Blog updated as of 4th August 2022
The popularity of Teams among flexible workers has increased rapidly since the pandemic. According to a recent report by Microsoft, an estimated 270 million users are active on Teams. This means that a little over a quarter of a million people worldwide collaborate, share and work via Teams regularly. With flexible and remote working becoming the norm, millions of businesses have implemented Microsoft Teams as an integral part of their digital transformation strategies. There are a wide range of benefits of Microsoft Teams that organisations still need to take advantage of.
Microsoft’s CEO and Chairman, Satya Nadella, in his recent address at the Microsoft Inspire conference recently announced that there are currently 1500+ third party applications operating in the Teams App store. The software promotes seamless functionality in the hybrid workplace. It provides collaborative tools required to enrich the productivity of remote workers.
Having staff who work remotely has many benefits for businesses, including those who have several locations, large workforces, and departments. Staff who work remotely also reduce business overheads, are more likely to be productive throughout the working day, with lowered stress levels and boosted morale. Microsoft Teams creates a unified platform to enhance team collaboration, video conferencing, meetings and document storage.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams, included as a standard in Microsoft 365 subscriptions, is the complete collaboration tool enabling both office based and remote staff to collaborate with individuals or designated groups of employees within online workspaces within the Microsoft Teams application. Its cloud based nature allows it to be accessed anywhere via desktop or mobile applications on both iOS and Android.
What’s the solution for effective teamwork?
Microsoft Teams is designed to improve teamwork and boost collaboration throughout your organisation – even if some of your staff are working flexibly or remotely. Since its launch in 2017, Microsoft Teams is now used by organisations of all sizes, across the globe who use the platform to make their internal and client business projects run smoothly and efficiently. As a cloud-based platform, Microsoft Teams can be accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application and is supported on Windows, Mac, as well as iOS and Android – all you need is a connection to the internet.
Microsoft is continuously adding new features to improve accessibility and user experience. Below is a summary of the latest updates to be rolled out in Teams.
Latest Teams Innovations
One of the newest features announced is the incorporation of Excel within the Teams environment. With this function, users will be able to access Excel documents without exiting ongoing calls. Sheet Views will also be introduced to allow every collaborator to co-edit workbooks together. This real-time collaboration will transform the user experience to provide an immersive environment for everyone.
This tool will allow Teams users to type, draw or react to content being shared via the Microsoft Whiteboard. The enablement of the Annotation mode allows meeting attendees to view the Annotation toolbar so that they can add annotations for improved collaboration.
Teams room improvements
Enhancements to be released within Teams Rooms include displays, and intelligent cameras. These will provide personalised call experiences and improved room views during video calls respectively.
Improved webinar experience
Customisation and expanded options will be added to improve the webinar tool in the application. The added functions comprise of enhanced themes, pre-set questions and presenter bios.
Microsoft Digital Contact Centre
Programs such as Power Platform suite, Dynamics 365 and Azure Communications Services will be integrated within the Digital Contact Centre platform to enable users with AI and intelligent features to assist with the delivery of quality customer service and communication.
Power Apps Controls
Collaboration controls will be integrated within Power Apps to introduce more collaborative tools for team calls, chats and meetings.
With Live Share, users will be able to share ideas, in addition to completing projects. Also, it will allow developers to collaborate within Teams.
Business benefits of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Application integration
Microsoft Teams is fully integrated to Microsoft 365, and combines chat, meetings, notes and attachments which allows businesses to seamlessly interact with each other wherever they are; assets such as calendars, files and email can all be shared too.
This includes the classic Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel, Skype for Business and PowerPoint. And it also incorporates newer tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Delve and Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Teams is always up-to-date, and the scalability of Teams means that it’s easy to add users as your business grows.
This integration is one of the main features which sets Teams apart from its competitor, Zoom.
Meeting and scheduling tools
Microsoft Teams syncs with your calendar and pulls in all existing appointments, it also displays suggested times, when all the other attendees within each dedicated Team, are free. The Microsoft Teams application also gives you the option to choose if the meeting is private or anyone can join in; a particularly useful setting if you are hosting voluntary training or brainstorming.
