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Tag Archive:Skype for Business


Three Things I’ve Learned About Collaborating With My Very Spread-Out Team

My ten-person company is not very traditional. We implement technology, like customer relationship management (CRM) systems. We have no offices. We are very spread out. Our overhead is low. To get our projects done and coordinate effectively, we have to collaborate. This hasn’t been easy to figure out. Luckily technology to help connect disparate teams has improved. And we’ve all gotten a little smarter. Here are three things I’ve learned from running a de-centralized business.

Standardize on one collaboration platform

There are many great cloud-based tools to help teams collaborate. The ones I have found to be the best are those that provide the most options and features. A few years ago we were working with a handful of these tools. But things have changed. Microsoft Office, for example, has significantly changed. What was once a desktop application for word processing and spreadsheets has now evolved into a cloud-based platform of tools that we are using for email, file sharing, presentations, conferencing, scheduling, note-taking and customer management. Slowly but surely, Office 365 has replaced many of our other collaboration applications and has enabled my team to keep everything in one place under one umbrella. Because the interface is consistent and we’re able to do our work from any device, it keeps getting easier to standardize on this platform. The lesson: I’ve learned to pick a good platform that offers all the collaboration tools I need and invest in it.

Balance technology with human interaction

I know I may sound old school when I write this, but I close more deals when I meet prospects face to face. I have better relationships with those people that I see in-person more frequently. I am able to manage people more effectively when I’ve met them. A good collaboration platform is critical for my workgroup because we’re running around everywhere and need that one place to do a data dump. We use the technology to remind of us of tasks, alert us when things are coming due and maintain data about projects that no human being can remember. But in the end, we still meet in person. Sure, we don’t have offices. But we all talk on the phone, both individually and in groups. We meet on Skype for Business, where we have the option to talk or even see each other face to face through video chat. We meet at coffee places and for lunch. We take time aside at client locations to discuss projects and even other clients. I’ve learned that technology can do a lot, but human interaction is still really, really important. Find the technology that allows you to blend both.

Put someone in charge

I’ve found Office 365 to be a very powerful platform to use, and so have many of my clients. But the ones that use this service the best have made an investment in a central person to administer the system. This is not a tech person or an IT firm – it’s usually an administrative person who is smart, confident and willing to learn the software and not afraid to make mistakes. This person is given the responsibility of making sure that all the data in the system is complete and accurate. If you’ve got a workgroup of five or more people this is easier said than done. Minor mistakes are inevitable, but an administrator is tasked with making sure that there are alerts and controls in place to limit these problems and help take action so that they don’t happen again. A collaboration system has many moving parts to it and for it to work effectively one person should be the go-to resource for answering questions and taking responsibility. I’ve learned that investing in this person pays itself back many times over and not having this person significantly increases the risk of my collaboration system failing.

Ten years ago, when I closed my offices, I made a lucky guess. I guessed that I could rely on collaboration technology to help me make up for the fact that I didn’t have an office. Think about how nascent those technologies were back then. It turns out that my guess was right. Given my track record of getting things right, the fact that I predicted this is astonishing. But hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.


Office 365 – New Skype for Business Features

If you have an Office 365 business subscription that includes Skype for Business, then you already have richer online meetings capabilities, such as the ability to conduct large group meetings for up to 250 people and the ability to Instant Message anyone in your organization at any time—not just during meetings. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conferences in Toronto earlier this month, the folks from Redmond unveiled some exciting new features coming to Skype for Business:

1. Translation

Automatic transcription and translation in Skype Meeting Broadcast should arrive by the end of 2016.
While Skype Meeting Broadcast lets you produce, host and broadcast meetings to large online audiences; these new services will provide live closed captioning of presentations and allow viewers to choose translation into their preferred language from a list of supported languages

2. Skype for Business experience in Office

While co-authoring a Shared document in OneDrive or SharePoint, users will soon be able to chat in real-time using Skype for business. A new chat icon will appear (next to co-authors in the document) that will let you contact the other co-author in real time. The feature can be tested in personal OneDrive for now

3. Upload Meeting Attachments in advance

Files you attach to a Outlook 2016 or Outlook on web meetings automatically load into the Skype Meeting document bin as soon as participants join in. Cloud attachments also automatically assign permissions to meeting attendees so as to allow everyone to collaborate during the Skype Meeting

4. Retrieve User Session data

Now Office 365 admins can retrieve user session data for Skype for Business Online using a PowerShell Cmdlet. The new Get-CsUserSession Cmdlet for Skype for Business enables all Skype for Business Online tenant admins to retrieve user session data as it exposes user activities and modalities including registration, Instant Message, Audio, Video, Application sharing, and conference events

These new features make collaboration and communication with your team members quicker and more robust to further enhance your teams’ productivity.


