Business Focused IT Support

Skype for Business

by Nicki Dowsett in Office 365

Skype for Business

lync-becomes-skype-for-business1

You may have seen our recent blog about Microsoft Lync changing to Skype for business.  This was effectively a re-branding of the current service offered for instant messaging and video calling for the office.  At the time it was said there would be further updates.

Skype has recently announced the next phase of the re-branding, and these programs look to be promising tools for businesses.  With three new programs currently being launched for Technical previews from the 1st of July.  These programs will be part of the suite of Office 365 apps and will require users to use Office 365.

The first and probably the most effective will be Skype Meeting Broadcast, this will work as a similar product to GoTo Meeting.  This program will allow users to hold meetings with up to 10,000 people in a browser.  This will be beneficial for companies that want to hold a company meeting or Town Hall Meeting, without the hassle of travel for all staff members and finding the space big enough to hold everyone.  Saving a business time and money.  It will also allow businesses to hold Webinars with clients on a large scale, so not just viable for internal contacts but also external.

The second is Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN Conferencing.  This function allows for users of Skype for Business to hold a meeting within Office 365 via land line or mobile.  A great additional tool to the Skype Meeting Broadcast for anyone not able to connect via a browser.  This is currently only being previewed in the US but should be available in the UK in the near future.  Something for us to look forward to.

The third part of this phase is Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling.  This program will allow users to effectively use Skype for Business as a traditional phone system.  You will be able to receive and make calls via Skype in the traditional manner and to manage these calls with the option to place calls on hold or transfer to a colleague.  This is currently only on preview in the US and will use voice technology of Skype for Business and will run on the Azure OS.  They expect this to be available worldwide by the end of 2015.  It will require a configuration option to allow users to use existing phone lines to link in with the Azure OS and phone systems so will involve an amount of set up to be operational.  However this is an interesting step forward in terms of communication.

At this stage of preview/testing period the trials are only available to selected end users, however it is promising to see a new phase already in the pipeline such a short time after the re-branding of Lync to Skype.  Microsoft are clearly planning to move a step ahead in terms of programs and tools to assist businesses work more efficiently with less travel and time spent away from the desk, whilst still having a small personal touch of video conferencing.

Personally for us here at MPR we prefer to meet our clients on a face to face basis as we find this is the best way of keeping in touch with our clients, however there will always be occasions when a simple phone call is not enough and the advantage of the video conferencing will be beneficial with clients that can’t get away to meet us.  Additionally the instant messaging feature is great to ask a quick question which may not need a full email or phone call.  With Skype for business a video call can allow you to share your screen and present documents, this is a great tool for us when offering support to our clients.

For more information on how Skype for Business or Office 365 can benefit your organisation please contact us to discuss your options.

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