Well, everyone is pretty familiar with Skype. It’s a tool used by millions each day to communicate with other users around the world, providing free audio and video conferencing services for free (yes, it’s free no matter where you are in the world, as long as both users have an account and access to the internet). It’s become the standard way for many of us to communicate, especially those who travel, work remotely (or from home) and want to stay in touch at the click of a button.
Now enter Skype for Business. This product was designed with business in mind (its name might give that away), although many of our customers ask, how can this help me and my business? The most common applications we see in the commercial environment are:
1. The use of presence (you can see when you’re staff are online, signed on but away from their keyboard, in a meeting, on a phone call, or signed out completely). Users can also set their status, such as ‘working from home’ or ‘in tokyo’, giving you an idea of their availability and time zone.
2. Instant messaging. The ability to fire off a quick question (and receive a quick reply) to a simple query can be a huge time saver as opposed to sending an email. When used, you’ll notice users tend to reply to instant messages a lot faster than a traditional email – which can often be flagged or filed away for a response at a later date. IM also allows you to message multiple users at once, and get a conversation happening with multiple users at once – again, this can be a huge time saver over traditional messaging.
3. Desktop sharing / presenting / remote control of a PC. At the click of a button, during a meeting or conversation, any participant can share a their entire desktop or a single program (it’s possible to share a single Word or Powerpoint document, if you’d prefer the others involved didn’t get access to everything else going on within your environment). This allows users to discuss and work on documents simultaneously, saving you from sending documents back and forth, saving time and energy – not to mention bandwidth and space on your Email server)
4. Video and voice conferencing. Pre scheduled and ad-hoc meetings are possible. For instance, I can see who is online (for example, 5 of my staff, add them to a single session and click one button to start a voice or video call). This is a much more efficient solution than attempting to determine the availability of everyone I need to speak with via their shared Outlook calendars). What used to take minutes or hours to organise, can happen in mere seconds.
5. Communications with other companies or even traditional Skype users is also possible, so you can reach out to people inside and outside your organisation.
The quality of Skype for Business communications is superior to the standard Skype product – although this is reliant on a reasonable internet connection at each end point. The software is included with your Office 365 subscription, want to see how it can save you time and money? Ask use today. We love it and think you will too.