In January, Microsoft sent a mass email to its 100 million+ Messenger users, announcing that it would be officially retiring the service on March 15, 2013 and migrating all users to Skype (Microsoft acquired the VOIP service back in May 2011 for a hefty $8.5 billion).
So where does this leave Microsoft Lync users? And should SMBs everywhere rejoice at the cost savings they’ll reap from using Skype?
Not exactly. Only certain Skype features are free, and these tend to be more targeted to consumer use. The paid services are those that are more heavily used by businesses.
So does that mean Skype will be a strong competitor to Microsoft Lync for a business context?
Again, not exactly. Skype’s is designed more for consumer use. It lacks many of the functionalities and support most organizations look for in a unified business-grade communications platform.
LYNC IS FOR BUSINESS
SKYPE IS FOR CONSUMERS
Although both Lync and Skype will now be Microsoft products, it’s important for businesses to keep in mind that they are designed for very different uses:
Lync is a unified communications platform for business users. Skype is a unified communications platform for consumers.
Even internally, Microsoft is keeping the two very separate: Lync falls under the global giant’s Business Division while Skype reports to its Entertainment & Devices unit.
For a business context, Hosted Lync beats out Skype in 5 important areas:
1. Group video
Group video is a vital tool for businesses that want to successfully prospect and service customers around the world, and eliminate the high costs of travel.
Skype’s video conferencing experience is far from being business-grade. It lacks certain important features, such as the ability to include multiple parties in different locations. Skype’s frequent network delays can also cause audio & video to fall out of sync, which makes communicating efficiently difficult at best. It’s distractions like these that can jeopardize important conversations or demonstrations with potential customers.
Lync allows many features lacking in Skype to be immediately implemented without any additional management or administration, such and audio & video, data sharing, as well as conferencing and collaboration features. Plus, support services can be tailored to the specific needs of individual groups.
2. Cost savings by reducing travel
Lync provides more than simple face-to-face conversation; it also allows for easy document sharing and better collaboration. Many Lync users say that initially, some customers prefer to meet in person, but when they experience Lync, they quickly come around.
3. Rapid ROI
Although Skype has limited free features that business users will certainly use, Lync’s more extensive range of business functionalities are designed to help drive business growth, and will pay off in terms of rapid ROI.
4. Improved collaboration
With a simple click, Lync allows employees to check each other’s availability and communicate instantly. Being able to ask co-workers questions and get answers instantly can make a huge difference in what an organization can accomplish in a single day. Because important information is also shared during instant messaging, Lync saves users’ conversations in an Outlook folder so that they can easily search and retrieve this information at a later date.
5. Business-grade support
Because it was designed for a business context, Lync’s includes the features organizations expect from a business-grade solution: robust security, business-class privacy controls and standards, and IT-level support. It’s also simple to use and easy to administer.
Companies that focus only on saving money and opt for free applications like Skype for critical day-to-day functions are not necessarily doing their bottom line a favor. In a previous blog, we listed some of the advantages of paying for business-grade solutions.