Microsoft just announced Office 365 E5 licensing details adding new Skype for Business services for Office 365 customers—Skype Meeting Broadcast, PSTN Conferencing, and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling. According to Microsoft, 79 percent of all enterprises surveyed said they either have or will deploy Skype for Business. Clearly, Microsoft is leading the market in Unified Communications—though many of these customers have not yet replaced their PBX. With Microsofts new Cloud PBX services, customers now have new choices and more reasons to investigate the next step of “voice enabling” Skype for Business. Why? For starters, customers can realize substantial savings by eliminating expensive external conference services. Customers can also reduce CAPEX investments and time spent maintaining/upgrading on-premises equipment—like their aging PBXs or IP PBXs. Beyond the cost savings reasons for considering making the transition from a PBX to “voice enabling” Skype for Business—the way we work is changing. The traditional PBX—and even more recent IP PBXs—no longer adequately serves the communications needs in todays workplace. Let’s see how Skype for Business better serves these needs.
Making the Transition from the PBX to Unified Communications (UC) in the Cloud
We now live in a world of Unified Communications (UC). We use many devices to communicate. A phone is still needed, but its use as a “stand-alone” device is changing. With UC, we now have a wider range of communications options—IM/chat, video calls, phone calls, calling from PC clients and mobile devices (BYOD). Unlike the PBX, where communications usually starts with dialing a number from a telephone dialpad or an autodial key, Skype for Business communications often starts with an instant message (IM). As IM becomes the new dial tone (“U there?”, “Is now a good time to talk?”), when we want to talk, we expect to be able to place our call from the device that delivers the best audio experience. At the desktop, it’s our phone—in the conference room, a conference phone. Polycom is the only Microsoft strategic partner that offers a complete portfolio of communications endpoints for both the desktop and for rooms. Polycom also extends communications options with video solutions. Let’s start with the desktop and take a closer look at how a Polycom VVX Business Media Phone with Skype for Business creates a different user experience compared to a phone on a traditional PBX.
“Presence status” informs how we connect
Even before we IM or place our call, with Skype for Business, seeing the presence status of the party we want to talk to has meaning—you see this in the Skype for Business client and you see this on your phone. You don’t see this on a traditional PBX or IP PBX phones. Would you call someone if you knew they were in the middle of presenting an important webinar presentation? What if you need to talk to someone right away and but they aren't at their desk? Is it easy to find other ways to reach them from your phone? Features like “Enhanced Presence” and “Contact Cards” on the Polycom VVX Business Media phones make call scenarios like this very easy to address.
For example, besides showing presence states like “Available”, “Away”, and “Out of Office“ for the contacts in your “favorites list” (easily managed in your Skype for Business client), newer enhanced presence feature support extends the available list of presence states to include:
- In a Meeting
- In a Conference
- Urgent Interruptions only
These functions work on both the VVX phone and the VVX Expansion Modules that can be attached to the VVX phone and improves the visibility of your Skype for Business favorites status.
The contact card feature is very useful when used in combination with viewing your contacts presence status. For example, if you see that your contacts status is “Away” and you need to contact them immediately, you might dial their mobile number instead of their work number. Or, if your contacts presence status is “Urgent Interruptions Only”, you might leave them a voicemail instead of dialing them directly. A contact card displays with a ‘long press” of your contact in your ‘favorites’ list on your VVX phone (or expansion module) and can include the following numbers when populated in the directory:
- Skype for Business URL
The following illustration illustrates the workflow of these two related features:
Compared to the fixed single number autodial key on a traditional PBX phone, this combination of 2 features on the VVX phone from a single line key instance with Skype for business better suits the average users “autodial” needs. I've only covered two features now and already you can see how the users phone experience with a Polycom VVX phones running on an Office 365 Cloud PBX is far different than using an older phone on a PBX or IP PBX. According to a recent Skype for Business Adoption Trends survey presentation from No Jitter Research, nearly 9 of 10 customers surveyed rate Skype for Business/Lync Enterprise Voice as "better or much better" than the PBX that it replaced.
Are you interested in learning about other features that make the Skype for Business user experience on Polycom VVX phones so remarkable? Are you curious to see how features like these might influence how you match your end user requirements to specific phone models? Join Randy Wintle and myself for our Webinar on December 9th.