What Does the Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal Mean for Your Business?

Microsoft LinkedIn DealWith the recent announcement of Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, many businesses that use on Microsoft products are wondering how the union of the tech giant and the world’s largest professional social media network will affect them. Here are three ways that this partnership could benefit your business:

Selling will become more social than ever

Many salespeople who currently use LinkedIn for generating leads and closing deals can only see potential opportunities via their individual connections and networks. Microsoft Dynamics CRM users will be able to connect with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which will enhance their ability to build more meaningful relationships with prospects and customers through user data, leading to better sales results.

Mega marketing

The acquisition will offer marketers more opportunities to engage directly with LinkedIn’s 433 million (and counting) users. One such potential way to do so is with the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, which could be used to maximize retargeting results for Bing ads. Advertisers who use LinkedIn ads and other offerings from the network’s Marketing Solutions services may be able to expand their reach to other areas of the Microsoft suite, including Outlook, Office365, and Skype.

Making it easier to get the job done

In his email to Microsoft employees about the LinkedIn acquisition, company CEO Satya Nadella said, “This combination will make it possible for new experiences, such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.” LinkedIn Learning (based on the acquisition of educational site Lynda.com in 2015), will also be integrated into Office365, which means that employees who want to learn new skills could find courses without having to leave Office and search the Internet for e-learning opportunities.


The future of video conferencing—3 trends breathing new life into a decades old industry

The future of video conferencing

For decades, video conferencing has been a nice-to-have feature for most businesses, but not a necessity. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software—as well as the growing demand for visual communications among millennials in the workforce—that’s all about to change.

Despite the decrease in bandwidth costs, both hardware and software continue to improve video quality while using better compression methods that eat up even less bandwidth. This has helped reduce the costs of video conferencing services and devices, which has led to a widespread adoption in the workplace. Today, virtual meetings can be held in large video conferencing rooms dedicated to cross-team collaboration, on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones or while simply sitting at a desk using VOIP or a conference phone.

As technology continues to improve, here are three trends to expect for the future of video conferencing:

A younger workforce will expect high-quality video conferencing services

The future of video conferencing 2

Cisco recently reported on a growing trend in video conferencing with younger employees stating the stark difference between today’s leaders and leaders of the future. Those in leadership today are very enthusiastic about technology and want to use it where possible, whereas leaders of the future will be dependent on technology and therefore will expect to utilize it throughout their daily lives.

A joint survey performed by Redshift Research and sponsored by Cisco provides context for this statement. According to the survey, 87 percent of young respondents would prefer to work for a more “video-enabled” organization over one that limits its investment in video conferencing. In addition, 84 percent of respondents believe that they would rely on virtual meetings with video for one out of every four interactions at a minimum.

In addition to expecting video as an almost default collaboration tool, 75 percent of young professionals surveyed say they will not settle for low quality. This expectation stems from growing up with technology that continues to improve at warp speed.

Video conferencing will be used for more than the traditional virtual meeting

The future of video conferencing 3

In a recent Q&A session, Lovina McMurchy, general manager of Skype Advertising, stated that Skype averages 8 billion hours of social video calls each year—this has been the case since 2011, when Microsoft acquired the company. The growing trend of video calls will continue to change how people interact with one another and combat some of the stigma associated with choosing video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.

In addition to the growing social use associated with video conferencing, it is now becoming more commonplace during the modern interview process. Global companies often seek global talent, but traveling out-of-state for a job interview isn’t always the best approach. Because of this, a recent study conducted by PGI suggests that 66 percent of job candidates prefer video interviews over traveling to meet a potential employer. This is even becoming more common with local candidates that might need to meet a large team whose schedules do not align.

