Thursday, October 30, 2014

New Tools to Leverage Microsoft Lync in Your Organization

Instant Technologies has been developing enterprise IM applications for Microsoft Lync, and IBM Sametime, since 2002.  Our early applications integrated Microsoft Outlook with IBM Sametime and after 'lighting up' email with IM presence, we have moved our focus to server side IM applications.

On the Microsoft Lync side, we have three primary applications in the market to leverage, and extend, an enterprise Microsoft Lync investment. 

These three applications may be grouped into a few high level terms or concepts:

Search - HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync:

In 2006, we developed our first product for the Microsoft IM platform.  Way back in the LCS 2005 era we developed the application to search the LCSLog database to folks using LCS could view their chat chistory.  For those who do not know about the LCSLog, the LCSLog is the database that contains the various tables that Microsoft LCS, Microsoft OCS, and Microsoft Lync have all used to capture the IM conversations that traverse the UC server. 

In 2013, we developed HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync in order to provide 'non-technical' users, or people, with the ability to search, export, extract, and explore the information maintained within the LCSLog database.   HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync is installed 'on-premise' and our installation process should take less than 30 minutes.  HR Auditor supports a great looking user interface, the dynamic visualization of search results, and the ability to export search results to a variety of formats (pdf, txt, csv).  HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync is a powerful, and easy to use, eDiscovery tool for Microsoft Lync.


Connect - Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync

Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync has recently been released (July 2014) and provides the ability to quickly leverage Microsoft Lync as part of an IT service desk or contact center.  Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync provides 'click to chat' functionality across Microsoft Lync 2013 and has the ability to integrate with existing IT systems. 

Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync leverages the investment in enterprise Lync adoption by providing a common UC platform for the internal, or external service desk.  Instant Chime is also an excellent addition to a contact center has includes a clean user interface, rich collection of dashboards, and the ability to quickly stage a 'click to chat' module for Microsoft Lync.

If you need to route help desk request, or contact center requests, using Microsoft Lync, then Instant Chime should be a great addition to your IT portfolio.

 Alert - Alert Manager for Microsoft Lync

Many of our customers have requested a tool to leverage Microsoft Lync in order to send immediate notifications or emergency messages.  We developed Alert Manager for Microsoft Lync in order to provide our customers with an application to immediate broadcast IT messages, server notifications alerts, or other organizational alerts that need to be dispatched immediately - and dispatched via something other than email.

Some of our Alert Manager customers leverage Alert Manager to send notifications concerning server outages, email outages, or other alerts that need to be dispatched to a broad audience using IM - which provides for immediate delivery across the enterprise.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Creating Trusted Application Pools for Microsoft Lync



So, we've got a product called Alert Manager. And while it's pretty neat, it does have some issues with Microsoft Lync trusted application pools. Specifically, it needs to be a trusted app, and that can be kind of rough to set up automatically. As a result, now and then our customers have to add the Alert Manager app to their trusted app pool manually.

There's a certain amount of data you need before you can do that, though, so I'll start there.

First, we're going to log into our target server, where we're installing Alert Manager. From that server, start PowerShell 3.0 in Administrator mode (most of these commands require administrative rights --for obvious reasons; you're altering the structure of the network's trust systems).

All the commands below are issued to the PowerShell shell, and the results are displayed inline.

We need the domain name for obvious reasons –it's awfully hard to provision a server on a trusted application if we don't have the FQDN for that server. Here's how I get it:

$objIPProperties = [System.Net.NetworkInformation.IPGlobalProperties]::GetIPGlobalProperties()

// from objIPProperties, get the FQDN...
$fqdn = $objIPProperties.HostName +“.”+$objIPProperties.DomainName

I'm going to be taking each element and sticking it in a variable so that the code doesn't turn into a garbled mess. So now $fqdn should contain the fully-qualified domain-name of the server on which we're installing Alert Manager.

Next, we'll grab the identity of the registrar with this command:

//now, get your registrar...
Get-CsService -Registrar | Format-list

As I said, we're going to want the results on the first line, which should look like this:

“Identity: Registrar:your.pool.domain.name.”
“...other data we don't care about...”

So we take that information and we set it as a variable for neatness:

$registrar = “pool01.instant-tech.local”
(tip: don't try to set a variable without the quotes around it; Powershell will try to interpret that string as a command, and spit it back at you when your registrar FQDN isn't a recognized commandlet.)

Now we need to get the data that we have available for your Lync server site. You should know which site you're targeting, particularly if you're using any sort of exotic hybrid 2010/2013 front-end/back-end setup. The command that will get you that list of sites is this:

Get-CsSite | format-list
Select the first line, which should be look like:
“Identity: Site: yoursitename”
“...more data we don't care about...”

