View from India: Team up for this Microsoft offering

This week, Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Microsoft Teams, the company’s new chat-based workspace in Office 365. The new offering has been launched in 181 countries including India. The fact that India is part of the global agenda reinforces the importance of the Indian market in the global scenario.

Senior officials from Microsoft flew down to Bangalore to unveil the new tool designed to meet the unique work style of every group. It has been created with purpose-built, integrated applications: Outlook for enterprise-grade email; SharePoint for intelligent content management; Yammer for networking across the organisation; Skype for Business as the backbone for enterprise voice and video; and now, Microsoft Teams. The product seems appropriately timed.

“Collaboration trends point to the fact that people work twice as many teams as they did five years ago and now it’s more in real time and diverse. With the millennials coming into work, organisations now collaborate for higher deliverables,” said Seth Patton, general manager, marketing, Office 365, Microsoft.  

Clearly one size doesn’t fit all. Microsoft Teams has been launched at a time when the market demand focuses on collaborative sharing, and Skype, along with video and voice.

“Office 365 balances the need for Teams and end users to be more productive. The momentum is good, as it has 85 million active users on a monthly basis and 37 per cent commercial seats is growing year-on-year. If Office is a standalone business, it will probably be the biggest one,” reasoned Patton.

Despite Office’s large scale acceptance, chat was the missing gap. That’s how Teams evolved as a chat-based workplace and single place for notebooks.

Since announcing the global preview in November 2016, more than 50,000 organisations have started using Microsoft Teams, including Alaska Airlines, ConocoPhillips, Deloitte, Expedia, J.B. Hunt, J. Walter Thompson, Hendrick Motorsports, Sage, Trek Bicycle and Three UK. The preview has evoked many responses from its takers.

In a recent press release Laurie Koch, vice president of global customer service at Trek Bicycle, indicated that Microsoft Teams is already streamlining the company’s work by providing assets and tasks in context.

“Across Trek’s global teams, the integrated collection of Office 365 apps serves up a common toolset to collaboratively drive the business forward,” he stated. “We see Microsoft Teams as the project hub of Office 365 where everybody knows where to find the latest documents, notes and tasks, all inline with team conversations for complete context. Teams is quickly becoming a key part of Trek’s get-things-done-fast culture.”

Microsoft has introduced more than 100 new features to Teams since November, including: an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities; mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android now and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone; email integration; and new security and compliance capabilities.

“Given the fact that it’s a horizontal platform, flexibility and diverse applications are its highlights. It can be used for marketing campaigns as well as analytics. As it offers Indian language support to the user interface, a pilot project has already had a successful run in India,” explained Alok B. Lall, director, Microsoft Office Marketing, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd.

Microsoft Teams is a hub for teamwork and provides a modern conversation experience, with threaded, persistent chat to keep everyone engaged. Conversations can be either private or visible to the entire team, and users can access multiple teams, making it easy to switch between projects. As a tool, Microsoft Teams finds applications across sectors including IT services, banking and retail as well as connecting with the developer community. 

As a chat-based workspace, it brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need.

“We are not building silo apps, as the new product is not a single purpose tool or a standalone application. This is a browser, phone and windows app that works on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote and PowerBI. It is also accessible for the visually impaired,” added Lall.

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