Skype to put on suit and tie with help from Cisco and ShoreTel

Not content with over 500 million users using its voice and video chat, Skype now looks to make inroads into the corporate market and are in talks with Cisco and ShoreTel to sell its software. Why these two? Because their primary focus has been in corporate IP communications. Skype doesn’t want to deal with any TDM baggage often carried by Big Telecom.

The corporate communications market is obviously a very lucrative one. IDC pegs it at $203 billion. Even capturing 1% of that market is quite significant.

According to this BusinessWeek report, there are certainly challenges to come:

Persuading corporations to ditch their traditional carriers won’t be easy. “There are some major roadblocks to growing this in the large enterprise space,” says Jayanth Angl, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ont. Chief among them: giving IT managers more control. In industries such as health care and finance, companies need to track and monitor calls—something Skype doesn’t allow for. Skype also needs to convince potential customers that its service, which is sometimes criticized for poor quality, is reliable and secure enough for important business calls.

Well, that’s on top of some internal challenges, too:

To reorient the company, Chief Executive Officer Josh Silverman has replaced five people on his executive staff this year and cracked down on distracting side projects, which had some employees spending their time building 3D chess software. “Skype is serious about providing our business customers the tools and features that put them in control,” says David Gurle, who left Thomson Reuters in January to run Skype’s business division, where he’s doubling head count, to about 100 people.

Now that Skype is privatized by Silver Lake (eBay sold most of its stake for $2 billion), which interestingly also touts Avaya in its portfolio, it’s time to get serious about business. Yes, no more fooling around with 3D chess software (too bad, I wouldn’t mind seeing what they may have come up with). Skype executives are on a new mission to trim fat and boost sales resources in order to conquer the corporate world.


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