As usual, there is a LOT going on this week in the unified, enterprise and consumer communications space. Here are a few things you should really know about.
Microsoft Keeps Up the Pressure With Skype Meetings, Free Conferencing for SMB's
They're not screwing around in Redmond. Microsoft is pushing forward on multiple UC & C fronts, from Cloud PBX to Cloud Connector to connect your existing PBX to Skype for Business, to Project Rigel...they are flexing their UC&C muscles, big time! Their latest offering announced this week is Skype for Meetings, a web and video conferencing solution for the SMB market. It is essentially a stripped down version of Skype for Business that still offers some of the S4B functionality and backbone. According to TechCrunch:
The more fully featured Skype for Business product allows you to host meetings with up to 250 people and it’s deeply integrated into Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. Skype Meetings, on the other hand, only allows for PowerPoint collaboration (screen sharing, laser pointer, etc.) and screen sharing. Video calls are also limited to a maximum of 10 people during the first two months. After that, the maximum number of participants drops to three people.
Participants can join Skype Meetings from virtually any device with the help of a personalized URL and the calls are powered by the same technology as Skype for Business calls. That means you will get to take advantage of Skype’s head tracking feature, for example, which ensures that a face will always be in the center of the screen, no matter where it is in the actual video image.
According to Microsoft, anyone in the U.S. with a business email address and whose organization doesn’t already have Office 365 can sign up for free Skype Meetings at www.skype.com/meetings. This is a logical offering for Microsoft to compete with Google Hangouts and other free conferencing services that the SMB market is increasingly relying on.
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iOS 10 Will Feature Integrated VoIP. Get Ready for Seamless WhatsApp, UC or Skype Calls
Interesting article over at 9to5Mac asking whether integrating VoIP into iOS 10 will mean the beginning of the end for voice plans. According to the article:
The VoIP API effectively allows apps like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook calling and others to be integrated into the iPhone every bit as deeply as the phone app itself …
The example shown on stage at the keynote was an incoming WhatsApp call that showed up on the lockscreen in exactly the same way a phone call would. No longer does it matter what method someone uses to call us, we can answer it in exactly the same way.
Similarly with outgoing calls, the API means that all our preferred VoIP apps are baked into Contacts, so we can make a Facebook call to them as easily as we can a conventional phone call.
This doesn't necessarily mean the end of voice plans through Verizon or AT&T (we are still more likely to have cell coverage than wifi, for example), but that type of tight integration with our UC or apps of choice will be a real game changer for even the non-technical amongst us. Keep your eyes on this one.
New Cisco Report Says 86% of SMBs are Considering Switching to Cloud-based Unified Communications
That's a big number....although maybe not a surprising one. The report, conducted by ZK Research, found that only 14% of SMBs have no plans to immediately test or deploy UCaaS. On the other hand, only 23% of those businesses have deployed UC across their enterprise, so there is some serious growth on the horizon.
You can read the entire whitepaper about the report here, but suffice to say the SMBs interviewed found that the value proposition of switching to cloud-based UC is just too compelling to ignore.
If you're one of those companies considering UCasS, stick with The UC Buyer!