Technology continues to increase the opportunities and volume of collaboration within, among, and across teams and organizations. A study conducted by Microsoft indicates that employees participate on nearly twice the number of teams they did five years ago (Microsoft: US Information Worker Survey, 2009 and 2014).
Team dynamics are also changing. Teams today comprise a mix of employees and outside vendors. They have members who work remotely due to travel or due to living in other geographies. And consider that for the first time we have four generations of workers working alongside each other, and that have different expectations of the tools they use to communicate and collaborate. The acceleration in the amount of collaboration, and the diversity of the scenarios for why and how to collaborate, make it more important than ever that companies have the right tools for today's needs and to prepare for future needs as well.
The focus of the Office 365 Partner Community in December is Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a digital translation of an open office space, and offers companies the opportunity to create a more open, digital environment that can meet the evolving needs of collaboration. Using Microsoft Teams, companies can foster easy connection and conversation that helps people build relationships, and improve the visibility, integration, and accessibility of work across the team, so everyone involved can stay on top of what's happening and contribute effectively.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in Microsoft Office 365, a hub for teamwork that is extensible and customizable for the information a team needs. Microsoft Teams is flexible for file storage, chats, calls, meetings, and private and group messages. Customers can rely on the same security, privacy, transparency, and support that comes with Office 365 and help ensure privacy for sensitive information and documents while collaborating.
With Microsoft Teams, there's one place for a team's communications. All team members can see and contribute to the team's chat, and to chat history to recall past discussions and decisions. Private chats can be created for small group conversations with one, a few, or many people for when a conversation needs to be held separately. You can receive Skype for Business chat messages on Microsoft Teams and from the Meetings icon, and join scheduled Skype Meetings on your calendar. Tabs provide instant access to frequently used documents and cloud services like Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Planner. Teams will be soon be able to take advantage of services and bots that allow members to explore data and take quick actions. Integration with Connectors will provide updates from services like Twitter, Dynamics CRM Online, Visual Studio Team Services, and GitHub.
Microsoft Teams: Step-by-step intro for using, enabling, and managing the experience
How is Microsoft Teams different from Office 365 Groups?
Microsoft recognizes that there is not one collaboration tool or service that universally meets the needs of our customers. Unique situations, workstyles, functional roles and workforce diversity call for different collaboration solutions. As I previously noted, teams are diverse, and because of this, some may use all Office 365 collaboration solutions or just one or two of these apps to collaborate.
It's important to understand that an Office 365 Group at its core is a service that provides cross-application *membership* and a set of shared team assets to other Office 365 services (email, calendar, SharePoint, OneNote and Planner) so the team can collaborate effectively using the different team services all team members have access to. Microsoft Teams is built upon Office 365 Groups and provides a new way to access the same shared assets then builds on that foundation adding Bots, Connectors, and access to additional services as the best solution for persistent chat among group/team members.
If you're the owner of an existing Microsoft Group, you can add Microsoft Teams to that group, rather than creating a new Microsoft Team. Your group members can use the existing SharePoint and OneNote within Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is customizable for the way different teams work, including publicly available APIs and bot frameworks. The inclusion of Microsoft Teams strengthens the value of the Office 365 commercial suites. Partners can upsell collaboration scenarios to their existing and new Office 365 customers and drive deployment of Office 365 workloads. There is an opportunity for consulting services to help customers define the use cases for Microsoft Teams.
If you're an ISV, App Builder, or developer partner, the Microsoft Teams Developer Preview lets you integrate apps with Microsoft Teams through tabs, bots, and connectors. Use the Microsoft Teams APIs to make your solution offering work natively with Microsoft Teams. Using bots, you can create a chat experience that lets teams engage with your service via queries and quick actions. With a connector, you can send notifications in channels so teams can easily get updates from your service.
Community call about Microsoft Teams on Thursday, December 1
Microsoft Teams is an exciting addition to Office 365 and to your partner business. Join me on the December 1 community call for an overview of Microsoft Teams and to get answers to your questions. You can also reach out to me on the Office 365 Partners Yammer group. In December, take a look at the US Partner Enablement blog for posts about partner benefits and how to add Microsoft Teams to your practice.