Mal Vivek of Avasoft, our joint venture partner, joins us to discuss how Microsoft Teams has become a top player in the communication and collaboration space.
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In the times of COVID-19, a lot of people have been talking about the principle of collaboration and how to truly maximize its efficacy and with everyone coming up now on just over a month of working from home on various remote work plans and platforms, one thing is now crystal clear: Microsoft Teams is the only complete enterprise-ready unified collaboration/communication platform available. And it’s become increasingly apparent why this is the case – Microsoft 365, of which Microsoft Teams is a key part, equates in the eyes of vast numbers of consumers to the only trusted, performant, productivity-driven ecosystem of choice. With an incomparable number of users using Microsoft 365 as the enterprise collaboration platform and an ever-increasing utilization of Azure and its other cloud service offerings as the cloud service platform of choice, Microsoft is so far ahead and has put an ostensibly insurmountable distance in front of whoever’s second in this race.
With Microsoft Teams, which is referred to in every deck/online flipbook/conference session as “the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history”, Microsoft created a turning point for themselves. They took away any remaining reasons any business ever had to not using Microsoft 365 as their true one-stop-shop for all collaboration/Communication needs. Skype for Business which is apparently seen as Teams’ predecessor, was never as fully integrated into Microsoft 365. It gave people a lot to complain about in a time where pretty products like Slack offered a safe haven of a slick user interface and a lot of normal user power. Slack’s free plan was also the perfect breeding ground for small pockets of dissatisfied teams to go spin up small ungoverned collaboration factions complete with undocumented incoming/outgoing webhooks, 3rd party applications, and bots (oh my) making it virtually impossible to ever have a hold on what’s going on under their very noses. That’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling at any time but in the age of one-tweet cancel culture, it’s a highly unstable position to be in. So, enter Microsoft Teams. A highly governable platform that is both usable while making some great strides in delivering at a true enterprise-level for collaboration where Slack simply lacked the ability to implement. In utilizing SharePoint as a back end and creating a Team-Channel hierarchy, Teams was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between persistent messaging/video conferencing and the robust irreplaceable apps of Microsoft 365. In including video conferencing and integrations to all Office apps inline from day 1, Teams really hit Slack where it hurt, where it could never be able to catch up.
In the last month, tools like Slack and Zoom have been brought up as tools truly embracing collaboration and a lot of pros and cons regarding their usage have been thrown around especially as numerous universities transitioned their courses to Zoom and brands transitioned numerous social events to the platform as well. A lot of companies also began using Zoom’s free plan to spin up quick meetings for their teams. However, in addition to all of the security concerns raised about Zoom (zoombombing, data routed to China, etc) over the last couple weeks, as a prior Zoom user, I believe the biggest thing to note is its huge gaps from a collaboration perspective. Zoom’s persistent messaging feature is akin to a poor man’s Slack with the same concepts of channels and direct messages but the UI is quite uninspiring to the effect that most people never use it, instead opting to use Slack or some other form of messaging. The app integrations are fairly limited in comparison to both Slack and Teams and overall, the app’s only robust functionality is video calls, thereby making it a tool, not a platform.
The very tangible difference between a platform and a tool is in the lengths each goes to serve your needs – a tool solves a very narrow scope of problems whereas a platform integrates parts of all the right tools to be, in essence, your right-hand man. This is where Teams incomparably shines in every aspect. Rolling up video-calling, organized communication, persistent messaging, Office app coauthoring in real-time, and a variety of extensibility points so you can make it work for every unique use case, it is a platform in every sense of the word. From the Power Platform (PowerApps and Power Automate) to the use of Azure Cognitive Services with natural language processing and the Bot Framework to build easily deployable bots with actual language understanding, Teams is a platform ready to cater to every need. Integrations to apps already available in the app directory also have a huge user-driven focus; you choose the channels you want the app in and you choose whether to use it as a bot or a tab or both.
At both an individual-level and organization-level, Teams serves as a robust base to begin scaling to your vision of collaboration and allowing for you to only enrich innovation. Its biggest selling point is easy; as a true platform, it combines everything you need in one place and no other experience can come close to that level of collaboration. It allows orgs of any size to function at an enterprise level and easily extends in an unlimited number of ways. In a world where rapid collaboration and the ability to easily connect and communicate with each other only grows more critical each passing day, Microsoft Teams is really the only choice.
About the Author
Mal Vivek is a Microsoft 365 Solutions Architect with Avasoft. She originally wrote this blog post on LinkedIn, which can be found here.