Delivering Business Value with Enterprise Chat

Delivering Business Value
with Enterprise Chat
A whitepaper by MindLink Software
with contribution from Daniel Jonathan Valik, Microsoft
How Enterprise Chat in Lync & Skype for Business can be used effectively
in today’s global business environment to collaborate more effectively.
E-book Summary
A changing Workplace
Email is not a panacea
Enterprise Chat – What is it?
Enterprise Chat Use Cases
- By department
• Project Management – Delivering projects
On-Time & On-Budget
• Consultancy/ Services – Scaling Knowledge
• Customer Care & Support – The Contact Center:
contribution by Daniel J. Valik, Microsoft
• Operations Management – On time
& On Contract Deleveries
Enterprise Chat Use Cases
- By Industry
• Investment Banking - secure & compliant
information sharing
• Legal Services
• Computer Software - improve on-time delivery
What is MindLink™?
MindLink™ Suite
E-Book Summary
This e-book will introduce the persistent Enterprise Chat functionality in Microsoft Lync™
and Skype for Business. Combining the immediacy of instant messaging with multi-party
outreach, Enterprise Group Chat is transforming how groups and individuals communicate
by facilitating real-time discussion & information flow.
This guide will explain how the technology works and how it can be leveraged in businesses that are already
using Microsoft Lync™.
We will outline the core benefits such as easy, real-time knowledge sharing, more efficient communication &
decision making, time savings, and keeping abreast of up-to-date news which can impact the business. Use
Cases and Case Studies will show real-life application of Enterprise Chat & the associated ROI.
Cross-platform availability on a desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux), mobile, tablet, or web allows for modern day
mobility needs. Completing the entire communication spectrum, Enterprise Chat (or Persistent Chat) cannot
be altered or deleted, ensuring compliance for those in regulated industries or those organizations concerned
about data security & ownership.
This guide will show you how using Chat within your business can foster collaboration.
And as you’ll see, it will have a major impact on your bottom line.
A changing workplace!
In our fast-paced and highly global world, information sharing is key. Retrieving
knowledge and discussing it with colleagues around the world, no matter what team
they sit in or what time zone their office is located in, has become crucial for real-time
discussion & information flow.
Yet challenges have increased: geographically dispersed teams, increasing mobility of the workforce, multiple
projects, a myriad of line-of-business systems with often limited integration, external information feeds (notably
from social channels) and the all so talked-about security & compliance challenges (recent leaking and data
breach scandals included).
Cross-functional projects and teams are a commonality in any vertical. Internal processes and workflows are
ever more important, and can be the linchpin to a competitive edge. This puts further emphasis on ensuring
communication is widely shared among team members.
Email is not a panacea
Various means exist to tackle the modern day workplace challenges, yet communication
tools are still the status quo in many organisations. Email being the most commonly
Email’s downside, however, is that conversations end up taking the shape of “reply-all” email threads, clogging
up people’s inboxes, and making it difficult to find the latest information or filtering out urgent updates from
irrelevant messages. Email conversations contain a wealth of expertise which is often lost in the “black hole” of
employee inboxes.
Moreover, emails between teams can lead to siloed knowledge and information bottlenecks. Not to mention
the apparent security flaws associated with ‘forwarding’ messages outside the core recipient group.
Enterprise Chat – What is it?
Enterprise Chat or Group Chat contributes to knowledge sharing in a structured and
filtered way, all in real time. Conversations take place in a centralized place (called
chat channels) and can be organized according to teams, topics, projects, geographies,
categories, etc. whilst users can be invited to join relevant groups and participate and
engage in those conversations.
All conversations as well as data, links or files are stored (and this is its big advantage of regular Instant
Messaging) and cannot be altered or deleted, allowing knowledge to be retained as an organizational asset.
Others not partaking in the conversation at the time can refer back to the information and easily get up to
speed. All past information is easily searchable.
Moreover, cross platform accessibility and advanced integration with social channels, portals and internal
systems elevate Enterprise Chat to a centralized collaboration hub through which all knowledge and information
(people as well as system) flows.
