connection using Outlook 2010, and they have PC-based phones that they can use anywhere. They can also access their voice mail in their Outlook inboxes
• IMPROVED PRODUCTIVITY. Lync “gives us visibility about who’s available and whether they’re contactable,” says Garside. They can also collaborate on documents together using the tools in Office 2010 for group editing and feedback.
• BETTER TEAMWORK. The integration of voice, IM, and email gives LSO employees the kind of technology they’re used to from consumer services such as Skype and MSN Messenger, but in a business-friendly, secure, and productive environment.
• REDUCED COST. As a charity, the LSO benefits from low-cost licensing from Microsoft, but setting that aside, the new system is cheaper than a conventional phone system—“the hardware is noticeably cheaper,” says Garside, especially because LSO can deploy it on virtualised servers using its existing infrastructure.
• IMPROVED COMPATIBILITY. Office 2010 documents work seamlessly with older Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats, but also with the latest ‘docx’ documents and they can export directly to PDF files. This helps the LSO communicate more effectively with third parties.
• HIGH-QUALITY DOCUMENTS. Thanks to Office 2010, the LSO fund-raising department can produce high-quality PDF files to send to prospective supporters. “That’s been an immediate benefit for them,” says Garside.
In Tune With Lync
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