Stefan Öberg, Vice-President, Skype for Business, provided his overview on “the future of modern business communications” at Interop last week. He started off by outlining his perspective on how consumer adoption of Skype is building business adoption from consumer experience; he feels this is driven by:
- Economy: 43% percent of knowledge workers in US enterprises with 500 or more employees already use non-company-owned equipment on enterprise networks and systems.
- Connectivity: We live in a world with an increasingly ubiquitous, pervasive and affordable communications infrastructure, which encourages new acquisition and delivery models, especially those using the web.
- New technology: A combination of affordable devices, low-cost communications, widespread ownership means that access to and acceptance of new technologies is growing.
- Employees: Employees bring their experiences and expectations from the ‘real world’ into the work environment – this is particularly relevant when considering an increasing population of digital natives in the workforce.
Recently Voice On The Web has reported on a couple of examples of this trend:
- Stealthing Skype into Larger Businesses
- Stealthing Skype into Healthcare: Consumer Experience Drives Practitioner Adoption
Stefan went on to provide some statistics coming out of user studies carried out last year:
- 20% of our users make Skype video calls for business purposes †
- 95% say they are saving money *
- 62% say they communicate better with customers using Skype *
- 70% say they are using it while traveling on business *
- 80% say they are seeing increased productivity *
* Source: Skype user study of 4,000 users in the US, UK and China conducted in March 2008
† Source: Results from a December 2008 online survey of 2452 active Skype users in the US and UK
Stefan makes some good points, supporting more quantitatively what we have suspected about perceptions of Skype use in business.
However, when he went on to talk about Skype’s expanding ecosystem via Skype for Asterisk and Skype for SIP for penetrating the business market, his brief mention of business infrastructure for Skype (including the Business Control Panel) neglected the services provided by several of Skype’s Software Partners on which Voice On The Web has reported in the past:
- OnState: Virtual Call Center and Virtual PBX
- Managed Collaboration:
- InnerPass: Team building that Integrates Skype with business grade document management
- Yugma: desktop sharing across Mac and Windows platforms
- Lotus Live Unyte: the pioneer in business grade desktop sharing using Skype
- HiDef Conferencing (now Citrix Online Audio Services Group): a high quality, managed conference calling service
- PamFax: converting your PC into a worldwide accessible fax machine
- Pamela: a comprehensive Skype utility for call management, conversation archiving, personalizing conversations and a bit of fun
- Skylook: combining Skype with Outlook to deliver effective, yet low cost, customer relationship management; turning Outlook into a conversation manager and archive
- Evoca: hosted voice recording for building audience engagement and participation across news services, television documentaries and websites or weblogs (a description and review of Evoca’s new Express services is in preparation).
- (and, if I have missed any Skype Software partner with a business application, add a comment and I’ll update)
Bottom line: While certainly Skype for Asterisk and Skype for SIP will expand the reach and promotion of Skype through their respective distribution channels (Digium/Asterisk ecosystem and PBX vendors), ongoing innovation is also occurring and being adopted in the Skype Software Partner ecosystem. The current economic conditions are accelerating adoption of these conversation management services as businesses, whether entrepreneurial SMB’s or business units of larger enterprises, search out ways to grow their business but at significantly lower costs. More examples of Skype Everywhere driving business model disruption.
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