Skype is used by millions of users around the world to stay in touch with their friends and family. When Microsoft acquired Skype, it integrated the popular service with its Office 365 platform and introduced Skype for Business.
Skype for Business adds enterprise security, compliance and control to the familiar experience of Skype. With Skype for Business, you can stay in touch with colleagues within your organization by using features such as Instant Messaging (IM), audio and video conferences, making and receiving phone calls, and hosting meetings of all sizes.
Microsoft added federation to Skype for Business to enable users in your organization to communicate not only with employees from other organizations but also with partners, vendors, and customers, just as they would communicate with people inside the company. The process of establishing federation is easy and straightforward, making it one of the most used features of Skype for Business.
"Federation" is the process and technology that supports communication with users outside an organization’s domain. The federation feature within Skype for Business enables the development of trusted and encrypted relationships between organisations. This helps teams become more productive by encouraging seamless communication and better collaboration.
Businesses can configure their federation settings to allow only specific organizations or they can open up federation for any organization while ensuring there are safeguards to reduce the risk of malicious behaviour.
We explore four benefits of enabling federation with Skype for Business.
Federation in Skype for Business allows users to see titles/positions and available/busy information using their contact's status presence indicators. With more organizations enabling open federation, users are utilizing it to discover potential opportunities and enhance their network. Integration with other Office applications like Outlook further improves the discoverability of potential federated Skype contacts.
Employees can resolve issues in real-time by offloading simple conversations from email or phone calls to instant messaging, thus saving valuable time. If required, users can schedule video conferences or phone calls with partners and vendors in one click, share their desktop screens and applications such as PowerPoint and Word or quickly escalate person-to-person sessions to multi-person conferences.
Organizations can save significant amount of money on their communications when they enable employees and partners to connect and collaborate using Skype with federation. This is because federation in Skype for Business uses the internet and not the regular phone network. It also brings down the cost of adding third-party conferencing services.
Apart from saving costs, federation significantly changes how business-to business communication is conducted by allowing frequent users of Office 365 and Skype to collaborate with their partners and vendors using familiar and reliable tools. Skype for Business can also help cut down travel costs by communicating with vendors and partners wherever they are, reducing face-to-face meetings and enhancing productivity.
Skype for Business provides significant control and configuration options to IT. The Central Management console helps IT Admins define, set up, maintain, administer, describe, and operate a Skype for Business Server deployment across the organization. For instance, certain features such as file transfer can be turned off based on company policies to ensure compliance and security.
Unlike public instant messaging services, Skype for Business also ensures that all your Federated communication is encrypted by using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Anyone who intercepts a communication sees only encrypted text. The application also archives your internal and federated conversations including peer-to-peer instant messages, multiparty instant messages, and content upload activities in meetings. The messages and content is available in the user’s inbox for future reference.
Skype for Business uses a server-to-server authentication based on the Open Authorization (OAuth) protocol. This ensures that your federated communications are handled securely and only with trusted servers.
We are now in a world where customer service has become commoditized and organizations are using innovative approaches to distinguish themselves. In such a scenario, federation can help organizations craft new methods of interacting with and caring for customers. It provides a powerful channel to connect with millions of consumers who are familiar and comfortable with Skype. This will help your organization as well as your customers save on communication costs while allowing for a richer contact experience.
At the heart of great teams is great communication. With Skype for Business federation, simplify your infrastructure with one platform for calling, conferencing, video, and sharing across your organization and with partners, vendors and customers.
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