Skype for BusinessIt was almost a decade ago that Microsoft’s Skype entered our lives and forever changed the way we communicate. Skype brought people closer, knocking down the barriers of distance and geographical limits, giving us a means to share life’s precious moments with friends and relatives, create new bonds, and strengthen old ones. Since then we’ve been discovering new ways to use Skype to enhance our communication. Currently more than 300 million people use Skype for messaging, calling, sharing, and collaborating across multiple platforms including, desktop, mobile devices, and TV. We are doing much more than just chatting with our loved ones over a live video connection.

Eventually, Skype made its way into business communications and many enterprises chose the free video platform over its paid enterprise equivalents, often overlooking privacy and security concerns. While Skype worked great for connecting people instantly, it did lack some rather important business-centric features. Enter Lync, Microsoft’s collaboration tool specifically designed for corporate environments. According to InfoTrack for Unified Communications report, Lync witnessed 79% of deployments and plans for deployments among U.S. enterprises in 2014. Where Skype failed to meet expectations for security and privacy, Lync fit the bill, albeit with less ease of use and familiarity among users.

Lync meets Skype – for Better or for Worse?

Microsoft hit headlines late last year when it announced its plans to rebrand Lync as Skype for Business. They planned to combine the best features of Lync and Skype, into a user-friendly interface. Since the new interface leans more towards Skype, users will already be familiar with how the program works and will be able to navigate features easily. In addition, users will gain Lync’s compliance, security, and control. Microsoft is tying a knot between the user’s love of Skype’s brand and the enterprise capabilities of Lync to present the best of both the worlds.

As Microsoft plans to roll out Skype for Business in the first half of this year, speculations abound as to whether this new platform will be a hit or a miss. Opinions are divided, with one half considering this merge the ultimate in bringing the ease of consumer products for enterprise use. The other half condemns it for mingling the value propositions: pricing, quality features, and privacy of both consumer and business service. But as long as Microsoft doesn’t pull Skype from the market, and it continues to coexist with Skype for Business, there is no a reason to complain.

Enterprise Benefits of using Skype for Business

Skype for Business will give organizations the power to reach hundreds of millions of Skype users across the world. Business meetings will be even easier, and organizations familiar with the Skype interface can upgrade themselves to a better, more secure, and compliant enterprise service without having to compromise on ease of use, and time spent on training and support.

With the ability to connect seamlessly with any device, from anywhere, users will be able to transfer meetings from meeting rooms to the device of their choice, be it OS X, Windows, or Android. Skype for Business will also offer better integration with Office, so users will be able to take advantage of features that will allow them to turn an email into a meeting, and push it all into a group call.

Skype gave businesses the first taste of low-cost video conferencing and paved the way for affordable enterprise services to enter the market. Whether Skype for Business proves to be a valuable asset for businesses and meets our expectations for ease of use and security is yet to be seen.

Will Skype for Business be the answer to your video-conferencing needs? We would love to hear about your experience with it when it arrives. Do you think it will be a hit, or miss?