Microsoft has changed its Unified Communications (UC)-solution from Lync to Skype for Business. This business edition of Skype combines the advantages of Lync with the advantages of the consumer-based product from Skype. It involves an update that affects the interface as well as Lync’s functionality. It also offers technical enhancements and improvements to the services and management. According to Lucas Wensing, CEO of Lync and Skype-for-Business-specialist StartReady, the launch offers chances for UC specialists to develop new markets and to create integrated communications that are accessible to more users.
In 2011, Microsoft bought Skype for 8.5 billion dollars. Shortly thereafter, Lync and Skype were sitting next to each other. The integration of the two is a strategic decision by Microsoft. The consumer version of Skype is, with 2 billion calling minutes per day, worldwide, extremely popular. The success of Skype for consumers will have a positive influence on Lync, while Lync’s business advantages will remain in the new product. Skype for Business’s security, of utmost importance to the business world, is business-enterprise quality. Additionally, the extended functionality that Lync’s business customers require and expect, remains.
Skype for Business’s user interface looks like the current Skype. The adoption, therefore, should be easier, predicts Lucas Wensing, StartReady’s CEO. “Many users already are familiar with Skype’s look and feel. The switchover from private to business use of Skype, is therefore small. On the other hand, all of Skype’s consumer users come into contact with the business users. The borders blur and we go in the direction of one communication platform for home and work. We already saw this effect earlier with the mobile phone, where the use of one phone for private home use and for work use has become normal. This need for uniformity of mobility has now turned to communication solutions.”
In addition to the new appearance, there are also technical changes attached to Skype for Business. It will be open to anyone with an internet connection so that people can Skype from their browser, without a download. Later this year, Microsoft is introducing the hybrid cloud, enabling companies to temporarily scale up to larger numbers of users than they need in their normal operation. This is handy, for instance, in setting up a videoconference.
Lucas Wensing is happy with the move by Microsoft: "We see growing demand for integrated communications solutions. Place- and time-independent working for many companies has become a prerequisite. Employees must be able to efficiently collaborate and communicate, but the need for modern communications is not yet obvious to every business and organization, despite the fact that many employees already use Skype for their private or home communication needs. Skype for Business is now a bridge between home and work and thus makes UC accessible to even more people."
According to Wensing many UC specialists can use Skype for Business to take a next step in their development. "Skype opens up a new market for integrated communications solutions. This gives vendors such as StartReady opportunities to grow. The transition to Skype for Business is the time to demonstrate the added value of the specialist in assisting the implementation, adoption and management of IT."