[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and reviews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]
"We are engaging with clients that are using OCS and Lync [Lync is backward compatible with OCS 2007]. And it's easier to have impromptu meetings with them using Lync to go over a document together. And obviously this can reduce the travel budget," says Rice.
What if the client isn't using OCS or Lync?
The workaround for this SharePoint, says Rice, as A.T. Kearney has set up external SharePoint sites that clients can use to manage and share documents. But Rice admits he would like to use Lync more to share documents and meld SharePoint and Lync together for the "ultimate access to information."
Before choosing Lync, Rice also evaluated UC products from Cisco (ties you to the PBX system too much, with weak integration between PBX systems, he says) and IBM (weak on video, not enough hardware partners, he says).
Rice's big hope: Lync will take most of the confusion, scheduling and formality out of client communications.
"Our business is based on relationships and Lync can make those relationships easier," says Rice.
"If one of our employees is working on a PowerPoint presentation with a client, it's really easy to go over it with them on Lync instead of flying to the location. It doesn't have to be formal and overly scheduled. You can say, 'Hey, I saw that you were online and that you weren't busy. Let's go over some things real quick."
Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.
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