Microsoft Teams has become a workplace staple over the past few years, connecting and empowering people during uncertain times. While many of us are familiar with all that it can already do, as with anything, there is always room to grow. In this blog, Modern Workplace Director Dan Coleby takes us through Microsoft’s release of new Teams and what it can do for you.
Microsoft Teams – we all love it, or at least, we all use it: 280 million of us use Teams every month to meet, chat and collaborate with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners.
Like other online meeting and communication tools, Microsoft Teams usage rose sharply during the early part of the COVID pandemic as workers across the world were forced to work from home permanently.
Three years on, the world of work has changed substantially and seemingly permanently. Most companies now operate in a hybrid environment, balancing remote working with in-person collaboration. We have come to rely heavily on the technology that enables this location-agnostic working.
Individuals have taken advantage of this new business culture and way of working to attain a better work-life balance, flexing their work around their personal and family lives while working from home, which means that not only are we working in a different location to our colleagues, but we might also be working at a different time to them.
Our digital collaboration tools therefore need to enable us to work synchronously as well as asynchronously with colleagues. This is where Teams really wins over other technologies that focus on meetings and calling: great for synchronous collaboration but not so good for asynchronous. On the other hand, in addition to great, embedded meeting and calling capability, Teams enables asynchronous chat, collaboration, co-authoring of documents, as well as benefitting from hundreds of apps from Microsoft and third parties, which can be added to enhance the functionality.
There was one problem with Teams though: it uses a lot of compute power. Many of us have struggled to hear what is happening in a meeting because the sound of our laptop cooling fan is drowning it out. For some users, this translated into poor performance of video and other meeting features.
Microsoft has listened to this user feedback and launched the new era of Teams: Teams, but faster, simpler, more flexible and smarter.
Teams is now twice as fast and will use half the system resources. Microsoft have overhauled the platform to focus on speed and performance of all aspects of Teams, whilst using less compute power.
As the user base of Teams expands, it becomes more diverse. At the same time, Microsoft wants to push more features to those users and so it has created enhancements to the core experience of Teams to make it easier to use and manage the content.
Microsoft’s identity and access management tools (Azure AD in particular) are market-leading and offer great security benefits as well as being easy to use. However, with Teams it’s often as important to collaborate closely with someone outside of your organisation than within it.
Indeed, if your business is acquisitive like we are at Content+Cloud, you may even have internal colleagues whose identity is managed in a separate tenant. With New Teams, Microsoft has improved the authentication model, as well as the synchronisation and notification systems to support improved, yet still secure, cross-tenant collaboration. Instead of logging in and out of different tenants and accounts, you can now stay signed in across them all, receiving notifications no matter which one you are currently using.
We are currently experiencing an explosion of AI capabilities. Teams has benefitted from many of these such as the intelligent recap of meetings and the capabilities of Copilot for Microsoft Teams. AI will drive efficiencies for all of us, and looks set to revolutionise the world of IT as much as the internet did in the mid-to-late ‘90s. New Teams is at the centre of this experience for its 280 million users and with the help of AI will become an even more invaluable tool for our daily work.