In this continuing series offered to educate our readers on Office 365, today we look at the benefits of the instant messaging feature within Skype for Business. For starters, if you don’t know, Microsoft acquired Skype in mid 2011, and in 2015 Microsoft renamed their Lync Corporate Communications platform as Skype for Business. One of the many features of Skype for Business, instant messaging (IM) is an efficient way to connect with your contacts in real time and on a moment’s notice. Less formal than email, faster than a phone call—IM is tough to beat for speed and ease of use.

Skype for Business is built into the Office 365 product set.  Instant messaging is available with the product for both Skype-to-Skype and multiparty communication. Further, the IM text is encrypted for enhanced security. Using Skype for Business, service users can search the address book for other users in their organization. Instant messages can be sent to individual members of a distribution list or the entire distribution list. Distribution lists can be expanded to see the individual members.

5 Ways Your Business Could Benefit from Instant Messaging with Skype for Business

Here are 5 reasons identified by the Skype for Business team at Microsoft for using IM in your Unified Communication plan:

  1. You can move fast: When it comes to a quick response, instant messaging is without comparison. You can see immediately when someone contacts you if you have Skype open, making responding to spur-of-the-moment questions fast and easy. You can also get answers quickly. Perhaps you’re on a call with a vendor and need additional information from a colleague, or you’d like to check someone’s availability for an upcoming meeting. With IM, you can get the information you need and move on. The immediate nature of IM creates the feeling of being right there, especially ideal for businesses with remote employees or those that operate virtually. But rest assured, if you’re away and someone messages you, the message will be there when you return.
  2. You can collaborate better with groups: It’s easy to conduct group chats in real time via Skype IM, and even keep the conversation going long-term with various people who work together. Need to chat regularly with a particular project team, or communicate more effectively with a group of remote workers? Create a Skype chat and use IM to ask and answer questions, share ideas, drop in links to articles, or talk through issues. 
  3. You can take it on the go: Chances are you’re not stationary, and neither is Skype. IM is not limited to your desktop or laptop. You can reach out and respond to people from your mobile phone or tablet, so you’re really available whenever (and wherever) you want to be.
  4. You can send and receive files: Being able to quickly receive files or send them to others is a feature many businesses tell us they rely on every day. From documents to presentations to photos, sharing information of any size with colleagues — individually or in a group — is only a drag and drop away, whether you’re chatting or on a voice call. So, if you’re having a weekly meeting with your marketing team and need to take a look at some new materials, your designer can drop the files in and you’ll have them right away. Of course, you can also share your screen with Skype, but for the times you need to have a document in your hands (or get one into someone else’s), IM can make it happen.
  5. You can protect your time: Having instant messaging doesn’t mean you have to let it interrupt your business when you need to focus on something else. Set your Skype status to Do Not Disturb when you’re tied up. Your contacts can see that you’re online but you aren’t free to chat. You will still receive messages, but you won’t be alerted with pop-ups or sound – particularly helpful if you’re on a voice call, sharing your screen, busy in a group chat, or deep in thought and want to avoid distractions.

Learn how The International Air Transport Association uses AltiGen’s MaxACD Contact Center for Skype for Business for their Unified Communication plan.