Erik Moll, Director of Digital Transformation, sits down to share his best practices on all facets of technology, thus enabling others to increase efficiency and productivity. Much has been learned with over thirty years in industry, but probably no lesson so profound as the importance of harnessing the full capability of technology.
The payoff of a little investment in time and energy to do things right, gets it done!
WHY EMAIL FAILS TO BE A REAL TIME COMMUNICATION TOOL
It goes without saying that for productive collaboration within an organization, businesses today need much more than email.
Some will remember, though others won’t, the times before email, when people in a business organization communicated through memos. It was an asynchronous communication channel, where one would send out a document and then wait for the reply to come back, hopefully within 24 hours.
But businesses needed a faster communication tool – something that could plug in co-workers to collaborate in real time, where they could discuss matters right now.
Email did try to take that role, becoming a synchronous communication channel with real-time talk, even though that was never its original intent. Even today, people send messages to their colleagues and expect a quick reply, but that often produces a thread of emails going back and forth, taking employees away from work and reducing productivity. Furthermore, documents get lost in numerous threads. It is estimated that at least 50 per cent of all emails that require action require clarification.
The truth is that email never actually achieved the required instant action.
THE SKYPE FOR BUSINESS REVOLUTION
That is where Skype for Business comes in as the perfect communication tool between co-workers who need to take action in real time.
“Skype for Business revolutionized the game: with an email, I will get back to you within 24 hours, but with Skype for Business you can expect to connect with me real time, “says Erik Moll.
Needless to say, this type of communication became not just important but necessary in today’s business world, with fast-paced environments, remote work and mobile offices.
Now employees within an organization have the means to send and share documents, tasks and instant messages in real time, communicating in text, voice and HD videos.
WHO IS ONLINE?
One of Skype for Business’s primary features is the availability recognition for each involved – the little green or yellow sign attached to one’s profile, which shows if someone is online or offline across all Office 365 applications.
Why is that so important?
Because email doesn’t tell you if your colleague is available for the necessary action at a particular point in time, and when you send an urgent task or question, you don’t know how long will it take him or her to answer it. Skype for Business, on the other hand, shows exactly who is online, who is offline, who is temporarily away from their devices, and who is “here“ but currently too busy for a chat.
Moll continues. “Let me showcase the power of Skype for Business with a personal example. I had a last-minute request for a business trip. It had to be approved by my manager, and I needed that answer rather quickly. I confess – my first reaction was to send him an email with the request. However, that could take him another 24 hours or even more to reply, and I needed the approval now.
So instead, I used the Skype for Business app on my smartphone to check if he was online, and I sent him an instant message asking for the travel permission. He confirmed it right away, and within just a couple of minutes I was able to make my travel arrangements. “
GETTING HOLD OF AVAILABLE CO-WORKERS
The application will follow your calendar and automatically change your status, for instance, if you jump on a conference call, or if you’re busy ina meeting and are unable to instant message back a message.
One of the coolest features of Skype for Business is the change alerts setting, where you can right click on someone’s profile that shows busy and choose to be notified when the person becomes available. Given how busy people are these days, this is a brilliant tool for getting hold of someone who might be difficult to catch.
THE PERFECT WEB CONFERENCE APP
A lot of times, business matters require an entire team or several individuals in a discussion, and while Skype for Business enables you to have a one-on-one conversation, it can also pull in others – up to 250 people!
If you want to take it a step further, you could start a voice or video conference call. Because people are ‘visual’ creatures, the latter allows them to get a clearer picture of the non-verbal communication included in their conversations. Also, calls can be recorded for later use.
Other than real-time chats and video/voice calls, Skype for Business offers the option of setting up a web conference at another point in time, which would be – of course – connected to your Outlook calendar.
Including guest participants external to the organization is no problem, since anyone can easily download the application.
What’s more, through Skype for Business calls you can share your applications, files and presentations, or even give remote control of your desktop to others.
For people not connected to the Internet, they can join the call, too, because Skype for Business has a call-in option, including landlines.
The Skype for Business chat window is well connected to Outlook email. For example, when you go to your email and a colleague needs to instant message you regarding a particular topic, the request for a chat will pop up in the subject line. You can also start a conversation through other Microsoft applications, such as Word, PowerPoint or Outlook Calendar.
COMMUNICATION WITH A “PAPER TRAIL“
Even with so many interactive features that Skype for Business offers, some might still opt for email-based communication, mostly for the paper trail that is necessary in many business processes.
Office 365 and Skype for Business have got you covered. Because all Office 365 applications are tightly integrated together as one cohesive unit, instant messages are all safely deposited and searchable inside your Outlook conversation history folder, which gives you the required “black and white“ document.
SKYPE FOR BUSINESS AS A STRATEGIC INFLECTION POINT
Moll concludes by saying, “Along with other Office 365 applications, it would be safe to say that Skype for Business became a strategic inflection point in the digital transformation of companies. It is the most useful tool for any business that wants to leverage its collaboration and communication in real time, from any device, towards more efficient and more productive teamwork.
A day does not go by without me using Skype for Business in one form or another. It is no longer a nice thing to have; it has become a necessity. “