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IS3000: IS for Global Work Teams and Virtual Organizations Individual Assignment Case Study on Skype Name: Wong Yiu Wing SID: 50938541 Executive overview This report will study how Skype can be the software enablers for people to allow virtual work and make virtual organizations exist. Enabler Overview Skype is a multi function enabler that allows virtual work and virtual organizations to exist. Skype provides multi function services that allow users to make calls to others over the internet. Skype’s user growth rapidly and become very popular, because Skype is a freeware and allows users to make telephone calls free or at a low rate over the internet and provide free instant messaging online. Skype provides wide spread of communication channel, the business can use it as the enablers to overcome such the time or distance gap, especially in the economic downturn. Skype can help the business to cut down cost, such as saving time and money for traveling. So, team can use Skype to collaborate ideas easily. On the other hand, Skype provides multi-platform version, user can use Skype in all famous operation system, for example Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple Mac OS X. Moreover, Skype also provides handheld mobile version, the user who are using Palm or Windows Mobile devices can also use Skype service. Enabler function Skype is a multi function enabler. Skype provides many services, including VoIP service, voicemail, instant messaging, SMS and video calling services. Because of the variety special services that provided by Skype, Skype user can use the software to communicate people all over the world no matter the people have computer or not, it’s goods for the business use. In the business world, Skype can act as an enabler for team to Global work and have a virtual organization. The following section will introduce mainly on the services which can that Skype can mainly VoIP, instant messaging and video conferencing service. Firstly, the VoIP service is the most powerful tool that provided by Skype. Skype provides SkypeIn and SkypeOut service that allow users to make or receive telephone call over the internet. SkypeIn service allows users receive calls on their computer. In certain country (For example, Hong Kong, United States), Skype permits user to subscribe a local telephone number, so everyone can use their phone to call the Skype user. SkypeOut service allows users calls to traditional landline or mobile phones telephone at a low rate via internet. Moreover, SkypeOut service also allows user call to foreign country at a very low price. So, it is good to substitute the traditional high cost international Direct Dialing (IDD) service. Compare to other product, Microsoft introduced Windows Live Call service to their Windows Live user. The function of Windows Live call is quite similar to Skype. It can also make a free computer to computer call and a traditional phone call to landline or mobile phone. However, their service is just in beta phase, the phone call service is only provided in United Stats, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Canada, so we cannot use it in the country which is not listed in these five countries. On the other hand, Skype provide a mailbox service. The mailbox service allows callers to leave voice message if the receiver is not available to receive the call, just like the mobile phone. Moreover, user of Skype can buy a SkypeIn number; dialer can call the direct SkypeIn number to find the Skype user, if the user is in foreign country, they can also receive the call. The Skype user can also view the caller’s identification before they receive the call, the user can consider should they receive the call before they receive it. Compare to other similar product, no one provide this function. Secondly, the instant messaging service can also act as an enabler that allows virtual work and virtual organizations. Skype supports a real-time communication text chat with up to 100 people, this function enable project teams for sharing news and ideas. Moreover, the instant messaging service can allow user share virtual, visual, or computer documents instantly, so the team can use it to collaborate ideas, make decisions in more quickly and productivity way. Compare to other program which has the similar function, Skype is a quite good messaging program. Skype provides cross platform version, encryption, message history, support file sharing and webcam. However, Skype do not support offline messaging, it is not good for the team which is not work in the same time zone. Thirdly, the video conferencing service can be value added to virtual team and it is a good method to allow virtual work. Skype can support one to one video call and high definition video. It is good for the global team to have a two different locations face to face interaction visual collaboration. However, Skype do not support the video conferencing which is more than two people. If the company wants to have a video conferencing more than two people, they need to choose other service, for example, the netsee service which is provided by PCCW. Virtuality impact Skype enables the virtuality form impossible to possible. User can use Skype for video conferencing, instant messaging and making a chat with others at any time and everywhere. Skype can enable users use their computer to call or receive from others who are using computer, handheld devices, landline and mobile phone. Skype can impact on the nature of knowledge creation. This technology enables the multimedia stream in the tradition information flow. User can share their multimedia files, video and pictures when they are making a conference online. On the other hand, making a conference virtually means the traditional way of face to face interaction is impacted by the virtual one. The multi function and cross platform makes the conference with no time and geographical barriers. Skype can enables participants can joint together without time and place barriers. Users in the conference are the participants of the virtual community. The virtual community is less hierarchical and open up to multiple interpretations, users can freely share their ideas online. Moreover, people usually cannot receive all the ideas that others speak in the real world, ideas in written format is easy to receive the ideas and follows. For the decision making process, the written ideas can be gather and give the best solution out, this enhances the equality in participation and enhance entrust between the weaker participants and stronger participants. On the other hand, Skype can impact the ways of working. Skype allows people work at home, work at foreign country and outsourcing. Skype can also encourage global product development, because all the staff in the company can use Skype as a platform and joint together for gathering useful information, discussion, hold a meeting to business partners and share the up-to-date news. In this situation, the productivity can be increase by the collective intelligence and this virtual community allows company staff work at the place any time and everywhere. Web Reviews There are many end user reviews on Skype. Their views are generally the characteristic of Skype. In this session, we would look on some useful review and user feedback on Skype. For the good side of Skype, most of the users agree that Skype is free for user who uses it to call other Skype user online. Skype can support voice, video conferencing and instant messaging within one