And set that as a variable.
$site = “yoursitename”

The last pieces of data we need come from the Lync Certificate Authority for your system, since trusted app pools use certificates to assure...well...trust.

//This will get a list of the certificate authorities this computer is aware of...
CertUtil -CA | format-list

At least one of these will be your Lync certificate authority. You should already know which one is appropriate for your situation –finding that is beyond the scope of this post.

From the appropriate CA entry, find the CAPropDNSName and the CAPropCommonName, and put those into variables, too. It should look something like this:

“CAPropCommonName = INSTANT-TECH-2013FES-CA”
“CAPropDNSName = 2013FES.INSTANT-TECH.local”
“...this doesn't matter to us...”

And then we'll slap those into variables for neatness...

$DNSName = “2013FES.INSTANT-TECH.local”
$CommonName = “INSTANT-TECH-2-13FES-CA”

And then combine them because when we request the certificate we need both:

$CA = $DNSName + "\” + $CommonName

Again, do be sure to put those into quotes so that Powershell doesn't try to interpret them. We'll be using them as arguments in a second.


Okay!
Now we should have all the data you need to build a new trusted app pool. First thing's first, though –if you've gotten here, you've tried to build an app pool through our Install Wizard. If this fails, the trusted app server retains the (misconfigured) attempt you made earlier, so let's get rid of that:

//get rid of the old app pool you tried to create, using the variable you made earlier.
Remove-CsTrustedApplicationPool -Identity $fqdn -force

//Now, create a new trusted application pool:
New-CsTrustedApplicationPool -Identity $fqdn -Registrar $registrar -Site $site -ComputerFqdn $fqdn

//push the trusted application pool to the lync tolopogy
enable-CSTopology

//get lync certs so that everyone plays nice with each other.
Request-CsCertificate -New -Type Default -ComputerFqdn $fqdn -CA $CA


That should get your app pool and certificate all set up. From there, the Trusted Application tool in Instant Technologies’ Setup Wizard should see you clear. Once it loads, choose an existing app pool (the one you just created), then swap to the other tab to create your trusted application.  

A great deal of the information for the creation of Alert Manger's PowerShell comes from the excellent Joe Calev's blog.
Specifically, these articles about Lync Server Topologies and PowerShell with UCMA, while very outdated, provided a great deal of insight into the topic.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, please comment or email me at mmcpherson@instant-tech.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Click to chat using Microsoft Lync

Recently, we announced our latest product, Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync.  Instant Chime is focused on providing 'click to chat' and service desk support using Microsoft Lync.  Chime is the latest offering from Instant that targets the IT and help desk environments - using IM as the primary tool to immediately connect with a help desk agent. 

The following screen shot shows Chime with the Microsoft Lync Client Window Extension or Lync CWE - where an Office 365 SharePoint site is integrated with the agent's IM session:

Lync CWE example with a SharePoint ticketing panel integrated with the Chime agent experience

Instant has been helping customers with their help desk operations on the IBM Sametime platform for over 10 years. Given this breadth of experience combined with growing expertise on the development team, we have decided to introduce a solution for the Microsoft Lync environment.

One global IT customer currently handles more than 30,000 requests per month through Instant Queue Manager for IBM Sametime. At Instant, developing IM based service desk solutions are a core piece of our business and we understand the challenges and needs in this area well.

Instant Chime enables agents to handle multiple concurrent chat sessions with case escalation and active dashboards. Chime is singularly focused on the user experience—bringing together multiple role-based dashboards with robust reporting and rich visuals, enabling agents to perform their job with ease and managers to continuously monitor and improved work flow operations.

Chime is designed for businesses looking for a more integrated solution to get the most value out of their Lync investment without taking on a full featured contact center deployment.

Please visit http://www.addchime.com to learn more about Instant Chime

Configure Service Desk and Help Desk Groups Using Microsoft Lync
 

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Can I View Lync lcslog IM Conversations

At Instant, we've been solving customer requirements to view, search, and export content from the Lync lcslog database for more than 8 years. 

We initially developed our application to search the lcslog database back in the LCS 2005 days - that's a long time ago.  Back in the 2005 environment, our application was designed to provide 'end users' with the ability to locate and view their individual conversations. 

With the release of Microsoft OCS 2007, we expanded our focus to more closely match customer requirements to search, view, and export the IM conversations related to HR or legal inquiries.  Instead of individuals searching their own IM content, our OCS 2007 solution was designed for eDiscovery and compliance audits.