To help put all of this together on how Enterprise Chat in Lync and Skype for Business can drive your firm
forward, the following real-life use cases illustrate how various organizations and teams are using Enterprise
Chat. While not an exhaustive list (more use cases available via the MindLink team and on our website), these
examples will showcase how Enterprise Chat can drive better collaboration and provide tangible value to your
Enterprise Chat Use Cases - By Department
These roles center on sharing of intellectual capital, knowledge and expertise.
Project Management
– Delivering projects On-Time & On-Budget
A company consists of several hundred or thousands of people who are constantly on the move – traveling, at
meetings or working from home, with their only connection to the office being their laptops or phones. Project
teams generally consist of a core group of 5+ users at subsidiary headquarters and regional offices, technical
leads at global headquarters and their external consultants. The team commonly is functionally, geographically,
linguistically, culturally, and chronologically dispersed. In addition, stakeholders can include members of the
senior leadership team. The challenge is keeping everyone involved, interested and up-to date on the latest
status or changes.
Throughout the project life cycle (discovery, development, test and roll-out), communication among team members
can take on a variety of forms including onsite visits, and teleconferences, but email typically becomes the
go-to communications method due to time, language, and geographical
differences. The dependence on email throughout the project lifecycle
not only promotes ineffective communication but also reinforces siloed
Enterprise Group Chat allows real-time interaction and a more streamlined
but centralized and highly transparent approach, while still empowering
users with the ability to filter the right information to the right people,
reducing communication bottlenecks and information overload.
An example: A chat channel for each stage of the project cycle can be created and relevant stakeholders added.
The chat groups would be used to discuss ideas, raise & clarify issues and answer specific questions around
functionality requirements. Each new revision of the functional spec document or test results can posted into
the group so all users are confident they’re looking at the latest data. Updates from the document management
system or SharePoint could be integrated into the channel alerting all users of a new version whilst social feeds
enrich project information. During roll-out, chat groups can be created to foster a self-help community
where users would post questions or comments using #Hashtags for better structure. If users have specific
questions, they can now search the chat history to see if questions were previously asked and answered; instead
of inundating a few helpdesk resources with questions. Actions can be assigned directly via @Mentions and
highlighted via alerts or push notifications.
Separate chat channels can also be setup for the management team and the key stakeholders providing a
filtered set of information to upper management throughout the project.
These are examples of how Enterprise Chat enables real- time interaction for project managers and a more
streamlined and transparent collaboration foundation, while still empowering users with the ability to
filter the right information to the right people.
Consultancy Services – Scaling Knowledge
A consultant’s time is mostly spent traveling, in airport lounges, cabs, trains, client meeting rooms, hotel rooms, and finally
in the office or home. While a consultant constantly travels to meet clients, it’s their imperative to ensure the firm’s teams
delivers first-rate work to meet these needs. At the most senior levels, it is not uncommon to oversee 20-plus clients, each
with its own dedicated team of 10 to 50 people consisting of directors, senior managers, managers, senior consultants,
consultants, and analysts. The teams are functionally, geographically, linguistically, culturally, and chronologically
dispersed, making it extremely difficult to connect and collaborate on project status, issues or business decisions
needing attention.
Managing clients and internal teams is a complex and demanding part of the job, while equally as challenging as
communicating with peers in the firm to share knowledge, experience, advice, or particulars on past projects. The
professional peer network is just as far- flung and nomadic and reliance on email to communicate clogs up inboxes. To
make matter worse, it is not readily obvious who would be the best resource or subject matter expert.
While everyone shares the common goal of providing the best work to the client, ineffective communication
practices through email can negatively affect the quality of work to the client, or cause delays. To help cope, consultants
have learned to be disciplined in the habit of scanning, absorbing, deleting, filing, and remembering the information read
on email. The stark contrast to email, persistent Enterprise Chat can help ensure smoother communication.
An example: A channel can be created for each client allowing internal team
members to efficiently share knowledge, information and files and update
each other on the progress, flag potential problems, or brainstorm solutions.
