Sprint (NYSE: S) is playing into the emerging mobile nature of its business clients by adding Microsoft Lync to its cloud-based unified communications (UC) solution, Sprint Complete Collaboration, which it debuted in 2012.
Targeting mid-sized and large businesses, Sprint said the expanded service "can improve collaboration among employees, no matter where they are located or what device they are using, thus boosting productivity and decision-making."
Because it is deployed over an all-IP network, Sprint Complete Collaboration can serve two functions: improve reliability and quality of collaborative applications and offer flexibility to employees who spend a lot of time working remotely on the road or telework.
Craig Safir, director of cloud and converged solutions, Sprint, said that the addition of Lync takes the guesswork out of the business customer's hands in supporting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.
"Part of this is related to BYOD, but the multiple OS component and agnostic element of it is a big deal, and even when we demonstrate this for customers regardless of platform, they get it," he said. "Maybe it used to be the case that it was Apple, Android was lagging, and I think it is strictly multiple OS now and is becoming a big driver of this and the tools our clients' employees are most familiar are the ones they have today."
Besides BYOD, the solution also illustrates the growing acceptance of Unified Communications, particularly for collaboration.
The expanded service allows collaboration across any device with support for multiple operating systems. Employees can use their own tablet or smartphone to join meetings, check presence and availability and use instant messaging while away from the office.
"I think UC used to be looked as a pioneering solution that only the technologist could use, but at some point the chasm has been crossed to mainstream acceptance, both on the vendor side which have done more incremental honing on the platforms and on the customer there's a greater understanding of what it is," Safir said. "Some of our earlier customers looked at it as a cost play and are only now thinking of the collaboration benefits of it."
Every user package incorporates SIP Trunking capabilities and mobility. Unlike traditional TDM-based PRI Trunking, SIP Trunking can reduce network costs while enabling access to tools and applications across any endpoint.
Sprint said it is seeing benefits by adopting Microsoft's collaboration tools for its own employee base. The service provider said that by replacing its aging PBX infrastructure with the new UC system, it saved $30 million in real-estate cost savings plus approximately $13 million in operating costs per year.
"What's interesting is all of those benefits that we got are all documented and gives us credibility as we approach the market," Safir said. "Microsoft touts us as a case study on how to do it and that gives us significant amount of confidence in approaching the market because of the lessons we learned on doing it on a global basis."
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Updated article on Jan. 31 with quotes from Craig Safir, director of cloud and converged solutions, Sprint.