If you have read my previous blog posts, you’ve probably noticed I am a bit of a Microsoft groupie. In fact, if it were announced that Satya Nadella was coming to speak at a conference near me, I would be camped outside the venue in a sleeping bag waiting to be one of the first in line. In my opinion, Nadella promotes his vision with strong clarity and grace. He has the future dialed in, and I for one am sitting up, taking notice, and taking notes. With his guidance, Microsoft’s mission to help people do more all started with Skype, which eventually transformed into Teams. And I’d like to take a deep dive into what Teams has become.
In October 2020, Microsoft held its fiscal Q2 earnings call. Nadella and his CFO, Amy Hood, delivered a powerful message that Microsoft had blown away Amazon cloud services by 14 billion dollars in yearly earnings! On the heels of that message, they introduced this company mantra: “Thecloud should be modeled on what customers need to succeed today, not on some arcane and industry-driven acronyms from 10–15 years ago.”
The reason Microsoft is the top cloud vendor is due in part to Satya Nadella’s vision. His view of how Microsoft lives and grows into the “digital estates” of customers places Microsoft at the set point (if this were tennis) in the cloud game. I want to point out a few of the focused growth areas Satya drew on regarding the task of touching “the digital estate of every customer.”
- Azure as the world’s computer: Announcing seven new data center regions in Asia, Europe, and Latin America and adding support for top-secret classified workloads in the United States.
- Hybrid computing: “Accelerating innovation to meet customers where they are.”
- Data governance: “End-to-end view of an organization’s data estate across on-premises, multi-cloud and SaaS apps that previously was impossible.”
- Teams Growth: drove the demand for Microsoft 365 up 28% over the previous year.
As it happens, Microsoft has begun taking up a good portion of my own digital estate. When I use my Microsoft products and connected apps every day, I am reminded that the Office 365 of yesterday has mutated into a seemingly robotic, bionic right arm for me in my work.
I used to log in to my computer, open my Outlook, and clean through the requests, meeting invitations, and sent files to review. Then I would have to move to my storage files, find the proper folders, or open a new window to set a meeting. It was disjointed, and if I forgot where I saved something, it could be a while before I retrieved it.
So, what do I mean about a robotic right arm? With Teams, I no longer must jump to several separate locations to get a job done. My work is all done within one platform. So before you start with me about the complexity of Teams, consider this. Teams integrates, not only all the Office suite of products and applications, but it also works with other apps located in the gallery in Teams. But that isn’t all! I know, I am starting to sound like an infomercial. Still, there are six useful features in Teams that I truly believe make my work life easier:
- Presenters are now able to see the meeting chat while still in presenter mode. I was in a meeting a few weeks ago, and the presenter commented that since he was presenting the material and sharing his screen, he couldn’t see the chat for questions. Microsoft has now updated their sharing feature, so you can see who is chatting. Not only that, but there are also completely new meeting settings that allow you to disable chat during a meeting. I like this feature for one main reason: no more blue bubbles popping up while I am trying to watch what is being shared. Another new feature is an update to the presenter view. You no longer must bring in a PowerPoint deck, hold it in your tray, and then share that screen. You can pull it directly from Teams! Watch this new tutorial for more info.
- Teams meetings can now be set as your default meeting type. When you set your default meetings app as Teams, you no longer have to add a meeting from a dropdown. It is already aligned to work directly from Outlook.
- Noise suppression settings are now available in Teams. One of the biggest adaptations I have noticed during the work from home shift is our acceptance of each other’s family life. We recognize there are members of our family with us as we work. The formal work/life boundary has been altered. For example, I was in the middle of recording a podcast in December about the Top 3 Tips and Tricks of Microsoft Teams. During the recording, my co-panelist was talking about her favorite Teams features, when a delivery driver arrived at her front door, setting her dog barking. She tried to carry on and continue talking, but her dog was too thrilled to have a visitor. If only Teams had released their noise suppression settings a couple months earlier! Now if anyone’s dog or family member gets a little rambunctious during a Teams call, we can use the feature to return peace and quiet. Just look for “noise suppression” in the Settings bar under Devices.
- Mobile Teams apps allow you to continue meetings from anywhere. Another feature that makes my work life run smoothly is that I can access Teams across all my devices. True story—I was on my way back from an appointment, and was invited to an impromptu work meeting. Being away from my desk, I previously would have had to miss that meeting. But now since I have Teams on my iPhone, I was able to join the call from my car, and when I got to back to my office, I transferred the meeting on my phone to my laptop. It was seamless, and I was able to stay in the loop on an important project.
- 5-minute warning. Speaking of meetings, I tend to ramble or even go off topic. When I am in a meeting, Teams is now able to alert me when there are 5 minutes left to the scheduled time. It will not close the call, but it tells you that there’s 5 minutes left. Nice feature for us chatty people!
- Teams Agenda is here. A handy new addition to keep us on task is the agenda feature. You have a view of all your upcoming meetings for the day or week—depending on view. You can copy an invite from an upcoming meeting and share with others to join. I no longer have to exit Teams, open Outlook, and open the calendar to find a meeting. It can all be accessed in Teams. Do you see the pattern here? The days of using 3 or 4 separate products to collaborate, chat, consult etc. are gone.
When I started using Teams as the replacement to Skype, I liked its meetings and chat features. But now Teams has evolved so much that I can’t imagine using it for just meetings anymore! For more information on the newest features of Teams, be sure to check out Microsoft’s Teams blog. It’s updated regularly with information on new products and how each feature works. And for any questions you have, be sure to reach out to one of our Microsoft Specialists here at Connection. They’re ready to work with you work to determine how best to align Microsoft 365 and its portfolio to your needs.