Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Could Microsoft Teams Leave Skype for Business in the Dust?

The road to success for Microsoft in the world of collaboration has been one riddled with several hurdles. The UC vendor currently offers a range of applications that support numerous overlapping features. Skype for Business, Teams, Office 365 Groups, Yammer, and Outlook all contain different degrees of collaboration across the collaboration space. However, of these many products, it’s safe to say that Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business are the solutions most suited for consolidation.

For now, Teams and Skype are separate products, each complementing the services that the other provides. However, according to an analyst for Nemertes Research, Irwin Lazar, there’s a possibility that Teams might overtake Skype for Business in the long run. This is particularly relevant if Microsoft joins the two services together.

While Skype for Business offers Cloud-based and on-premise products alongside a hybrid option, Microsoft Teams is a cloud-centric collaboration solution. Both are pieces in the Office 365 portfolio, featuring presence solutions, messaging, video, and voice. However, Skype currently includes additional features like conferencing and PSTN calling.

The Problems with Harmonisation in Microsoft Products

Microsoft is just one of the many UC vendors in the market today that has chosen to build upon their cloud services, rather than concentrating exclusively on premise-based solutions.

Team applications are becoming essential to the next step in unified communications. For instance, if you consider other market leaders like Cisco, for instance, you’ll see that the company still supports the collaboration service “Jabber”, while pushing the development of their Spark product. RingCentral is also moving along the same road. They recently developed their UC product following the acquisition of the collaboration tool “Glip”.

Interestingly, when we compare Microsoft to other UC vendors on the market, such as BroadSoft, Mitel, RingCentral, and Cisco, we discover that Microsoft isn’t as harmonised as their competitors. According to experts like Lazar, Microsoft is going to need to work to improve the overall UC experience for the customer and make team chat a more integral part of their product development. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t the primary competitors in the mid-to-large market.

What’s the Plan for Microsoft?

Another analyst for the UC space, Dave Michels of TalkingPointz, also raised some concerns about the roadmap for Microsoft and Skype for Business. According to him, Teams will continue to grow, while Skype for Business slows down. After all, it makes sense for Microsoft to focus more on Teams as its brand-new solution built for Office 365. While it’s likely that Skype will see some improvements too, the focus might be smaller this year.

According to Michels, the plan for Microsoft remains unclear. As Microsoft shifts management around, experts are left wondering who will be navigating the next steps for Skype for Business. There’s a chance that Skype for Business might even move their resources over to Teams until the situation settles.

Recently, in March of this year (2017), Skype saw a couple of new updates, including the addition of call queues and an auto-attendant to the Skype for Business PBX on the cloud. Additionally, Skype for Business has also entered the meeting rooms through collaboration with hardware vendors like Logitech, Crestron, and Polycom. Microsoft additionally announced a preview release of Skype for Business Online analytics in March. This will be a dashboard that allows IT experts to address and identify issues with call quality.

Though things remain uncertain about the future of Microsoft collaboration, the brand is still going strong, with more than 100 million active users in the commercial space each month.

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