The Case for Transitioning from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams
If you are considering a Skype for Business upgrade to Microsoft Teams, there are indications that you should act sooner than later. In 2018, a report showed that Skype for Business and Zoom Video Communications hold 45 percent of the video conferencing market, and 89 percent of companies use multiple video conferencing platforms. In 2017, UC Today reported that approximately 55 percent of organizations use Skype for Business. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011, giving them the lion’s share of the video conferencing market.
Fast-forward to 2020 and COVID-19. With millions of employees working remotely in our new world, the demand for video conferencing capabilities has only increased. There are also more options for companies from which to choose. Skype may still be used by many companies, but many users cite problems with Skype, such as choppy audio, unreliability, poor design, and a constantly changing user experience. Microsoft could have continued to pour money into fixing Skype, but instead, they realized they may have better outcomes if they focused on Microsoft Teams.
The Verge says, “This Teams push has taken the spotlight off Skype in recent years, though. Microsoft has used the underlying technology it has with Skype to power its video and voice calls in Teams, while rewriting the chat and messaging experience that the company struggled to get right with Skype’s Messenger transition. All of this has now led to Microsoft to throw its weight behind Teams.”
Microsoft itself came out publicly to encourage Skype users to transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, admitting that Skype is best for customers who “want to connect with basic chat and video calling capabilities.” Venture Beat went so far as to say that “Skype’s days are numbered, much as Skype for Business is being phased out in favor of Microsoft Teams.”
Is it time for a Skype for Business upgrade to Microsoft Teams? Skype for Business’ future is not in question. In fact, Microsoft says it will be retired completely on July 31, 2021, and customers should “begin planning their upgrades now to allow ample time to complete upgrade prior to the retirement date.” This makes it clear that continuing to use Skype for Business or expecting to use it in conjunction with Microsoft Teams is only delaying the inevitable.
Upgrading to Microsoft Teams Brings Benefits
Companies have many reasons to transition to Microsoft Teams. First, it’s important to understand the differences between the two platforms. Microsoft isn’t shy about it, either, saying, “Skype for Business lets you add up to 250 people to online meetings, provides enterprise-grade security, allows you to manage employee accounts, and is integrated into your Office apps. Microsoft Teams lets you host audio, video, and web conferences with anyone inside our outside of your organization. Teams of 10 or 10,000 can meet in one place, no matter how many places they’re in. You can easily share files, participate in one-to-one group chats, and more, all with enterprise-grade security.”
But with Microsoft Teams soon replacing Skype for Business and with so much demand for these capabilities and no end in sight, companies should begin their transition sooner than later. Support and upgrades for Skype for Business will likely become scant before they are halted altogether as Microsoft continues to dedicate resources to Microsoft Teams. To avoid frustrations and the limitations of Skype for Business, it only makes sense to get used to Microsoft Teams now. Plus, the transition is easier than you might think.
While Microsoft offers guidance on how to migrate, for many businesses, the Skype for Business upgrade to Microsoft Teams is best left to the experts, telecommunications and collaboration professionals who are Microsoft-certified vendors who can manage both the transition and the licensing requirements for you. They will be able to walk you through the transition and ensure all of the technical components are in place to make employee adoption much smoother. Leveraging their expertise will also allow your IT team to focus on other initiatives.
As far as what you can expect with your upgrade, Microsoft points out the advantages begin with the back-end infrastructure, saying, “Teams is built for the cloud on a highly scalable microservices architecture that’s efficient in bandwidth consumption, provides more robust telemetry, and enables maintenance and upgrades with minimal disruption. As a result, users see faster meeting join times and a better browser experience without needing to download plug-ins. This modern infrastructure makes it easy to tap into Microsoft Cognitive Services – which include transcription, translation, speech recognition, and machine learning capabilities – and have the power to make communication and collaboration easier and more effective.”
You can also take advantage of third-party development opportunities and integrations with a range of apps and services. One such integration is Voice Enabled Teams, a highly-beneficial enhancement that adds enterprise voice capabilities on the Microsoft Teams platform so you can scale your current communications network instead of replacing it.
Why would you need to enhance Teams? Because as great as Teams is for video conferencing and collaboration, it lacks enterprise-level PBX call features that can extend to multiple locations, as well as advanced call features like call routing, queuing and advanced call reporting. Microsoft Teams also has limited call plans that can be quite expensive in many circumstances, like international calling. By enhancing Microsoft Teams with voice capabilities, you get the best of both worlds and establish a comprehensive communications platform that scales with your business. It will allow your employees to stay connected to each other and those outside of your business in multiple ways.
Even if you don’t feel like your business needs enterprise voice capabilities now, we have all seen how quickly things can change. How easy were your employees able to communicate and collaborate when they were asked to work from home? How many of your employees are back in the office permanently and can you guarantee they won’t be asked to return to remote working if the COVID-19 pandemic resurges? How much more productive, effective and professional could your employees be if they were equipped with advanced call routing and transferring features, for example? What kind of user experience are you able to provide your customers, vendors and partners, and how much will you spend with your limited calling plans through Teams? How many channels and devices can your employees use with Microsoft Teams?
Upgrading from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams is a no-brainer. Now, it’s worth exploring whether you can get more bang for your buck by enriching Microsoft Teams with added voice capabilities. Talk with a provider that has extensive experience providing managed technology solutions and again, one that is a Direct Microsoft Gold Partner. You will discover that whether you have an existing SIP service or UCaaS hosted voice or anything else, this type of provider will be able to provide everything you need to connect, integrate and manage Voice for Teams for a truly unified communications and collaboration platform.