For the immediate future, these conditions make it risky for most large companies to embrace or even consider adopting Skype. And employees can expect memos like those issued at many companies these days warning against using peer-to-peer networks for any form of communication. But as the Accenture incident illustrated, that won’t stop employees who are dissatisfied with the quality of other forms of communication from accessing Skype anyway. Which means that, before long, management will have to address the potential of Skype or Skype-like technologies — and determine the peer-to-peer applications whose benefits outweigh their risks — rather than simply outlaw the technology and hope it goes away.
|Management will have |
to address the potential
of Skype, rather than
simply outlaw the technology.
Soon it will become imperative for larger companies to take Skype seriously, if for no other reason than that peer-to-peer architecture is one of the most efficient, most direct, and least wasteful systems of digital interaction. The eventual answer will probably be software fixes that smooth over Skype’s rough spots. These could come in the form of licensed versions of Skype customized to match a company’s security requirements — a development that could bring additional revenue to Skype.
But perhaps the most lasting influence of Skype will be that it will force management and IT executives to consider how to structure a network that exists both inside and outside the corporate firewall. To improve innovation and their own productivity, employees will gravitate to the most advanced collaboration and communications tools with the most reliable levels of quality, no matter what price is paid in weakened security. Companies will have the task of figuring out how to integrate new technologies like Skype into their businesses — and how to get the most out of them. Or, they could take the opposite course: keep them out by banning cellphones, PDAs, and laptops.
Gordon Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editor and publisher of the COOK Report on Internet Protocol: Technology, Economics, Policy, an online newsletter (http://cookreport.com) founded in 1992 and devoted to telecommunication and Internet strategies.