Fast forward to 2013.  In 2013, we completely restructured and rebranded our eDiscovery and compliance solution for Lync.  HR Auditor for Lync represents our latest application to handle the requirements associated with locating, exporting, and viewing the content captured in the Lync LCSlog archiving system.

HR Auditor supports a great user interface, a 30 minute installation, and great looking graphical representations of the IM conversations and conversation traffic.  HR Auditor is successfully searching enterprise accounts from 100 to 10,000 users - with great performance, a well designed user interface, and an extreme focus on every aspect of the product.

With HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync, you can easily:
  • Search all IM conversations in the Lync LCSLog
  • Locate conversations based on participants
  • Locate conversations based on keyword
  • Export conversations to pdf
  • Export conversations to plain text
  • View graphical representations of IM traffic patterns - and drill down into result sets

We are incredibly proud of HR Auditor - give it a try at www.tryhrauditor.com









Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chime - Ask the Expert for Microsoft Lync

Chime, our recently announced service desk application for Microsoft Lync provides an excellent platform for an enterprise ask the expert service.  Chime is the next generation of our popular Queue Manager application, which is an expertise location platform for IBM Sametime. 

Chime provides the ability to quickly deploy 'click to chat' and ask the expert functionality within an enterprise, without complex SIP programming or complex Lync configuration.

In Chime, each help desk queue is configured using a simple browser based user interface.  Each service desk 'queue' can be configured to support either agents (experts) - and these agents, or experts, may be maintained using either individual accounts or Active Directory groups.

When a customer requests help from the system, the customer provides some metadata about the request (for example name, email address, question) and the Chime platform will locate an expert in real-time to provide assistance.  Both the expertise routing, and subsequent conversation, will be brokered using the Microsoft Lync platform and the expert and customer may us IM, voice, video, or application sharing during the session.


Once an expert has been located, the conversation may be escalated to any of the modalities supported by Microsoft Lync.  For example, the customer may share their screen, the expert may share their video, or the customer and expert may both review an excel sheet to discuss questions such as a loan plan or investment considerations.

Chime is designed to connect employees with experts - in real time using Microsoft Lync.


You can also view our updates via LinkedIn at:
https://www.linkedin.com/company/helpdesk-and-service-desk-chat-support-using-microsoft-lync
 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Instant Chime - Integrate Microsoft Lync with Salesforce for Help Desk Application

Instant Chime is a service desk application that is a designed to leverage Microsoft Lync, or IBM Sametime, as the primary tool for help desk interaction. Since many of our customers may also use Salesforce, Chime provides a very easy to use interaction layer to connect service desk agents, Microsoft Lync, and Salesforce.

 At a high level, this integration looks like the following:
  • A customer is on a web site, or internal portal, and requests help using a click to chat link
  • Chime receives the request and locates an available help desk agent, using Microsoft Lync, to handle the inbound request
  • When the help desk agent accepts the request using Microsoft Lync, the agent's Lync client is connected to the customer via IM and the agent's Lync window automatically expands and opens a Salesforce URL
Of course, it is possible to place any URL in the Lync CWE (context window extension), however, placing a Salesforce URL seems especially useful.  Chime supports a dynamic template engine, so the URL that is staged in the agent's window may include custom parameters and values.

Some other useful Microsoft Lync CWE pages may include SharePoint ticketing panels, internal employee dashboards, content from Microsoft Dynamics, or an internally developed ticketing system.

Chime has been developed with integration in mind - and the addition of the Lync CWE extensions provides a lot of context to the help desk agent, with minimal configuration and zero additional development.

Here are some screenshots demonstrating the various stages of the help desk request




The help desk agent receives the request in Microsoft Lync and accepts the conversation:


The agent accepts the request and their Microsoft Lync client expands with an embedded Salesforce page:



 Take a look and quickly add Lync IM to your service desk...http://www.addchime.com/lync/help-desk-chat-support-using-microsoft-lync.html
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Routing Service Desk Issues with Microsoft Lync

Instant has been helping customers with their help desk operations on the IBM Sametime platform for over 10 years.  With several of our larger service desk deployments, Instant Queue Manager routes more than 3,000 service desk requests per day - across a help desk landscape that may include more than 125 help desk agents.

We have noticed the transformation from traditional phone based service desks, to an environment where 'click to chat' and IM routing are both replacing the phone based model.  Our existing Sametime based product, Queue Manager, is enabling this transformation at some of the largest companies in the world.  We are excited to bring this same level of expertise to the Microsoft Lync service desk environment.

