The Limitations of Skype for Businesses

Posted on: 2018-02-23 | Categories:SIP

If you are looking to purchase VoIP for your business, you have a lot of options. You have several decisions to make and the choices can be overwhelming. Do you want control over your own infrastructure or want someone else to manage the service for you? How do you decide which service offers the best price for the features you need? The process is further complicated by the fact that not everyone is an expert on VoIP technology. How can you decide on a service when you may not even know what your business requires?

Skype for Business

There are very few people who will not be familiar with the consumer version of Skype. It was one of the earliest VoIP services and became incredibly popular with people trying to stay in touch with friends and family across international borders. Since Microsoft bought the business, Skype has gone through a number of transformations. Today, Skype is available for both consumers and enterprises.

Business owners are attracted to Skype for a number of reasons. It is a well-known brand and has the support of one of the biggest technology firms in the industry. It integrates extremely well with the Microsoft Office 365 suite and offers many of the enterprise features offered by hosted VoIP service providers. Although Skype did not initially integrate with PSTN circuits, you can now purchase calling plans from Microsoft for that purpose.

The Limitations of Skype for Business

Skype for Business doesn’t sound all that different from the various VoIP services on the market. You get cheaper calls, group audio and video conferencing, IM integration, voicemail etc. but Skype is distinctly different from the typical hosted VoIP services in many ways. Skype does have certain limitations which may not make it the ideal choice for your organization.

In fact, Skype caters to a very specific type of organization – large corporations that use Microsoft Office. It is not a customizable service that is flexible enough to accommodate all types of businesses.

Skype Uses Proprietary Protocols

Skype was developed as a service using peer to peer technology. As such, it used proprietary protocols to transmit voice over the Internet through firewalls. In those early days, SIP did not have many of the robust functionality that we take for granted today. As the VoIP industry matured, SIP has become the standard for hardware manufacturers, service providers and software developers alike.

If you opt for hosted VoIP services, you don’t have to worry about interoperability. Most SIP compatible handsets and equipment will work with the service. If you want to switch providers, you don’t have to buy all new hardware. It is not the same case with Skype. Since the service does not use SIP, changing your telephony service provider may not be as easy as you think.

Third-Party Integrations

One of the biggest advantages of upgrading to VoIP from the PSTN is the ability to integrate with other types of enterprise systems. It is common for VoIP services to work with CRM or helpdesk software. For instance, major hosted VoIP services work with Dropbox, Salesforce, Google apps and so on.

Skype for Business is notorious for lacking such third-party integration, although it works well with Microsoft’s own Office applications. In other words, Skype is great if you are already entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem. It’s not exactly the best option if you use other business apps.

Pricing and Plans

Pricing and plans are not very complicated when it comes to VoIP service providers. Calling plans offer either unlimited bundles or pay-as-you-go options. Monthly subscription prices are based on the number of seats. Some services will offer basic and premium plans have different features as you would expect. Other vendors will offer all features in all the plans with the pricing based on the number of employees or other variables.

Since Skype is tightly coupled with Microsoft Office, you have many more options. Some of the enterprise plans only include the basic version of Skype while others come with the full version. Not all features are present in all the plans. Some plans have Skype included in the monthly pricing while others have a separate charge for PBX functionality. Quite a few of the subscription plans are only available for organizations purchasing a minimum number of seats as well.

If you already use the Microsoft Office suite, then going with Skype for Business makes sense. But what happens if you no longer wish to use the business applications? Or if you have to downsize your business in the future? Skype is designed to get businesses to convert to the Microsoft Office suite. This is reflected in their pricing, the sheer breadth of plans on offer and feature set.  On the other hand, hosted VoIP services will work well with your existing suite of business software.

Skype for Business this a good option for large corporations that wish to use Microsoft Office. For most everyone else, VoIP is the way to go!