Microsoft Teams Capabilities Continue to Expand

Today, Microsoft announced several enhancements to its Teams product, calling it "the biggest single release of new functionality since Teams launched last March."

None of the capabilities announced focused on real-time communications or meetings. I'm not too surprised because I'm expecting Microsoft to save these announcements until March at Enterprise Connect 2018 in Orlando.

Instead, today's announcements focused on enhancing Teams as a "hub" that combines and exposes capabilities from other applications -- both Office 365 applications and many third-party applications -- and enabling "slash" (/) and "at" (@) commands to take quick actions and query and execute actions in other apps. Slash commands borrow ideas already incorporated in Slack, while @ commands seem to go further than what is possible today in Slack. With @commands, Microsoft says "you can search for information in an app, such as a news article or an image in Adobe Creative Cloud, and easily insert a specific result into a chat or channel conversation."

These enhancements continue to drive toward a future vision where Teams becomes the client interface in which most end-users spend their day. Currently many office workers "live" in the Outlook inbox and calendar. Teams is moving to support a possible collaboration and teams-based future, by enabling teams of many different types to launch Teams at the start of their day and continue accessing all they need to from within Teams until the end of their work day, including calls, meetings and instant messages.

Additionally, a newly announced "Who" application capability allows you to search for people within your organization based on name or topic area. This feature leverages the Office Graph, a specialized list of the content and people important to you based on your previous interactions.

And, an improved Teams app store makes it easier to discover applications you may want to embed into Teams, either for your own personal use or within a channel.

As has been predicted by myself and many of my wise colleagues, voice and other real-time communications are likely to become embedded directly into line of business applications. And indeed, in this future world Teams is creating, collaboration takes center stage, with voice communications relegated to simply one feature, a struggling actor playing a bit part. Further, line of business applications themselves also become embedded into Teams, alleviating the need to juggle separate communication stacks across separate applications.

Today's announcement seeks to move Teams further up the application stack, extending the idea that Teams aims to be both an overarching interactive interface and a workflow and collaboration platform.

My team and I help organizations predict and plan for the future, then deliver exceptional results in the present. Like, dislike, or want to respond to something above? Please comment below, send me a tweet @kkieller, or message me on LinkedIn. Better yet, register for Enterprise Connect 2018, then we can talk in person.

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