Ever since Skype Communications was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for an impressive sum of around $8.5 billion, the popular video-chat application has been integrated with a range of Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 8 and Windows RT. Now, with the release of Skype for Business on 22nd of September, the new video conferencing application combines elements of the free consumer version as well as Microsoft’s Lync, providing a range of enterprise-specific capabilities for professional use.
Skype for Business can prove to be an extremely productive application, helping organizations enhance activity and process efficiency and functionality.
Skype for Business is based on the familiar Skype experience that more than 300 million people use every month to connect with friends and family. It is built right into Office, so features like presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings are an integrated part of the Office experience. And with Skype for Business, you can search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network–inside or outside your organization
If you are keen on making the most out of the new application, here are four features you should know and master.
Have large meetings
Organizing large meetings is never a restriction in Skype for Business. Unlike the free consumer version that has a conference call limit of 25 people, Skype for Business allows up to 250 people to join a conference call, well suited for live webinars and company-wide meetings. Another advantage is that participants need not necessarily have a Skype account to join a meeting. The service can supports calls from both mobile phones as well as landlines for extra fees and participants can even be invited to join a meeting via e-mail.
Setting up a meeting is only a few clicks away. Simply click on the ‘New Skype Meeting’ button to pop up the Outlook Meeting Request. Then add the team members whom you wish to have a meeting with including the time, duration, and title of the meeting and then finish. Now the meeting notification will be displayed on the Skype menu on the right hand corner. During the meeting, if you find that one of the participants has still not joined the meeting, you can type in their name to prompt them to join the meeting.
Benefit from sophisticated conference tools
Now that you are at grips with organizing a meeting using the app, you also want to ensure that you have access to the right tools to have a truly engaging conference experience, especially if there are a large number of participants. The Skype for Business lets you use standalone cameras, Polycom audio gear, monitors, as well as an online whiteboard that can be used via ink or touch from Microsoft Surface Hub. The application has an additional benefit of integrating with a wide number of PBX systems, allowing you to route calls a lot more quickly over VOIP.
Sharing tools allow you to display your desktop from a variety of options. This can allow you to share your presentation and discuss a specific presentation slide.
Integrate with Office apps
The integration with Office 365 makes the Skype for Business application stand out as a remarkable addition for enterprises. Business users can seamlessly use Outlook, which will archive all meetings with each of your contact, with Skype for Business’ voice, instant messaging, and video features. More importantly, sharing Excel’s spreadsheet data or PowerPoint presentation can be done from the Skype for Business window. This means that you will not have to open separate applications and attempt to copy and paste it, which can help save a lot of time and frustration when running a conference meeting. In the case of PowerPoint, for example, you can download a presentation either for yourself or for everyone in the meeting and then choose to view the presentation by clicking on the Present Now button.
Perhaps, the most essential need in meetings is to have a record of meeting notes. With integration with OneNote, Skype for Business can instantly pull the meeting details, including the participants, date and subject of meeting, and duration. The meeting notes can then be shared with other colleagues via e-mail.
If you plan on conducting a meeting that you wish to share with others, you have the option of recording the meeting. Whether it is a live webinar with other clients, which you will upload on your company YouTube account, a record meeting button can provide you with a lot of convenience. To record your meetings, simply start the recording by clicking on the options button. Once recording has started, everyone present in the meeting will be notified that the meeting is being recorded.
The features of Skype for Business for meeting the needs of enterprises look promising. With its close integration with Office 365 and a number of conference meeting tools, businesses can save considerable time, allowing increased productivity and efficiency.