Linking in to Skype for Business, Microsoft’s New App for Communications & Collaboration

  • Emma Schwartz
  • January 26, 2016
Linking in to Skype for Business, Micros

Many nonprofits and NGOs are familiar with the free version of Skype, a popular application for staying connected to colleagues via video chat and voice call. But most aren’t yet familiar with Skype for Business – a new addition to the Microsoft Office suite that’s changing the way organizations are communicating across the globe.

Launched in April of last year, Skype for Business (SfB) combines features of Lync and the consumer Skype software in one simplified, enterprise-grade calling, conferencing, video and sharing platform.

In a recent Solutions Center webinar, Save the Children’s Ken Supersano shared how they’re using the app to find and connect with co-workers, save time and resources, and be more agile in the workspace.

As a federated organization, Save the Children (SC) has anywhere between 12,000-18,000 staff members working around the world to support more than 166 million children with essential services. In an effort to enhance and sync communications, IT leaders across the organization have made the commitment to standardize around Office 365 and SfB.

“We want [Skype for Business] to be the default online communication tool for Save the Children… Our goal is to have all employees become a part of the SfB ecosphere so we can share presence, free/busy, IM, audio, video, and web collaboration features,” said Ken.

Key features of SfB include:

  • Presence management. SfB is linked to Outlook calendars and indicates who’s available and who’s not. 
  • Instant messaging. The IM service allows users to quickly and easily connect with coworkers, SfB users, and Skype users. Chat logs can also be saved for future reference.
  • Online meetings. Users can leverage HD audio and video for meetings and share presentations and screens with both internal and external contacts.
  • Broadcast meetings. Users can produce, host and broadcast meetings to large online audiences, using any device.

Skype for Business is included in all four Office 365 licensing plans available to nonprofits: Business essentials, Business premium, Nonprofit E1 and Nonprofit E3. SfB is free to SC with their donated Office 365 subscription.

SC is chasing significant cost savings in the transition to Skype as usage goes up and InterCall prices go down. Ken and team also see the use of SfB as key in enabling them to become a High Performance Organization (HPO) – a central focus of their three-year development plan.

“We feel that proficiency in these types of tools is really a hallmark of any HPO,” he said. “Being able to communicate and collaborate with ours peers around the globe in different time zones is really going to be important for us to take the next step.”

Save the Children staff have been given Cisco Jabber headsets that work with their desk phones and PCs, and IT is continuing an ongoing “scrub” of WebEx and InterCall accounts

En lieu of formal app training, SC IT teams are hosting a series of brown bags to provide a targeted overview of the tool. SC also maintains an “Office 365 Toolbox” on their Intranet site and has a “How to Helpdesk” that staff members can call upon as needed.

To further encourage adoption, IT has inaugurated the “SfB cocktail party,”  a fun and friendly way to get team members together to explore the app and work through any initial kinks.

Following Ken, TechImpact’s Linda Widdop helped demystify the new tool by sharing a demo of the feature set and a few tips and tricks to help prepare for success. 

TechImpact has supported over 600 migrations to Office 365 for nonprofits around the world as part of its commitment to helping nonprofits use technology to meet their missions.

For a full recap on the Skype for Business feature set, watch Linda’s demonstration in the webinar recording.

Want to learn more? Linda and team hosts regular free demos and informational sessions on the Office 365 Suite. View the calendar here >>

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