Microsoft has officially announced the end-of-life for Skype for Business Online, effective July 31, 2021. After this date, organizations using Skype will be forced to use Teams for internal and external communication, screensharing, and conference calling.
What does this mean for your organization? How can you prepare, and what should you do to transition away from Skype?
Current Skype for Business customers can continue to use the existing service, including adding new users, until August 1, 2021. Any new customers, however, will immediately be routed to Microsoft Teams starting on September 1, 2019.
While this announcement is significant, it is hardly surprising. Microsoft has been less than subtle about their plans to put Skype in the rear-view mirror and shift to Teams as their preferred communication platform. They’ve made significant investments in making Microsoft Teams “the hub for teamwork,” combining chat, video, voice, and document collaboration into a single, integrated application.
Why is Microsoft Making This Change Now?
Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011. Around the same time, major advancements in mobile technology, data network reliability, and bandwidth increased employee mobility. This undoubtedly helped Skype become one of the most popular Voice Over IP (VoIP) communication tools to help gather disparate teams at organizations of every size around the world.
But as workforces have become more dispersed, there’s also been a massive shift to the cloud —especially Microsoft’s own SharePoint platform. As organizations continue to proliferate a growing volume of data and content, there’s been an increased demand for better document management and collaboration tools. These functions are beyond the capabilities of Skype chat and video alone.
Backed by SharePoint, Teams integrates all the things people love about Skype (chat, screensharing, video conferencing) with the collaboration and document management features a modern workforce demands: file sharing, editing, notifications, social, group discussions, and more.
Although Teams was just introduced in 2017, it has already become one of the most widely used business communication applications. It recently surpassed Slack in terms of number of users, and will likely continue to grow exponentially as new customers are compelled to bypass Skype altogether.
How Can Teams Transform Your Organization?
Teams introduces a considerably different approach to the way most organizations function. Beyond how groups communicate, Teams shapes how they organize and govern themselves, and how they manage, control, and collaborate on their content.
At first glance, all the tools and capabilities of Teams and SharePoint can be overwhelming. Which is why a strategic approach to implementing Teams can help maximize your organization’s existing investment in O365, streamline operations, while maintaining control of your data.
Microsoft’s continuing investment in Teams means a growing list of functionalities that enable and empower your people:
- Users can chat with individuals inside and outside the organization, define ad hoc groups, save conversations, and collaborate on projects or content.
- Integrated document management and collaboration means native Microsoft documents can be viewed and edited without having to leave the app.
- Teams Channels integrate “micro-site”-like web experiences that include a shared calendar, “sync-able” document-management, news-based communication to keep everyone on the same page, and much more.
- Meanwhile, business rules allow your IT and security groups to maintain control over managing high-level permissions, taxonomy, provisioning of channels, and data governance — or decentralize by distributing the responsibility among specific users.
- Scheduling meetings is much easier. Calendars are integrated into the experience to send invites from within Teams. This eliminates having to switch between Outlook and Teams to coordinate schedules.
- Teams also offers integrations with a wide range of third-party tools, including productivity solutions like Jira, Asana, and Zendesk.
- In addition to the traditional individual and group video calls, Teams has incorporated recording options, screen-sharing and remote screen-control.
- Microsoft has also introduced a more social experience to organizational chat—with support for inline emojis, gifs and stickers that give employees the ability to react and engage with their colleagues.
A Better Employee Experience Awaits.
Even though Microsoft will continue to support Skype for Business into 2021, organizations that want to make the most of their Microsoft investment should begin considering a strategic implementation of Teams now.
Using our proprietary Discovery process, we’ve helped implement Digital Workplace experiences with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint at the core. We’ve seen how a thoughtful implementation of Teams can drive better utilization and transform the way organizations work.
Interested in learning more about how StitchDX can help your organization move to Teams or better use Teams to create a more engaging Employee Experience? Reach out to us anytime.