In March of this year, we transitioned our team of over 170 staff to working from home and in doing so, accelerated our need to upgrade our collaboration tools. A move from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams was already on the horizon, and therefore it was the “obvious choice” for a collaboration tool.

So, what is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is an application that creates a modern digital-workspace hub. Teams eradicates the need to switch between applications and provides a common workspace. Put simply, it is a portal for communications and collaboration.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has become the perfect proving ground for the implementation of Teams, and 10 weeks after it went live at blueAPACHE, there is no better opportunity to put together a list of all the benefits we’ve witnessed so far.

 

1.  Meetings have finally become virtual

Meetings are truly virtual in Teams, allowing for any participant to see each other, share screens, show whiteboards, or raise their hands. With ‘single click to join’, you can quickly join meetings using almost any device, whether it be a PC, Mac, web browser, mobile device or tablet.

 

2. Collaboration and sharing content

Collaborating with Teams is more than just sharing files, you can work on the same file at the same time or screen share and work together. You can also use the video functionality to share a whiteboard, keeping meeting notes that are available to the participants of the collaborative team.

 

3. Accessing your data wherever you are on any device – securely

Teams harnesses the power of the Microsoft Office 365 platform and it’s advanced security measures including multi-factor authentication, encrypted calls, inheriting permissions and security groups from SharePoint online. The platform links with Active Directory which allows Teams to encrypt all data via the internet, all through a single application.

 

4. Internal video/audio calls

One of the major features of Teams is the ability to call with audio and video one to one. Which has been particularly beneficial in keeping our remote team connected over the past 10 weeks.

 

5. Add in PSTN Phone Calls

With Teams Direct Routing, you can allow Teams to replace your PABX/unified communications system that integrates to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). This allows for a modern phone-solution that follows the user wherever they work. You can even bring your existing phone numbers, make business calls and most likely save money on your existing phone system and phone calls.

 

6. Simplify SharePoint

Teams allows you to work within SharePoint without the standard SharePoint experience, allowing all the governance, file security and permissions to be in force, but via the Teams interface. This extends the benefits of SharePoint whilst providing a modern digital workspace.

 

7. Continuous updates

Already this year we have seen many updates and new additions of features and functionality. The user interface has also continued to be improved, with often multiple updates within a single issue. You don’t need to upgrade anything; Teams is updated for you automatically. No IT resources required.

 

8. All you need is internet access

With Teams you get global accessibility with any internet access, no VPNs or dedicated WAN services required.

 

9. Instant messaging and breaking the formal email barrier

The evolution of instant messaging/chat functionality has quickly absorbed up to 80% of what was communicated previously via email. Allowing dialogue to pick up where it left off, with context and scrollable history. I think most people would agree that using collaboration tools to avoid email communication is both more efficient and more enjoyable for users.

 

10. Federation

Federation is the means to interconnect with people and other businesses externally, from one system to another. Teams allows you to talk directly with other Teams users, if your organisation permits this. This means that you can start and continue a chat with any Teams user via Federation. Taking this further a chat can be escalated to a voice call (via VoIP) to that federated user without any PSTN calls. Also allowing you to escalate to a video call via the same method. Federation also allows screen sharing which provides a perfect ad-hoc collaboration experience. There are also third-party connectors for allowing federation with Slack or WebEx to Teams.

 

11. Integrate your business with workflow apps and processes

Teams allows businesses to automate processes and bring them into the application to initiate or view results. You can also integrate with the Microsoft standard applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Power BI. Teams bots can be developed to integrate other stand-alone databases and sets of data to create a useful and interactive interface within Teams.

 

12. Integration with other platforms and services

Teams cannot do it all and it does not try to, however it does try to be the one platform where all your staff work from each day for most tasks. This can be extended to include third party integrations including Cisco WebEx, Zoom and Ring Central, JIRA, ServiceNow, Zoho, Survey tools, Freehand (advanced whiteboard), RingCentral meetings, charting apps, Translator, mind mapping apps, task and ToDo apps, scrum apps, Microsoft Dynamics, employee engagement tools, HowTo/training tools (CoreView), digital signing tools, and more. If there is a web interface for an existing business web application or portal, it can also be integrated straight into Teams.

 

13. You probably already have the licenses

If you have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription you potentially already have basic access to many of the benefits of the Teams platform. You can therefore take advantage of these features without adding additional expenses and in some cases even replace other expensive services.

 

Where blueAPACHE fits in

As technology enablers, we are passionate about establishing a workforce for the future, not just for our own team but for our clients as well, delivering secure and efficient access to business applications, wherever staff are located.

Teams is one application that may help your organisation move towards a modern workplace, if you would like assistance adopting Microsoft Teams, or would like to know what solutions would best suit your business, speak to one of our expert consultants today by contacting us here.

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