Business VoIP Featured Article

Microsoft Teams: Shaking Up the UC&C Market

April 27, 2017

By John De Los Reyes, UC Expert

Last month, Microsoft launched its much-discussed collaboration tool into the market: Microsoft Teams. As the battle between leading Unified Communications players intensifies, this launch is seen by many as a major win for Microsoft. With Skype for Business remaining a leader in enterprise communication, Teams was a calculated move into the Unified Communications & Collaboration space, often associated with Slack or Google Hangouts. And already, IT pros predict in two years Microsoft Teams will be the second most popular collaborative chat app on the market (behind Skype for Business). But is that hype warranted? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the platform…

Image via Microsoft

The Benefits

Microsoft Teams’ biggest selling point has been the frictionless integration into existing Microsoft applications. While Slack remains a stand-alone chat-based platform, Teams blends right into Office 365. For organizations using O365, Microsoft Teams allows for increased collaboration across those existing tools —OneNote, SharePoint, Outlook, etc. — on top of the collaborative chat features. It also works within third party applications, including Hootsuite, Trello, GitHub, etc.

At its core, Microsoft Teams is designed to work as our minds anticipate dialogue. It solves team collaboration challenges and removes barriers intuitively, allowing for better communication in a group format. Part of that lies within the nimble design of Teams, and part of it is the ability to work within one platform instead of flipping between screens throughout the day.

Areas for Growth

So far, criticism of Microsoft Teams has been minimal. Peter Bright at Ars Technica notes that Teams’ message threading system is dense and makes it difficult to have multiple threads going at once. However, he also points out that, “For a version 1 product, Teams is remarkable. Microsoft built it in about 21 months, and it's already well-rounded and polished. This is far richer than a minimal-viable product.” It seems that the biggest areas of growth have more to do with the unknown. For those of us who are responsible for strategy and management of communication and collaboration tools, it’s still unclear what deployment frameworks are required for Teams. We don’t know what governance issues exist. Best practices will develop as organic growth creates the need for governance.

However, at this point it’s clear that Microsoft Teams has exceeded the expectations of its competitors and has brought a major shake-up to the UC&C market. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft evolves the product as Teams grows.

Looking Ahead

From the reviews, it looks like Microsoft Teams is here to stay. As organizations continue to move through their digital transformations, frictionless communication and collaboration is vital. But interestingly, it’s not always startups leading this charge. While email is a collaboration tool we’re seeing across the board, larger businesses are the highest adopters of collaborative chat applications, workplace social networks and project management tools.

Image via SpiceWorks

This is a trend that lends itself well to the rise of Microsoft Teams, which is targeting Office 365 users—often the application of choice for larger corporations. Looking internally, the application screams for integration into Skye for Business, and at a velocity that may make Microsoft’s development team uncomfortable. We know that Microsoft has plans for this, but they have remained quiet on the extent of the integration. Teams is already the answer for the persistent chat that we know and love as a part of on premises deployments of Skype for Business. Looking externally, many are wondering how Microsoft Teams will affect the other major UC&C players. At this point, only time will tell.

Edited by Alicia Young

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