Microsoft unveils new features to Skype for Business

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the Future Decoded conference in Mumbai, India, February 22, 2017. Reuters/Shailesh Andrade

Microsoft announced its move to add two new calling features to Skype for Business Cloud PBX at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando, Monday. There’s one called the Auto Attendant feature, which provides automated answering and call routing, and a Call Queues capability for calls to be routed to the next available live attendant in the order received.

Microsoft said there are several updates to Skype For Business in Office 365, which has been used to conduct one billion meetings per year according to the company. The American technology company headquartered in Redmond, Washington also unveiled a preview of a new Skype for Business Call Analytics dashboard, which allows better visibility into call issue.

Additionally, there are new Skype Rooms System solutions for Creston, Logitech and Polycom. For instance, Polycom RealConnect for Office 365 now allows customers to connect existing video conferencing devices to Skype for Business Online meetings.

The announced new features are designed to help Skype for Business be used when there is a high volume of inbound calls, a scenario that often happens in a call centre. The updates are expected to boost Microsoft’s products in the enterprise channel while both Amazon and Google are trying to get into the enterprise cloud-conferencing game.

Amazon had previously launched its own Chime service, a fully managed communications service in the cloud. Google, on the other hand, repositions its Hangouts service to benefit more enterprise conferencing users.

The Office to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that Microsoft had embraced allows it to continuously update its software and introduce new features. Not all users are required to purchase an upgrade license for their software, since some do not prefer to pay monthly to utilise them.

In 2015, it began offering three new Skype for Business services, which are Skype Meeting Broadcast, PSTN Conferencing and Calling and Cloud PBX. Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling allows users to manage these calls using hold, resume, forward and transfer.

Microsoft had also previously included more PSTN Calling and Conferencing features, which include iOS CallKit integration, Skype for Business client for Mac and a new Skype for Business Server Cloud Connector edition. The company will deliver on Wednesday the Microsoft Keynote to detail how it is helping customers achieve digital transformation. Menakshi Sehwani, regional IT business partner for J Walter Thompson Europe, said Skype for Business Online is becoming a part of their DNA.

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