How to Therapy

Why Microsoft Purchase of Skype is Good For Business

As Skype was headed towards IPO (initial public offering), Microsoft stunned its investors last week with an $8.5M acquisition of the mostly IM (instant message) and voice calls company that has swept its competitors out of the way. Here’s why I think Microsoft’s purchase of Skype is good for business, and particularly why it’s good for you if you’re thinking of purchasing counseling or coaching services.

Already, you’ve seen Skype at work if you’ve watched your local TV station for news, Oprah, or other interview-style shows such as Ellen. Whey you view a PIP (picture in picture) shot, or a side-by-side view of several people being interviewed at one time, don’t be surprised if you see the Skype logo at the bottom of some of those windows. Skype is available to anyone with an internet connection, a computer, the free program, and a connected camera. It works better if the connection speed and camera resolution are good enough to support clean and smooth voice transmission and stutter-free motion.

Since Microsoft purchased Skype, would you use it for professional services?

Why It’s Good

1. Microsoft is good at plumbing. With the exception of Xbox and Kinnect, Microsoft has been razzed for being a software company of the past rather than the future. When it had a chance to bury Apple before the Mac OS 10 released, the world moaned and writhed if they were stuck with the buggy Vista. I swear, some people are still in recovery over Vista, even as they happily galavanted about with Windows 7. [BTW, I do like Windows 7 much better, and I never knowing used Vista before switching to all Apple products. I actually see myself using both OS’s, and in the future, envision a world where more than two OS’s thrive and co-exist competitively but not antagonistically].

But what we learned is this: Microsoft is good at plumbing. They are great with taking something that “is”, and repairing it, marketing, hyping, and launching. Purchasing Skype was not only a good move for Skype, but a good one for Microsoft, as it is within its scope to improve and relaunch as an even better product for business applications with high potential for profit. Just don’t ask MS to destroy Skype and make it over from scratch.

Personally, I am hoping that Skype’s redo will inspire Apple to add even more features to Facetime and give it a run for our money. Super woot.

2. Skype needs a makeover. Sure, we like the puffy cloud with the super “S” logo. But since its rise to popularity, it really hasn’t had much of an overhaul. For people like myself who use it for business purposes, I’m interested to see how Microsoft might develop two sides of this communication platform: social/personal, and business. With video becoming the more dominant aspect of Skype above phone calls, there is also a huge piece in entertainment to develop as well. I’m hearing rumors of how the software giant wants to make Skype more compatible with Social Media. And, will we see Skype in places like healthcare and educational settings? I certainly hope so! If so, I give it the big Imei #WOOT.

3. Microsoft’s purchase of Skype means better service to you if you’re purchasing counseling and coaching services. Skype and video chat therapy is the future, and very soon, it won’t be; it will the present, the NOW. I and a few others are already using Skype and similar platforms to conduct web-enhanced therapy to keep pace with technology, innovation, and the growing complexity of the modern lifestyle. By making Skype a division of Microsoft, Skype will get the attention that it needs to usher in professional services to your home, office, or travel schedule for working people and families.

While we will never replace human interaction, video chatting assists professionals like myself to “meet” individuals and families in need of counseling and coaching with whom meeting IRL (in real life) on a regular basis is either difficult, inconvenient and/or damaging to a family or work schedule, expensive, and/or impossible because of location. People can get the service they want with little or no compromise.

A better platform that works smoothly and looks professional will only serve my clients better and build more confidence on the part of users. Right now, Skype “works”, but it doesn’t have the professional aesthetic I would prefer. I hope Microsoft hosts discussions with developers and business professionals to offer choices to those who wish to use Skype for business, but even if they don’t, I have a good feeling that even developers and insiders cannot deny the business potential for Skype services.

Is there a possibility that Skype won’t be free? Not likely. What I do see is the strong possibility that for better service (i.e. premium services for companies, for example), Skype will offer additional packages for voice, video conferencing, and multiple-screen group conferencing (like Watchitoo), and press into the one area no one has done: allow for video chatting to be recorded by the host as a legal record.

What do you think? If you’ve never met over the phone or video chatting for professional services like counseling and coaching, what do you think Skype can do for you that would persuade you to try it? And what do you think about those who already use it this way, and yet live in the same city of the professional they have hired? Can you think of some situations where the above scenario makes perfect sense?


How To Use Skype For Coaching

On my iPad’s Flipboard application, I came across a short article on the “Twitter Doctors” board, shared by Russell A. Faust on about nine-year-old Samuel Sevian, the youngest National Chess Master in U.S. history. The son of laser developing physicist Armen Sevian, Samuel has become something of a chess rawk star, where in his father’s home country, Samuel would be celebrity. What does does Samuel have to do with a post about using Skype for coaching? And how can you use Skype for the goals you want to reach in the coming year?

What is Skype?
Skype is a software application that allows anyone with a computer or smartphone to make voice calls over the Internet. Users have a choice of free calls (conducted over a wired or wireless Internet connection), which are usually limited to one hour, and these can be audio only or video calls. Most smartphones have a Skype application that can be downloaded from an application store for free. A professional account can be purchased if you wish to ensure better service and unlimited talk time.

Skype has become popular for its free Internet phone calls as well as file sharing and video conferencing. While corporate structures must be careful when using Skype because of the legal ramifications involved, Skype in the field of telemedicine has exciting potential for helping professionals and clients alike, diminishing the challenges of location, distance, money, and time in providing specialized care to those who seek them.

How does Seattle Direct Counseling use Skype for coaching and counseling?
Here’s my easy five-step approach to using Skype:
1. Clients sign an informed consent form, educating them on the use of web applications and confidentiality. You can see a copy of it on my website under Forms.
2. Clients download the web application to their computer or smart phone and set up an account.
a. Use of Skype requires the following: the web application on a smart phone or computer, a web camera with good quality video output, and either a built-in microphone or headphones.
3. I release my Skype address to the client, and ask them to “show up” to their appointment five minutes before the session begins, to make sure we have a connection.
4. We discuss viable options if for some reason our connection is broken, or the voice quality is poor.
5. All chat conversation is removed after the session is finished. Your Skype address remains in my log for future reference.

Samuel sounds like he has a bright future ahead of him. Did you know he has a coach too? The young chess master practices playing chess with his coach, international master Andranik Matikozyan. And guess what? They practice chess using Skype.

What do you want to be coached in? How to date? Starting a small business? Learning how to use Social Media? Taking off weight sensibly by creating a health lifestyle? Switching tracks for a mid-career change? It’s all up to you. Coaching can help you create goals, stay on track, and see your wishes fulfilled. Whether you use, Skype, Facetime, TinyTok, Google Voice, or any other web application, coaching via the Internet and phone is the way to go.

Editor’s note: if you are a counselor or coach, check out this short post about what you should know about using Skype for coaching. Coach Darren Cockburn in the UK uses Skype for 90% of his coaching, and his article has good advice for those who want to use Skype for their coaching practices.