It’s something that Microsoft has been saying for some time – but it’s now a reality: Microsoft Teams should be the hub for all your organization’s teamwork; your productivity center within Office 365.
It’s taken a lot of IT decision makers time to realise this – and many still haven’t. Some of the problem stems from how Microsoft announced, back in September 2017, that Teams would become the replacement for Skype.
Teams is the hub for teamwork
Back then, most of the features Teams offers today, weren’t fully developed and it’s taken a long time for people to realise that it would become so much more than Skype. It took about a year for Microsoft to begin to say that in fact Teams can be the hub for teamwork – your entry point into all productivity apps and your repository of information and your communications tool. The underlying vision is that, in the future, you should just be able to fire up Teams and use that all day.
Now, it has fully come to fruition. After all, you can not only access all the applications in Office 365, you can also access a huge range of other apps, including non-Microsoft applications, and view them directly from the Teams interface.
For example, on Teams, you can have meetings, chats, videos, phone calls, as well as directly write and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel files, all of which are stored on Teams. Yet also, from Teams, you can also interface into Salesforce, Dynamics, and into any number of major business applications that an enterprise may wish to run.
All interactions: on Teams and from Teams
For Microsoft, the ideal scenario would be to get rid of email completely and have people make all their interactions in this way, both on Teams and from Teams. It’s an important evolution. Microsoft is trying to move on from completely asynchronous communications like email (where you have to wait for a reply) and in which files are shared (even though recipients might not have the latest version at the time of opening). With Teams, we are talking about something so much more dynamic – something that truly acts as a hub and integrates otherwise siloed applications.
In many ways, the technology is nothing revolutionary. Microsoft didn’t invent the concept of the collaboration hub, others like Slack predate Microsoft Teams. And the other elements already existed too: telephony is obviously not new; instant messaging and presence have been around for a while, as has cloud-based document sharing, and web and video conferencing too. What is new is that Teams’ collection of capabilities around communications, collaboration and teamwork is uniquely placed at the heart of the Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.
Teams has moved far beyond Skype
The reality is that Teams can replace all the silos and deliver one single application across all types of devices – one that is compatible with all end-user use cases: for office workers on desktops; remote workers on laptops; and field workers with smart devices in all kinds of different environments.
So, if all these technologies already exist, and Teams has already been around for while too, why is it that we are only now saying to clients with such confidence that it is a truly mature and credible solution? Well, it’s taken a while, not least because Microsoft’s initial emphasis was on Teams as a Skype replacement. They focused on Teams playing catch-up, ensuring it had the same features and capabilities as Skype. That was then though – and this is now, and without doubt Teams is, in every way, far beyond Skype for the enterprise market.
Enhancing Teams for mission-critical use cases
In our consulting work around communications, collaboration and teamwork, we see that its capabilities suit most enterprise use cases. As the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd., our specific expertise is to ensure all scenarios are covered for our clients. We take Microsoft solutions, such as Teams, and enhance them: we add features and services that complete those areas that Microsoft hasn’t included in its solution and which are mission-critical in certain use cases.
These include contact centers, cloud fax, and enabling and supporting hardware – headsets, handsets, and perhaps video endpoints to connect to Teams – as well as video interop and cloud interop to enable people to connect remotely using any meeting room endpoint. By incorporating these elements into our solutions, we ensure suitability in 100% of use cases.
On top of these solutions we also wrap around a layer of services: consulting, professional services, and value realization services, an area that covers a range of ‘value-adds’: support service management; proactive quality of experience monitoring; tenant management; and administration on behalf of customers.
Delivering a truly Intelligent Workplace
It doesn’t end there, because a key part of our unified communications portfolio is our Cloud Voice network. With this, we replace existing and expensive telephony carriers, and provide cloud calling plans with a complete telco experience. Users can call anywhere in the world; access emergency services should they need them, and show or hide their caller IDs, all the things you expect from a regular carrier – and all operated from Teams in the Cloud.
These are strong value-adds, and enable us to deliver a truly Intelligent Workplace to our clients. In recognition of the solutions we have built, Microsoft crowned us as their Intelligent Communications Partner of the Year for 2019. It’s a global award, and we are the only organization to have received it. It really underlines how we are one of the few outstanding service providers in this space.
If you’re considering making Teams the productivity hub at the heart of your Office 365 suite, then it’s a great move to make. Its time has truly come.
Your organization will be transformed by the productivity gains you can achieve, and by how much more effectively your business communicates and collaborates.
Do stay tuned for future posts from me in which I will set out some of the essential pitfalls to avoid when planning to implement Teams.