As service desks transform from phone based support, to IM and real time support, employee satisfaction improves, the load on the service desk can be reconfigured, and agents can handle multiple issues concurrently (since they can typically manage 2 or 3 chats concurrently).



In order to further secure our place in the modern service desk environment, we have recently launched Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync.  Chime represents the next generation of our service desk platform and it supports both Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime (the Sametime version will be available later this summer). 

Here is a short overview of how to configure a Lync service desk queue using Instant Chime.

Chime provides a platform that is designed to enable 'real-time' communication with service desk agents using Microsoft Lync. For Microsoft Lync based organizations, Chime provides the ability to quickly create, deploy, and monitor help desk 'queues'.

Chime provides:
  • Real time dashboards to view all service desk activity - for example all employees waiting for help
  • Web client for one click access to agents - of course you can provide custom branding
  • Historical charts and metrics with information on ASA, total chat duration, agent productivity
  • The ability for line of business managers to manage, and monitor, service desk queues
  • Capability to surface existing ticketing applications in the agent's Lync client - via a Lync Client Window Extension - or Microsoft Lync CWE
We are very excited about the recent launch of Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync and the upcoming release for IBM Sametime. 

Chime In - Get Help

Add Chime to your enterprise - www.addchime.com

Example of Chime surfacing a SharePoint ticketing site within a Lync Client Window Extension


 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Help Desk Chat Using Microsoft Lync

On Tuesday, we announced our latest product, Instant Chime for Microsoft Lync.  Instant Chime is focused on providing 'click to chat' and service desk support using Microsoft Lync.  Chime is the latest offering from Instant that targets the IT and help desk environment. 

The following screen shot shows Chime with the Microsoft Lync Client Window Extension or Lync CWE - where an Office 365 SharePoint site is integrated with the agent's IM session:

Lync CWE example with a SharePoint ticketing panel integrated with the Chime agent experience

Instant has been helping customers with their help desk operations on the IBM Sametime side for over 10 years. Given this breadth of experience combined with growing expertise on the development team, it was time to introduce a solution for the Microsoft Lync environment. Instant has customers of all sizes, industries and locations around the world using our click-to-chat solutions.  One global IT customer currently handles more than 30,000 requests per month through Instant Queue Manager. At Instant, developing IM based service desk solutions are a core piece of our business and we understand the challenges and needs in this area well.

Instant Chime enables agents to handle multiple concurrent chat sessions with easy case escalation without impacting quality or first call resolution rates. Chime is singularly focused on the user experience—bringing together multiple role-based dashboards with robust reporting and rich visuals, enabling agents to perform their job with ease and managers to continuously monitor and improved work flow operations.

Chime is designed for businesses looking for a more integrated solution to get the most value out of their Lync investment without taking on a full featured contact center deployment.

Please visit http://www.addchime.com to learn more about Instant Chime

Configure Service Desk and Help Desk Groups Using Microsoft Lync
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Using Microsoft Lync in the Service Desk

For more than 7 years, Instant has had an IM service desk application based on IBM Sametime.  Our IBM Sametime based product (Queue Manager) has enjoyed widespread customer adoption and is currently routing more that 3,000 service desk requests, per day, in some of our large deployments.  Providing the ability to offer 'click to chat' service desk access has increased employee satisfaction and, at the same time, improved the efficiency and performance of the service desk. 

We are seeing internal service desk teams shift the focus from phone based support to IM based support, and this shift is only increasing.  For employees, IM based support allows for immediate access to an agent, the ability to send and receive useful textual content and links, and the ability to quickly escalate to other forms of information sharing (i.e. sharing a desktop).

Next week, we will announce Instant Chime.  Instant Chime is service desk application focused on connecting employees, agents, and customers using an existing presence infrastructure - Microsoft Lync.  Chime assumes that all internal employees are already using Microsoft Lync on a daily basis, and that Microsoft Lync should be primary means to contact and interact with the internal service desk. 

For the managers running the various service desks, Chime includes a rich set of dashboards, metrics, and real time notifications systems.  For the employees who need to access the service desk, Chime includes a 'click to chat' web client, the ability to connect with Chime using Microsoft Lync, and immediate access to a service desk agent - whether that agent is in the next office or around the world.  For the agents responsible for the service desk, Chime includes rich contextual window extensions, the ability to escalate conversations to screen and application sharing, and the ability to handle more than one incident at a time. 

Let your employees Chime In and receive immediate assistance. 

View our updates on our latest Chime LinkedIn page:

Give Instant Chime a try.

http://www.addchime.com/

Peyton


 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Search Microsoft Lync Conversations

Over the past several years, we have developed a variety of applications to help customers capture,  search, and share content from the two largest enterprise IM platforms - IBM Sametime and Microsoft Lync.  Both platforms are excellent and have a mission critical role in many of the large enterprises that we work with on a daily basis.

