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Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype and the subsequent announcement of
its future integration with Lync in Office 365 strengthens Microsoft’s
portfolio for SMB customers looking for a secure form of communication,
with customers and business partners bundled with an attractive
collaboration suite, according to a report from IT analytics firm AMI

The report said the integration of Skype with Lync would enable
small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) to gain global control of
internal communication and collaboration, yet be able to connect to
consumers, businesses and trading partners around the world. This will
provide SMBs with the ability to call landlines and cell phones along
with Lync’s pre-existing capabilities.

AMI said Microsoft’s recent announcement of its desire to strengthen
collaboration with local service providers to guarantee performance and
security for their cloud-based services should provide a strong quality
differentiator to SMB customers, and thus increase Microsoft’s share of
the lucrative European SMB sector.

“AMI’s latest SMB Market Study reveals high levels of interest in
Unified Communication solutions when bundled with a Productivity /
Collaboration Suite for a low fixed monthly cost,” says Lorenza
Brescia, EMEA cloud services director at AMI Partners. “Increased
purchase probability produced by these kinds of service bundles offers
service providers a potential market opportunity of $3.8 billion
amongst the 11 million SMBs in Europe’s largest markets.”

Unified Collaboration software remains a key battleground between
the big technology companies for both market penetration and mind
share, and quality of service support will prove to be a differentiator
to gain new customers and maintain the existing ones, Brescia said, and
how Microsoft will converge Skype with Lync and the related quality of
service that the company will effectively offer may prove crucial to
its success in building penetration in SMB markets.

“The combined offer of Office 365 with Skype’s potential can boost
Microsoft’s presence in both domains, and Skype can act as a catalyst
to cross-sell complementary hosted solutions. However, SMB customers
will need guarantees of service quality if Microsoft wants to
capitalize on Skype’s extensive user base,” Brescia noted. The
integration of Lync with Skype will facilitate and accelerate adoption
in business environments of video and social media already commonly
used by private consumers.”