Video conferencing has also become a popular feature of quality enterprise business solutions. By integrating video conferencing services with enterprise systems, employees are finding new and unique ways to run virtual meetings that go beyond traditional methods. In the same Redshift Research survey about video conferencing, respondents were asked about future features that would help them improve meetings with enterprise integration. Fifty-four percent of respondents showed interest in customizing the viewer’s experience with social media sharing tools. Twenty-one percent would prefer real-time language translation and pop-up bubbles that provide LinkedIn and Salesforce information on meeting participants.

Virtual reality will take video conferencing to the next level

The future of video conferencing 4

Video conferencing services let participants communicate on many levels beyond a traditional conference call. Through viewing facial expressions and body language, participants are able to experience different non-verbal cues, which often make up 93 percent of standard communication. Through virtual reality, participants can take virtual meetings even further.

By wearing a headset like the HoloLens, which combines both virtual and augmented reality into one experience, meeting participants can all sit in the same room together, no matter where they are physically located. This is accomplished via holograms that can be viewed through the headset.

With traditional video conferencing, participants only look into a camera and onto their screens to see one another. This often leads to missed eye contact and a continued feeling of separation. With technology like the HoloLens, participants can turn their head to the left to look at the hologram of the person sitting on their left. They can turn to their right to interact with the person on their right. In addition, they can share projects and manipulate them in real-time as a team. All of this can be done in a virtual environment set in the physical world.

These are just three trends of many set to change the way we interact with one another through video conferencing. As technology continues to evolve, virtual meetings will quickly become the norm and the board room conference phone will become nothing more than a retro paperweight.

Thanks to the Microsoft Office Team for this contribution.


Teledermatology helps improve access to face-to-face care

By Susan D. Hall

A teledermatology program helped improve patient access to face-to-face care in a study at the Mann-Grandstaff Spokane Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.
Most teledermatology research focuses on specialist visits avoided, notes the report, published in Telemedicine and e-Health. In light of the VA wait-time scandal, these researchers wanted to examine the effect of teledermatology on wait times for specialist appointments.

As a means of dealing with the burgeoning demand for dermatology services, the VA center trained two primary care physicians to perform basic dermatology procedures at its rural clinics. It also implemented a store-and-forward teledermatology program at the rural clinics. Later, it expanded teledermatology at its main Spokane location.

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The center found a significant unmet need for dermatology services, even at the Spokane facility with a full-time dermatologist.

Within six months of implementation, the total number of requests for dermatology services increased by 40 percent. At the same time, the time between a consultation request and its completion dropped from a mean of 64.2 days to 20.3 days, according to the report.

In addition, with the added staff and teledermatology program, the average wait for a patient to have his or her dermatology condition addressed dropped from 60.6 days to 10.3 days.

A study published last month in JAMA Dermatology found that while visits with dermatologists for treatment of acne via telemedicine ease the burden on patients, many are unwilling to pay out-of-pocket for the service. Another study published in the same journal last spring concluded that Google Glass is a feasible mHealth tool for dermatology diagnosis in the emergency room setting.


Skype updates for Outlook for iOS and Android

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Today’s updates to Outlook for iOS and Android make it easy to schedule and begin a group chat and call with your friends and colleagues using Skype. Additionally, we updated Outlook with new calendaring features, improved our navigation for Android and delivered on some of your top feature requests.

Let’s take a look at what’s new.

Skype and Outlook—the best way to schedule and join a call

It can be challenging keeping up with friends, family and colleagues. Finding a time that works for everyone and remembering to show up is difficult enough. And then sometimes technology gets in the way: “How do I find you? How do I invite you? Do you have this app installed?”

Outlook and Skype have solved this problem. When creating a new event on your calendar, Outlook now includes the ability to add a Skype Call. When you tap the Skype Call toggle, Outlook includes a Skype link in the description of the event. When your scheduled meeting time arrives, recipients simply click the link in their calendar to launch Skype and join the conversation.

And with the recent launch of Skype for Web, your friends or family can join the conversation as a guest from their computer and enjoy group instant messaging, voice and video calls. No Skype account or app download required.

