Did you know you can replace your voicemail, call routing systems, and conference dial-in service with Skype for Business? Most Office 365 customers understand that if you have an Office 365 E3 subscription, you can use Skype for Business for conference calls and screen sharing over the internet. The Office 365 E5 subscription offers exciting possibilities for small organizations and even for very large organizations to replace their PBX systems or upgrade their VOIP telephone services.
From our days as a startup, Xgility was a cloud only company; we have never owned a server. Our customers tour our office and we show them our “server-less closet.” Grasshopper was our virtual phone system in the cloud. If you called the 1-800-XGILITY number, calls were routed to employee’s voice mailboxes. Many of our consultants used their cell phone as their primary phone, but others wanted a desk phone. In the past, we used Poloycom phones with Vonage service in some offices and conference rooms. In addition, we have used a conferencing system from Intercall. Intercall can bridge our Office 365 E3 plan to allow Skype for Business and dial-in users on the same conference line.
Moving to Skype for Business with Office 365 is part of the digital transformation that both our company and many of our customers are taking. As part of that transformation, this article will give a sample of the devices your organization might want to consider as part of the transition. The article is organized by collaboration scenarios and provides examples of certified devices.
- Conference Rooms
Xgility recently installed a Skype for Business room system at our Ashburn office with two microphones, a speakerphone, a touch screen panel, and a pan tilt zoom camera to provide a true-to-life experience with our conference attendees.
For our small conference room, we chose the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect Video Conferencing Camera as a fixed camera and speakerphone is ideal for this space.
Logitech ConferenceCam Connect (Model # V-R0004)
In our large conference room we chose the Logitech SmartDock lrg room kit for Skype for Business rooms systems – with the Surface Pro 4:
The SmartDock runs a touch version of the Skype for Business client. Your meeting is listed on the Surface Pro’s screen and with one touch, you join your conference. Participants share their screen and start their video to collaborate with others. Our SmartDoc has two HDMI outputs, as Skype for Business Online will soon support one screen for content and a second dedicated for video.
- Desk Phones
We don’t use desk phones anymore. Our Polycom phones can be reconfigured to use a PSTN calling plan with Skype for Business, but we have moved to headsets and a portable Jabra speaker phone for office. See the next section for pictures of the speakerphones and headsets.
Polycom VVX 300 -before
All of our employees have Jabra headsets and the headsets work well with or without a PSTN calling plan. Our sales people have a Skype for Business domestic calling plan because it makes it very easy to dial a phone number as a hyperlink from a spreadsheet, Outlook, or a CRM system. Our lead consultants and sales people have a portable speaker phone from Jabra that works very well for up to 6 people. Since this is portable, we use this in customer offices.
Jabra Portable Speakerphone (Model # Jabra Speak 510 UC)-after
Skype for Business Mobile works well on smartphones with an internet connection. I have found this to be about 90% reliable while driving as compared to my Sprint voice network, which is 99% reliable while driving.
In summary, new voice and conferencing capabilities with Office 365 have improved communications while reducing expenses. Skype for Business certified devices enable user-friendly and flexible teaming capabilities. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the possibilities of using Skype for Business for conferencing purposes, contact us.
Author: Kurt Greening
Editors: Alex Finkel and Chris Ertz