What the Skype Purchase Could Mean to Microsoft CRM

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The big story on Microsoft's acquisition of Skype focused on what some felt was an outrageous purchaseCrmskype
price of $8.5 billion. A good argument is posted here about why the $14.70 per/user price is a bargain. I happen to agree with their theory, but I'm not here to discuss the purchase price. What's interesting to me is the Skype acquisition's effect on Microsoft CRM.

First, let's look at where Skype is today. They have 636 million users. That's sizable. Certainly sizable enough to make a case for a communication platform for an enterprise using MSCRM. And that enterprise would certainly expect Skype communicationsto be initiated from, managed, and tracked in CRM.

Skype also has a good small business and enterprise customer base. Granted, businesses have adopted Skype at a slower rate than have consumers - thanks in part to security concerns. Microsoft can help change that perception. The bulk of the existing business customers most likely use some form of Microsoft Office. They would expect the same integrated desktop experience they get from their Office suite to extend to Skype. When that can be further extended to Microsoft CRM, the overall end-user experience will become richer.

Secondly, let's look at how Skype fit's into Microsoft's enterprise vision. At Monday's announcement, Steve Ballmer said:

Communications though is perhaps the most fundamental area in which technology can be transformative . Communications is changing rapidly and there are plenty of opportunities ahead . We will move beyond e-mail and text to rich experiences in the future.

'Beyond email' - that's the key. Currently, Microsoft CRM, in conjunction with the Outlook client, is the market leader in email/CRM functionality. CRM is often extended to include integration with social media channels, phone systems, and mobile devices. The closer and tighter the Skype integration is with CRM, the more users will realize the 'transformative' opportunities and the productivity gains that will come from it.
While Skype gained some business credibility, Microsoft gained some consumer credibility. If consumers use Skype in their real life, won't they feel comfortable using it at work? In the Microsoft CRM world, we always talk about how using 'familiar tools' can drive up user adoption and make the enterprise more productive. Skype can be another familiar tool.

Microsoft purchased one more cloud. Windows Azure, Office 365 and CRM Online will have another cloud cousin. This just strengthens the Microsoft Cloud story. It also adds a video conferencing sub-plot. Yes, Microsoft already offers Lync as part of Office 365. While Lync is great for internal meetings, the real gain will come when people within a business can use Lync + Skype to easily connect to customers outside their Lync network.

But what do you think? Will MS-Skype + CRM make an impact?

Post by: Brad Koontz, Customer Effective

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