Unless you have been residing under a large boulder over the last few weeks, you have probably seen or heard something about the great “Gadget Ban” of 2017. A security move initiated by the USA and UK that is going to impact business travel from the Middle East and North Africa. The ban, which came into effect on 25th March 2017 will initially last for 7 months, prohibiting passengers using 9 Middle Eastern carriers flying from one of the 10 MENA airports into the US and UK from carrying personal electronics into the cabin – inclusive of laptops, tablets, e-readers and cameras but devices smaller than 16cm x 9.3cm are permitted, inclusive of smartphones, wearable devices such as fitness trackers, smart watches as well as personal gaming devices.
So who does this ban effect? Simply put: anyone flying on 9 Middle East carriers traveling through Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi or Dubai; this includes direct flights and transit passengers. If your wheels touch the ground in one of these countries on your way to the US or UK, your device is going to have to go in your luggage. So if you’re traveling for business and were planning to work on your flight, you should make sure you can access everything you need on your smartphone or you won’t be getting anything done on the flight.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for long haul business travellers. There is an alternate solution. Skype for Business, is a new business communications tool that is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, that can help organizations reduce travel costs and simultaneously improve efficiency. Times are tough in the region, and the combination of the current soft market conditions combined with the restrictions of the great gadget ban, should make organizations consider alternative yet effective options to travel.
Skype for Business simplifies the way you communicate and transforms the way you work. Microsoft's unified communications gives you instant messaging, Audio calling, and HD video conferencing, plus screen sharing all from 1 easy to use platform. Skype for Business works on Windows, Mac OSX, iOS and Android platforms and is also available with select Microsoft Office 365 suites.
So how can Skype for Business help overcome the great gadget ban you may ask? It’s quite simple. Consider your need to travel. Is this really necessary, or can you be more effective by using alternate more modern options? Here are the Key Features and Benefits that Skype for Business Offers:
Connect with your team anywhere using one-to-one and group IM including file share. With external federation you can collaborate with contacts outside your organisation using Skype or Skype for Business.
Meeting Broadcast & Webinars:
Getting the message out to larger audiences has never been easier. Setup meetings for up to 10,000 attendees, engage them with real-time polling, Q&As and Yammer integration. Hold private or public webinars to engage, train, or share your businesses ideas.
Reduce Cost & Complexity:
This is best part. Save travel costs, and the headache of traveling under extremely restrictive conditions on and off the aircraft.
Save money on all call types – local and international, all without the need for a complex traditional phone systems, handsets and equipment.
Modern Voice with Cloud PBX:
For those organizations considering a more permanent solution, Cloud PBX enables Skype for Business' rich call management feature set to make and receive calls; transfer calls; mute or unmute calls; and leave and access voice mail; anywhere with internet access.
Remote Working & Mobility:
Use Skype for Business on any device, wherever you are, with Windows, MacOsx, iOS and Android mobile apps.
So how does it all work? Quite simple.
Step 1: Select a Plan. Choose from flexible options including IM, Presence, Voice, Video Conferencing and Content Sharing
Step 2: Easily Integrate your Plan. Seamlessly integrate with other services like Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft office 365, and Outlook.
To help you better understand and plan your journey, we have prepared a small table summarizing the available Skype for Business Plans.
- Pricing User / Month (annual commitment)
- Join on any device PC/Mac, Tablet or Phone (iOS, Android & Windows)
- Integration with Outlook for scheduling meetings
- Join anonymously from web browser or free mobile apps
- HD video calling to Skype for Business users and consumer Skype users
- Share your presentation and transfer control to other meeting participant
- Record meetings and remote desktop sharing and whiteboard support
- Presence and group IM
- Transfer files in IM
- Group HD video and audio calling for up to 250 people
- Advanced meeting options including Polls and Q&A
Skype for Business Plan 1
- Basic $2.00 user/month plan includes presence and group IM, file transfers via IM, and audio and HD video calling to Skype for Business users and consumer Skype service.
Skype for Business Plan 2
- Premium $5.50 user/month plan adds many more features such as HD group video calling, integration with Outlook for scheduling meetings, the ability to record meetings and remote desktop sharing and whiteboard support.
If you’re not sure which plan is right for you, one of our Cloud Consultants would be pleased to assist you. There are plenty of new applications bundled with Office 365 that can be added to a Skype for Business Plan.
So, it’s not all doom and gloom during the gadget ban. Use technology and the comfort of your own office or home to achieve more, while saving costs. There is nothing like a good night’s sleep without jet lag and a morning session in the Gym to start your day.