5 Reasons why Teams is Microsoft’s favourite child

John Grennan

Microsoft Teams isn’t new but there still remains some confusion as to what it actually is and how it can help improve workplace productivity. Is it just another chat app? Is it an upgrade of Microsoft Skype for Business? Microsoft Teams is so much more than just another chat app and while having some of the same functionality of Skype, it’s an entirely independent application. Teams is an extremely powerful application that’s designed for the modern business to enhance teamwork through enriched collaboration and communication. As it’s an entirely new application built from the ground up it doesn’t come with the many legacy issues of existing Microsoft applications. Here are my 5 reasons why Teams is Microsoft’s favourite child;

1. Not Just a Slack Killer

Microsoft Teams has a similar look and feel to Slack however, under the hood it has plenty of additional features and functionality that sets it apart. Both applications are classed as office collaboration platforms that are designed to enhance overall productivity. Slack is geared at individuals and very small businesses while Teams is geared for both small business and large enterprises. Teams can run as a stand-alone application however, the real power behind Teams is how it works seamlessly with Microsoft’s Office 365 Productivity Suite and seeing as most business now run Office 365, Teams would appear to be winning the race as the collaboration application of choice for businesses. The comparison chart below gives you a better idea of what you get with the free and paid subscriptions of both applications. It should also be noted that Teams comes bundled as part of your Office 365 subscription.

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2. More than Skype

Skype for Business in its various forms has been around for more than eighteen years and has been the communication app of choice for millions. Both Skype and Teams are Microsoft products and not directly in competition with one another. Microsoft describes Teams as “expanding on the capabilities of Skype for Business by bringing together files, chats and apps in an integrated app, with functionality that enables organisations to move faster and collaborate more efficiently”. There’s debate as to whether Microsoft Teams will totally replace Skype for Business. I think is becoming more likely that this will happen however, not in the very near future. There are two editions of Skype for Business, Server and Online with the Skype for Business Online scheduled to be retired in July 2021. While Microsoft have not indicated whether they will retire Skype for Business in its entirety and support for the current edition will run until 2024, they are however, strongly advising customers to migrate to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft will continue to grow Teams as part of the Office 365 ecosystem with many more apps and integrations, while Skype will likely get no more than light functional updates. That said, Skype for Business has many loyal users that Microsoft don’t want to lose and therefore the transition will be a gradual one.  

3. Apps and Integrations

One of the most powerful features of Teams is its extensive array of apps and integrations. Microsoft have built the Teams Appstore from the ground up where you can download a wide variety of apps across many categories including, file sharing, project management, business intelligence, marketing, finance, productivity, collaboration and more. The Appstore also allows you to view apps by industry including health, education, financial services, retail, manufacturing and more. Slack has a head start in terms of the volume of apps available, however when you take into account how relatively new Teams is, its seamless integration with the 365 Productivity Suite and a push from Microsoft to encourage developers to build apps for Teams, it’s only a matter of time before Teams overtakes Slack in this regard.

4. Telecoms Integration

Phone System is Microsoft’s technology for enabling call control and PBX capabilities in Office 365 with Microsoft Teams. IT.ie’s partner IP Telecom have introduced Telecom4Teams that allows companies to communicate better by unifying all the features of Microsoft Teams with their IP Telecom phone system. As they explain, “most companies that are running Teams are also running a traditional phone system or VoIP/ Cloud PBX in tandem”. Telecom4Teams is a gamechanger that allows a company that’s running Teams to use IP Telecom Hosted PBX to route internal and external calls to their clients. Traditional phone systems are gradually being resigned to history and given Teams integration with a host of available VoIP solutions, businesses are quickly seeing the benefits of unified communication as part of the overall Teams and Microsoft Office 365 package.

5. Video Conferencing and Audio Bridge

At the heart of Microsoft teams is its usability in terms of Video and Audio Teleconferencing. Meetings can be scheduled with anyone that has a valid email address and who can join a Teams meeting via their web browser. Sharing of content and collaboration during a meeting is very simple owing to the seamless integration with the Office 365 Productivity Suite. Video/Audio meetings and notes can also be recorded and shared after the meeting has concluded, to allow for further collaboration beyond the live meetings. How often do you turn off the camera in a video conference or meeting so as not to display your messy office background to meeting participants? With background blur in Teams, you can ensure that only the meeting participant is visible blurring out distracting backgrounds. Teams also works great with large interactive boardroom displays. Boardrooms should be clutter free and at IT.ie we advocate for the lean boardroom where the meeting is the focus of the attendant’s attention, with no requirement for clunky conferencing devices on tables.  Keep boardrooms lean and clutter free #Itsallonthewall

Unified Communications

While some might disagree, there’s really no substitute for Office 365 and given how Teams was built from the ground up to integrate seamlessly with Office 365, you can understand why its Microsoft’s new favourite child. Communication and collaboration are at the heart of the modern business and Teams is continually expanding ways to do this via integrations with Microsoft and third-party apps. AI Chatbots are fast becoming a mainstay of online interactions and Teams also integrates with a host of leading chatbots. You can also create custom bots for Teams using the Microsoft Bot Framework. If you are one of the more than 120 million users of Office 365, then Teams must be your tool of choice for internal and external communication and collaboration. Skype for Business is coming to the end of its life cycle and while still a valuable tool to many loyal users, you can expect Microsoft to throw everything at Teams over the coming years as they grow the Office 365 ecosystem to encompass almost every business process you can imagine.