Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft did one of the opening keynotes here at VoiceCon yesterday. During his audience Q&A session he was asked to comment on the recent outage at Skype that left millions of users unable to access service. He responded by saying Skype should not be used in business. No surprise coming from Microsoft. But he went on to provide an explanation for his statement that I wasn't expecting. He didn't comment on call quality, network resilience or a lack of integration with existing business systems. He said Skype should not be used in business because employees, namely salespeople, might quit and take their Skype contacts with them to their next employer.
I raised this same issue a couple weeks ago when I wrote about GrandCentral. This is the company recently acquired by Google that provides users with web-based control over phones and voicemail boxes and the promise of "one phone number for life." Like a Skype ID or phone number, that one number is tied to the user and where the user goes, so do all of his or her contacts.
It's going to be interesting to see what policies develop in the corporate world as we see more consumer tools finding their way into business. I'm sure some companies will take a hard line against their use and attempt to block applications like Skype and GrandCentral for fear of losing customers and leaking data out of corporate systems. But with so many new, really cool tools finding their way into business from the consumer world perhaps as an industry we should spend more time incorporating their functionality into business systems rather than stifling what these tools have to offer.
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