Retirement of Skype for Business and the rise of Teams

– Written by Helen Johnstone

In July of this year, Skype for Business is being retired by Microsoft. This, the original UC platform from Microsoft will prompt a transition for many to Microsoft Teams.

Here at Qunifi, it has prompted co-founders Mark Herbert and Richard Carver to reflect on the journey taken so far in developing PBX and SIP Trunk voice integration with Microsoft and the success of their Call2Teams solution.

The convergence of IT and Telecoms

In 2017 Richard and Mark struck upon the idea to build a phone system with Microsoft integration. At the time they were building a cloud distributor from scratch, within the Microsoft ecosystem. And it became clear to them that bringing together IT and telecoms was the future.

And so, it all began…

The first integration was for Skype for Business. Yet it soon became clear customers were reluctant to change their phone provider. That the demand was for an integration solution that would easily bridge the gap between existing telephony and Skype for Business.

Listening to customer demand, Mark and Richard focused on an integration solution that was phone system agnostic. And since then, product development has not stopped. With developments closely following Microsoft. As not long after introducing Skype for Business, Microsoft started to develop Microsoft Teams. With this Richard and Mark also sought to evolve their solution.

And so Call2Teams was created.

Microsoft Teams becomes the go-to-solution

Provided as part of the Microsoft 365 suite, uptake of Teams soared, from 13 million daily active users in July 2019 to 145 million daily active users by April 2021. With Teams being the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history.

Growth in Microsoft Teams also fueled the adoption of Call2Teams.

In market since January 2020, Call2Teams has seen exponential growth. Driven by both the convergence of IT and telephony, and also changes in working practice prompted by the pandemic.

“I’ve never worked this hard in my entire career. Yet, I’ve not met a single customer face-to-face and only met a handful of our staff! The pandemic has brought a huge levelling force to the market. You do not need to meet with people to do business. Business also seems to happen more quickly. Fitting in remote video calls is more achievable and has allowed smaller operators to contend with the bigger operators.” Explains Mark Herbert

Mark and Richard also explain that, although an element of luck has contributed to their success, by having the right product at the right time, their wealth of experience in the sector has also supported their decision making and helped them develop a product that is needed by the marketplace.

“With some shrewd decisions around research and development and using the team, we’ve built the business into a global organization. With colleagues in North America, Europe as well as the UK. We’ve been able to tap into talent we wouldn’t have otherwise considered in the old world. And with a focussed top-down approach to the market, we have been able to establish ourselves as leaders in this niche area of voice-enabling Teams.” Explains Richard Carver, going on to say

“Customers are using the migration from Skype to Teams as an opportunity to consolidate their approach to communications, bringing phone calling into Teams, instead of deploying a separate softphone to users or third-party S4B integrations. This reduces the IT burden and gives end users a more productive working environment.”

Microsoft has done a good job of making Skype for Business Online users aware of its end of life. And there has been a steady stream of Skype Online customers moving over to Teams in the last 12 months. Here at Qunifi, we’ve just retired our last customer from our Skype integration, marking the end of an era.

Call2Teams is currently the leader in Microsoft Teams direct-routing-as-a-service and native calling. So, what is next?

The future is collaboration

UCaaS is one of the fastest-growing technology sectors. Demand for enterprise mobility and mobile working is driving adoption. Gartner expects unified communications market share to more than double from 17% in 2018 to 35% in 2023. Indicating that a collaborative approach, providing all-in-one customer-first solutions, is in high demand. This is reflected in the strategy being taken by Microsoft.

“Microsoft is looking to be much more open, with some interesting new programs to allow third partner integration. This highly collaborative approach means they have a cooperative and active partner program, which has allowed us to build a business and provide customers with real value.” Explains Mark Herbert

Taking their lead from Microsoft Mark and Richard both agree that the winners in the marketplace are going to be those that collaborate, rather than compete. And as IT and Telecoms continue to converge and as the market becomes more collaborative then, the future for Call2Teams looks strong.

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