So What Does the Skype/Microsoft Combination Mean to UC and Customer Collaboration?

UC Unplugged

So What Does the Skype/Microsoft Combination Mean to UC and Customer Collaboration?

By TMCnet Special Guest
Mike Sheridan, Executive VP of Worldwide Sales, Aspect
  |  July 01, 2011

Can the consumerization of IT help customer contact? After all, there’s been a steady stream of dizzying innovation in consumer web applications – from an array of new features on social networking sites to mobility and gaming advances. We’ve also seen many of these innovations adapted for use in the enterprise once they’ve met requirements for things like scalability, security and the means to integrate with other enterprise applications. And the recent announcement of Microsoft’s (News - Alert) intent to purchase Skype, a software application that allows users to chat and make voice and video calls over the Internet, got me thinking about what this could mean to customer-company communications.

Skype (News - Alert) is a consumer technology that mirrors Microsoft’s enterprise platform, Lync. As consumers have experienced with Skype, enterprises using Lync benefit from persistent presence capabilities, and can make voice and video calls from their desktops. Now, imagine the potential transformation of customer-company communications when these two technologies converge. Barriers to video communication are removed, presence states between enterprise knowledge workers and consumers can be shared, and conversations can seamlessly shift from one channel to another…all from a desktop or mobile device or even a home entertainment device. The possibilities are both endless and game-changing. Consider these not-too-distant future scenarios:

Customers with Skype utilize click-to-call functionality to initiate a call into the contact center through Skype Connect, which can be connected to Microsoft Lync. Now imagine that both the caller and the agent can conference in a third party or escalate to video at the click of a button.

Another example involves mutual presence states. With technologies like Skype, consumers could have the power to see the presence or availability of an expert – or their dedicated representatives – within a company. And likewise, agents with Lync would have visibility into the availability of key customers. Suddenly, possibilities open up for new levels of service and collaboration: account teams can be more effective and practical, presence alerts have the potential to revolutionize proactive contact and multi-step transactions, and consumers know wait times without having to pick up a phone. 

Skype democratized consumer communications with features like videoconferencing, instant messaging and file sharing. And Microsoft Lync has brought technologies like presence, conferencing and desktop sharing to enterprise desktops and mobile devices. With these powerful capabilities in the hands of both enterprise and consumer, I foresee another innovation wave in next-generation customer contact. 

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Edited by Jennifer Russell