Following a highly successful preview, Microsoft Corporation has announced the general availability of Microsoft Teams, the company’s new chat-based workspace in Office 365. More than 100 new features have been introduced since the November preview, and Teams is now available to Office 365 business customers in 181 countries and 19 languages.
Teams, which is deeply integrated with Office 365, brings people, chat and content into a highly flexible and collaborative digital workspace. Regardless of where people are physically located, Teams ensures they are always in the know.
Since November, when Teams was first made available in preview, more than 50,000 organisations worldwide have started to use it. In Australia, it has been pioneered by organisations as diverse as Amicus, Blackmores, Objective Corporation, Readify and RSL Queensland.
“In a world where information is abundant and human time and attention remain scarce, we aspire to help people and groups of people be more productive, wherever they are,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Office 365 is the broadest platform and universal toolkit for creation, collaboration and communication. Today we are adding a new tool to Office 365 with Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”
Office 365 is designed to meet the unique workstyle of every group with purpose-built, integrated applications. These include Outlook for enterprise-grade email; SharePoint for intelligent content management; Yammer for networking across the organisation; Skype for Business as the backbone of enterprise voice and video; and now, Microsoft Teams.
Sharon Schoenborn, Office Business Group lead for Microsoft Australia, says, “We are helping people achieve more by giving them the best tools for any moment.”
Ms Schoenborn explains why Teams is proving so popular. “We are working in twice as many teams as we were just five years ago, and today 80 per cent of our work is collaborative in nature.
“We commissioned a survey of employees in this region, which reveals that people want a more flexible workspace, and the tools to support that.”
Three-quarters of survey respondents said that work-life integration was important to them, but only a third felt that they were truly empowered to do their work.
Apart from better hardware, people who participated in the survey said they would benefit most from tools that supported mobile access to information and real-time collaboration.
Ms Schoenborn says that is exactly what Teams delivers. “Microsoft Teams is deeply integrated with Office 365 and all the rich productivity and collaboration capabilities that delivers,” she says. “We’re reinventing productivity by digitally transforming the workplace itself and delivering coherence around ideas, actions and values.
“Everyone is kept informed, everybody’s voice is heard, and the culture of the organisation is sustained in the digital as well as the physical workplace.”
- A hub for teamwork – a single place where work gets done. A place to chat, start a video call, access services such as Word, Excel, SharePoint, OneNote and Power BI, so people have all the information and tools they need
- Chat for today’s teams – threaded, persistent chat means everyone is engaged and in the know. Team conversations are visible by default to the entire team, but with the option of private or 1:1 chats. Teams also now supports audio and video calling on mobile. For extra engagement, people can express themselves with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes
- Rich customisation – every team is unique, so we’ve made it easy for teams to customise their workspace with tabs, connectors and bots from third-party partners as well as familiar Microsoft tools like Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. More than 150 integrations are available or coming soon, and SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ are building on the platform
- Security and compliance – Microsoft understands the IT security and compliance needs of even the largest and most highly regulated organisations better than anyone. Teams is built on the hyper-scale, enterprise-grade Office 365 cloud, delivering the advanced security compliance capabilities our customers expect. Teams supports global standards including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001 and HIPAA.
More than 50,000 organisations have been using Teams since the preview was unveiled in November. In the most active of these organisations, the number of people using Microsoft Teams has been growing by 30 per cent each month and messaging usage doubling every two months.
Australian enterprises have been particularly enthusiastic Teams users. For example:
- Workplace specialist Amicus understands that where we work can affect the quality of our work and wellbeing. And that holds true for both physical and digital workspaces. As an early adopter of Microsoft Teams, Amicus’s CFO and CTO, Ghafur Barchia, says that while the firm has a built-in bias in favour of communication and collaboration, and a highly mobile and flexible workforce, Teams injects extra accountability and rigour into the digital workplace. This is particularly important for the highly diverse multidisciplinary teams that contribute to Amicus’s success.
- Australia’s leading natural health company, Blackmores, has rolled out Office 365 to six countries in Asia so that its 1,000-strong workforce is now on one cloud platform. This delivers genuine transparency across the business. It’s IT team is also using Microsoft Teams to manage work across multiple projects, supporting the technology transformation initiative being led by CIO Brett Winn. Andrew Grech, head of IT operations for Blackmores, says the tight integration of Office 365 and Microsoft Teams means that when a group is working on a project, everyone is assured that the most current artefacts and content are available immediately. “The benefit we’re seeing from the collaboration on Office 365 is huge,” Grech says. “We’re able to work as one team in real time, helping us reach decisions quicker and drive engagement and connection within the business.”
- Sydney-based, ASX-listed software developer Objective Corporation has been using Microsoft Teams as a secure ideation platform for one of its key design teams. Led by senior product manager Angus McDonald, the group brings together business analysts and usability experts to map out innovations for Objective’s enterprise content management (ECM) system. Through Planner, Teams gives the group access to a Kanban board to steer its discussion, and persistent chat provides all the content needed to support and streamline the design process.
- Globally successful applications development and software consulting business Readify, a wholly owned subsidiary of Telstra, is a highly distributed business. Its people are based in offices or on-site with clients in multiple cities around Australia. Office 365 has proven an ideal platform for structured sharing, and now Microsoft Teams is taking that into a new realm. Stephen Godbold, marketing director and CDO, says Teams establishes a rich digital workspace where people can hold the back-and-forth conversations that are central to a project’s success. It’s already proved a valuable tool in marketing, and Teams is now being applied to shared Power BI dashboards used by Readify leaders to measure business performance. This enables leaders to securely discuss and share reports in a Teams workspace in the same way they would in a physical meeting room.
- RSL Queensland is engaged in a digital transformation initiative leveraging Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure – a critical first step to support broader business transformation plans, while enhancing services for members. Initially, the transformation will support more than 200 staff members across Queensland. Ultimately, it is intended as a national platform for the RSL, to be made available to the thousands of people working and volunteering for the RSL across Australia. Led by CIO Simon Button, a key element of the transformation is a refresh of the National Lotteries system that attracts hundreds of thousands of players each year and funds many member services. Button is using Microsoft Teams to create a digital workspace for the team engaged in that project. Teams encrypts all data, either at rest or in transit, and provides a rich platform for communications, collaboration and in-context content, which spurred Button to retire Slack.
Additional features of Microsoft Teams available from today include:
- an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities
- mobile audio calling, with video calling now available on Android and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone
- email integration
- new security and compliance capabilities.
The company has also delivered new features to make Microsoft Teams accessible, such as support for screen readers, high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. Guest access capabilities, deeper integration with Outlook and a richer developer platform are targeted for June of this year. For more details on the new features, go to the Office Blog.
Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
Microsoft New World of Work Study
Microsoft commissioned an independent study of more than 4,000 respondents in 14 markets in Asia to better understand workplace shifts in the new world of work. The study included 311 respondents from Australia who were full-time or part-time employees.