Working with Microsoft Teams

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Remote working while maintaining engagement has always been a hot topic for companies and it’s a challenge that Microsoft has been putting a lot of investment into over recent years.  From a cloud-hosted Microsoft Office suite to video conferencing, they are placing bets that a working-from-home-culture would occur.  It looks like their bets have paid off.

Between February and March 2020 Microsoft Teams saw an uptake of 379% (from 39 million users to 187 million). Although much of this surge was associated with external factors, Microsoft offers one of the few products in the market that has been proven to cope with rapid scale.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Teams?

As most of us know, using Video Conferencing is an easier way to communicate.  Why send ten emails when you can have a five-minute meeting? But Microsoft knows better than to rely on providing a platform just for video calls.

Microsoft Teams and their competitors are driven by evolution and what this means for their next set of offerings. As such, they were quick to evolve from a video-only meeting platform to a suite of key communications tools that businesses need to thrive, just think about how often you use your calendar, chat, poll, notes and other ‘standard’ features.

Providing an integrated digital workplace for meetings, events and everything this entails is the ultimate goal for Microsoft. Their roadmap and recent feature rollout clearly show a strategy focused on delivering a seamless end-to-end experience, utilizing partners or other Microsoft products where Teams cannot handle the job alone.

Why does Microsoft Teams remain popular for businesses?

Despite competitive advances and the Zoom calls you might have been having with your relatives, Microsoft remains at the top of the list for video conferencing in the workplace.

This is almost certainly because of how well integrated it is with the rest of the tools we use on a day to day basis.  If you have your emails in Outlook then Teams meetings are just a click away.  SharePoint can embed recorded videos in your intranet and transcripts can now be exported to Word.

Microsoft’s “working with others” mentality isn’t just limited to its own services either, their third-party app support is huge so no matter what tools you use, it’s easier with Teams.  Options like creating JIRA tickets directly in a chat, or calling from Slack make it a one-click solution.  There are even apps that help make the most of home WiFi so the phrase “sorry, my internet dropped out then” is repeated a little less often.

Microsoft has the head start by already being part of our desktop apps so it remains to be seen whether alternative products will ever truly be able to knock them off the top spot. The key to Microsoft Teams staying where they are, is dedicating a huge amount of strategy, foresight and resource to improvements in both features and efficiency.

What features have appeared in the last 12 months?

There is no hiding from the fact that in 2020 the majority of the world was affected in some part by the Coronavirus pandemic. But out of struggle comes innovation and communication has always been key to the Teams product.

However, Microsoft is no longer the only large company in the market and with “Zoom” becoming synonymous with video calls. Microsoft has needed to innovate to make sure their product remains the best fit for businesses.

Some of their most favorable features now include:

  • Background noise suppression
  • Industry themed templates
  • Improved live captions
  • Addition of background filters
  • Increased meeting capacity

These are on top of a huge number of service tweaks, UI improvements and stability upgrades. One area of scrutiny for other products has always been security, a feature set that Microsoft has easily been able to overcome with access restricted to existing users in an already secure Office 365 suite.

Another interesting move from Microsoft was to make Teams free for a large part of 2020, again competing for market shares but also a huge advantage when it came to marketing. Seeing some of the world’s biggest companies turning to and continuing to use Microsoft through times of crisis gives the rest of us faith to keep on chatting through Teams.

Vbrick and Microsoft Teams Ideal Partners

Teams might already be part of the Office 365 suite but the pivot away from the Stream product means we need to find the best place to store and share our videos from video conferencing. This is where Vbrick and Microsoft have made a compelling case for augmenting Teams with Vbrick Rev, including:

  • Seamless user access to video content: Microsoft Teams users can easily search, browse and view Rev video on demand (VOD) content from within the Microsoft Teams client. Users can find and attend upcoming Rev Webcast Events from within the Microsoft Teams client. Additionally, users can easily share links to relevant Rev VOD content as part of chat conversations and can search, browse, view and upload new video content within SharePoint.
  • Greater control over creating and delivering video at scale: Users can use Microsoft Teams as the source, and stream to tens of thousands as a Rev Webcast Event. Users can also use Teams to record a live video call on the Rev platform, providing enhanced search and workflow capabilities. Users can also upload recorded videos directly to Rev.
  • Enhanced video experiences: Users will be able to receive notifications of key Rev activities as Microsoft Teams messages.  Additionally, Rev video approval workflows will soon also be managed directly via Microsoft Teams. Rev webcast chat, event polls and Q&A will also soon be delivered within Microsoft Teams

These enhancements are on top of the existing integration Vbrick has with Microsoft. It is easy to transition between Vbrick’s Rev portal and use Microsoft Teams as part of the wider video communications even with large audiences.

Expanding the Use of Video in Your Business

Everything Microsoft offers with Teams is a better way of communicating but how many online meetings have you joined where no one uses their camera or a dog can be heard in the background or someone arrives 10 minutes late?

Pairing products together drives a better way of using video such as being able to record sessions and present them directly in your online portal.  This saves hours of sharing video links, opting for communications via video in the first place and making video use easier to adopt both internally and externally.

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