There’s a wealth of exciting information being presented at Ignite 2016 – news about emerging Skype for Business Online features is no exception! Corporate VP Gurdeep Pall addressed attendees during Monday’s Skype for Business keynote, discussing a number of coming advancements in the Microsoft unified communications space including the newly designed Skype for Business client for Mac, real-time multi-lingual transcription in Skype Meeting Broadcast, upcoming “next generation” Skype for Business Room Systems from Logitech, Crestron, and Polycom, and the coming expansion of Skype for Business PSTN calling into France and Spain.
While each of these features marks a greater reach and expansion of utility for customers currently utilizing or looking to move to Office 365, there are two additional features that I want to highlight due to their potential to be immediately applicable to use cases Perficient has recently encountered with a number of clients who are moving to Office 365.
The first dovetails into Satya Nadella’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) -themed keynote addressing how Microsoft is building Office 365 technologies to be smarter – here, from the perspective of allowing administrators to better manage Skype for Business environments with a single pane of glass. Enter Skype for Business Advanced Analytics. Advanced Analytics will simplify the management of Skype for Business Online by providing a single reporting and analytics dashboard. Details about your environment at a macro level are available in easy-to-digest reports and graphs, for example, utilization of calling and conferencing features, and details about the distribution of devices in use in the environment. Advanced Analytics also allows you to dive into individual user experiences to debug and diagnose issues by determining the root cause of poor audio quality or other sub-optimal Skype for Business Online user experiences. Of course, the data leveraged by Advanced Analytics will also be available for analysis with Power BI, opening up a world of potential use cases for this data.
The second involves support of regionally hosted meetings in Skype for Business Online. This is especially important for our customers who operate as multi-national or global entities, as it will allow users to host meetings in a geographically-local Skype for Business pool. When meeting resources are locally available, real time voice, video, and application sharing media travels a fraction of the distance before it enters the Office 365 network, and can ride Microsoft’s high-performance internal network backbone. This is a potential solution for scenarios where users may have been adversely affected by latency or other geography-induced network issues when joining conferences in the past.
Perficient is excited to be able to assist our clients with implementing these new Skype for Business Online features into existing deployments, and guiding customers who are at the beginning of their Microsoft cloud journey using our proven deployment methodology alongside the Microsoft Skype for Business framework. Stay tuned as the features and scope of Skype for Business Online continue to evolve!