What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a chat-based platform built for Office 365 that has been specifically developed to make collaboration and group work easier and more efficient. Utilising both chat and instant messaging as its primary method of communication between team members, Teams can be accessed on both mobile and desktop. Teams is ready to launch within the majority of Office 365 licences, with Teams now available to over 100 million Office 356 users.
The solution was designed to make it easier for small groups to work together by reducing the need for long email threads or sharing files across multiple mediums and solutions.
What makes Teams so special?
The pervasiveness of mobile device use has, in part, caused a growth in the use of instant messaging. Microsoft built Teams to capitalise on this. The solution provides an interface where employees can take part in immediate and informal chats. Conversations are threaded, meaning everyone can see previous messages, eliminating the time-consuming hunt for information that can happen with email threads.
Another important aspect of the solution is its integration abilities. Microsoft Teams integrates well with third party tools and users can also draw in documents, presentations, notes and spreadsheets from the Office suite, and the more powerful Office 365 solutions like SharePoint. Within Teams, there is also the functionality and ability to build custom connectors and bots for integration with further Line of Business Applications.
Microsoft are pushing Teams hard with a lot of investment into its functionality. They see it as a foundational platform for businesses of all sizes to streamline their collaborative work and business processes.
As with Office 365, Microsoft have made the functionally roadmaps and feedback loops for Microsoft Teams fully available for public consumption. It’s worth keeping an eye on the Microsoft Teams Roadmap as there are a lot of exciting features periodically being released into the platform throughout 2018. The roadmap also details features that are currently under development within the platform, such as Federated Microsoft Teams Meetings, Cloud Recording and Unified Presence.
Why is Microsoft Teams useful?
There are similar solutions out there, but Teams has unique benefits. As well as being a chat-based communication tool, Teams is a native Microsoft tool, so it instantly weaves in with other Microsoft services. This means users get the power of Office 365, enabling them to easily switch between voice, video and text connections in a single click, as well as share files, calendars and edit content collaboratively.
What can you do with Microsoft Teams?
There are a lot of communication features that make Microsoft Teams a powerful solution. These include audio calling from mobile devices, the ability to send an email to a chat channel, post attachments as well as receive notifications about activity across groups.
The integration with Office 365 means it’s tied in with the Office suite as well as providing deep storage and powerful sharing capabilities thanks to SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. Power BI and Delve are also integrated within the solution. In practice, all of this means any documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or other data shared in Teams are synced so that every member of a group always has access to the latest content and analytics. Group editing of this content can be done in real time with each member’s changes appearing right away – making it quick to access and communicate over a specific piece of work with a group without having to navigate multiple tools and mediums of communication.
Importantly, the integration with Office 365 means that important updates or new content generated within the platform can be highlighted and flagged outside of Teams. So, even if some staff don’t use the tool, significant information is not missed. Channels or chat groups can also communicate with third-party services using connectors. When Teams was first released it came with 70 connectors to external apps including MailChimp, Salesforce and Zendesk – and many more will be added over time.
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