Microsoft Teams has been heavily marketed as the next big communication tool for businesses, but what is it? Is it not just Whatsapp? Well, in short, no – and I’ll explain why now.
The biggest difference between Whatsapp and Microsoft Teams is that, although both have the functionality to “chat” in groups, Teams provides a “workspace” to access other areas of your day-to-day working lives. Imagine this scenario: You come into work first thing in the morning, after pouring yourself a coffee and making small-talk with the new apprentice whose name you can’t remember, you sit down at your desk ready to work and what do you do? You open Outlook to check your emails, you might open your line-of-business application to check any orders that need processing or access the shared drive to work on a document and then potentially you have some project or task management software that you need, too. Sound familiar? What about if you could do this all from one place? That’s what Teams has the capability of providing.
Although we love email (do we?), there has definitely been an “uprising” in the chat space over recent years. You may have heard of, or even be using, products like “Slack”, “HipChat”, whom Slack have actually partnered with (Coincidence? I think not), or even Whatsapp to communicate at work. Email isn’t quite *quick* enough and having the ability to read through a thread is easier on the eye. So, what is different with Microsoft Teams?
Well, firstly, it is controlled by the organisation which means a “Team Owner” can add or remove people from a Team to give them access to the chat. If that “Team Owner” leaves the organisation, the Administrator can change the Team Owner easily without having to recreate the whole Team – this obviously isn’t how Whatsapp works with its autocratic “Group Admin” function.
Furthermore, you can create “Channels” within a Team, which allow you to direct traffic in a more streamlined way for relevant collaboration and removes the day-to-day dilution that can happen if you don’t check the chat for six hours. Combine these features with the ability to subscribe to certain channels to control your notifications, Teams becomes a powerful and relevant communication tool in a distracting world of “pings”. Setting these up for our clients is an important part of our Managed IT Services.
If you have had the pleasure of working with OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online, you will know how user-friendly and easy they are to use. However, there can be some confusion about the “best practice” when sharing files or whether to sync your SharePoint Library with OneDrive(?!). Fear no more, Teams allows you to connect directly into OneDrive/SharePoint Online (as well as other services such as Dropbox and Google Drive) and even edit those files live within the Teams app.
You can quickly add a line onto a Word document or add a table into Excel through one single pane of glass. Can Whatsapp do that? Hell no. You can then create conversations directly around those files so you can track changes easily and collaborate more effectively than ever. Did I also say that you can also collaborate with other users on a single file and see the changes in front of your eyes? Oh yeah.
The fun doesn’t stop there. So, you are able to talk to your colleagues and you can collaborate on files together but what about that PowerBI dashboard you always use? Or what about that website you always have open? Well, you can add these into Teams too.
There are hundreds of other apps that can be added to this one lens to improve your productivity and efficiency. You can have the same experience both on your computer (either web-based or application) and phone via an app.
Conferencing & Video Calls
We’ve all used Skype, right? Some of you may have even used Skype for Business. Well, Teams is replacing Skype for Business and for good reason – you can schedule meetings, host conference calls and partake in video calls from your phone or computer (Mac or PC). You can also record your meeting to play them back for absent employees or training – a great feature.
We are loving Microsoft Teams and it is one of our most used applications (soon to become the most users) and this is only the beginning! If Whatsapp is driving you mad or you want to improve communication and collaboration around your business, then Teams is the market leader and we only see it going one-way. Get in touch if you’re interested in improving your small business by using Microsoft Teams; you won’t regret it!