This allows consultants to review these goings-on for each project when it
is convenient and not be a prisoner to email alerts. Clear communication to
the entire team is as simple as a post. Important or urgent messages to the
team can be highlighted as an alert and delivered via push notifications. To
counteract the anxiety of searching through countless emails, a simple search
function displays the chat data in context, reducing the amount of information
that needs to be filtered through to find the answer. Connecting Chat to Email
will allow for a seamless message flow with only relevant Emails being piped
straight into the correct client/project channels.
For each client, a Social connector feed can be implemented to send social alerts any time a client or keyword is mentioned
across the newswires. Not only can this information help the firm put information into context and be more informed, it
can also assist deliver high class service to the client. Up-to-date news can impact the assignment; taking quick action to
mitigate risks could elevate a good client relationship to one of utmost confidence and trust.
Among peers, separate chat channels can be set up to share knowledge and expertise in particular practice areas or topics.
Queries will be broadcast to a wide audience, eliminating the need to send untargeted emails. It benefits the group and the
firm as a whole since knowledge is shared and stored as an organizational asset. This will help other consultants who face
the same or similar challenges, those unaware of the situation or for others to reference at a later point in time.
All of these information channels and associated functionalities can be accessed via mobile devices, perfect for those
little chunks of time in between modes of transportation or meetings. An additional benefit is being able to quickly ask a
question or clarify an issue with the team via instant message; this can be helpful for discreet inquiries.
Last but not least, consultants often work on client site meaning that they need to be able to access their tools and systems
via various IT systems and platforms e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux. Enterprise Chat makes this easy due its availability across a
multitude of platforms whilst maintaining data security.
Enterprise Chat creates a collaborative platform, easily integrate itself into the business workflow, support the mobile
nature of consulting, in an efficient, easy way.
Customer Care – The Contact Center:
contribution by Daniel Jonathan Valik, Microsoft
Another benefit: Opportunity to save cost and increase the customer satisfaction.
Most companies are very concerned about their customer care strategy which includes the communication and
collaboration with customers and business partners. An efficient customer care strategy and technical implementation in
an in-house or offshore contact centre is an absolute requirement to stay competitive with other players in the market by
offering quality support to customers.
In every contact centre environment, support agents take calls, chat via instant messages, route customers to other
experts such as Tier 2 or Tier 3 support levels and also involve and escalate support cases to their supervisors. Some of
the resources might not be part of their own organization and because of this, cost efficient real time communication is
needed for these separate and independent contact centre environments. Persistent Enterprise Chat can help modern
contact centres to establish better collaboration and communication among support agents, team managers, supervisors
and external resources.
An example: An outsource contact centre in Portland, Oregon – USA offers
dedicated support for consumer entertainment electronics and software.
Customers have the option to connect to a support agent through phone
or an optional web chat interface on the company’s website. The support
agent receives the inbound phone or chat notification on the desktop
interface, uses Lync and persistent Enterprise Chat to connect automatically
to the right chat rooms based on the customer’s selection of the required
support area in the IVR system (Interactive Voice Response System) or on
the website itself.
In this support scenario the agent is able to connect to other support agents or specialists in the dedicated chat room to
resolve the customer’s inquiry tagging it for future reference with #supportcase, in the best amount of time. An important
goal in this scenario is to avoid transferring a customer or even making a call back. In the event that a customer’s inquiry
needs to be transferred to another support resource, the next engaged agent would have access to the context of the
situation through the chat history, #supportcase and filter options in the chat room.
As illustrated in the example above, Enterprise Chat can help minimize the required time to connect to other human
resources or even introduce system “robots” and “bots” in a chat room, that may connect chat rooms with backend
support, ticketing or tracking systems.
Chat not only aides a reduction of time needed to resolve a case but also increases the overall customer satisfaction as well
as achieve high cost savings. Recent Studies by Microsoft on the efficiency of using Persistent Enterprise Chat have yielded
outstanding results as to the effectiveness of chat in a support environment:
>> 75% reduction in Email
>> 43% reduction in Support Cost
>> 20% increase in Productivity
Project Management
– On time & On Contract Deleveries
Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) run mission-critical global real-time operations with distributed teams that need to stay
tightly coordinated in response to incidents, and to provide highly effective shift handovers. Developing, manufacturing,
and delivering goods to the consumer can touch upon teams in a broad range of functions from R&D to manufacturing,
logistics, distribution, warehouse, and merchandising. Seamless transitions need to occur at every functional shift in the
journey to the consumer, otherwise delays will negatively impact bottom line and reputation.
As the vertical chain is complex, so can the technology be that is deployed in this process. Users are often using a mix
of different desktop technologies e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices. The challenge is not only to ensure all
parties are kept up to date on the latest shipment but also to consolidate all modes of communication. Enterprise Chat
enables real-time communication across platforms and incorporate relevant external feeds i.e. users have access to the
recent chat history and can join a channel and quickly come up to speed on the latest information and discussions. A
separate channel can be created for the “internal” departments (R&D, manufacturing) to flag any quality issues for each
product and “external” departments (logistics, distribution, warehouse, and merchandising) to pinpoint where liabilities for
each shipment changes hands along with other transportation issues.
An example: If an incident such as a natural disaster or geopolitical tension occurs, a new channel can be set up for all
communication from relevant stakeholders from the COO to the onsite agents. All communication happens in real-time,
a critical feature to time sensitive situations.
The history forms valuable input into post mortems and as a knowledge base for recurring issues. Channels showing
transportation news according to geographies using RSS feeds can alert management on potential logistical bottlenecks
impacting the supply chain.
As opposed to the use of conference calls, the use of written real-time communications is very helpful for users who are
not native speakers of their company’s preferred business language. The ability to lock down channels means that
communications can be limited on a “need to know” basis. This collaborative foundation seamlessly integrates into the
business workflow, unites teams using disparate systems while only providing access those who need the visibility.
Chat can provide further efficiencies in time sensitive operations that could have a huge impact on the bottom line by
providing a collaborative foundation and integrating this into the business workflow and backend systems.
Enterprise Chat Use Cases - By Industry
These industries are heavily dependent on cross-functional coordination, real-time
data flow and highest security.
Investment Banking
- secure & compliant information sharing
Broadly speaking, an investment bank is made up of two divisions that work closely together: trading and
research. Traders rely on the work of the research department to help them make decisions on various financial
instruments being traded on the floor. This information is vital to the job of the trader and impacts the cash flow and
bottom line of the institution. The research department can be seen as the nerve center for a bank. Not only do the
findings from the research department need to get to the traders, the information may also be shared with third parties
such as hedge funds and private equity clients who do not have the same in-house capabilities. Moreover, to ensure the
output is as accurate as possible, up to the minute market news on various topics must be included into the models. The
research scope is separated into several verticals or sectors such as FMCG, energy, transportation, commodities, etc. Each
of these groups have a team of managers, senior analysts, and analysts who focus on different aspects of the sector such as
pricing, news trends, consumer reports, corporate purchasing trends, marketing analysis, etc. The analysts communicate
with their peers within the same sector but also with peers in other sectors, depending on their specialization.
The interdependencies, communication, and information flows are highly intricate and complex; the addition of
regulations that impose “ethical” or “Chinese” walls between research and trading makes this elaborate arrangement
even more challenging. Enterprise Chat can reduce dependence on emails for communication and minimize accidental
information sharing between internal banking groups and external clients.
An example: A separate channel for each sector can be created to
update the different analysts on the progress of the reports. Another
channel could be created for all team leaders across the sectors to
share knowledge and align internal initiatives. Communications within
the channels are secure and users can be restricted to certain channels.
RSS/Social feeds of the most current market news can be linked into
a channel for each of the sectors to ensure real-time market news
enriches analyst research. Additionally, any time a new version of
a report is uploaded into a content management system such as
SharePoint for review, an alert can be fed into the respective chat
rooms. Moreover, these same RSS newsfeeds could be accessed by
the traders who also must be aware of any news that may impact their
decision making and could be used to alert external research clients
on the progress of the reports or of any updates deemed relevant.
