Skype for Business or Skype Premium are retired and no longer supported but their legacy lives on with Skype now assimilating all their killer features. You might think the standard Skype will not have the necessary features, functionality required by small medium business (SMB) in need of a cutting-edge telephony solution – but you would be wrong. This is primarily because Skype is lacking as a single/standalone telephony solution – (except for the smallest of SMBs) essential business PBX functionality. Ironically, the functionalities it does provide are extremely valuable to the SMB and are complimentary to an existing telephony solution. So what are the key functions of Skype Premium and Business that is of such value to the SMB?
Skype provides for mobility as it can be downloaded and work on many types of devices from smartphones, to X-Boxes, Alexa, TVs and even watches. This means that Skype will function anywhere and anytime so long as you have an internet connection. Skype, because of its availability and compatibility with just about any device can redirect calls (when you are away from the computer) to another portable device such as a Smartphone. This provides freedom of mobility without the worry of missing important business calls.
This is a tremendous boost for many SMB that are often out and about on client sites or visiting customers. The need for mobility is fundamental to ensuring that missed calls and opportunities do not go wasted. Indeed being able to be reached on a Skype business number on any device that you chose to configure will help to make sure that you do not miss another important customer call. Many business virtual PBX services cater for this need but Skype stay connected feature provided it from the outset and it is still one of Skypes most desirable features.
Skype’s stay connected features are useful for very small businesses (here we refer to number of employees rather than financial turnover) which primarily rely on their own devices (computers, tablets, mobile (cell) phones) to communicate. However, probably an essential requirement of any business regardless of size is to have a recognized real telephone number that is accessible by the public from any phone. Skype can provide real telephone numbers, for 26 countries, regions and areas, which customers can call directly from mobiles or landlines at local rates. The business however need not be in that country, region or area, as Skype will redirect the call to the registered Skype computer or device anywhere in the world. This feature can considerably reduce the costs of doing international business. The real benefit of Skype numbers however is that it provides a more professional image and they give the appearance of a much larger organization. This instills confidence in the potential customer.
Skype to Phone
A complimentary feature is Skype to go, or Skype to Phone which allows cheap local and international calls from any phone when you are away from your favored Skype device. Similarly, as Skype is also a mobile (cell) application it can make use of Wi-Fi to make calls – a standard feature -so can utilize any available WiFi hotspots, such as Cafés, shopping malls etc. So again, if you are away from the computer you can still utilize the Skype service to make cheap outgoing calls from a mobile (cell) phone or landline. If however you are away but unavailable to take calls then Skype can take voice messages on your behalf, which is another essential business requirement. So, as we have seen, Skype can perform the basics that any small company requires when handling incoming and outgoing calls, but it can also be used in a marketing capacity – to drive customers to your business – by integrating it with your website or other marketing collateral
Skype buttons are a great way to integrate Skype with your website or Blog. These active buttons allow your customers to initiate a call via Skype to you directly as they browse your website. By just clicking on the button the customer initiates a call and so can communicate by voice, instant messenger or both from any Skype enabled computer, tablet or mobile (cell) phone.
Skype Video Conferencing
Skype is famous for its standard consumer Skype-to-Skype free voice and video calls. Indeed, it is not just within the consumer sector that Skype video calls have gained respectability but also with businesses of all sizes. It is common now for even large corporate and enterprises to use Skype as a means of holding remote interviews with job candidates or meetings with small vendors. The reason for this is Skype is so well known and easily accessible by all. A potential job candidate or supplier can easily find a Skype enabled device – computer, laptop or tablet. Whereas before they would have had to travel to face-to-face, interviews/meetings incurring unnecessary time and expense or find a business center hosting a compatible video conferencing system. Skype therefore has become a standard business tool and practice when conducting remote communications.
Skype takes video calling a step further by providing full HD Audio Video Conferencing capabilities for up to 50 participants. There are of course other features such as the ability to view simultaneously each participant in their own window and every delegate views the same screen with the option of subtitles. Video call recording is another capability allowing meetings to be recorded and distributed later as the meetings minutes, this is valuable when on contract calls or board meetings, where detailed transcripts of dialogue are often necessary.
Moreover with Skype not all your participants need to have skype instead they can access through Skypes web service. In this case the web conference moderator sets up a web conference and then emails the connection string to each participant. They can then access the conference from a Microsoft or Google browser.
Video conferencing is an obvious benefit to the SMB as it reduces the costs of unnecessary travel and accommodation and greatly improves efficiency through better time management. What is more, video conferencing has another complimentary Skype business function, which greatly enhances its worth to the SMB – the ability to share a screen with other participants on a video call.
Screen Sharing is a feature that allows a participant on a video call to broadcast and share their screen to all other participants. The value of this feature is that it enables remote presentations, no longer is a presenter required to be physically present in a room with a laptop hooked up to a projector. Now the presenter can be on the other side of the globe and still present the same presentation by sharing their screen with the participants on the video call. They will see both the presenter and the shared screen in separate resizable windows on their own display. Furthermore, the participants and presenter can (transparent to the others) exchange instant messages or files without disturbing the flow of the presentation. However, this capability has other utility in that it is a great tool for collaboration especially between remote offices or developers. Whereby they can visualize work-in-progress, exchange comments and ideas, give demonstrations of prototypes, display video or graphic designs, or step through financial spreadsheets – whilst being perhaps all in different cities or continents. Whatever the use an SMB finds for the feature it again can save significant sums on travel and accommodation, enhance time management and create a means for and a culture of collaboration within the business.
Another key feature with Skype is that you can select to make some conversations private. You can do this to ensure there is end-to-end encrypting to prevent eavesdropping of the conversation. Furthermore it is simple to use as you just select Start Private Conversation from the menu and Skype handles everything and sets up the secure conversation for you. Security and privacy are hot topics in business compliance just now so this is becoming a required feature for many SMBs. However, there is sometimes a need to not just secure a call but also to be able to record a call.
Skype also allows you to simply record calls by selecting the option at call setup. By simply clicking on the recorder icon you can record the entire call. You can also use this in conjunction with sub-titles and Skype translator.
Today business knows no borders and this is especially true when dealing with the internet. Thus a good real-time translator is becoming a must for any unified communication service. Skype Translator is a real-time voice translator which can currently translate conversations in 10 languages. These languages include English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Arabic, and Russian.
There is also a real-time text translator that is also available in Skype and it supports more than 60 languages.
Skype has several very valuable features for Business that provides utility to the SMB. The key features provide for call mobility, incoming and outgoing call handling and enhanced Video Conferencing and Collaboration tools. Skype of course is not alone in providing these features, they have several competitors in each field such as Google Hangouts, ZOOM, Bluejeans, Vsee, ooVoo, Ekiga, and Microsoft’s other offering Team just to name a few. However it is Skype’s ubiquitous presence, coupled with its global recognition that makes Skype still the technology of choice in the consumer and SMB business sectors for Voice, Video Conferencing and Collaboration.
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