Skype Tries to Connect with the Business Community

Skype, essentially, is a consumer service. With Skype Connect, the company is turning its attention to the corporate market. The service, which came out of beta this summer, offers attractive features – and has some significant limitations. The bottom line is that organizations shouldn't dismiss it out of hand.

By Carl Weinschenk | Posted Dec 1, 2010
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Verge1's Dave Michels offers as good a description of Skype Connect as anyone is likely to find. He is a consultant, so he goes into pretty good detail about the service. Anything having to do with Skype is enigmatic, since it “falls into a strange space between application, service provider, and carrier,” as Michels puts it.

Skype Connect is no different. The service offers free inbound calls from Skype users and low cost PSTN services, Michels writes. It is a peer-to-peer Internet-based service, so the mechanics of how things work – and what is offered and what isn't – are quite different than more traditional corporate VoIP services.

The bottom line, to Michels, is that Skype Connect is something that shouldn't automatically be discounted:

Many business professionals discount Skype as a not-for-serious-business Internet fringe thing. But Skype's grown up and deserves a new look. Skype offers numerous case studies on businesses that utilize Skype for all (or at least a majority) of their communications. Combined with Skype Manager means accounts, dollars, and features can be centrally managed. Skype does not offer emergency services or analog support (alarms, modems, fax) – but does offer a tremendous amount of capability. In fact, many of the UC enterprise vendors are still working to match the functionality Skype users take for granted.  

Here is Skype's post from last summer when "Skype for SIP" came out of beta and became Skype Connect. The release, which links to a video describing the service in consumer terms, lists what the system allows: outbound calls at standard Skype rates, inbound calls via “Click & Call” website buttons, inbound calls from landline and mobile phones using Skype numbers and continued access to existing corporate PBX or UC call features. At the time of the release, Skype Connect had over 2,400 global customers, the release says.

Michels writes that AudioCodes is one three companies – along with Grandstream and VoSKY – providing gateways connecting Skype Connect to phone systems not natively supported by the new service (seven vendors offer supported versions that need no gateway, he says). This post, from AudioCodes' director of market development, looks at how a Skype Connect beta customer, ROI Networks, was able to cut conferencing expenses by using the service.

Skype indeed is an odd duck. It also is a very big and increasingly influential duck. The descriptions of how it works suggest that it may not be for all organizations. But, increasingly, it may be the right duck for some.
 

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