In March 2017, Microsoft rolled out Teams, a chat-based workspace available for free through Office 365.

In doing so, the company tackled head-on the booming market for group messaging applications. Slack has led that market in a space that includes Google (of course), Facebook, Cisco, and others.

Now, Microsoft Teams is doing to Slack what Microsoft Azure has been doing to AWS in the cloud computing space: overtaking the market leader and setting a new standard for business collaboration.

According to a study by the IT website Spiceworks, “The rise in use of Microsoft Teams is likely influenced by the fact that it’s available at no additional cost to Office 365 users. And considering more than half of businesses use Office 365, it’s enticing organizations to give Teams a try.”

Indeed, Teams recently knocked Slack out of the number two spot. Spiceworks again:

“Today, 21 percent of businesses are using Microsoft Teams, up from 3 percent in 2016. Its competitor Slack now holds the number three spot with 15 percent of businesses using it, up from 13 percent in 2016.” (Number one is Skype for Business.)

“Teams is yet another reason that PC Professional is an official partner of Microsoft in deploying and managing enterprise-level computing and networking services for our clients,” said Dan Sanguinetti, the founder, president, and CEO of PC Professional.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the key features of Microsoft Teams.

Get the Message

For all the popularity of group messaging and collaboration apps, email remains the communications medium of choice for most businesses.

But for collaboration, email is cumbersome to say the least, and risky as well — 92% of cyberattacks come through email. But the technology is tried and true, and it’s everywhere. So no one expects messaging apps to replace email entirely.

Nonetheless, companies are beginning to see the value of chat apps to supplement email. According to researchers, smaller enterprises in particular are more likely to make chat apps a larger part of their collaboration mix.

Microsoft Teams includes messaging, but it’s way more than that. It’s a unified communications platform that combines chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration. It integrates with Office 365 and features extensions that can integrate with non-Microsoft products.

It’s a “digital translation of an open office space,” as one Microsoft spokesperson put it.

Microsoft TeamsMeet the Team

Online meetings are a staple of office communications. With Teams you can host audio, video, and web conferences both inside and outside your organization. Features like scheduling, note taking, desktop and file sharing, and chat messaging are built in.

You can create live events — webinars, all-hands meetings, and presentations — with up to 10,000 participants both inside and outside the company. Microsoft partners with Logitech, Lenovo, HP, and many others to create Teams Rooms that participants can join with one click.

Make the Call

Teams enables call control and PBX capabilities within Office 365, effectively replacing your onsite telephone systems. You can monitor and report on your voice systems within Office 365 as well.

But you don’t have to replace everything, or anything. The Direct Routing feature lets you integrate with your existing local telecom provider or third-party systems (e.g. call centers), so you don’t have to dump your major investments in these systems.

In addition, Teams integrates with a wide range of third-party devices, from desk phones and headsets to room and conference phones. Even cameras.

Integrate Apps and People

Not everyone works in the office, or at a desktop. People work from anywhere and everywhere on their phones and tablets.

You can extend Microsoft Teams through a wide range of productivity, communications, and other mobile apps. Teams apps are available through both the Apple and Google Play stores, or you can develop your own and make them available to the world, or just your own company, through the Teams AppSource.

Many Teams apps are familiar ones that you know. But some are specific to Teams.

With Shifts, for example, managers can plan and create shift schedules, and team members can review their schedules and request changes. All of this happens in real time.

The Praise app is your employee recognition tool. With Praise you can praise team members, celebrate successes, and foster camaraderie — in short, build your team.

Build Your Teams

If you already use Microsoft Office 365, then Teams is a natural addition to your company’s software infrastructure. And with most versions of Office 365, Teams comes at no additional cost.

As an official Microsoft partner, PC Professional is an expert in Teams as well as Office 365.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation to see how we can help Microsoft Teams work for your company.

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