In my last two blogs, I introduced readers to a new way of thinking about communications, with the advent of cloud collaboration. I spoke about how telephony has become a part of a wider communication strategy — one that also incorporates collaboration tools, as well as voice in the cloud.
The changes in the way we collaborate and communicate are being driven by a need to work across regions and borders in a seamless manner. We no longer just work with colleagues in our own department but extend that collaboration to staff and teams in various departments, and across regions and countries.
For example, in the 1990s the vast majority of office work was done by people sitting by themselves in a cubicle. Take that forward, office walls are being removed and there is a significant shift towards team work that crosses multiple boundaries – location, time zone, function, business, age, nationality, and culture.
What we are seeing is organisations having the ability to replicate the way they work in a virtual world. Let me explain by using a typical ‘meeting’ as an example.
In the real world, we walk into the meeting room and people bring out different insights and data points. Someone brings out an Excel spreadsheet; someone else may bring in a business intelligent dashboard or even a customer relationship management system to show different data points to debate and solve the problem.
However, during that meeting, you may stop mid-way. One person may need to have a side conversation with someone else in the room, to accelerate the meeting and solve the situation a lot quicker than what is happening in the meeting. They take that side conversation out of the room and then bring their findings back to the team.
With Microsoft Teams, we virtually replicate this scenario and bring multiple different data points, whether it’s Microsoft platforms or third-party, into a single window.
If we want to have those side conversations we can move outside of the team and have a one-to-one or one-to-few chats, and then bring those chats back in. Then if we want to escalate that to a phone call to someone outside of our team, we can do that via voice capability. Or have a more direct one-to-one conversation over email.
Once the meeting has concluded and a solution has been decided, it can then be shared with everyone in the organisation that needs to see the results, via apps like Yammer. The meeting attendees can take those findings and publish into Yammer for a much broader community to view — almost like a notice board type scenario — and then everyone can understand exactly the results that have come from the collaboration.
The tools that we have put together are nothing new — all of this is a representation of how workers have been doing things for years — we’ve just elevated it to create a digital hub that brings together conversations, content, voice, video, and apps all in one place.
And that really is the essence of Microsoft Teams; we’re bringing together real-time communication of telephony, video, and so on to persistent chat environments, and integrating tightly the content workflow from first-party Microsoft, along with third-party applications so it’s “always on” and you can always see the context that’s coming through.
Microsoft Teams also reflects how workers are doing business, how they’re communicating, and how they’re collaborating. They don’t have to wade through mounds of different data and information points to come to the same conclusion. It gives them the ability to see it in a logical flow and understand how the conversations have gone.
This change in working culture is reflected in the evolution of Microsoft Office into Office 365 and Microsoft 365, because we saw the need for people to communicate and collaborate in non-linear ways. Office 365 has evolved to be a platform that enables people to create together, rather than alone, and to do that in real time with individual and conference calling via Skype for Business.