So, what is Microsoft Teams? Microsoft Teams, Office 365 chat is a messaging and collaboration app for teams. Originally called “Skype Teams” internally at Microsoft, it includes similar features found in Slack and Hipchat. For example, Microsoft Teams collaboration allows you to chat in different groups within a team, also known as chatting in “channels”, and provides a modern conversation experience for today’s team.
Mircosoft Teams fully integrates with Office 365 and it accommodates strict compliance regulations by including robust security features.
Like Slack, Teams is highly customizable, enabling developers to customize the tool to facilitate their organization's specific needs.
If you have an Office 365 Business or Enterprise plan, you can now use Microsoft Teams!
The business case for enterprise chat
Enterprise chat has been made popular with services likes Slack and Hipchat, which have been available since 2013. While those services are relatively new, they have received significant traction and have become popular with many organizations.
Technical organizations, such as software development firms, adopted technologies like Slack early and rapidly. Since then, enterprise chat has expanded it's reach.
So, what do people like about enterprise chat?
First, it is a new way to address communication and collaboration. It is meant as an alternative to email conversations and marries the power of instant messaging with the reliability of emails.
Imagine a place where you can find permanent listings of one-to-one and one-to-many conversations with your team. All of those conversations are indexed and searchable, with data flowing in and out from other systems. The founder of Slack, Steward Butterfield, said in WSJ that the ultimate goal of enterprise chat is to “minimize the use of email”.
Explaining the popularity of enterprise chat apps
So, what makes these applications so popular? Looking back at the last few years, the power of enterprise chat lays deeply in its ability to integrate with other applications. Examples of this include the ability to start an online meeting with your team, schedule a meeting, gather your thoughts, brainstorm, collaborate on documents, and gain visibility information (“signals”) from other systems.
For enterprises, however, these new applications have raised concerns regarding compliance and adherence to regulation. This is where I believe Microsoft may have a great advantage over comparitive startups.
What makes Microsoft Teams unique?
Microsoft is never first to a new market. We know this. While Microsoft likes to lead from behind, new services such has HipChat and Slack were clearly seen as threats to the Software giant. There were plenty of rumors this year that Microsoft wanted to buy Slack. Instead, they decided to build their own version (maybe the Yammer experience taught them something?).
The Microsoft Teams chat, unlike its competitors, is built on a foundation of the Microsoft cloud productivity platform -- Office 365. By leveraging Office 365, Microsoft could gain immediate trust and security, and meet many, if not all, compliance needs.
Also, it is a solution that can be deployed rapidly in an environment that many organizations are already familiar with. Microsoft Teams, Office 365 chat is included for everyone with a Business or Enterprise plan (about 85 million business users per the latest estimates).
From a feature approach, Microsoft has solved one of my biggest complaints with Slack: its lack of threading and context. Microsoft Teams chat includes a threaded conversation engine and provides built-in document management (through its deep integration with OneDrive and SharePoint). Like other systems, it integrates with dozens of cloud systems (through being built on top of the Office Groups framework). On day 1, it offers Bots functionality and ad-hoc calling and meeting access.
Lastly, Teams can be accessed from web browsers, Windows OS, and mobile applications.
How will Microsoft Teams impact the world?
For once, I am going to be bullish. I believe that Microsoft Teams will have a deep impact in the adoption of Office 365 and will democratize enterprise chat. This is one of the first applications that embodies Microsoft’s vision of using their cloud platform as a service.
Will people currently using Slack or HipChat consider moving to Teams? Time will tell but I am convinced that organizations using Office 365 will consider a move!
If you are considering moving to Office 365, Microsoft has given us one more reason to make the move.