Previous information can be easily made searchable.
All messages within Persistent Group Chat are stored, searchable and
accessible at any given time and is therefore subjected to compliance
regulations. All information communicated through Enterprise Chat
cannot be altered or deleted, adhering to compliance guidelines.
For banks, Enterprise Chat can seamlessly integrate with other
applications, outside news sources as well as business workflows.
This information can be shared in a secure and compliant
environment with internal and external stakeholders.
Legal Services
Enterprise Chat transforms how legal teams operate by extracting the most valuable
asset of all – knowledge sharing – for driving cases or assignments forward and
increasing productivity and time management for success.
In a law firm, there can be a myriad of senior partners, partners, associate, contract lawyers, “Of Counsel” lawyers, law
clerks, paralegals, legal assistants, and legal secretaries. Although the majority of them are law practitioners, larger law
firms may specialize in different kinds of law, e.g., M&A, corporate, environmental, internet, biotech, aviation, etc. This
could mean potential overlaps between practice areas and could influence the outcome of cases. Additionally, lawsuits are
often complicated and involve many different parties. Within a “single” lawsuit, there can be any number of claims
and defenses between multiple plaintiffs or defendants, each of whom can bring any number of cross-claims and
counterclaims against each other. Managing both clients and teams can be complex and overwhelming and extremely time
consuming, especially with ineffective communications practices.
Enterprise Chat can help all members of the firm within and across different practice areas align their cases to ensure the
best outcome for their clients as well as for the firm. Gathering expert knowledge and data, connecting with peers in the
firm to share information, experience, advice, or particulars on past cases allows the case to be built better and faster
within binding, designated timeframes. All information transmitted is secure, ensuring confidential information is not
improperly leaked.
An example: For each case, a channel can be created to track progress from the senior partners to legal secretaries. If a
case crosses multiple practice areas, additional users may be given access to a certain channel. Future assignments can
benefit as channels enable expert knowledge of predecessors, providing insight into the thought processes associated
with decisions, creating advantages or set up for when a case is handed over from one to another, creating a valuable
asset for the firm. RSS/ Social connector feeds can alert teams of clients mentioned across newswires, providing them
with instant insight for immediate action to mitigate risks that could affect a case. This also helps elevate a good client
relationship to one of utmost confidence and trust. Actions can be tagged to specific @Lawyers whilst # allow for subdiscussion with channels.
All of these information streams and associated functionalities can be accessed via mobile devices, perfect for those times
in between travelling, trials or meetings. Additional filters can be added, as well as instant messaging, which can be helpful
for a discreet inquiry in a public place.
Enterprise Chat enable firms to reduce their dependence on email for mass communication and improve dialogue among
legal teams by creating a real-time, centralized hub to efficiently share knowledge and update each other on progress,
flag potential problems, or brainstorm solutions, thereby transforming how legal teams operate by extracting the most
valuable asset of all – knowledge sharing – for driving cases or assignments forward and increasing productivity and time
management for success.
Software Company - improve on-time delivery
A software company may consists of several dozens to thousands of employees and occupies office space in numerous
different locations. The sales force travels extensively to meet clients and channel partners, logging important details in
CRM. The marketing department is just as mobile, engaging with potential customers, affiliates, media, vendors and other
networking events, keeping track of outreach activities in their own marketing automation software. The development
team, which can sit in-house or be partially outsourced, has multiple projects for each product running concurrently and
rely on development tracking tools and incident tracking software. Lastly, the customer support team fields suggestions for
improvement and issues encountered by customers.
Although highly-disjointed technology-wise, the departments are interdependent and serve as critical touch points for
the customer experience. The challenge is keeping everyone involved, interested and up-to date on the latest status or
changes despite these siloed and “department- centric” tools used. Enterprise Chat can extensively organize the internal
management, sales, marketing, development, and customer support.
An example: The sales teams have channels for each major prospect including links to RSS and social feeds listening for
related customers in the news. This provides up-to-the-minute information on prospects and their respective industries.
