Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Microsoft Will Finally Make Skype an Enterprise Product

Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype isn’t just making a lot of people who’ve invested in Skype a lot of money. It is setting Skype on a trajectory to becoming a powerful communication tool that will be increasingly common in the office.

If you look at Skype’s most recent IPO filings, you see several references to plans to grow its enterprise business. In March, Skype and Citrix announced a deal to integrate Skype into GoToMeeting.

It also has a Skype Enterprise product that’s aimed at small and medium businesses, and lots of people I know, most of them in smaller companies, use it for work. Skype has been discussing the enterprise opportunity for some time. In its IPO filing it says it conducted a survey of 40,000 users who told them that more than a third used Skype occasionally or often for work-related purposes.

The problem is the perception that Skype isn’t stable enough to meet the must-work requirements of the enterprise. The outage that occurred around Christmas last year and others like it would tend to discourage CIOs from deploying Skype in any meaningful way.

One thing that Microsoft brings to the table in this combination is the smarts to fix what’s wrong with Skype, and then convince CIOs that it’s stable enough to use. Some of the fundamental weaknesses in Skype’s peer-to-peer infrastructure could potentially be fortified with some help from Microsoft’s cloud service Azure.

Plus? Look at all the different places where Skype could conceivably be integrated: Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, Office 365. Add in compatibility with Microsoft Lync and improvements across the board on all the other desktop and mobile versions of MS products and Skype could be one of those tools that crosses the chasm between work life and personal life. If you buy the persistent arguments about the “consumerization of IT”–that is, the trend that employees expect to use at the office what they use at home–it could mean gold.

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