With the launch of Skype for Salesforce.com last week, I had the opportunity to talk with some of the people behind the launch and learn more about its evolution as a free Salesforce AppExchange offering.
Scott Miller, Skype’s Director of Business Development, based in San Jose, pointed out that Skype initially partnered with Salesforce.com back in January 2006 with a sample application, called Skype Tab Opportunity Conference Call, to assist with the launch of AppExchange and to show that a Skype-Salesforce mashup was feasible. Basically it added a Skype Conference tab to the Salesforce.com user interface. The level of interest in this mashup was such that Skype and Salesforce.com decided to work together to create the more comprehensive Skype for Salesforce.com launched last week which brings the full Skype experience into Salesforce.com. Effectively the sales or service agent using Salesforce.com can manage all their Skype activity from within the Salesforce.com interface. The key is the Skype "right click" context menu which can launch voice, chat and other Skype activities from any location with a contact’s name; other features include a phone dialer, conference call tab and integrated note taking. Check out the full Test Drive demo here.
Scott then went on to talk about some of the promotional activities included to build awareness across the Salesforce.com customer base. The first 10,000 users to sign up for and download Skype for Salesforce will also receive 120 SkypeOut minutes. As an additional promotion they will be eligible to receive 3 months free SkypeIn. Of course they can then become Skype Unlimited (North America) or Skype Pro (Europe) subscribers. Beyond these promotions Skype is largely relying on the viral power of Salesforice.com to drive additional awareness even down to the contacts managed by Salesforce.com’s customers with the ability to invite the contacts to become Skype users. The Skype tab will also link to Skype Business Center and Skype hardware stores to drive additional awareness of the full extent of the Skype ecosystem.
When asked why they elected to work with PamConsult as the developer of Skype for Salesforce, Scott replied that not only does PamConsult have a long history of work with the Skype API’s but also has a keen awareness of the Skype culture and requirements for ease of implementation and use.
I later spoke to John Barnes, CTO of ModelMetrics, a Salesforce.com Certified Partner who has managed over 250 enterprise implementations of Salesforce.com. MediaMetrics served as a beta site during development of Skype for Salesforce, working with PamConsult; their next step will be to incorporate it into their own Salesforce.com contact database. They have also done demonstrations to several of their clients who are showing more than passing interest.
John is especially excited about the implementation into Salesforce.com’s Call Center Edition ("CCE") where he feels the combination, which effectively places a softphone within CCE, can offer a solution that matches offerings from Cisco and Nortel at a much lower cost. While they have only been able to test over their own T1 line with no difficulty he foresees no difficulty scaling up provided appropriate Internet bandwidth is available. John sees Skype for Salesforce offering better tracking of chat conversations, click-to-dial and auto logging of call activities as three key features.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Skype for Salesforce can gain traction and if it can build the much broader Skype awareness Skype is seeking as it evolves into a service for small-to-medium enterprises.
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