Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office.
Today, we are excited to announce the availability of several new Office 365 communications services designed to modernize voice, video, and meeting experiences, while saving companies substantial costs in their communication infrastructure. Organizations can now replace their legacy meeting and phone systems with innovative services built on the familiar Skype for Business experience, all naturally integrated within Office 365—the world’s most-used collaboration and productivity platform.
We are also excited to announce significant new security and analytics capabilities aimed at dramatically improving our customers’ ability to protect their organizations and glean insights from data.
We believe that the heart of productivity is great teamwork, and the heart of great teams is great communication. Productivity today is centered on conversations—sometimes a quick instant message or call, and sometimes a meeting planned in advance including voice, video and content sharing.
With many different avenues of communication, people need tools that allow them flexibility in how they connect. For years, consumers have embraced new ways of communicating, turning “Skype” into a verb synonymous with video calling. But corporate telephony, including PBX systems, and audio and video conferencing systems, has lagged behind—until now. Having Skype for Business as an integrated part of the work people are already doing in Office means greater continuity as they collaborate and communicate throughout their day.
Built on the familiar Skype user interface, Skype for Business makes connecting with colleagues as easy and intuitive as connecting with friends and family on Skype. With the new services, Skype for Business gets even better, for organizations and their people:
- PSTN Conferencing provides the flexibility to dial into a meeting from a traditional phone, in addition to the existing ability to join a meeting with a single click on your PC or mobile device.
- Skype Meeting Broadcast makes it easier than ever to produce large virtual meetings for up to 10,000 meeting attendees, who can join from virtually any browser or device (see it in action). Now Skype for Business truly is a single platform for every type of meeting.
- Cloud PBX enables companies to eliminate separate PBX systems and transition to the cloud with Office 365 as the central location to manage users for communication and
- With PSTN Calling, Office 365 customers can also subscribe to Microsoft managed to call plans and phone numbers, starting in the U.S. with more markets coming later.
Watch this video to learn more about how the new Skype for Business capabilities can benefit your organization.
Simplify your infrastructure, lower your costs and empower your people
Microsoft is the only company that has built this combination of capabilities—a cloud business phone system including dial tone, and a complete meetings solution including audio, video, content sharing and messaging service—as a core part of a complete productivity and collaboration suite, available across mobile platforms and at a global scale.
Today, over half of our business customers are currently paying for multiple conferencing solutions, and many are still using legacy PBX phone systems. Now they can simplify their infrastructure with one cloud platform for meetings and voice, ultimately reducing the cost, complexity, and effort of maintaining legacy phone and conferencing systems.
But it’s about more than saving money. People spend nearly a third of their time at work in meetings, yet only 18 percent of information workers actively use conferencing tools that enable rich experiences like video and content sharing. When you consider that nonverbal signals account for nearly 90 percent of the messages we receive during interpersonal communication, it’s clear that moving to modern communication tools can have a dramatic impact on productivity and collaboration.
Desktop sharing during a Skype for the Business meeting.
A Rich Partner Ecosystem
As we release these new capabilities in Office 365, partners will play an integral role in extending the value of our new services. At the forefront are our global systems integrator partners, who have the highest level of experience in delivering communications solutions end-to-end.
We also partner with telco operators who provide secure, high-quality network connectivity and managed services that help customers get the best experience with the new Skype for Business services. These partners include BT Global Services, Orange Business Services, SoftBank, TATA Communications and Telstra.
Key partners like Polycom are delivering innovative new solutions for audio conferencing including the Polycom® RealPresence Trio™ for groups, and Polycom® VVX® desktop phones, which are the first phones qualified for the new Skype for Business services in Office 365.
Application partners like Genesys are also building on our platform to deliver solutions like contact center applications that work with Skype for Business and Office 365.
Deeper value from security and analytics
In addition to the Skype for Business capabilities, we’re releasing new security and data analytics capabilities in Office 365, including:
- Delve Analytics—Empowers individuals through rich dashboards that provide insights on time and relationships, with the goal of helping individuals get time back and spend it effectively.
- Power BI—A business analytics service that enables information workers to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency and understanding through live data dashboards, interactive reports and compelling visualizations.
- Customer Lockbox—Gives customers new approval rights, transparency, and control over their data in the cloud.
- Advanced eDiscovery—Integrates Equivio machine learning, predictive coding, and text analytics capabilities, to reduce the costs and challenges that come along with sorting through large quantities of data for eDiscovery purposes.
- Advanced Threat Protection—Protects against unknown malware and viruses by applying behavioral analysis.
All of the new capabilities are now available and represent significant new value to enterprise customers. We’re excited to see the impact it can have on your organization!