program. Many end users said Skype is prefect VoIP software with good quality sound. On the other hand, Skype is a good program because it is ease of use and work on every operation system (OS). In the operation system support list, we can see that Skype supports both desktop and mobile handheld platform. On the desktop environment, Skype supports Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. On the mobile platform, Skype supports Windows Mobile, Nokia Linux internet tablets and Sony PSP. Moreover, Skype is a good developed program, it is because Skype is portable and do not need to install before use. Skype uses peer to peer technology and it can bypass firewall, NAT and proxy. So, users can use it everywhere, no matter the network administrator set the proxy server or firewall to restrict network user activity. Furthermore, Skype can works like a landline telephone, user can call to other non computer user. The call fee is very cheap when Skype compared to local landline. User can buy the telephone like devices to chat with others. Then, move on to the bad reviews on Skype. There are many bad reviews on Skype. Many problems are caused by it special characteristics. The most important issue that people always concern is the security. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported on October 2, 2008 that China has been monitoring Skype text messages for political content using automated systems, and saving the full message contents on Chinese government-owned servers. The monitoring means no privacy to Skype, others can monitor what the users say, and it affects business activity very much, because business secret or confidential information may appear in the conversation, the monitor activity will makes business change to use other method to have a secure conversation on the internet. On the other hand, the most user complaint is their customer service and support. Many users account blocked or disabled by Skype by no reason. However, as of November 2008, Skype did not provide a way to contact customer support; only offer the indirect assistance through its web portal. So, how can the user find support? Demonstration of actual use The following part of the report will demonstrate how to download, install and make a multiple conversation in Skype. To obtain the software, please download it from the Skype homepage – http://www.skypecom The setup file size is 21.2 Megabytes. User can download it with a broadband connection within few minutes. After download it, user can follow the instruction to install it. After the installation progress, it will prompt the registration procedure, which is free. You will need to enter your unique name, password. After the registration process, Skype will show it main interface. User can either add known user or just use Skypeout function for calling outside. Assuming the user already knows people who use Skype, add their unique name and you will see whether they are online and able to receive calls or not. In business world, two or more people in a conversation are very normal. The screenshot below shows three people chat in one active window. Although User Stark Wong is using Mac OS, Skype provides multi-platform version, so he can use the Mac OS X version of Skype and participates in the conversation. Moreover, he can see who are online right now. If the users need to use the Skypeout function or call to foreign country, they can buy the EU€8.95 unlimited token for unlimited telephone call to 36 countries. Evaluation In the testing environment, I have tried to use Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Windows Mobile device to joint the conversation. However, only the Microsoft Windows client can successfully joint other operating system users together. In the joint conversation, the voice quality is quite good; the response time is fast and only 0.5sec delay for the voice transmission. However, the test is in local, the quality may affect if the clients are not in the same geographical location. Assessment For the virtual organization, Skype provides a low cost solution for business to enables the communication channel within the virtual organization. For the communication, Skype can track which employee is online and allow users to call them. Skype can save the company money and time to track people and call them instantly when they are online; it is because the company does not need to pay when they use Skype to contact with Skype. However, if the company wants to use Skype to call non Skype user, they need to pay, this is the first limitation to business. On the other hand, Skype connection is based on intranet and internet network. Network traffic will dominate the response time and delay for the talk. Unfortunately, Skype uses the Peer to Peer (P2P) technology to provide the stable service. Skype uses P2P technology to transmit data means they will use the entire user’s computer to transmit others data. Moreover, Skype cannot set or limit the upload speed and connection. Under this situation, Skype will use up all the internet bandwidth and make a slower internet connection. In the real world, only the big enterprise who can afford the expensive fiber leased-line internet services, the small and middle size company will only subscribe the copper Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). The problem of ADSL connection is the upload speed is very slow. In Hong Kong, the upload speed of the 6Mbps downstream business Netvigator broadband service which is provided by PCCW is only 640Kbps. If the Skype uses up all the upload bandwidth, the internet connection will suffer in very slow speed. The slow internet connection speed will affect the business operation; especially when the line is shared to the extranet, virtual private network (VPN) or web services. Another assessment is the video call. The video call function which provided by Skype is not enough for business use, it is because Skype can only supports up to two parties, the third parties can only join the conference by voice. However, the business conference is usually more than two parties, so this function is useless to the user who needs multi-parties video conferencing. Besides the function limitation, the characteristic of Skype function also derivative problems. The company worker may use Skype to do the non-work activity. The worker may use it as the instant messenger and chat with their friend or waste company money to call out via skypeout service. The company cannot easy to monitor and trace what their staffs do. So, the powerful characteristic of function can bring benefits or damages to the organization. Conclusion In Conclusion, using Skype as an enabler is a good idea to enable for Global Work Teams and Virtual Organizations. Skype provides a low cost solution for communication method. User can use text or voice to communicate with others over the internet. Moreover, user can also own a telephone number and others can call the number to find him and he can call out to foreign country, we cannot find another program that can have all these functions and lower cost than Skype. Many companies are enjoying the benefits which bring from Skype, Edison Ford Investment Property is an example. The company use Skype to make contact with their 2,000 clients around the world and have a face-to-face meeting on Skype with their partners. If the company cannot afford a huge budget on the telecommunication infrastructure, Skype is a good choice to enable Global Work Teams and Virtual Organizations.
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