Impacting Business Outcomes with Microsoft Teams – Getting Started


Introduction:

After a successful rollout of Microsoft Teams using the assets and resources in Success with Teams, it's now time to start thinking about the amazing capabilities in the tool that enables the online service to be a platform from which organizations can build impactful solutions that drives the organization towards a specific business outcome or goal. As a result, organizations using Microsoft Teams can transform not only how business is conducted, but other areas of the business can also be influenced by this technology, such as:

  • Employees' productivity as a result of streamlined business processes, thus impacting morale
  • Recruitment of future employees
  • Reduction in tools needed on a daily basis
  • Better collaboration among workers that span multiple floors, buildings, cities, and countries.
  • Single pane of glass for project teams to collaborate, store and organize information
  • Faster response to internal and external customers, increasing satisfaction
  • Many more!

Microsoft Teams, already has built-in capabilities that enable a fantastic collaborative experience using chat, SharePoint and other Office 365 features. When Apps, Connectors, Extensions and Bots within Microsoft Teams are added to that experience, the end user benefits tremendously.

The journey starts with the Overview of Microsoft Teams Developer Platform and Introducing the Microsoft Teams Developer Platform, to understand the differences between Tabs, Connectors, Extensions, Bots and Apps within Microsoft Teams and better understand the types of solutions that can be created:

Tabs: Easily pin Tabs to a Microsoft Teams channel, to quickly collaborate on a document, visibility to a PowerBI dashboard, Microsoft Planner, a team Business Review deck in PowerPoint, or take shared notes in OneNote. Tabs can be scoped for an entire team to view and collaborate on, or for an individual to have their own personalized view. For more information see Getting started with tabs for Microsoft Teams.

An excellent resource to help you with generating ideas for building Tabs in Microsoft Teams is Build a great tab for your Microsoft Teams app.

Figure 1: Example Tabs in Microsoft Teams

Bots: Interactive intelligent bots can assist end-users within Microsoft Teams to accomplish a task, faster and more efficient by automating the way that task is performed. This can be a bot that feeds in help desk tickets to a Microsoft Teams channel, querying information from an external system or simply asking for help. Bots created using the Microsoft Bot Framework is an excellent way to integrate a bot across Office 365, Cortana, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, etc. For an understanding of bots in Microsoft Teams, review Custom Bots and  Getting Started with Bots for Microsoft Teams. Another interesting development capability that pertains to bots is Notifying your users through the activity feed. This is exciting because personal messages can be sent to the feed to notify a user on the activity of your custom application.

To aid you in your understanding of Bots for Microsoft Teams, check out the Channel9 vide Build a great bot for your Microsoft Teams app

Figure 2: Example "T-Bot" in Microsoft Teams

Extensions: Insert content from a web service into a chat in Microsoft Teams, see Extensions for more information. What makes this really interesting is "Compose Extensions". A Compose Extension allows you to insert content into the conversation window when sending a message to an individual or team. This content can range from  reports, media content, workflows, etc. Check out Build a compose extension for your Microsoft Teams app video on Channel9 for more in-depth information.

Figure 3: Example Compose Extension

Connectors: Connectors allow you to input information (or content) into Microsoft Teams and notify a team channel. The sources can be an web application or service such as RSS feed, Trello, Wunderlist, Yammer, Twitter or GitHub or a custom application that you wrote. For more information see Connectors. A very exciting capability is leveraging the Microsoft Flow connector with Microsoft Teams to automate tasks and activities. For more information see Introducing the Microsoft Teams connector for Flow. In addition, Microsoft has provided example Flow templates for Microsoft Teams

Figure 4: Example Connectors in Microsoft Teams.

Apps: Apps within Microsoft Teams enable users to access applications individually or for an entire team, to boost collaboration or productivity. Examples include web bots, data visualization tools, help desk engagement, etc. Check out the Channel 9 vide Notify your users through your Microsoft Teams app for more information.

Figure 5: Example of Discovering Apps in Microsoft Teams

My Favorite Examples of using Microsoft Teams to Transform:

Developer:

  • An interesting and often popular use case of Microsoft Teams is within developer organizations to provide integration of developer tools within a single pane of glass, and never have to leave the service.  By doing so, developers  can streamline their daily tasks such as management of backlogs, closing bugs, run sample code within a tab, integration with GitHub, quality assurance, product roadmaps, integration with Visual Studio, etc.  For more information, check out the Channel 9 video (12 mins): Microsoft Teams Developer Tool Integrations

Education:

  • Microsoft Teams can be used in the education environment to provide assignments to students, persistent conversations within different channels for discussing class projects or homework assignments with peers, and integration with other Office products such as OneNote Class Notebooks and even having ad-hoc video calls between students and faculty. What's more is this can be done from any device, anywhere at anytime enabling flexibility. For more information, see the following blog post by Sam MNeill "Microsoft Teams for Education is Here - And It Is Awesome" and Microsoft Teams in Education.

Other Great Examples:

"Learn how D&B is empowering business-critical decisions by making information on more than 270M businesses available in Microsoft Teams, and through the D&B Business Solutions app in Excel."

"Join speakers from Adobe as they delve into how seamlessly and quickly they integrated Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud with Microsoft Teams. A live demo using tab and input extensions that enables teams to access, share and collaborate on assets from Adobe Creative Cloud, send and track Adobe Sign agreements using bot and tab, and get notified within the channel when there are any updates. Speakers dive into development details that includes how they leveraged Microsoft Teams extensibility framework, Adobe Creative Cloud API and Adobe Document Cloud API to build this integration."

"Microsoft Teams is new and exciting, however it is not obvious how to connect in legacy on-premises systems. In this Tech Talk, we will show how Sapho detects events in legacy systems including SAP ERP and Oracle EBS and turns the events into actionable cards in Microsoft Teams, as well as how users can query those systems with bot questions."

Wrap Up:

Now that you have an idea of how to get started developing for Microsoft Teams, the next step is to develop your book of dreams and determine what business challenges exist within your organization and brainstorm how a solution using Microsoft Teams can help to mitigate that challenge, or at the very least make life easier. Sound off in the comments below on your ideas and how you are developing for Microsoft Teams!

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