Microsoft Teams was only officially released in March this year, and the product team continues to add features at a rate of knots – which is great for users.
Playing Nice with Others
While Teams is designed to be an all-encompassing interface and solution, Microsoft know that customers may already have third-party solutions or would potentially take them up. While Microsoft makes some great software, sometimes customers want something else – and Microsoft is okay with that.
When Teams launched in March, it already supported some third-party application services, but it still required users to store their documents in Document Libraries inside of the Office 365 Groups that Teams sit on top of.
In late June, that changed when Teams began supporting some of the big names in cloud file storage: Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox, and Google Drive. This is fantastic news for those organizations and teams that have invested in third-party file storage and sharing platforms as now they don’t need to migrate all of their content and learn SharePoint just to use Teams.
Mobile Team Member FTW!
When Teams launched the preview in November 2016, they covered all angles: web, desktop, and all mobile platforms (even Windows 10 Mobile!!). The experience was limited at first, however has been improved thanks to an update for iOS and Android back in July.
The mobile experience borrows heavily from Skype for Business, allowing mobile users to easily join private and channel meetings, as well as make 1:1 audio and video calls from the mobile app.
There’s also now tab support in the mobile apps, as well as the ability to view and edit Office files.
If you think about this, it all makes sense – the mobile user should not be a second-class citizen to the desktop user. In Teams, users work with a higher velocity than traditional applications like Outlook and Skype for Business. This is due largely to the team chat aspect and the ability to escalate conversations around files into full blown video conferences. Users on the road don’t want to feel left out of conversations, so making a feature-rich mobile experience ensures that all users are relatively equal and can continue their teamwork flow regardless of location or device.
Something Old, Something New
For a long time in Outlook, users have had the ability to directly schedule a meeting with Skype for Business, but what happens if you’re using both Outlook and Teams? This is a fairly common scenario, as not everyone can give up email overnight. What this add-in to Outlook allows is for organisations that don’t use Skype for Business or are using a mixture of Office 365 technologies – so it bridges the gap between legacy communication mediums, such as Outlook, and modern tools like Teams.
It is important to note that when scheduling a Team meeting in Outlook, it is a direct interaction between you and the attendees – it doesn’t connect to a channel. If you want the meeting to be in a channel then it will have to be organized from within the Teams app.
Also, as Teams doesn’t support external users yet, you need to be mindful that you only invite people from your organization. If you want someone external in the meeting, then Skype for Business is your friend.
Keep the Admins Happy
Because Teams caters for integration with external applications, it is more attractive for users and organizations that have investment in third-party applications but still want to use Teams as the main interface.
However, think about it a different way. If you were an administrator, would you want your users seeing the ability to add apps into tabs and going off to discover what they are? In this cloud world “shadow IT” is even more pervasive.
Early this month, the Teams team (yep, that’s what happens when product names are words) introduced controls that allow admins to block all or some third-party apps. This includes connectors and bots – so IT admins can sleep better at night knowing that they have given their users choice in terms of tools within Office 365, but not too much choice that they can wander off into the clouds and get lost.
Microsoft Ignite is coming up around the corner, so check out my sessions on Groups and Teams as well as some of the others I’ll be delivering. You can access them easily from my Microsoft Ignite speaker profile.