It seems we’re talking a lot about “end of life” technologies of late with Windows 7 no longer being supported past January 2020 and now changes ahead for Skype users. Technology marches on at an accelerating rate but with every change comes a real opportunity for NZ SME’s to introduce and embed a new generation of technologies that will enable your teams to be more productive and your data more secure.

What’s happening with Skype for Business?

You’re likely to recall that Skype Communications was acquired by Microsoft back in 2011 and at that point Skype for Business was added to the suite of tools that is Office 365 as the communication product of choice.  Microsoft subsequently introduced their Teams product in 2017 and declared that the communication function in Teams was the future and that Skype for Business was to be decommissioned.

What does Microsoft Teams do in the communication space?

The best way of thinking about Teams is that it’s the combination of two tools – a collaboration tool and a communication tool.  We will continue to talk about its collaboration capability in upcoming posts however on the communication front, Teams delivers many of the existing capabilities of on-premises Skype for Business. Teams communications includes presence, instant messaging, peer-to-peer calling, PSTN (Public Switched Telephony Network) calling, audio conferencing, and video conferencing.

It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft Teams is the most successful application in the history of the company. Its adoption rate is unprecedented and we will see Microsoft continue to invest heavily in its development.

When will this change happen?

While an end of life date has yet to be set by Microsoft;

  • any new SME’s moving to Office 365 are now not able to enable Skype For Business Online.  Microsoft Teams is now the Microsoft communication product of choice for the one third of organisations who have yet to migrate to the cloud.
  • If you have Skype For Business Online already Microsoft has begun “Microsoft-driven automated upgrades” (migrations) to Microsoft Teams. While they haven’t explicitly outlined their approach, it seems that these are for smaller seat count customers who based on looking at usage of features, Microsoft believe are ready to move to Microsoft Teams.

If you haven’t heard from Microsoft, it would be dangerous to assume that this change won’t affect your organisation.  The reality is that this change is coming and while Microsoft has not yet declared an end of life date they will.  If your organisation uses Skype For Business extensively then the migration to Microsoft Teams can be technically complex. It can also be a real cultural shock for your team and thus any migration needs be handled with due care.

What are the other options?

 There are numerous communication tools in the market, Zoom is one we are particularly familiar with and have used extensively.  Microsoft however has directly challenged organisations to consider:

  1. Why would you pay for another tool when Office 365 already supports many of the functions alternative products offer.
  2. Why would you complicate matters for your users by having them train on and use yet “another tool”
  3. Why would you deal with the added change management

They are all valid questions, particularly for NZ SME’s and Not for Profits where our scale presents real constraints.

If you would like assistance in understanding what this change means for your organisation or if you would like to better understand how a new generation of tools can improve the productivity of your team, we’re here to help.