You’ve heard of Skype and you know what it does. It’s the world’s best known and most used VoIP (Voice over Internet) and video chat program. But did you know what a powerful work tool it can be and how it can free you up to work from anywhere?
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I’ve been using Skype in both my business and personal life for many years now with great success. It’s great value, easy to use and is an excellent solution for my working from anywhere lifestyle. My business phone number is a Skype number with a Sydney area code, so it’s a national call for anyone that calls from Australia, no matter where in the world I pick up.
What is it?
Skype is a video, voice and text chat service. Skype for Business is a different, yet familiar, beast altogether. Essentially it is a homogenised Microsoft Lync under the Skype branding and user interface making it a premier level conferencing and collaboration system.
What does it do?
There are some pretty good features that make it worth upgrading from a basic free account to a business account. Control can be offered to participants, who can also share their screens, and PowerPoint presentations can be broadcast as intended with the full wow you intended when you put together the slides as animations, transitions and embedded video transmits without lag.
There are also other cool features you’d expect to find in web conferencing tools such as an interactive whiteboard, survey tools for anonymous feedback and a lobby feature to control who is allowed into the meeting and when. Wisely, you can invite non-business users to your calls as well as offering guest accounts to external parties.
Calls and meetings can be recorded; desktop sharing is flexible allowing hosts to broadcast applications, webpages, and documents or pretty much anything on their desktops either the whole screen or just a portion of it. Everything that happens inside your hosted call will be recorded: video, audio, chat, presentations and whiteboards.
The help and troubleshooting tools are pretty extensive and most issues can be fixed without calling technical support.
Who is it for?
Skype for Business straight out of the box would suit small to medium sized businesses that have a need to work remotely, connect offices in different locations or conference with clients. It would suit larger businesses too but to get the best out of Skype as an enterprise VoIP service they would need to set up Skype for Business Server.
Skype for Business works with computers and mobile devices (except BlackBerry) so it’s great for life on the road or for people who don’t want to be tied to a desk or place every day.
What is free?
The basic free account that anyone can sign up to can host 10 people in a video conference or up to 25 in a voice call which for many business users is ample enough. There are even a few screen sharing and remote desktop features. These aren’t powerful enough if you want to have someone control your screen or you theirs but it works just fine if both parties are happy to be talked through the process.
What are the paid plans?
Skype for Business has a labyrinth of paid plans:
Online 1: from $2.80 per user/month – host up to 250 people per call
Online 2: from $7.70 per user/month – all the features you get with 1 plus Enterprise-level technical phone support
Office 365 Essentials: from $7 per user/month – all the online 2 features plus 50GB email & 1TB storage per user and Microsoft Office Online
Office 365 Premium: from $17.50 per user/month – all the essential features plus installed versions of Office on PC/Mac and Office apps on phones and tablets
Skype isn’t just for video calling your Grandma; professional users who rely on video and web conferencing to collaborate and interact with colleagues and customers may find Skype for Business a great all-in-one package.
Check out the Skype Blog to find out a bit more about Skype and how people are using it.
What are you waiting for, give it a go!
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- What do you like about it?
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Andy spends his time away from the computer cycling or hiking up mountains or catching a wave on his SUP.