Work better together with Microsoft’s collaboration tool.
Microsoft Teams, the company’s business communication and collaboration tool, has made a name for itself in the two years since its launch. While Skype for Business rightly remains a popular business chat choice, Microsoft Teams is used by hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world.
Indeed, research from professional network Spiceworks has revealed that in businesses across Europe and North America, Microsoft Teams has secured second place behind Skype for Business in terms of business use of collaborative chat applications, besting Slack in doing so.
Considering how young the platform is, that’s a healthy adoption rate already, and Spiceworks’ study has shown that the growth isn’t expected to stop there, with Teams predicted to experience the most growth over the next couple of years. By the end of 2020, 53% of businesses plan to use Skype for Business and 41% plan to use Microsoft Teams, compared with just 18% planning on using Slack and 12% on using Google Hangouts.
One of the key reasons behind its rise is attributed to the tool having been made available for free since July. As the default communications app for Office 365, Microsoft has naturally guided users in its direction, and while the free version does come with some limitations compared to the paid-for version, those restrictions largely affect large-scale corporations, while SMEs will be well set with the generous amount of functionality on offer with the no-cost version.
What Is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams brings together chat, meetings, calling, files and apps in a shared workspace. The tool allows users to send chat messages, plus send audio or video calls to others on a one-on-one basis or in user-defined groups. In a nutshell, Teams lets users communicate with anyone inside or outside of the business within a secure platform.
The security factor is viewed within the IT industry as a key reason to back Teams, with IT professionals involved in Spiceworks’ study ranking Teams as the leading chat tool for security, manageability and cost-effectiveness.
Microsoft Teams isn’t just about chat, though, as users can also collaborate on Office files with integrated real-time content creation on built-in Office Online apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Teams is also particularly adept at integrating with third-party applications, including Trello, Hootsuite, Evernote and Adobe. This integration ultimately makes for a more productive workspace and is one of the major bonuses of giving Teams a try.
Storage-wise, the free version of Teams provides unlimited chat messaging and search and also 10GB of shared file storage, plus a further 2GB per person for personal storage.
Isn’t Email Enough?
Email remains the main communications tool in the workplace, but chat apps are being increasingly adopted. Spiceworks’ research revealed that nearly two-thirds of businesses have deployed one or more chat apps; this compares to 42% in 2016.
Collaborative chat apps are not seen as a replacement to email, however. Rather, they are seen by IT professionals are supplementary tools, and over half of IT professionals believe these tools are critical to their organisation’s success. One of the reasons behind this is likely due to the level of functionality on offer that email simply cannot match. Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, wrote in a blog post, “Some of these collaborative chat apps offer functionality that email can’t, including chat rooms, video conferencing, social features, and more.”
Communicate, Collaborate, Connect
Microsoft Teams sets out to be simple to understand and to get to grips with, plus Microsoft has some tutorials and tips and tricks on its site for any new users. Here are a few pointers to give you a flavour of how easy the tool is to use.
There’s an Activity tab that notifies you when a user mentions you, replies to a thread you’ve started or likes a post. The Activity bell – not unlike typical message alert icons on a mobile phone – indicates how many alerts you have waiting. Also, tagging people with the @ symbol followed by a team member’s name or email address will ensure that people who you absolutely want to see your message will receive a notification in their own Activity feed.
You can tag certain teams with ‘Favourite’ status so they appear at the top of your list for quick access, and you can create custom tabs to give teammates easy access to relevant files, tools and sites – ones that are used and referenced often within the team, for example.
For additional in-tool help, your Chat list includes something called T-Bot, essentially an in-app bot that will answer any queries you have about Teams.
These are just a few of the many features of Teams, a tool with which you can host online meetings with users in and out of the organisation and host web conferences. You can hold video calls on the move with the Teams mobile app (for iOS, Android and Windows Phone), and you can make one-to-one and group online audio and video calls.
If you’re still on the fence, the fact that the tool is completely free to try, with no commitment, means that there’s really no reason not to at least give it a go. Now is as good a time as any to find out why other businesses are on board.