What the heck is up with skype for business?If your company is moving over to Skype for Business, you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide are doing the same thing. As those of us who have been using Lync know, the change is either coming or already here.

And while it might seem like just another Microsoft upgrade (with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that goes with it), there’s more going on…but what, exactly? We all want to know: what’s the deal with Skype for Business?

This is the first of a number of changes coming in the next few years, all aimed at helping remote teams communicate more effectively. Basically, it will take the team conversation, chat, and information sharing of tools (like Yammer and Slack), mix it with the video and screen-sharing capabilities of tools (like WebEx or GoToMeeting), and integrate them into a common tool.

Why is this happening?

It’s the way things work in Redmond,  CA; a part of their “If you can’t beat them, eat them” strategy. They wanted a web meeting platform to compete with WebEx, so they bought Raintree and it became LiveMeeting, and it was….okay.

Then they wanted to integrate webcam video into collaboration, so they bought Skype.

After a rocky start, good things are happening. Lync was a good beginning in the instant messaging field and team collaboration space, so they smooshed the two together into Skype Teams, and Skype for Business was born.

Right now, Slack is leading that collaboration race, and Microsoft tried to buy them for about $8 Billion or so.

As it turns out, they couldn’t eat them, so they’re trying to beat them.

Thus, the new changes in the wind. Essentially, take what Skype for Business does now, add the most appealing features of Slack for sharing and archiving conversations, and you have some idea of what’s coming.

Again, this is the plan.

Whether they can pull it off is an open question (although, for the record I like Skype for Business overall as a team tool), Microsoft’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is the stuff of legend.

The basic idea, however, is both simple and hard to argue with.

Rather than have a number of tools from different vendors for various functions, you’ll have your email, Instant Messaging, webcams, voice, screen sharing/presentation tools and file transfer all connected on the same platform.

Companies will have a single platform to work from, and a single place to purchase (and go to for help, right? There will be help?).

Teams will have most of the tools they need to get their work done in a collaborative way. (Although, the will to work together and the ability to use the technology is a different question we can cover another time).

Of course, having a tool and using it effectively are two different things. If the rollout for the existing Skype for Business is any indication, there will be a lot of bumps and frustrations on the way.

When we work with clients, I’m always amazed at how little people know about what the tools are capable of, let alone how to leverage them.

Everyone, from Microsoft to the various IT departments that own the rollouts will have to work to sell the tools internally.

It might, though, actually be worth the effort.

If you’d like help preparing your team and project leaders for Skype for Business, check out our upcoming Lync/Skype for Business, training session happening on October 5, 2016, from 2-4 PM (EST).

Just click HERE for more details.

And, as always, if you’re interested in any other of our virtual course descriptions, just click HERE for more info.


Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.

Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment.

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