Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | November 02, 2016 |


Microsoft Shoots to Perfect 'Art Form of Teams'

Microsoft Shoots to Perfect 'Art Form of Teams' Officially takes the wraps off its much-anticipated team collaboration tool, showing deep integration with the Office 365 platform and touting enterprise capabilities.

Officially takes the wraps off its much-anticipated team collaboration tool, showing deep integration with the Office 365 platform and touting enterprise capabilities.

It's official. Microsoft is now in the team collaboration game, having formally unveiled its much-anticipated chat-based workspace for Office 365 at a briefing this morning in New York.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced Microsoft Teams, calling it digital forum in which "people can come together ... to have casual conversations, work on content, and create work plans" in an integrated, unified experience.

"Just like Outlook brought together email, contacts, [and] calendar [into one experience] that changed how we work, Microsoft Teams will bring together chat, meetings, notes, Office, Planner, Power BI, and a host of other ecosystem-developed extensions and applications to help teams get work done," he said.

Nadella proclaimed teamwork an "art form," and in case he hadn't made Microsoft's stance on the importance of teams clear enough, he reiterated, "We envision Microsoft Teams as a key member of the Office 365 platform to transform the art of teams."

Kirk Koenigsbauer, Office corporate VP at Microsoft, added his perspective, too, before launching into product details. "With Microsoft Teams, we see an opportunity to create a more open, more fluid, more digital environment," he said, suggesting that we think about Microsoft Teams "as a digital transformation of an open office space environment."


Such an environment, Koenigsbauer continued, is "one that offers easy connections and conversations, and helps people build relationships, ... makes work visible, integrated, and accessible across a team, so that everyone can stay in the know, ... and helps build a team culture that's both fun and inclusive, so that everyone has a voice." (And, yes, on that latter point, he does mean to suggest that Teams users can load up their conversations with all the memes, stickers, GIFs, and emojis that they like).

Teams builds on four key promises to support collaborative work, Koenigsbauer said.

Chat -- Microsoft Teams supports persistent and threaded chats, and conversations are visible to the entire team by default, although a private discussion mode is available, too. Microsoft has integrated Skype with Teams, enabling click-to-participate in voice and video conferences. And, as I mentioned above, all that fun stuff that allows for personalities to shine through are supported, as well.

Teamwork Hub -- This is where Office 365 really comes into play, with the Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, and Delve) all built into Teams so information is at the ready, right within the Teams workspace, to use as needed. Microsoft Graph runs behind the scenes, for the surfacing of information and intelligence within workspaces. And, Teams is built on Office 365 Groups, which means users will be able to "move naturally from one collaboration tool to another, preserve their sense of context, and [easily] share information with others," Koenigsbauer said.


Customizable -- With a nod to the uniqueness of every team, Teams is highly customizable, and Microsoft will be supporting "rich extensibility and open APIs," he said. Using a Tabs convention, Teams members can set up quick access to frequently used documents and cloud services, including those outside the Microsoft realm. Toward that end, Teams includes support for the Microsoft Bot Framework, for third-party integrations.

Trusted Environment -- To satisfy enterprise security and compliance mandates, Teams encrypts data in transit and at rest, and, Koenigsbauer added, "like all our commercial services, we have a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data." In addition, Teams will support key EU, U.S., and other compliance regulations. And, of course, it's served out of the hyper-scale Azure cloud, automatically provisioned within Office 365 and managed centrally.

Accenture CIO Andrew Wilson, who was one of a trio of IT executives on hand for the unveiling, said he thinks about Teams as a "digital cockpit" for its hundreds of thousands of consultants already working in highly collaborative teams. "Office 365 powers the digital worker, and yet the enterprise needs persistent chat," he said.

"Teams is the digital cockpit at the heart of O365 -- nicely secure, nicely integrated with things teams are already familiar with but now building together persistently in a real-time way," Wilson added. "It's this cockpit that is going to change the team experience."

Enterprises that want to try out Teams can do so in preview mode starting today, as long as they meet eligibility requirements. It is available to Office 365 commercial customers with one of the following plans: Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3, and E5 (as well as to enterprises that bought E4 prior to its retirement," Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

Teams will be ready for general availability in first-quarter 2017, said Koenigsbauer, noting that a preview program is also open for developers and that the company expects to have more than 150 integrations from more than 150 partners as of GA. These include integrations from early partners Asana, Hootsuite, Intercom, and Zendesk.

And, because I can't resist as a lifelong Cubbies fan, I'll share one last bit of perspective from Koenigsbauer: "To win the World Series, you need great pitching, great hitting, great defense, and a great manager. In this same way, Microsoft provides a universal toolkit to help teams achieve more."

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter and Google+!
Beth Schultz on Google+


April 25, 2018

Yesterdays simple phone call to a contact center or business location is rapidly becoming todays interactive session, spanning multiple channels and devices. If you need to know how Omnichannel can

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.