Marketing can make use of the RSS feeds to keep in step with the changing industry landscape, experts, potential clients,
and events. For the development team, a channel can be set up for every product to log exceptions or progress. Integrations
with systems such as Jira can ensure system alerts are piped straight into discussion channels. Core development #actions
can be assigned to @developers for immediate actions. Customer support can provide the clients the opportunity to
access their portal in addition to the normal support tools. This provides a clear view on activity or issues and means
that support can be given 24/7. All the information is auditable and provides fast and easy search facilities. One of the
biggest benefits is that it allows people who are unfamiliar with the issue or client to quickly come up to speed. Across all
departments, alerts from each of the “department-centric” tools can be set up to show new cases, updates, and edits.
Moreover, if a server goes down or another incident that disrupts the regular business cycle, a new channel can be created
to handle the matter. All communication happens in real time, a critical feature to time sensitive situations, reducing
miscommunication, and implementing a quicker fix.
Enterprise Chat can greatly enhance and enable
efficient communication in real-time within
departments, across the entire organisation, as
well as integrate siloed systems. In particular, for
the mobile sales and marketing teams Chat can be
made available on Smartphones and tablet devices
allowing team members to always be connected to
the most up to date information.
For software companies, Chat provides a
collaborative foundation, can seamlessly integrate
other technological applications and outside
news sources, external clients as well as business
workflows, and allows employees to access
information on mobile.
What is MindLink™?
At MindLink Software, we put your team’s objectives first.
MindLink provides integrated, Secure Enterprise Chat (also known as Persistent Chat or Group Chat) with emphasis on
Business Critical Collaboration i.e. it changes the way you work.
Built specifically for Microsoft Lync™, MindLink is fully mobile. Accessible on tablets and smartphones, it is also available
on web and desktop for Windows, Mac & Linux. MindLink’s deep integration with internal line-of-business applications,
portals and Email as well as external sources such as social media caters for the collaboration needs of modern businesses.
It is highly secure and compliant with features and functionalities specifically build for enterprise use.
MindLink’s advanced enterprise chat helps teams exchange vital information, data & files real-time across the enterprise
transforming how teams collaborate.
MindLink™ - secure, integrated Enterprise Chat
MindLink™ turns Group Chat, Presence and Instant Messaging components into an
all-around enterprise collaboration platform.
• Rapid information retrieval & knowledge sharing
• Real-time collaboration & decision making
• Deep process & system integration
• Compliant, Secure, Structured
• On Web, Desktop, Mobile, Tablet
• Accessible via Windows, Mac and Linux
MindLink™ Suite
Enterprise Chat on Windows, Mac, Linux, for
employees working in the office or from
home, exposing Chat to external users
through the web
MindLink Anywhere
MindLink Mobile
MindLink Integrations
Seamless integration of external sources and
line-of business applications with Chat Channels
(Email, Social and Restful API)
MindLink Compliance
Legally compliant storage of Instant Messaging & Group Chat messages
MindLink for SharePoint
Integration with web-based portals incl. SharePoint for easy access & adoption
A selection of our most valuable features
can be found below:
• LiveStream
• Critical IM
• # Hashtags
• @ Mentions
• Advanced Alerts
• Filters
• Intelligent Connection
• Dynamic Addins
f or
Enterprise Chat for user of iOS, Android or
Surface tablet devices
MindLink Tablet
For an increasingly mobile workforce – Chat
access via iOS, BlackBerry & Android with
unique mobile features
About MindLink
MindLink provides integrated, secure Enterprise Group
Chat with emphasis on Business Critical Collaboration.
Built specifically for Microsoft Lync™, MindLink allows
teams to coordinate and exchange vital business
information real-time across the organisation.
It is designed to help people make critical
decisions more effectively.
MindLink is highly secure, compliant and can be fully
integrated into existing process and software applications.
Available on desktop and all major mobile platforms, it is
used by clients, including some of the largest government
institutions, to enable better communication and improve
team efficiency.
For more information:
+44 (0)20 3582 1488
[email protected]
Follow us on Twitter @mindlinksoft