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The future of Skype for Business

October 1, 2018 was a significant date for modern communications. It marked the final day for any new customers to Skype. With cloud as its priority, Microsoft has shifted its investment and innovation to Microsoft Teams and is easing migration of Skype users to the cloud and their transition to a cloud-based communications client.

Teams will not only become Office 365‘s primary platform for calling, conferencing, sharing, and video communications, but it will also lead the tech giant’s foray into Intelligent Communications, as opposed to Unified Communications, the vision spearheaded with Skype for Business.

Skype for Business, however, will continue as an on-premises server. And in response to demand for capabilities yet to be released in Teams, Microsoft released Skype for Business 2019 in late October 2018.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft announced recently that Teams is at complete feature parity with Skype for Business. Does this mean Teams can do everything that Skype for Business can? Not yet. What the Microsoft engineers are saying is that all the groundwork has been laid for features to roll out and supersede Skype for Business.

Built on cloud infrastructure, Teams is designed to be the primary hub for teamwork within an organization. Not only will it exceed the communications capabilities of Skype for Business, but it will be decked out with features enabling a more team-oriented and collaborative organization. Among these features are fully integrated voice and video, Microsoft Graphs, Linkedin, artificial intelligence (AI), and other data and cognitive services.

Moreover, Team’s cloud-based AI will ease collaboration and productivity with functions such as automatically surfacing relevant documents before a meeting, producing transcriptions through voice recognition, and automatically attributing remarks to team members.

Upgrading Skype for Business

In helping organizations move from Skype for Business to Teams, Microsoft has provided two upgrade services. There’s Upgrade Basic for small organizations that need only the core services of Teams and there’s Upgrade Pro for larger organizations that need a more complex deployment of the platform.

Organizations can learn when it’s time to upgrade through the Skype for Business to Teams capabilities roadmap. This online information tool serves as a guide for upgrade readiness. Organizations can find out the latest Teams features and evaluate them against their business needs to see if it’s finally time to make the switch.

Skype for business 2019

Staying with Skype for Business? Office 365 customers can expect continued support for Skype for Business as an on-premises server. Its latest version, Skype for Business 2019, has improved security and advanced telephony features. More importantly, this latest version will allow organizations and users to transition directly from on-premises Skype for Business to Teams in the cloud, something impossible before this new release.

Calls, messages, and user accounts continue to be on premises, but cloud features have been introduced to make it easier for organizations to get used to cloud infrastructure. This means tighter integration with the cloud. It includes:

  • Storing voicemail in the cloud, through better voice recognition
  • Running a digital receptionist or an auto attendant in the cloud
  • Syncing user profiles with Azure Active Directory
  • Creating cloud-based call analytics
  • Sending call detail records and information, through call quality tools, to the cloud

We agree with Microsoft and recommend using Skype for Business in parallel with Teams with the goal of acclimating employees to the newer platform. We can guide your organization throughout this process and develop a long-term strategy that considers your business needs and optimizes your on-premises and cloud-based collaboration options. Contact us today.

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