With Microsoft Lync, the Lync server provides the ability to automatically capture the Lync based conversations to a central SQL database.  While the Lync server is great at capturing the Lync IM conversations, there are not a lot of great tools out there for searching, locating, exporting, and sharing this captured content for meaningful action.

Enter HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync.  We developed HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync in order to fill the void that many customers articulated - namely, provide a great tool to enable searching and eDiscovery against the Lync chat repository.  Since HR Auditor is deployed on premise, we focused on a great installation process and a super clean and simple user experience.  As with all of our recent software, we made every attempt to provide a crisp, simple, powerful, and rewarding experience for both the technical IT manager and the non-technical end user. 

If you are looking for a great tool to search, export, locate, or view server based Lync conversation, then we hope you take the time to evaluate HR Auditor for Lync.  This latest release has been in the market for more than one year and we have enjoyed some great feedback and customer loyalty. 

While we enjoyed building HR Auditor, we almost had more fun mocking up designs for a mascot, Moto.

Give us a try at:
http://www.tryhrauditor.com/



http://tryhrauditor.com/how-can-i-view-lync-lcslog-im-conversations.html
How can I search the lcslog database


Peyton

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cornerstone Medical Corners IM Tracking to Improve Productivity and Patient Satisfaction

Background
Cornerstone Medical Care (www.cmcb.com) is an internal medicine practice with offices in Brandon and Sun City Center, Florida. Physicians also have privileges at both Brandon Regional Hospital and South Bay Hospital, for urgent and emergency care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Cornerstone provides patients with a full range of comprehensive health services with electronic medical records to ensure efficiency and accuracy, while maintaining the highest standards for the privacy and security of your health records

Challenges – Cornerstone adopted Microsoft Lync about 2 years ago and like many users, quickly discovered there was no easy way to search IM conversations.  As a healthcare provider, Cornerstone is required to keep and protect all internal communications. While Lync captures and archives the chat, it does not provide visual display or reporting tools to present the data in a meaningful way. Additionally, Cornerstone wanted a view of IM traffic for analyzing staff productivity. For example a spike in usage acts as an alert to a potential patient service or human resource issue that demands attention.

Solution – Jason Ferenczy-Zumpano, Practice Administrator for Cornerstone Medical Care, participated in the Instant Technologies beta test program for the HR Auditor (HRA) product, designed specifically to search, view and export Lync IM chat conversations. Ferenczy-Zumpano appreciates that HRA provides a visual display of IM chats by date, time, user or keyword and not just a text output of a specific chat session. “HRA is well-conceived and provides a complete search tool but equally valuable for us is the ability to look at overall IM usage across the practice, not just targeting certain communications,” Jason noted.

Cornerstone uses Instant Technologies HRA to monitor conversations and productivity of 55 staff members. After deployment, IM chat quickly surpassed internal email use but without the ability to monitor IM in real-time, it was difficult to track how it was being used. Ferenczy-Zumpano explains, “We like to keep a pulse on what is going on in the practice, and with our other communication channels (like email and contact center) we are able to view usage and shadow terminals, but we did not have this insight with IM.” With the help of HRA, Cornerstone initially determined that 50% of IM is used for work and 50% for social chat, after 6 months of using HRA and as a direct result of monitoring, non-business chat use of IM was reduced to below 5%. It is further helpful to track IM use by Microsoft Active Directory (AD) group to help set benchmarks by job role– physicians, physician assistants (PA), billing staff, and management.

Bottomline – Jason also added, “I find HRA is a great management tool for both IM compliance in healthcare and usage monitoring. For us it’s not just about reporting after the fact, it is important to have insight into our internal communications to get in front of potential issues.”  This is a great recommendation on how HRA brings critical visual acuity for monitoring and eDiscovery and compliance in the healthcare environment.

Background - HR Auditor for Microsoft Lync® is an eDiscovery tool that allows you to search, view and export Lync IM conversations within your existing archive database.

Key features include:
- Perform basic and advanced searches by keywords, dates, and users
- Export conversations to .pdf, .csv, or .txt files
- Install in less than 30 minutes with no technology upgrade

Seamless installation means authorized users are up and running quickly. The intuitive design offers advanced search functionality with rich visual display

Key benefits include:
- Cost effective, complete solution for managing eDiscovery and compliance requests
- Designed to enable non-technical users to perform searches
- Streamlined installation and quick search honors time restraints on high demand IT professionals

For more information visit – www.tryhrauditor.com