Worried about Skype for Business Going Away? Don’t Be—Microsoft Teams Has Your Back.
If you are a loyal Skype for Business customer, you may be dreading life after July 31, 2021.
That’s when Microsoft will retire Skype for Business for its cloud-based Microsoft Teams. What will this transition leave behind? A scorched Earth of confused employees, wandering in a daze as they try in vain to communicate with each other?
Of course not. But, it is time to start planning for the world after, so you don’t experience interruptions in how your employees communicate with each other, your partners, and suppliers.
Before we bravely go into the software as a service (SaaS) future of Teams, let’s take a quick peek at its past and present.
Skype for Business: A Proud Brand
Launched in 2014, Skype for Business broke new ground by combining instant messaging, phone and video communications into a single tool hosted by Microsoft. It was a huge success for the SaaS tool Microsoft Office 365. Millions of people embraced it, beginning a revolution in business communications that inspired many imitators but few equals—until Microsoft topped it with Teams.
Skype for Business had several benefits. Not only was it good for instant messaging and online meetings, but it also easily integrated with Outlook calendar, allowing users to schedule and join meetings seamlessly. At the same time, its extended features for voice communication—including an auto-attendant and voicemail—delivered real-time business support by giving employees the ability to connect quickly and address issues.
However, most of those features were only available in the Office 365 E5 plan. Because the E5 plan carried an additional cost, many organizations didn’t adopt it for their voice communication systems, causing them to miss out on Skype for Business’s best features.
With Skype for Business migrating to Microsoft Teams, most of that will change.
Why Microsoft Teams? Meet Today’s New Hub for Teamwork
Microsoft launched Teams in 2017 and hasn’t looked back. Because it lives on a cloud platform, this SaaS tool transformed the Microsoft modern workplace by integrating chat, video, calling, meetings, and document collaboration into a single platform. It provides workspaces where defined groups can communicate and work together on content within the context of a project or another defined purpose. It can also provide a quick snapshot of changes and store them all in one place.
Over the past three years, millions of satisfied customers have experienced the smoother collaboration, greater efficiency and incredible economic impacts Microsoft Teams delivers. As Microsoft blogger James Skay put it, “Teams isn’t just an upgrade for Skype for Business Online, it’s a powerful tool that opens the door to an entirely new way of doing business.”
The challenge for Skype for Business users—and Microsoft—is the clock is now ticking on preparing for the cutover. 2021 may seem like a long time away, but remember, Skype for Business is nearly seven years old. A change from Skype for Business to Teams requires adequate time for planning, configuration, deployment, testing, and getting your employees comfortable with the change and how Teams works.
To help with planning, Microsoft released this timetable:
- Today: Microsoft started making Teams the default for all new Office 365 customers on September 1, 2019.
- Meanwhile: Skype for Business Customers can keep adding new users.
- The Future: On July 31, 2021, you will no longer be able ot access Skype for Business.
The Bottom Line
Now is an excellent time to identify how your organization currently uses Skype for Business, and use that knowledge to take your team into the cloud with Teams. Microsoft has two options worth exploring to help smooth the transition: the Skype-to-Teams Deployment Planning Service and the Microsoft Office 365 Teamwork Assessment.
The Road Forward
The post-Skype for Business world is far from bleak, and with great new features like the just-released Private Channels, the future for the Microsoft modern workplace is bright, indeed. The key to success? Do your homework and find the right workplace collaboration partner to make the most of your Office 365 investment.
Read our blog post, “Learn the Rules of the Road for Microsoft Teams,” for more on how Microsoft Team stores data–and how to keep it safe!