Once you have created a meeting, both you and the attendees can post about the meeting in a separate chat thread, set agendas and upload relevant documents.
You can also schedule and join meetings using Skype for Business with HD video, VOIP and additional dial in audio options including useful integration with a wide range of meeting room devices for one-to-many businesses with up to 10,000 attendees whether they are internal or external.
Outstanding user enablement via 20 Bots
To promote adoption of Teams within the workplace, Microsoft has programmed 20 useful Bots that are very similar to virtual chat agents.
These help users of Microsoft Teams get a wide range of tasks done in the most efficient way. The 20 bots operate on artificial Intelligence each with specialist knowledge bases. T-Bot can answer frequently asked user questions regarding Teams, Polly Bot can help with voting/polling with colleagues, Hipmunk can help arrange your travel plans if you need to get a meeting or fly abroad and Stats Bot can generate scheduled reports from many platforms including Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Google Analytics. Below is a picture of both Polly Bot and T-bot in use.
Digital Transformation progression
There are so many business benefits of moving to a digital workplace in the Cloud. Since Microsoft Teams is a fully cloud-based solution, your employees are able to access information from anywhere, on any device and at any time. In addition, with your workplace in the cloud, you can reap the benefits of big data processing and Artificial Intelligence to work smarter.
Voice calling in Microsoft Teams
Using Microsoft Teams as an alternative for traditional telephony voice calling couldn’t be easier. Up to 250 of your employees can use Microsoft Teams to make high quality voice calls which ring on a desktop and mobile device simultaneously. Within Teams the call manager/voicemail, call groups functionality is extensive while calls to external numbers can be routed through Microsoft Teams via SIP Trunks easily. Using Teams as your sole business communications platform alleviates the need for expensive handsets as you can use a headset or the built-in audio on your desktop, laptop or mobile devices instead.
Video conferencing is also easy within Microsoft Teams with the ability to screen-share at the click of a button and collaborate on documents whilst you are in the conference call itself. It is also possible to share a specific window within your conference call to avoid.
If you require another meeting participant to help you present, demonstrate something, you can give control to that person. This means you will both be in control of the screen sharing, and you can take back control of the screen at anytime. The latest Teams updates will ensure the ease of calls.
Teams Developer Platform
If you require a specific integration within Microsoft Teams such as a useful business process or social media applications, these can be easily implemented within the Teams Developer Platform using open APIs.
Real-time document collaboration
Employees can collaborate, co-author and edit documents seamlessly at the same time as other users within your organisation, making for effective teamwork. Users are able to pin the most important documents within each workspace for quick reference by other Team members. These are some of the key benefits of this new feature.
View likes, @ mentions and messages quickly and easily in the Activity and Chat panes. Notifications are also able to be viewed as filters to view anything else that might be relevant to you in the conversations. By keeping all notifications within the Teams platform your email inbox does not get bombarded and risk you overseeing or deleting important emails by mistake.
Users login to Microsoft Teams the same way they login to Office 365, using multi factor authentication and secure guest access.
As for the security of the data stored within Teams, there is built in information protection and the Microsoft Teams app is served by Microsoft’s Hyper Scale Cloud which includes the option for local data residency if required. For example, for industries where the data must remain within the same country.
Microsoft Teams and all the other Office 365 tools meet the compliance standards of HIPAA BAA, ISO 27001, ISO 27018 and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and 2 report. Users also login the same way they would to Office 365, using Multi-Factor Authentication and secure guest access. Microsoft Teams delivers the advanced security and compliance capabilities that organisations expect. This in-built security function of Microsoft Teams is a core differentiator between the application and other solutions.
If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you automatically have access to Microsoft Teams as part of your standard subscription.
Infinity Group are Microsoft Gold partners and are specialists across the full stack of Microsoft Business Applications. If you’re interested in new Microsoft 365 subscriptions, Microsoft Teams implementation or Microsoft Teams for Education please get in touch.