Local digital business services specialist Hyro has revealed it is making extensive use of free Internet telephony software Skype within its business.
Hyro is an unusual company which bridges the gap between creative media and systems integration -- for example it has recently been involved with deploying Telstra's Foxtel-based mobile TV over the telco's new Next G mobile network.
Over a Skype call to ZDNet Australia from an international location late last week, Hyro's chief operating officer, Richard Lord, revealed his company had been using Skype informally for about two years, primarily for internal communications.
"If we say the 170 odd [employees] in Australia and New Zealand, there are probably 50 or 60 percent of them using it," he said.
While keeping costs down is one motivator to use the software, (for example, using Skype to evade costly calls from hotels by staff on the road), according to Lord it's Skype's additional functionality over traditional telephony that has really led to the software's adoption at Hyro.
For example, Skype has proved useful for business activities requiring close collaboration between geographically separated segments of Hyro's workforce.
"You build teams on the basis of skills and experience. In 2006, that doesn't mean these people are sitting in the same room, let alone in the same city as you," said Lord.
"So things like Skype are great, because for example if you were on Skype right now ... we could be doing things like having a side [instant message] chat, we could be exchanging documents, I could take you out to Web sites, I could send you URLs and things like that."
Lord also praised the ability to access your Skype voicemail from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. "Unlike the old days where accessing my office voicemail meant that I would make an international call back to the office, it [the voicemail message] turns up in my e-mail," he said.
Hyro hasn't sat down and quantified how much money it has saved by using Skype, but Lord said a comparison with traditional telephony costs wouldn't be relevant due to different usage patterns.
"You do make more calls, you talk to each other a bit more, because you know it's free," he said.
The chief operating officer also addressed concerns Skype might not be as secure as other enterprise telephony solutions due to its reliance on the public Internet.
"I think one can look at any particular communications channel in and out of your organisation and be sceptical as to the level of security that is attached to it," he said.
"For example, do we worry about the security of our post and e-mail? You know, you set your basic levels of security ... but do we worry about it excessively? No, we don't. I'm comfortable that our business use is entirely within acceptable risk parameters."
Lord recommended the use of quality Skype hardware, as opposed to cheap and nasty set-ups which can cause problems. Hyro uses a number of Netcomm's V35 Skype USB speakerphones (PDF).
So are the more traditional enterprise telephony systems in danger of becoming extinct? "Well, we haven't ripped out the old PABX yet, but more and more calling is being done over Skype," said Lord in an earlier e-mail.
Are you using Skype? Write the author an e-mail at email@example.com with your experiences of the software, or post a comment below this story.