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Brendan McKeegan

SmartCompany /

I love Skype and it’s not just the cost. It gives you a real business advantage.

Why I love Skype

Instead of making business simpler and cheaper, some new technologies have a tendency to add further complication to our already chaotic schedules.

Not VOIP (voice over internet protocol). Recent advancements have made VOIP technologies and services a formidable tool in establishing a global business presence.

As the CEO of a start-up technology company, eMue Technologies, suppliers and customers can use VOIP to dial my local office number regardless of where I am in the world — and no, I don’t pay for any international call charges on their behalf.

Apart from this being a great financial benefit to my company it provides me with the flexibility a start-up needs, particularly since we will probably move our physical office several times in the first few years of operation.

Not to mention it enables my wife to call me for the cost of a local call when I am traveling internationally.

So how can I do this? One word: Skype! I’m a big Skype fan, particularly since they released the ability to purchase ‘Skype-In numbers’. For approximately $A50 a year I am able to own a local number (which becomes my office number) that can stay with me for life — or until Telstra works out a way to prevent this!

When someone calls this number it is automatically routed via VOIP to my laptop. If I am not in front of my laptop, Skype provides a free voice message service, or I can call-forward all incoming calls to my mobile.

By adding a ‘Skype-Out’ feature, you can also take advantage of cheap international call rates (calls to the USA cost around 2-3 cents a minute).

However, calls to local mobiles can be expensive, particularly in comparison with local mobile providers offering good rates on mobile to mobile calls.

You can also use the ‘Skype to Skype’ option to make free calls anywhere in the world via VOIP. This is particularly useful when communicating with employees, suppliers and customers who are spread all over the world (Skype provides a conference feature that enables up to 100 participants).

Another neat feature of Skype is the ability to have your contacts stored virtually, which means they are available on any internet connected device that will run Skype.

I use Skype on my WiFi enabled O2 mobile phone, which is perfect for when I am sitting in a wireless-enabled cafe and want to talk to my friends, family or business colleagues. You can usually find at least one chain of cafes that offer free wireless in most major cities in the world.

Perhaps the most compelling proposition of VOIP technology from a business perspective is its ability to facilitate the set-up of a virtual global company.

For example, an entrepreneurial colleague of mine is developing customer relationships in Britain and the USA. Before committing to a physical office lease he set-up ‘Skype-In numbers’ in both locations, thus giving his customers the ability to call a local number that is automatically diverted to his Skype account.

This solution is also valuable to local businesses. Just think, within 10 minutes you can setup a virtual office in each Australian state and project a presence of a company much larger than you are.

Regardless of whether you have global or local ambitions for your company, it makes good business sense to develop a VOIP strategy from the outset. Service providers such as Skype just make this process a whole lot easier.

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