On August 29, 2003, Luxemburg-based Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis set out with the simple idea of providing free calls for anyone who had an Internet connection. Global Skype usage is now equivalent to over one-third of all international phone traffic, accounting for 167 billion of the total 490 billion long-distance minutes in 2012. Making online video calls is expected to increase further due to the proliferation of mobile devices in both work and home.
Simon Pamplin, Director Systems Engineering, WEST EMEA at Brocade comments “The birth of Skype in 2003 introduced a massive revolution in how we use technology to connect and communicate with each other. It brought video conferencing to the masses by providing a very cost-effective, easy to use way of speaking to friends and family around the world face-to-face, and led the way as a consumer technology that was quickly adopted by business users.
“Skype’s 31 million users are testament to its success. Easy and free to install, Skype-enabled desktop video conferencing has been adopted by everyone from the self-employed, single individual to the multi-national corporation. Its ubiquity has also made it a prime example of a fantastic ‘consumer’ technology that is having a significant impact on business networks.
“Unregulated and impossible to measure for most IT departments, the consumerisation of IT has meant businesses need to guarantee access to corporate services while ensuring employees can continue to enjoy the benefits of applications like Skype. This consumerisation of IT is posing one of the biggest challenges in business IT right now. And, it is also reflected in the impact on corporate networks – a third of businesses experience downtime every week according to our research.
“Who knows what new technologies we can expect to be using in ten years’ time? But the success of Skype and its impact shows the need for businesses to get their networks ready now.”
Rick Puskar, senior vice president, global portfolio management, Siemens Enterprise Communications, comments, “While Skype has revolutionised the way that families and friends can communicate, cheaply and easily, worldwide, it is still seen as a B2C solution and not a B2B resource. Apple FaceTime is another clear example of how consumers are embracing video conferencing into their personal lives, but just as BYOD has blurred the lines between work and home, video conferencing capabilities need to improve to enable users to seamlessly shift between corporate calls and family catch ups.
“The consumerisation of mobile devices has had a considerable impact on the way that we communicate in and out of work. With video conferencing and video telephony driving the trend of mobile working, it is imperative for employees to have a reliable, secure and efficient service. This will allow mobile teams to interact and collaborate with colleagues in different countries, just as easily as staying in touch with family abroad. So why hasn’t B2B been embraced with the same enthusiasm?
“Research from Siemens Enterprise Communications reveals that 72 per cent of users would find teamwork easier if collaboration included video, which is not surprising as 79 per cent of respondents are always or frequently working in a virtual team. There is a huge opportunity for businesses to make the most of rich multi-media and existing peer-to-peer technologies. I’m confident that video is a catalyst that will bridge that gap and offer a richer personal approach and before we know it we will all be discussing the B2B verb of video conferencing.”