East End News

Making meetings easier: Skype For Business

Skype for Business logo

Who doesn’t love a good meeting —  the malfunctioning PowerPoint, the prolonged postmortem on the Cardinal’s starting rotation, the hopeless attempts to find an agreeable date to meet again. And now, the futile search for convenient parking on the Danforth Campus.

But thanks to Skype for Business, colleagues can meet without actually meeting.

“Now that everyone across both campuses has migrated to the Office 365 platform, connecting via Skype for Business is very convenient,” said Aisha Hamilton, communications program manager for the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Information Technology & Chief Information Officer. “As we aim to be a more collaborative university, Skype for Business is an ideal way to engage. What we’ve found is people say their meetings are more efficient because they aren’t sitting in meeting rooms. They handle business, then they sign off.”

Skype for Business advantages include:

Self-service scheduling. Unlike Adobe Connect or traditional conference calls, which must be scheduled in advance via Media or Telephone Services, Skype for Business allows users to organize conferences on their own.

Easy access. Users may connect to Skype for Business through mobile devices using the Skype of Business app or the meeting link in their Office 365 account.

Flexibility. Skype for Business conferences can accommodate up to 250 participants on a single call. Conferences may be audio or video and are recorded.

Hamilton hopes Skype for Business will do away with many of the workarounds employees and departments use to communicate.

“A few years ago, I couldn’t get on the computer and look at anyone’s calendar to schedule because we all weren’t on the email system,” Hamilton said. “That made communication and collaboration inefficient. An assistant would send out a Doodle to see who was available at given times, and then everyone had to go back and forth. Now that we are on the same platform, it will be easier and simpler to collaborate.”

Hamilton said her office is working with departments to equip meeting rooms with advanced Skype capabilities. Technicians also are hosting “tech tables” across both campuses, where they will explain service features and answer questions. Tutorials also can be found here.

“Our goal as an IT organization is to advance technology, to make it more accessible and to meet the emerging expectations of our users,” Hamilton said. “Our users are used to Facetime and instant communication and collaboration. We want to make sure we provide services that keep up with those expectations.”