An Overview of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a unified communications platform that combines workplace chat, video conferencing, file storage and a host of application integration abilities. Teams launched in the fall of 2017 and a free version of the platform was made available the following year, helping Microsoft surpass their competitor Slack in total number of active users. Here we will take a look at some of Team’s most prominent features to understand why it’s become the preferred choice in workplace collaboration.

Intelligent Communications

Since its launch MS Teams has gradually added a number communications tools to enable greater collaboration. This was an area where Slack previously had an edge, but Teams has gained ground and in some ways surpassed them. Cloud based meetings support larger calls of up to 250 participants, while MS Teams Live Events support a whopping 10,000! There’s also a Meeting Lobby feature, which allows hosts to pre-qualify callers before they join. Additionally, federated chat capabilities permit cross corporate border meetings, which is particularly helpful when multiple organizations are collaborating on a specific project. What’s more messaging in Teams supports in-line translation, allowing participants to converse in their native language. Updates to both meetings and messaging will be especially useful when working with an offshore team in an agile development cycle.

Drive Collaboration with Channels

Teams are made up of channels, which are conversations within the app dedicated to specific topics, departments or projects. Channels also functions as means to connect users to files and tools, making it easier for users to access all necessary documents and information. Where channels is perhaps most effective is that it allows for cross-organizational collaboration between different departments. No more back and forth long email chains! With Channels, you can be assured that all involved parties have a quick, efficient mechanism to access relevant info independent of their inbox.

Integration by Adding Connectors

Connecters allow users to link 3rd party software. To do so, you will simply have to authorize and approve the connection, since the application and Teams will be directly interfaced. Services like Trello, GitHub and even social platforms like Twitter can be integrated so that users can receive notifications about team members’ activity on those platforms.  Connectors allows for a great deal of customization for advanced users as well: A function called Actionable Messages allows users to complete tasks directly within the app. Combined with Channels, Connectors can open the door for a level of streamlined collaboration that frankly is difficult to execute with less sophisticated applications and processes.

The beauty of Microsoft Teams is that all of the above features (and more) can be combined in various ways to create a business process that works for your organization or project. Being tightly integrated with Office 365, Teams ultimately functions as a top-down view of various platforms like Exchange (Mailboxes, Messaging, Calendars), and SharePoint. There’s a high level of customization, and the frequent updates are continuing to push the envelope in terms of collaboration.

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