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Private Global Intercom

Will Skype have an enterprise play? When does it make sense to try it out? If I'm a small professional services company does it make sense to start using it? Examples. PR firms, Patent Attorneys, Systems Developers, Trade Advisors. Any firm with global alliances and a large number of international calls.

When to start? Certain businesses will depend on understanding Skype. However most IT security departments would probably suggest that I am getting ahead of myself. Skype is still in beta. However I know a few businesses that are semi-virtual and operate around the world. Some of these have VoIP services although not all. Most aren't particularly sophisticated about tech, and have either a hard time managing it or find themselves paying big bills to keep things going. Frankly Skype is less likely in in current format to create holes or crash systems than anyone of the many other "venerabilities" they are likely to have.

Consider Costs: For many small businesses upgrading their phone exchanges is an expensive business. For the more international practices communication costs are a key budget item. It is one the company doesn't like to think about. It is a cost of doing business. However, substantial reductions in cost and wasted time in terms of telephone tag suggest it may be an effective solution.

Simple maths. At $20 per person this represents at 20cents per call it represents 100 calls with a duration of 10 minutes. At 1 dollar per call it is less than 20. Call India and the payback is probably one call.

Is there a Trial Solution? However there's a simple solution you can create and populate immediately. Here's my 50 person dispersed office solution for today! We know Skype will come out with a corporate solution eventually. Give every employee Skype now. In the fifty person firm your investment will be about $1000 for the headsets assuming the computing equipment is less than three years old and are not a Mac shop. There are a few other pieces you need dependent on equipment available. The question is... what's the payout period?

Short-term using two computers side by side you open accounts for everyone. Create a name that matches the e-mail name before the @. You create one master directory account for the company where you authorize all the accounts you just set up. Then when ready to go you issue the "memo" including the benefits. You may choose a couple of helpers. You send the e-mail with the download and install Skype instruction along with their log-in details and password. When installed they are to call your master directory account. You answer and using "tools" right click on their incoming call and "share all member directory contacts".... As the rest of the company gears up... each will be authorized. Time for 50 accounts? Less than 2 hours for the initial account definitions. Probably then fifteen minutes per person for their e-mail response. With a little help from some helpers... all done in a day.

Benefits:

  • Lower costs
  • Enhanced understanding of availability,
  • Less telephone tag

    Make sure to have your employees go through the "File" - "Options" with you. Complete their profiles, make sure they tick the "privacy" settings!


    A Private Intercom: Now you have a private corporate Intercom system. From a security standpoint it is better than the current telephone systems. The IM function currently doesn't allow send files. So unless I'm told otherwise the risk looks to be close to "zero" here.

    I'd expect in time employees will add some other "buddies" at the moment you can't monitor this. The employee instruction is they are to treat Skype like an additional phone on their desk. Thus they can't turn it off, just like they wouldn't think of pulling the cord out of the wall.

    So in the future what with the small to medium enterprise version provide?

  • It will adopt the e-mail address as the Skype address, enabling easy migration and corporate authentication that this really is an employee. NOTE the @ is not currently available in Skype.
  • It will provide additional security for "sent" files over the IM system.
  • It will provide degrees of access so profiles for teams, clients, etc.. can be managed separately.
  • Will enable you to manage a global directory of corporate contacts. etc.

    Willing to test? For companies in the useability and design industry I'd see this as a simple trial. I'm looking for a fifty person test! I'll help you put the case! I'd like to get the statistics one month later on the savings! Plus run a small survey. Any takers?

  • Comments (2)

    The economy is still littered with ashes of the companies that did what Skype is doing and more before the dot com bust. As a former executive at one of these companies I can assure you that Skype is a fad. It is just too much of a pain in the ass to use a head set. Also, peer-to-peer is fundamentally insecure. You better be sure who you are talking to because when you are talking, you've just opened up a back door to your system. Security issues alone will keep Skype away from the corporate market.

    Elise, I appreciate your point of view. I also don't believe that headsets are the only method. Increasingly people use bluetooth headsets with their cellphones. Similarly bluetooth enabled cellphones could even take these calls. In many instances we may be more comfortable with the old phone, and yet as someone who interviews others I use a headset at every opportunity. Other methods already exist to plug in USB enabled phones. With some API work they would integrate with Skype and the PSTN.

    I'm less clear about the security issues. Could ther be another CallerID business waiting to be started. Eg Skypers system checked within x... and has a good reputation. Create a call connection market for security checks. It could be provided by a third party.

    I imagine that harnessing the current installed computing capital to upgrade the phone system might just make other security system upgrades more attractive.

    It may be fad. It is an early warning indicator.

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