Skype, owned by Microsoft, recently announced that it will be making its Group Video Calling (GVC) service free of charge for Windows desktop, OS X and the Xbox One. Additional platforms, such as Windows Phone, Android, and iOS, will be added in the future according to Phillip Snalune, Skype’s General Manager of Consumer Product Marketing.
GVC can support up to ten people on PC & Mac computers making Skype more competitive with Google Hangouts along with making it a more viable alternative for business looking to get into video. This, in conjunction with improved bandwidth and cameras will help blur the lines between Skype calls and business video calls. But, do you want to build your organization’s entire strategy behind Skype?
Not likely. Skype can help augment an organization’s video environment but at the end of the day, there are still a number of concerns when using it consistently for business. All Skype calls are held over the public internet meaning call quality is at the mercy of current network conditions. So, if the network is congested with other traffic (file downloads, server backups, and internet streaming) video users will experience packet loss, jitter or latency which can negatively impact user experience and, in some cases, make the video call impossible. Think of an audio call that keeps breaking up and you can’t understand a word the other person is saying.
Putting a business video plan in place allows organizations to set QoS standards and prioritize network traffic. For example, if a video call is occurring at the same time as a server is backing up to a cloud storage service, the server backup will automatically be dropped to a lower speed or paused until the video call is over. This helps ensure a consistent experience for video calls and limits network congestion.
Additionally, with Skype it is nearly impossible to create a consistent dial plan. There are millions of Skype users meaning millions of user IDs are already taken. As a result, it is difficult to create a consistent “user directory” within the organization not to mention users have to go through and add others to their buddy list which can become a cumbersome process.
Business video environments, enhanced with call control, allow organizations to develop a call architecture, consistent dial-plan, and a global phonebook. For example, video addresses can be linked to email addresses and follow a firstname.lastname@example.org format. This allows users within an organization to easily find and dial colleagues instead of having to email or IM to find out their user name then add them to their buddy list.
Skype is a great tool and free Group Video Calling is a major enhancement – for consumers, making consumer-based calls like organizing a group vacation or planning a party. When it comes to business negotiations or remote collaboration it’s better to invest in a business video solution.