In 1998 I was in New York and used the hotel phone to make some calls back to my home base in Australia. I also used a dial up account to get my emails. That used what seemed like a short time but I got a bill of over US$400 for the service. Ouch!! And believe me that hurt!!
After the first day after I checked my bill, I then went on the net and found a free service at AOL that I could use with my Yahoo account to make voice calls. At that stage we had already learned about VOIP with emerginng internet phone carriers, albeit you did have to take pot luck on the quality. It was mostly social net work tools like Yahoo and AOL we used them, but it worked.
Then with only a $US30 internet charge each day (still steep) at the Marriott, my calls cost me next to nothing and I was happy to relax and do my business.
In 2000 I was in Kuala Lumpur. In my Hotel again I just plugged into the phone for what I thought would be 30 seconds to get my mail. I was wise to the hotel charges but also prepared on this occasion to pay $US20 for a minimum 3 minute call, as it was convenient. In was soon to discover after I returned from my shower that the machine was still downloading a picture someone had decided to send.
From that moment I decided to investigate alternatives like phone cards and so on and we extended the use of Microsoft Net meeting and so on for conferencing
It was not until 2003 when in Singapore one of my team sent me a link to Skype. That was moment we truly went global as we were instantly connected in real time with a service that ranged free to cheap.
Since then we have added Skype accounts for all staff and often have web cam lines open all day between offices in different countries so we can see and be in touch with each other.
The big benefit I get out of Skype is the Video. It brings a lot of the people that I work with closer into my office and we are able to get a lot of things more effectively done that way.”
Now we can not only do calls, conferences, chat and video calls we can also send files an show lives screens to the other parties. In addition we can also record it all as a useful record of our working sessions. Now days we even have SIP enablement so the familiar phone can do its job again only better and cheaper plus it releases us from the computer.
One of the great benefits we are now finding is a recent feature added to the Skype stable is the show my screen feature. Combined with the camera provides exactness and clarity when studying an issue or resolving a problem on one side of the conversation. It one step it also removes the need for complex tools such as VNC Remote etc to do this. Brilliant!!!
Here is an interesting video case study Skype have on their site: