Category Archives: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams celebrates year 1 with big news

It’s a big week in the enterprise communications and collaboration world with Enterprise Connect happening over in Florida – the big annual show where all the industry players present their impact in the market and their vision for a new way of working. Microsoft have come out swinging on day one with some big announcements to coincide with the 1st anniversary of Microsoft Teams.

Let’s get straight in and talk about what these new features mean to you.

Teams won’t be your grand pappy’s meeting

This is really where the intelligent part of Microsoft’s vision for communications comes to life. How many times have you spent the first 10 min of a meeting trying to get the sound or camera to work in the room? That’ll be a thing of the past, because soon you’ll be able to ask Cortana to join your meeting for you and it’ll all just work. This is in my view, the biggest game changer for users.

No longer will you need to record a meeting on your laptop and upload the video file to SharePoint. With cloud recording you’ll be able to capture everything happening in the meeting and share it straight to Microsoft Stream with those that couldn’t join. Working on a multilingual team? Teams will now translate messages in a channel on the fly.

Then there’s other neat features like blurring your background on video calls so people don’t see your washing drying on the clotheshorse behind you – true story!

Every device you can think of

Meetings happen in rooms. A lot. So that’s why we need to consider how everyone from a huddle of 2-3 people to a 10 person board are going to join a Teams meeting smoothly with remote participants. Fortunately there’s a plethora of options coming to achieve this, with native Teams meeting support on Surface Hub, interoperability with other video systems (so your Cisco devices can join Teams meetings), new devices from Lenovo, HP and Yealink and existing Skype IP phone/conference room support for Teams coming.

This means whether you want to use what you have today or deck out rooms with something new, you’ll be covered.

Coexist with your PABX, fax machines and analogue devices

From a voice/telephony perspective, this will open up loads of potential ways to create a consolidated way of communicating. If porting your phone numbers to Office 365 isn’t a fit for you (e.g. you want to run a pilot or migrate batch by batch, you have a long term contract with your carrier, etc), Direct Routing allows you to plumb Teams into a certified session border controller and into your existing SIP trunk, PABX or ISDN circuit and light up voice in the cloud on your terms.

Big impact in a short time

In just 12 months Microsoft have made huge strides with Teams. There’s a huge future ahead and I really think Teams is going to fundamentally change the way people work. Check out the stats below:

Infographic celebrating Microsoft Teams' one-year anniversary.

You can view the full announcement here.

A Finance Exec View of Microsoft Teams and Skype

Thought I’d share a recent experience that I feel is indicative of the market acceptance of Microsoft Teams and the direction it’s going, especially if you’re new to Office 365.

Recently I’ve been advising a niche investment management firm on their journey to Microsoft cloud communications – consulting on business value, ROI and roll-out costs with their CTO and exploring meeting room solutions as an initial step towards value. Our plan was anchored in replacing the hosted VoIP system with Office 365 Phone System and Skype for Business Online. In parallel, the internal IT team were enabling Office 365 for the first time for analysts, advisers and managers.

Then an interesting thing happened. As the roll-out of Office 365 has been gaining momentum with the migration of email, a subset of executives have discovered Microsoft Teams and started trying it out. This initial dip of the toe in the water has led to Teams being used for their board meetings, which I’m really impressed by. In addition, previously an all-hands call would be run at the start of the week with files shared over email and a PSTN dial-in conference setup. Since the advent of Teams, that event has moved to a dedicated Teams channel where relevant files and notes are shared with attendees and an audio/video meeting runs when the call is scheduled. Truly a great example of rapid innovation on the platform driven by the business.

This firm still have some life left in their hosted VoIP solution (it’s not up for renewal or causing any business problems), so it’s likely they’ll put their Skype deployment on hold and wait until the voice features in Microsoft Teams mature later this year, then roll Teams out off the back of the success in the business already. A smart move to leverage goodwill, quick wins and confidence in the tech.

Microsoft Teams has been a quantum leap for them culturally and they’ve embraced it completely. It’s really interesting and positive to see the value Teams is bringing for organisations brand new to Office 365 in different industries and how simple it is for people to start using it.