Microsoft Teams – Ready for your Business
Written by Rob Quickenden, Cisilion’s Chief Strategy Officer
August marked a major milestone for Microsoft and their hub for collaboration – Microsoft Teams.
After announcing a year ago that Skype for Business Online will eventually get replaced by Teams, Microsoft claims it has now managed to reach feature parity with Voice, Calling, Conferencing and Messaging with Skype for Business Online, and in many areas has surpassed that functionally.
“Fear of multiple disruptions and lack of parity”
Ever since the announcement, we have seen a lot of confusion in the market with many organisations pausing any move to Skype for Business Online as part of their Microsoft 365 journey in fear that if they migrated, they’d be forced to disrupt their users again when they have to move to Teams.
Another concern is that the feature parity just isn’t there, and many key enterprise features are missing from the voice services needed for a business to use Teams as their only Unified (sorry), Intelligent Communications environment.
“Teams is now a complete meeting and calling solution”
Microsoft now say that organisations looking to Skype for Business Online can now move with confidence to Teams, with them proudly stating that ‘Microsoft Teams is now a complete meeting and calling solution.’
While it’s still not clear exactly when Microsoft will require Skype for Business users to completely move across to Teams, organisations can now run their environment in co-existence mode, letting employees use both Teams and Skype side by side for now.
Lori Wright, General Manager for Microsoft Teams and Skype said that “We plan to continue to offer and support Skype for Business in Office 365 and Skype for Business Server on-premises.”
Microsoft’s Rapid Development
Over the past 12 months, Microsoft has added an immense number of enhancements and additional features to Teams to reach this feature parity, and the full roadmap for the transition can be found here.
In the last few months alone, Microsoft have released:
- Full Support for Skype Room Systems – with Surface Hub support in ‘preview’.
- Cloud Based Meeting recording with voice transcription services.
- Background Blur in video calls, in selected advanced preview, for increased privacy.
- Full Boss and delegate support, call queues, auto-attendant, consultative transfer, do-not-disturb breakthrough, the ability to forward a call to a group as well as out of office support.
- ‘Live events’ in Teams – for live broadcasting and town hall style announcements.
- Direct Routing enables you to bring your own telephone service to Teams, which along with Calling Plans provides choices for the way you consume and pay for voice / dial tone services within Teams.
Additionally, there are multiple improvements to the Chat / IM experience, including support for unified presence with Skype for Business, federated chat – though there is still work to be done to simplify this – and in-line language translation support.
“However, there’s still work to do…”
The Teams journey and pace of change isn’t going to slow down any time soon.
In my view, while the features may all be there, there is still some refinement to be made in some areas. Federated IM is still a bit clunky, you can’t pop-out or detach IM windows like you can in Skype and it’s still not possible to share your desktop or scribble on a notepad on a one-to-one chat basis.
I’m sure that by the time I publish this (okay, maybe not that soon), many of these will have been addressed. Fact is the development pace is rapid and product is by far the best Microsoft UC experience there is!
“More than 200,000 organisations are actively using Teams”
Microsoft state that it already has more than 200,000 organisations actively using Teams and they have seen a huge uptake in interest, pilot and even tenders where organisations now seem ready and trusting of Teams to take over their voice.
For enterprises wishing to remain with Skype for Business, Microsoft will also be releasing Skype for Business Server 2019 later this year. This is designed for larger enterprise not yet ready to move fully to Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Voice – be it due to wide area network constraints, personal preference or other technical and third-party interoperability dependencies. Skype for Business Server 2019 will be hybrid by default, leveraging key features of Microsoft Teams such as conferencing, call recording and live events/broadcast.
Contact us and #GetModern with Cisilion
We have been working with Microsoft Voice for nearly 10 years and have already helped tens of thousands of users move to Skype for Business and Teams at organisations including Willis Towers Watson, Kennedys and Lewisham Southwark College.
As a Microsoft Gold Communications Partner, with heritage in IP Telephony and Enterprise Networking, and a wide set of reference customers, we are already helping national and global organisations begin their Teams journey. We work closely with the Microsoft proven success framework and Fast Track to help organisations get ready, upgrade and manage the change, and adoption to Teams whether side-by-side with Skype for Business or through a fully transition to Teams.