Is Skype a disruptive force in business?

Are communication tools like Skype transforming the way small & medium size businesses function? We posed that question to a panel of Zintro experts and here’s what they had to say:

Wesley Mullings, a customer electronics designer who specializes in proper planning, ergonomics, and aesthetics, says that Skype is helping to grow a significant number of businesses – both large and small – into VoIP communications. Viewed as a solution that “just works,” every type of company is utilizing this tool. Mullings notes that like with Facebook, once larger business and even the media start to use Skype for many of their ad-hoc interviews, more and more people learn about the solutions and services that Skype offers. Yet while Skype’s popularity has boomed, it has also called into attention that this technology still has limitations and disadvantages. Mullings explains that because “Skype seems to be lighting the way to the mass market to answer what VolP can really do,” the market will eventually test Skype’s limits in bandwith and enterprise solutions. Mullings recommends that the next step for Skye should be the ability for an enterprise to run and maintain a Skype server on their own intranet.

Jorge Alayon, a telecom engineer based in Buenos Aires with more than 15 years of experience in networks of all sizes, knows that many businesses rely on Skype for customer support and training purposes. If this tool were to disappear, businesses would have to rebuild their customer base on a separate platform, possibly facing separate charges. Alayon understands that if tools like Skype, Yahoo Messenger and Google apps were not readily available, it would be very disruptive for the company since people use it to generate sales. Kapil Pendse, with several years of experience in consumer and industrial electronics, agrees with Alayon that Skype is primarily a constructive resource. However, he references the recent Skype outage to show just how ingrained these tools are in modern business communications. Indeed, Pendse feels that “they are not just tools any more; they have become the media of communication.” These tools are essential because they help businesses save money – such as on travel expenses – and offer instant communication.

Nenad Tesic, senior engineer of a web development team in Serbia, realizes that the problems caused by these “soft phones” are often annoying and cumbersome because there is no standard application for voice calls. Tesic says that because it is the typical company policy to be open and forthcoming with potential or existing users, such tools must be installed. This causes difficulties because many people using tools like Skype  “have no or very little technical knowledge and they are using Skype to make calls.” Tesic points out that often employees use Skype while simultaneously downloading something, which reduces the quality of the voice call. Obviously, this can lead to problems in the relationships between businesses and their customers.