Skype has come a long way since the early days of it being a pioneer P2P VoIP application for PC-to-PC free telephone calls. It is been a long time since Skype transitioned from basic PC communications to being able to call mobiles and landlines and even make video calls. Indeed, it was Skype’s easy to use features and its ability to conduct long distance voice and video calls that made it so popular with residential customers.
Small businesses and home businesses also saw the potential for Skype as it was cheap and reliable enough for long distance calls where price was a major consideration. Internet reliability of course was always a problem but with the advent and ubiquitous availability of broadband internet and ADSL these problems lessened and VoIP became more generally acceptable in business. Skype though was always an attractive proposition for small businesses watching their costs because it delivered features that other competitors were unable to at the time such as long distance video conference calls on business computers for free.
Now that Microsoft owns Skype, they replaced a lot of the old architecture and Skype now operates on a more solid network infrastructure. The fear was that Microsoft might favor its existing VoIP product for small and medium businesses Lynx. However, those concerns proved groundless and Microsoft has gone to some lengths to integrate and improve Skype services for business. Moreover, Microsoft has made considerable efforts to incorporate Skype functionality into all of their Office products making it a very attractive VoIP option for small businesses. Having Skype integrated into Outlook and Word is a real differentiator for these products as small businesses can simply just click to call a contact without leaving the application. This saves time and improves efficiency. Integrating Skype into Microsoft’s business products has proved to be highly beneficial for both Microsoft and the millions of their small and home office business customers.
By integrating Skype into Office there are additional benefits as it makes Skype into a very powerful collaboration tool because not only can you click to call and discuss a presentation or document with your colleagues you can also share the document by allowing others to view your desktop. This is a very powerful feature typically found in only the more expensive cloud based IP/PBX systems costing ten times or more the cost of Skype Business. Additionally the ability to share a desktop to colleagues on a conference call provides the tools required for long distance training, mentoring or delivering presentations. This alone can save considerable sums in travel costs for meetings, or customer sales presentations. Moreover, holding long distance interviews can be expensive for both parties but if they can be conducted on Skype for free without the employee having to download expensive or difficult to obtain and install client software. Skype Business operates freely with Skype (personal edition) which is the most popular version of personal VoIP software so it is rarely a problem setting up private or business voice or video conference calls.
Another often-overlooked business collaboration tool is the Skype presence tool that can alert you of a colleague’s availability and status. This works well with the humble instant messenger application that is integrated within Skype. It is not always appropriate or possible to make a call, such as if you are in a meeting. However, you can silently use instant messenger to communicate with colleagues without disturbing the other participants in the meeting.
Aside from Skype Business’s excellent voice and video collaboration tools, there is the simple matter of cost. Microsoft prices Skype business very reasonably, at $2 per user per month. Comparatively, an IP/PBX system, albeit with call center features, but with similar HD voice and video conferencing functionality will cost you a minimum of $24 per user per month.
However, price and features are only two reasons that Skype can assist your business. Smother business feature that is highly desirable is security. Skype provides some of the highest levels of security in any VoIP system and now that Microsoft owns it, Skype undergoes their strict policy of continual assessment and free automatic downloads for security upgrades.
Additionally, Skype Business now incorporates a Skype Business Manager, which facilitates administering and managing individual employee accounts. A manager can via the portal assign funds to accounts create new accounts and generate reports on usage and calls made received per employee account. This feature allows management to analyze their telephone usage and see where costs are going or where savings are being made within the system and allow them to budget appropriately. This is a fundamental requirement for business, and the management tool has enabled Skype as a business grade tool.
Visit Skype for Business.