It’s funny how seemingly quick and painless it is to become normalized to new technologies these days. My first interaction with Skype – in short, a software application that allows users to make voice, video calls and chat over the Internet – was about a year ago when I watched a friend video call his cousin in the Czech Republic. How amazing, right? To be half way around the globe and have the ability to see and talk to others not only in real-time, but for free! Still, I did not sign up. The motivating factor for me was its advantages in business communications. I began skyping with clients, sending large file transfers in a matter of minutes, video conferencing, and staying in close contact and communication with fellow employees. The use of Skype has become so natural and so vital to our business’s communications, it’s difficult to see our company running so smoothly without it. Let’s take a look at the history of Skype and how it can benefit your business.
As I described earlier, Skype is a software application founded in 2003 that allows its users to make voice, video calls and chat over the Internet. While calls to other users within the Skype service are free, other services like calls to landline telephones and mobile phones are made for a fee. As of 2010, Skype reported 663 million registered users. As more and more peer to peer networking services emerge using social media, it is no surprise that Skype’s peer to peer system model has been such a success. The original founders of Skype sold the service to eBay in October 2005 for $2.6 billion. Six years later, in May 2011, Microsoft announced that it had agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion (32 times Skype’s operating profits), marking a 300% increase in value for the company – Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date. It’s obvious that Skype is growing, and its popularity in the professional sector is making an enormous impact on business communications.
Due to the wide range of features that Skype offers for personal and business communications, I’ve broken down the seemingly most beneficial features that can provide value and worth to your company’s operations.
- Relationship-building. We all know the importance of face to face interaction in the business world. It helps create and nurture lasting relationships between clients and employees alike. Whether you have a home office, small business or growing enterprise, relationship-building is vital when it comes to client acquisition and retention, which in turn leads to increased sales and profits. Skype allows you to conduct video calls and conferencing anywhere in the world. By taking advantage of this service, you’ll be able to cultivate a more tight-knit community within your clients and employees.
- Save on costs. As I pointed out earlier, calls to other users within the Skype service are free, and so are one-to-one video calls, instant messaging and screen sharing. Skype also offers great low rates with services like pay as you go, subscriptions and premium memberships. In a 2007 survey by Skype of 250 companies using the service, 95% claimed to have saved on telecommunications costs.
- Increase productivity. In that same survey of 250 companies using the service, 80% said using it increased employee productivity. Services such as screen sharing, file transfers, video conference calling, call forwarding, customer service tools and more can allow your business to stay connected – internally and externally – from the ease of its computer network. You can make client proposals online; share ideas, files and designs to employees; and work with other service providers such as web developers to make sure every job is done with precision, accuracy and efficiency.
Of course, Skype can come with some caveats to it. Due to its operations being conducted on a busy Internet highway, the system can get clogged and calls can get broken up or even lost. Additionally, security and privacy can be an issue. However, the benefits of Skype tend to outweigh its possible negative effects. Its ability to ramp up your business’s communications can not only allow you to increase sales but also decrease networking costs. And its acquisition from Microsoft exemplifies its growth and reach in the social media and networking world. The social media giant Facebook has even jumped on board – you can now see your friends’ latest Facebook news through Skype! Whether your business is big or small, take advantage of all that Skype has to offer and watch your business succeed.