Microsoft Teams: More than Just Another Group Chat Application

By Jim Blackwell| April 02, 2019

At first glance, it would appear that Teams is just another application to add to an increasingly crowded group chat marketplace. And if you already have tools in place that are working just fine, it seems redundant to add yet another tool to your toolbox. That is, until Microsoft gives you no other option but to adopt Teams – as evidenced by the decision to replace Skype for Business with Teams.

But even if you’re not relying on Skype for Business, there are still a number of reasons why you’ll want to consider adopting Teams right now. More than just another chat application, Teams also combines strong content collaboration features thanks to integrations with the tools you’re already using day-to-day. Many of these capabilities are not new in themselves (i.e. instant messaging, email and the ability to share documents), however, Teams offers all these functions – and then some – under a central hub.

Bringing Team Collaboration Together

If you’re like most organizations, you’re already using apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive, so it makes a lot of sense to bring them all together under Teams. This enables your workforce to participate in more productive meetings and collaborative work with minimal context switching. And even if you’re using applications outside of the Microsoft stack, Teams supports dozens of third-party integrations with plans to include countless more.

Need immediate and instant communication? You can initiate a quick chat in Teams. Make changes to a document in real time? Access your documents without leaving the app. Schedule a conference call? Create an Outlook meeting from any conversation. Reference notes from a previous meeting? You get the idea.

In today’s fast-paced world, workforce productivity is the new definition of corporate competitiveness. While living out of your email and a collection of disjointed applications may still be working adequately for now, this is not where the future of workplace collaboration is headed.

The Future of Collaboration in Teams

Collaborative work in today’s workplace has increased by 50% and takes up almost 80% of our time. Additionally, as companies are becoming more multi-locational, organizations are implementing remote and flexible policies, while new generations are entering the workforce with new expectations for how they prefer to communicate and collaborate.

Teams not only addresses some of these immediate collaboration challenges, but it’s also the platform where you can expect to see some of the most exciting innovations in the immediate future. Microsoft is already planning to boost video and call capabilities, as well as using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve meetings. For example, Teams will automatically surface relevant documents before a meeting to help participants prepare; voice recognition capabilities can produce transcriptions and attribute remarks to the individual speakers; after the meeting, those transcriptions can be automatically added to relevant channels. The possibilities are endless!

What’s Next?

For some organizations, the switch to Teams is relatively easy. Especially if you’re already using Microsoft 365. For other organizations, the transition will first require you to modernize your infrastructure and security in the cloud.

The migration to Teams is the first step. Equally important is a user enablement and adoption strategy. Simply turning on Teams with little structure or guidance around its intended purpose will lead end-users to make their own decisions around when and how to leverage the tool – and then it does become just another mess to deal with like some of those old SharePoint sites.

A solid user enablement and adoption strategy will be required, but combined with the innovative technology of Teams, it is possible to enable a mobile, distributed, multi-generational workforce for the future.

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