Did you know Microsoft Teams has over 270 million monthly active users? It is the most used and most advanced platform for work, and the only solution with meetings, calls, chats, collaboration, and business process automation all in the flow of work. It is the intersection where work, data, and business process come together.
For the past few years, Microsoft Teams has been a game-changer in both remote and hybrid work environments and with the recent announcements and updates (they have introduced over 450 new features in the past year alone!), it is easy to see Microsoft continues to come up with innovative ways to support employees in our ever-changing world.
Let’s start with the most recent updates from July’s Microsoft Inspire 2022:
Microsoft announced at Inspire 2022 their plans to incorporate the Live feature that has been available in PowerPoint since early this year into Excel. This will allow for real-time collaboration on Excel content within a Teams meeting. The feature will be live in public preview at the end of August and will let users share their Excel workbooks via the share tray thereby giving editing access to all meeting attendees directly from the meeting screen. Everyone editing the workbook can create their own custom views to sort and filter data using Sheet Views without disrupting anyone else’s view. Users also can set permissions and use the “Show Changes” feature to make sure edits were made during the meeting.
Another exciting announcement at Inspire was the addition of Video Clip to Teams. The Video Clip feature lets the user create, send, and view short videos as an alternative to sending out messages in the chat function for the times when text, emoji, or even gifs just won’t cut it. Users will see a small video icon in the chat box where they can record a message and edit the length, thereby saving the time of typing it out while also, in some cases, providing a better way convey the meaning of the message.
If you enable Annotation mode while sharing your desktop, users can now draw, type, and react on top of the content shared in a meeting! Powered by Microsoft Whiteboard, Collaborative Annotations is now generally available. Meeting attendees will see the Annotations toolbar giving them access to a rich toolset to add input and drive the discussion further, adding to the collaborative nature of Microsoft Teams.
Internal and external collaboration! Teams Connect is an ultra-modern and hybrid-friendly feature that allows organizations to collaborate in a channel or via chat without having to switch tenants. Teams Connect has been in preview since March, but several improvements were announced, as it is scheduled to move into general availability mid-August. Updates include an increase of shared channels from 50 to 200—with 200 Standard, 30 Private, and 200 shared per team—enhancement to the external user’s chat experiences now allowing for the use of emojis and gifs, enhanced admin reporting, better security, and app support for external users, as well as the functionality to create apps within shared channels for developers.
Chat with Self
You may have noticed yourself pinned to the top of your chats in Teams—I know I recently did! The Chat with Self feature was designed to give users a place to store notes, save drafts and files, even send themselves reminders or midweek motivational gifs. An easy way to stay organized and on top of your workload no matter where you are.
New Webinar Features
If you use Teams as your platform to host virtual trainings, webinars or customer meetings, some cool new features have been added to enhance the virtual meeting experience. Users can now set up internal or external webinars, can select up to 10 co-organizers, and can post information such as bio, headshot, and LinkedIn profile of speakers prior to the event. Taking a cue from Teams Live Events, you can also now incorporate a structured Q&A within your meeting allowing for attendees and speakers to interact more seamlessly in a moderator-based environment.
Now generally available, LinkedIn integration within Teams allows users to see contacts’ details on LinkedIn through calls, meetings, and chats—creating that interconnectivity that drives the hybrid work model.
Teams Chats within Dynamics 365
It is now possible to embed Teams chat within Dynamics 365, which will be especially helpful for salespeople to streamline workflow between the two platforms. Users can now link new and existing chats to Dynamics 365 records like sales opportunities and service records. This feature is currently in public preview but will be moving to general availability soon.
Live Share in Teams Meetings was announced at Microsoft Build in May and creates a collaborative environment that allows meeting participants to co-create, co-watch, and co-edit projects during the meeting, thereby extending the passive screen-sharing experience into a rich collaborative environment. Using the power of Fluid Framework, developers can now use new preview extensions to the Teams SDK to extend the Teams app and create Live Share experiences. Developers from Frame.io, Hexagon, Skillsoft, MakeCode, Accenture, Parabol, and Hexagon are early partners building Live Share experiences.
Although the work experience has changed significantly over the past few years, Microsoft continues to add both simple and complex features to its already robust repertoire of products and platforms—improving the user experience while seamlessly adapting to the ever-changing work model. As someone who has been using Teams since the very beginning, I can say with all honesty that it keeps getting better and better.
Have questions about Teams and the new features? Reach out to a Connection expert today.