For the past several years we’ve been talking a lot about collaboration and integration as core elements of the utility of the future. From regulatory compliance and sales and service, to generation and delivery, utility knowledge workers will increasingly respond to new complexities in their business operations with the help of software that reaches out, shares ideas and converts them to actionable knowledge. As our marketers say, it’s about “Reaching out, sharing thoughts, working more naturally with others.”

Recently, we  took another step in that direction with the launch of Lync Server 2010, the update to Office Communications Server, with the promise of connecting instant messaging and presence, audio, video and Web Conferencing, mobility and voice over internet protocol for the enterprise.

We have written about this before in our blog entitled: Enabling Efficient Crew Dispatch which talks about our partner Convergent’s use of Lync. Another good example is the work that our partner Wonderware has done by integrating Lync directly into its InTouch process control solutions.  Wonderware customers now have many new communications capabilities to help resolve issuesWonderware quickly and minimize downtime at the production facilities. Presence information for key contacts appears directly on production control screens, and operators can start instant messaging sessions and audio and video conversations, as needed.  With desktop sharing, operators can also share the control screen and even give control to a supervisor. You can read more about this here.

There’s obviously some great whiz bang that rolling out with this new offering, but I think the key is that every time communications and collaboration advance in one step, wherever that may be, new solutions for the enterprise follow. As you can see here from Bill Gates himself, we’re completely dedicated to bringing integrated communications tools together for greater collaboration within the enterprise -- and we have been for some time. We’re not a newcomer to this space and with each release there are both incremental and step change advances that can benefit different operations within the Utility. – Jon C. Arnold