Skype and Facebook: UC on a shoestring

The combination of Skype and Facebook provides the essential elements of unified communications for SMBs.

With the launch of Skype 5.0 this week, the PC-based voice over IP (VoIP) and messaging service is now integrated with the Facebook social network. While neither Skype, nor Facebook are typically considered business platforms, the combination of the two offer many of the benefits and features of unified communications on a budget that small and medium businesses can appreciate: free.

First, let's define unified communications (UC). Admittedly, that is easier said than done. UC is more of a concept than a specific technology. UC is somewhat subjective and can involve combining whichever elements of communications and productivity suit the needs of the organization. For the sake of simplicity, though, let's assume that UC involves melding voice communications, video conferencing, instant messaging, and e-mail.

Skype alone provides most of those elements. Skype established itself as a leading provider of online VoIP communications, and has subsequently also become one of the most widely used video chat services. Cable news networks like CNN frequently use Skype video as a means of conducting remote interviews without having to send a camera crew onsite. With Skype 5.0, group video chats can now be conducted between up to ten parties--expanding the capabilities of Skype as a teleconferencing platform.

Skype also has instant messaging capabilities, but the value of an instant messaging service is directly related to the number of your contacts that are available on it, and Skype has never been a leading platform in that regard. Facebook, on the other hand, has more than half a billion members and has surpassed Google as the online destination that users spend the most time with. Essentially, if there is a contact you want to instant message with, odds are good that contact has a Facebook account, and there is a relatively high chance the contact is on Facebook right now.

Neither Skype, nor Facebook offers e-mail. However, Facebook does provide a messaging feature which can be used to send messages between individual contacts, or to groups of contacts. The down side, though, is that Facebook messaging relies on the recipient either being on Facebook to see that a message has arrived, or on an e-mail notification being distributed to a third-party e-mail account outside of Facebook or Skype.

Small and medium businesses can take advantage of the alliance between Skype and Facebook, as well as the alliance between Facebook and Microsoft, to leverage Facebook as a communications hub that approximates the features and functions of much more expensive unified communications solutions like those offered by Microsoft and Cisco.

From within Skype, users can view their entire Facebook social network as a phone book, and initiate an SMS text message or VoIP call with a click of the mouse. Video chat, or group video conferencing can be used for client presentations and team meetings with remote parties. Docs.com from Microsoft provides a platform for creating and sharing Microsoft Office documents. All that's really missing is e-mail, and there are plenty of free Web-based solutions available to fill that gap.

For organizations willing to invest a little money, Skype and Facebook can deliver a more comprehensive UC experience. For a fee, Skype can provide the ability to dial in from any phone and place calls through the Skype service, or an actual phone number that anyone can use to contact you even without Skype, or a voicemail box that answers incoming Skype calls even when Skype is offline.

It may not be a perfect unified communications solution, but the Skype-Facebook alliance delivers many of the essential elements and for small and medium businesses without a budget, the price can't be beat.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebookskypesocial networksvoiptelecommunicationinstant messagingInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender’s best-in-class security solutions have been awarded Product of the Year. Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?