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        Microsoft Teams Aims to Dominate Digital Communications

        The hybrid work model is being adopted as the standard for organizations after the pandemic unveiled the weak foundation of conventional business operations. More workers are now performing tasks both in the office and remotely. This, however, can lead to disorganized communication between peers. Workers feel secluded from each other. Additionally, existing methods and tools for collaboration and communication have not been effective in addressing more pressing work demands. Organizations need to consider if their current communications system is meeting the needs of their workforce, what we call digital communications. Microsoft’s communications platform, Microsoft Teams, aims to connect workers to foster collaboration, regardless of their work location.

        VR_Digital_Biz_2022_Coverage_Logo-1Microsoft Teams is a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) that allows correspondence through conferencing and collaboration using an integrated set of applications and services from Microsoft and complemented through its partners. Teams not only provides video conferencing but enables engagement when presenting PowerPoint Live by allowing attendees to interact with slides at their own pace. Workers can also contribute ideas in real time by writing annotations on content being shared with what Microsoft calls Collaborative Annotation. Microsoft Teams Phone allows users to make, answer and forward calls along with the ability to transfer calls between desktop and mobile applications with endpoint transfer as well as a real-time transcription feature. To support collaboration, it provides the ability to create channels and sub-channels, and with private spaces can be made for workers in specific teams or projects to collaborate and share files in one place using its own underlying Microsoft SharePoint infrastructure. Files from the Microsoft 365 application suite can be opened within Teams, and several third-party applications can also be integrated.

        Microsoft aims to address disjointed workflow, especially in hybrid workplace environments. The current workforce is now operating in multiple locations across multiple time zones, which can lead to a block in communication between on-site and remote workers. With Microsoft Teams, organizations have the option to create a digital workspace that can facilitate discussion and participation within the hybrid workforce. A cloud-based platform, Microsoft Teams operates on its own cloud environment, called Microsoft Azure, and supports continued business operations without interruptions. The use of a seamless UCaaS platform can lead to the modernization of an organization’s communication methods in a secure and governed manner.

        VR_2022_Digital_Communications_Assertion_3_SquareThe requirements for supporting the resilience of the workforce have already demonstrated the importance of environments like Microsoft Teams. To maintain business operations, organizations must prioritize implementing a digital communications platform that will meet enterprise requirements. Our research finds that by 2025, two-thirds of organizations will realize that enterprise-wide digital communications do not satisfy workforce expectations, resulting in decreased productivity and worker engagement.

        Advancing digital transformation initiatives can provide the workforce with the tools it needs to avoid inadequate work management but also must be focused on modernizing digital and work experiences. Microsoft Teams can unify communication and collaboration into one easily accessible platform. For example, onboarding is streamlined and accelerated due to the ability to join meetings or share files rapidly, especially if an organization is already using Microsoft or Office 365. Collaboration across external users is also possible by sharing channels, allowing workers from several organizations to meet and work together in one place. Microsoft Teams addresses security with granular controls and information protection, and organizations can assign administrators to manage privacy settings for shared Teams devices to protect sensitive information. Microsoft Teams can be subscribed to separately or with Microsoft 365’s application suite. The option to use the application suite can be beneficial to organizations who wish to unify their UCaaS platform across all departments. By using a single service, communication is simplified, and productivity will increase with the elimination of time spent on transferring information between different software. Security gaps will also be eliminated as files are shared in one application suite. Microsoft’s focus on offering a unified communication platform under the current hybrid work environment expands the use of their productivity applications. Workers can now communicate with each other in real time, for any reason, from their computer or mobile device, whether they are in the office or not.

        Microsoft Teams has become a natural extension of Microsoft Windows computing environments and Office 365 and is now widely available in a business suite called Microsoft 365. Microsoft’s challenge, however, is the lack of ease in using Teams in non-Microsoft environments across mobile devices as well as Apple Macintosh-based environments. This limits the opportunity to establish a critical level of workforce readiness which is facilitated by Microsoft Teams by providing unified digital communications that operate from the computer to mobile devices. Organizations that are already using Microsoft Office and its existing portfolio of productivity software will find Microsoft Teams can easily integrate with their current computing approaches. Those that are using collaborative and communications products from Google, Slack or others might find challenges in the integration or migration to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is the unified digital communications technology that has now become a robust enterprise offering that has routine updates and improvements and should be examined to determine how it can meet any organization’s communications requirements.

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