Microsoft is further opening up Skype to businesses. On Thursday, the company launched its Skype for Business SDK – tools which allow iOS and Android developers to integrate Skype’s messaging, audio and voice capabilities into their own mobile applications. The idea is to allow Skype to power the communications experience inside applications, so developers can focus on building their product’s unique features.
This is an area other messaging-focused startups also tackle to some extent, including former TechCrunch Disrupt winner Layer and, more recently, chat tools provider Sendbird, for example. Microsoft’s solution, however, is aimed at larger enterprises.
Skype for Business SDK customers can continue to use their existing infrastructure, like Skype for Business Server or Skype for Business Online – depending on if the company has deployed Unified Communications on their own servers, or if they’re relying on Microsoft’s cloud. In addition, companies adopting the Skype for Business SDK can continue to use their existing native clients to reach their customers,
However, during this SDK preview period, the focus for the integrations is on “remote advisor” functionality. That is, businesses who want to interact with remote customers over their mobile phones and tablets in order to chat, call or video chat.
You may remember an example of this functionality was demoed earlier this year at Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference, when the company showed off a telehealth app created by MDLIVE. In the app, doctors offered patients virtual care via video calling sessions. They can also share and review medical records, lab results, send messages, and more. Patients, meanwhile, can book, schedule then connect with doctors for real-time chats right in the application at their appointment time.
Healthcare isn’t the only scenario where a “remote advisor” makes sense, of course. The platform could also be used by financial advisors, customer service, and a variety of other enterprise applications.
Microsoft says that if the company is licensed for Skype for Business Server or Skype for Business Online, then there are no additional costs for the use of the SDKs.