Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive chat and collaboration platform that significantly enhances the capabilities of organizations with its flexibility and convenience. Users can share files and calendars, edit collaboratively in real-time and seamlessly switch between voice, video and text chat. While Microsoft Teams is available for anyone with a Microsoft email ID, Office 365 subscribers can extract the maximum benefits of the application because of its integration with other Microsoft offerings. With Skype for Business headed for sundown and Slack making rapid strides, Teams might be the perfect replacement for the former with its strong security features and ability to create groups.
What is Microsoft Teams?
In the simplest of terms, Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that allows team members to work together and streamline communications with provisions for chat rooms and group chats. With threaded conversations and the ability to switch from text to call and video chats with a single click, Microsoft Teams is a convenient tool for efficient communication.
Microsoft is rapidly augmenting the capabilities of the Teams application and is integrating it tightly with the Office 365 suite. Apart from allowing access to applications like SharePoint, PowerPoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Word, Excel and Delve from the Teams user interface (UI), it is also possible to edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations stored on OneDrive collaboratively within Teams.
Microsoft Teams users can also get updates and content from external applications like Twitter, Trello, Wunderlist, GitHub, and Azure DevOps Services in their Teams channels. Channels can be customized to integrate applications with the API framework support of Microsoft Teams. The application even supports bots for interacting with services like managing tasks, polling, and scheduling within the chat interface.
What are the Core Capabilities of Microsoft Teams?
As a versatile communication platform that is integrated with the robust Office 365 suite, Teams not only improves the conversation experience but also enables organizations to convert chats and other interactions into information assets. Below are some features that distinguish Microsoft Teams from an average standalone communications platform.
High-Quality Meeting Experience
Microsoft Teams supports online meetings consisting of up to 10000 people with high-quality audio, video and screen sharing options. These capabilities are further bolstered with features like scheduling assistance, note-taking, meeting recording and instant messaging. Interestingly, there is an element of artificial intelligence involved in making online meetings more effective by providing context to conversations.
Phone System Integration
Microsoft Teams supports a full calling facility with the integration of the cloud-based PBX system with call control in the Office 365 environment. Now users can create custom groups comprising of colleagues who can receive calls from a share number. Users have all the features of a regular phone call such as call hold, call redirect and ringtone customization within Microsoft Teams. The Microsoft Phone System is available as default or as an add on depending upon the Office 365 subscription. Organizations can purchase Calling Plans or Direct Routing for enabling the system.
Microsoft Teams is compatible with laptops, mobiles and tablets. More importantly, Microsoft has partnered with equipment manufacturers to optimize their devices and peripherals for better compatibility with Teams and suit different environments. From speakers for Microsoft Teams Rooms to customized phones and cameras for desks and noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones, there are devices to make communication efficient with Teams.
Instant Messaging Redefined
Microsoft Teams takes instant messaging to a whole new level. The Microsoft Teams app is available for all devices including Android, iOS, and Windows. So, users get the same experience on Microsoft Teams for Mac as on the Windows version. An important feature of Microsoft Teams for instant messaging is the ability to integrate with email and reduce the size of email threads with quick chats.
Enhance Teams Capabilities
Microsoft Teams allows integration of business solutions offered by Microsoft and its partners. These applications can be appended to Microsoft Teams for enhancing its capabilities. Additionally, subscribers can build and integrate their own customized applications as well with the Teams API. With the capacity to build applications on the platform along with the ability to add extensions and tabs, Microsoft Teams is a truly extensible platform.
Employees First Approach
Microsoft Teams is built for employees. It is particularly well suited for first-line employees who might need assistance on-the-go with training materials, resources, and peer support to complete tasks. With full chat support, streamlined channels and calling capabilities, Teams empowers employees to drive better engagement. Admins, on the other hand, can deploy policies to control access based on roles.
Designed for Industries
Certain industries have specific requirements for their communication platforms. The healthcare industry specifically, has stringent requirements. With Microsoft Teams, healthcare professionals have a simple but secure mechanism to meet present-day challenges. Information via messages and images are securely transmitted. Electronic health records can be accessed through Office 365 apps from a centralized hub. Workflows shifts and other organization-wide announcements can be updated on Microsoft Teams.
Advanced Security and Compliance Features
Teams is a secure application platform that inherits the enterprise-level security and compliance features of the Office 365 suite. The identities of users are protected with Azure Active Directory. With features like data loss prevention, information barriers, retention policies, eDiscovery, legal hold, among others, organizations get complete control over their information. It is compliant with recognized regional, national and industry-specific regulations like ISO 27001, HIPAA. SOC 2 and the EU Model Clauses. With simplified security and transparency, it is easy for admins to implement and monitor the platform.
Why Microsoft Teams is Better Than Other Collaboration Tools?
From an end-user perspective, Microsoft Teams is a tool that is designed to provide a single interface for communication and collaboration thereby reducing the dependence on emails and other services for sharing files and data. The application is itself built with simplicity as the top priority.
It is easy for the infrastructure team to roll out the service. While it does require a fair bit of planning, managing the workload is not particularly challenging if the application is rolled out in stages. Microsoft recommends organizations to adopt Teams in stages with the rollout of chat, teams, channels, and apps followed by meetings and conferences and voice capabilities in that order.
Admins can monitor the health and quality of the Microsoft Teams environment and plan for new functionality with insights from centralized portals. The day-to-day tasks and activities of Microsoft Teams service management can include monitoring service and network quality, managing endpoints and organizational change, evaluate usage and user sentiment among others. These tasks can be performed using different tools like Office 365 portal, Office 365 Admin app, Microsoft Service Center and Office 365 Service Communications API.
Plans and Pricing of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is available as a freemium application. The base version can be used by any individual or organization with a Microsoft email ID. While the core functionalities are the same across the free version and the various Office 365 subscriptions, the difference lies in the number of users, phone system support, and compliance features. Among the Office 365 subscriptions, Teams is available with Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business Premium, Microsoft 365 for business, Office 365 Enterprise E1, Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 Enterprise E5 and the corresponding Microsoft Enterprise plans.
The free version allows a maximum of 300 members per organization with a file storage space of 2 GB/user and 10 GB of shared storage. It lacks in many other capabilities such as meetings scheduling and recording, audio conferencing and admin tools for managing and reporting. With the paid versions, there can be potentially unlimited users with enterprise licenses, a file storage limit of 1 TB/user apart from the ability to schedule and record meetings. Admin tools provide a convenient method for enforcing policies and maintaining compliance. Office 365 Business plans start at $5.00 per user/month and stretch up to $57.50 per user/month for the Microsoft 365 E5 enterprise plan.
Microsoft Teams – More Than Just a Chat Tool
By now, it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out why Microsoft Teams is more of a hub for communication and collaboration rather than a simple chat tool. The implications of its extensibility extend to far beyond the basic capabilities of comparable chat applications. The ability to maintain a persistent chat along with documents open in other Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint gives Office 365 users unprecedented power and ease of use. Dedicated channels help keep conversations streamlined. Most importantly, the information transmitted via Microsoft Teams is safe, secure and available for discovery.
With Microsoft rapidly adding capabilities to the already powerful application, there cannot be a better time for your organization to migrate to Microsoft Teams. It is recommended that you subscribe to Office 365 for availing of all the features of the application. As a trusted Microsoft partner, Apps4Rent can help you set up Microsoft Teams along with the rest of the applications that are a part of the Office 365 suite. Our engineers provide free support over phone, email and chat round the clock once you are on board. Reach out to us to know more.
Also Read: Why Microsoft Teams is Better than Slack