Myth Busting: Skype for Business Telephony Integration

As we prepare for another two busy days at UC Expo in London, I have a strange deja vu feeling that I’ve been here before. It’s not just the gargantuan ExCeL arena that seems familiar; it feels like a repeat of the same business issues facing customers and reseller partners alike: Skype for Business – remains incredibly difficult to integrate with an enterprise-grade telephony platform.

Skype for Business customers need better telephony integration

Skype for Business is a popular and successful UC platform, famed for its excellent presence, screen sharing and other features than natively integrate with Microsoft productivity apps, Outlook contacts and calendars as well as with more fundamental infrastructure services like Active Directory.

Yet it isn’t an enterprise phone system. And without integration with one, Skype for Business cannot deliver a true UC experience. It’s a shame that so many only find this out the hard way.

In fact, as far as Skype for Business and telephony are concerned, nothing has changed over the last 12 months to change the following misconceptions in the market:

1. Clever SIP integration turns Skype for Business into a phone system.Wrong.

Unless what you mean by ‘phone system’ is simply a ‘dial tone’. No amount of clever SIP wizardry is going to cook up enterprise PBX features such as call transfer, conferencing, call waiting, group pick-up, IVRs and queues.

2. App-level integration of Skype for Business and third-party PBX licenses is ‘business-grade’.

Hiring a software developer to handle the necessary integration sounds good in principle, yet it can be a costly nightmare in practice. Consider the development costs, plus the cost of third-party licences, not to mention the risks of failure, rollout delays and a compromised user experience that sits outside the familiar Skype for Business interface.

3. You must buy Skype for Business licences for every phone user, regardless of whether they need the full UC service.Wrong.

Not all phone users are necessarily Skype for Business users; most organisations have hybrid requirements. Yet customers and partners find it close to impossible to avoid this highly expensive and wasteful procurement approach in order to integrate enterprise PBX capabilities with Skype for Business.

Three Old Skype for Business Myths – One New Truth

Thankfully NFON has come to the rescue! What’s new is that, through our partnership with IT distributor Westcoast, customers and partners have the unique opportunity to derive ‘Skype for Business as a Service’. For the first time through a single solution, NFON and Westcoast deliver all the telephony features and collaboration tools that business customers need.

All this benefits from our longstanding server-level cloud integration with Skype for Business, removing the costs, risks and delays associated with application-level integration. It also changes the economics for full-blown UC, unlocking its capabilities for the SME market and making the unified whole available for fast rollout, without any onsite hardware or software, on a monthly subscription model with a 30-day rolling contract.

The SME market is one of the new growth areas for the NFON UK business, as we look to consolidate a prolonged period of market expansion in the mid to large enterprise space. The Skype for Business proposition is a great opportunity to do just that.

Our latest UK quarterly results show year-on-year growth of over 250 percent, whilst 2016 figures show an annual 300 percent rise in revenues. This has been helped by several big customer wins including the London Borough of Hackney – a public sector contract with more than 6,000 users.

Adding more focus into the SME sector will continue to add to our UK market share. The UK market is one of the strongest adopters of Skype for Business in Europe, and this could be the start of a wider trend across other NFON markets.