21/08 Collaboration Tools, Why Microsoft’s “Teams” Stands Out!

Back in 2013 a small company developed a communication tool, Slack, which has become a major player in the collaboration space. Essentially, it allowed for communities, groups or small teams to communicate easily without the need for email, and consolidated multiple communication channels. It has grown into a behemoth and in 2016 Microsoft considered an $8 billion bid to buy out the company and integrate it into Skype for Business. However, Bill Gates’ investigation into the purchase revealed that it was not in Microsoft’s interest. They instead choose to use the Skype for Business platform as the basis for a new product – Microsoft Teams. Microsoft saw that by building out Teams, they could help their users leverage their existing investment in Microsoft Office and replace Microsoft Education (Classroom) with a single product in the Office 365 for Education version. By 2017 Skype for Business was now Microsoft Teams and now in 2018 Microsoft Teams is offered as free scaled down version for a small number user, or a single team. It can be expanded for a low fee for additional users. However, if you’re already an organisation that is an Office 365 subscriber Teams is a free add-on for your organisation. The question simply is – does your organisation want to switch it on and go through the change of process as users adapt to this new communication medium. With major global companies like IBM already using Slack and seeing the benefits, many organisations invested in the Microsoft technology stack will see the new Teams as the preferred option. The question is not if but when will your organisation will make the jump to these newer productivity enhancing applications. The benefits of Microsoft Teams are numerous:

• It allows communities, groups and teams to join a group through specified URLS or invitation. This can be scaled out in the Education version as a Classroom.

• Channels of topics can be setup, and user can email, SMS send post of images and other content to that channel. Third party applications like Mailchimp, Facebook Pages etc can also submit content into the channels.

• There is support for threaded conversation something still lacking in Slack.

• It supported across all major platforms, Windows, iOS, Mac, Android etc.

• And of course, Teams ties in extremely well with other office products allowing users to easily integrate Word, PowerPoint etc into presentations and project work. Outlook meetings can be scheduled to use Teams.

The biggest integration is with Skype, and Teams will be able to support VoIP, Video Conferencing and work with an existing PSTN, allowing users to call phone number from the Team client. The underlying technology here is the Microsoft Skype for Business, which can be an appliance, or on-premises server-based solution that allows customers to easily connect any existing telephone circuit to the Cloud PBX in Office 365 via a SIP trunk. This solution allows the user’s phone capability to be managed out of Office 365 Teams while their phone calls, number, and PSTN provider remains the same.