News
Commentary
12/1/2006
00:00 AM
Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Is Skype Becoming an Enterprise Collaboration Platform?

No doubt you’ve heard of Skype by now, the free phone/IM/video service.  It’s likely if you are reading this you’re probably sufficiently interested in communications and collaboration applications that you’ve already taken the time to download Skype and try it out, perhaps with our without your organization’s permission.  But is Skype destined to become an enterprise collaboration platform, or will it remain an application that continues to be officially shunned by a large portion of the enterprise market?

Skype, the little phone service that could, has taken the Internet by storm over the last several years, with over 300 million downloads, and somewhere around 6-7 million active users at any given time.  But what’s most interesting about Skype is its potential as an enterprise collaboration platform, potentially offering a feature set that matches that which is available from dedicated enterprise platforms, but at a far lower cost.

Our interviews for our upcoming benchmark “Building a Successful Virtual Workplace” have shown some interesting trends with regard to Skype usage in the enterprise.  Very few of the organizations we’ve spoken to officially allow the use of Skype, mostly due to concern over lack of management and security controls.  But a small number of enterprises have embraced Skype, or are at the very least considering the use of Skype for communications and collaboration.  A far larger percentage of organizations are aware of Skype usage by their employees, and are struggling to get their arms around its impact.

As a collaboration platform Skype offers for many their first taste of unified communications, with a single buddy-list-based application supporting voice, instant messaging, video conferencing and presence.  Third party applications such as WebDialog’s “Unyte” and Convenos enable Skype users to integrate web conferencing capabilities such as document sharing, polling, and shared whiteboards.  (See this site for additional Skype-enabled collaboration tools).

Still, enterprises by and large reject Skype as a supportable communications and collaboration platform.  Typical reasons include the aforementioned security and management concerns, but also the inability of the enterprise to guarantee Skype quality.  Still, the idea of “free” internal communications, and low cost collaboration capabilities without the need to procure and support dedicated application platforms is compelling.  Should Skype sufficiently address enterprise management and security concerns in future releases of its products, it may be able to turn widespread enterprise interest into widespread adoption.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
The weekly wrap-up of the top stories from InformationWeek.com this week.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.