New Outlook calendar views and navigation improvements

In addition to the new Skype Call scheduling features, we updated the calendar section of Outlook to give you more ability to manage your personal and professional life on the go.

Managing your schedule starts with being able to navigate quickly to any day. With the new two-week mini-calendar, your events for the upcoming week are just a tap away. If you need to go farther into the future or past, simply swipe in this section to get a full month view.

New Outlook calendar views and natigation improvements

Outlook also now provides a three-day view, so you can see more of your schedule at a glance. In addition, we added the ability to set your week start preference—whether it is Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Skype and Outlook top features 3

The two-week mini-calendar and ability to select week start preferences features are available today for iOS and are coming soon to Android.

Improved Android app navigation

Outlook for Android now sports a new navigation bar to make moving around the app a breeze. This change brings the Mail, Calendar, Files and People sections to the bottom of the app, within easy thumb-reach, decreasing the time it takes to check your calendar or find that important file.

Skype and Outlook top features 4b

Building a better app, together

We’ve been hard at work improving our app with your suggestions. In the past month, we delivered on several of your top requests, including:

Contact push (20K+ votes)—Outlook now allows you to save your contacts to the default Contacts app for iOS or Android. You can easily see the name of a contact when you receive a call or text message from them and view all of their contact information directly from the default Contacts app. Currently, contact push provides one-way sync from email service to the phone. New contacts or contact changes made in your email service (e.g. Outlook.com, Office 365, Gmail) on the web or in Outlook on the desktop will sync to your contacts on your mobile device. Edits made on the mobile device will not sync back to your email service. We are committed to improving Outlook contact capabilities over the coming months.

If you’d like to remove these saved contacts, you can toggle this switch at any time and they will be removed from your address book. For more information on how contact push works, click the ? next to the feature on your device to access the FAQ.

Save files to your Android device (22K votes)—Outlook now supports the option to save files and attachments from your inbox and cloud services to your device’s local storage.

Set Automatic Replies (11.5K votes)—Forget to set your out of office message before you left? You can now set an automatic reply right from Outlook on your mobile device. Go to Settings > select an account > Automatic Replies. For Office 365 and Exchange accounts, your automatic reply is synced from Outlook on your desktop or Outlook on the web.

iOS calendar widget (6K votes)—With next week’s update, Outlook will provide a widget for the iOS Notification Center, making it easy to see your schedule quickly without opening the app. Set this up by going to Edit at the bottom of the iOS Notification Center.

iOS print (5K votes)—Outlook now gives you the option to print emails using available AirPrint printers.

iOS–3-D Touch (3K votes)—Outlook for iOS now supports Quick Actions using the new 3-D Touch technology available on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. On the Home screen simply press Outlook to begin a new email or view your next event.

We continue to work to deliver amazing improvements in Outlook every single week. We need your feedback to help continue to make Outlook even better! Let us know what you think of our new features in a comment below and suggest and vote on future feature ideas right within Outlook by going to Settings > Suggest a Feature.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Does the new Skype integration work with Skype for Business?

A. The Skype Call button creates a link to join a group chat for the consumer Skype app. We will add support for Skype for Business in an upcoming update.

Q. How does the Skype Call link work? Do I need to know the recipients email? Or do I need to send it to an email address associated with their Skype account?

A. No! They just need to click the link to join your conversation.

Q. Can my recipient share the link with other people who want to join the chat?

A. Yes! Simply copy and share the link however you want—in an email, on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger or Twitter.

Q. When will this feature be available on Outlook Mail for Windows 10 Mobile?

A. We will deliver this feature in a future update for Outlook Mail on Windows 10 Mobile.

Q. How does the contact sync feature work differently on iOS and Android?

A. Due to the underlying capabilities provided by the platforms, the contact sync feature works slightly differently on the iOS and Android versions of the app.

On iOS, contacts can be saved to your address book for Office 365 and Exchange accounts. If your phone is set up to sync your contacts to iCloud in Settings, the synced contacts will be added as a group in your iCloud account. These contacts will then sync to all devices that are signed in with the same iCloud account.

On Android, contacts can be saved to your address book for any email service that syncs contacts (e.g. any connection but IMAP). To do so, navigate to your account within Settings and tap Sync Contacts.