Early Thursday morning I received a press release from Skype's p.r. agency in which Skype mentioned its new Skype for Business solution.
On the face of it, Skype for Business sounds like a neat idea. Skype believes that some 30 percent of their regular users are businesses, and this Skype for Business is aimed at those businesses with "fewer than 10 employees." (I quote directly from the release)
A full 24 hours has passed, and I have concluded that Skype has done a cruddy job bringing this offering to life. The articulation of this product on the Skype website, as well as the taxonomy of the information about this Skype for Business, is quite inconsistent.
1. OK, where is it? The press release mentions that Skype for Business would be based at www.skype.biz. I tried that link an hour after receiving the press release, and it worked. But Thursday afternoon, that same URL refer-ed to a different domain entirely: http://www.skype.com/business/ ;
2. Where are the features? The press release refers to "a dedicated Web site aimed at simplifying global communications and group administration for companies with fewer than 10 employees." Yet with the exception of a prominent Skype in Salesforce blurb written in very grammatically clumsy language, I see very little on the main Skype for Business page that conveys more information about the product.
3. The main Skype for Business page is mislabeled. Although the page has the URL http://www.skype.com/business/ the page title is the generic one you see on the "regular" Skype site: "Skype- the whole world can talk for free." Web Design 101- name your page title what your page is about. Skype hasn't quite gotten down to this yet.
4. Skype Groups or Skype for Business Control Panel- The press release mentions that Skype's main control feature for enterprises to manage a group of users would be renamed from Skype Groups to Skype for Business Control Panel. But when I scroll down on the main Skype for Business page, I still see the old Skype Groups name. See what I mean:
5. Where's the hardware? The press release mentions "new Skype-certified hardware, including a Panasonic DECT cordless telephone, an upgraded RTX DUALphone, a new US Robotics phone adaptor enabling Skype to work with mobile phones, and a Skype-supporting newP51 Pocket PC from BenQ. Yet I see no pointers on the site to these products. I even tried clicking the Skype gadgets icon at the bottom of the main page but that only got me to a generic gadgets page that's no different than the Skype consumer gadgets page and contains no information about the snazzy sounding new products being released.
6. Why is there no separate Skype 2.0 for Business software? With all these additional features and dedicated brand name, I think Skype would have been wise to consider a dedicated Skype 2.0 for Business build. You know, something with pull-down menus that would make operation of all these new functionalities and third-party software (announed and sure to come) that much more intuitive for the user. But nooo- meet Skype 2.0 for Business- same as Skype 2.0.
7. Last, and probably least, but please use a grammar-checker on your home page copy. Someone tell me what this means: "Our friends over at Salesforce have integrated Skype. Through their AppExchange you get the opportunity to start Skype calls directly from within Salesforce and the system help you to log all activity you have with your contacts too. They also integrated presence so you don't call people who can't answer anyway... Hey, shouldn't it be and the "system helps you.."
This mess makes me conclude that Skype was so eager to announce something major at CeBIT (the trade show in Hanover, Germany where the announcment was made) that Skype slapped a snazzy name on some new vendor alliances.
Even worse, Skype has appeared too much in a hurry to get this message out that they somehow haven't figured out how to present this new (if it is indeed "new") Skype for Business in a logical manner on their website. Nor to vette the copy for clarity.
CeBIT or CeBIT, I don't care. If you are an Internet company marketing yourself on the Web, pul-eeze get your Web site content fully aligned with your marketing message- BEFORE your message goes out. Don't let the pressures of an impending trade show- one which a tiny percentage of your users will attend or even have heard of - pull you into a manic planning mode that if poorly executed makes you look like you are not coming from the same page.