Microsoft announced Microsoft Teams to the public as a direct competitor to Slack on November 2, 2016. Fast forward two years, and Teams came out as the breakout performer for Microsoft Fiscal Year 2018 with more than 14 million active users.
By October 2018, Microsoft Teams had incorporated all Skype for Business Online features and functionality into Teams. Teams now supports all messaging, meeting, and calling needs on Skype for Business Online. Also, Microsoft recently announced that they are retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021.
With Teams gaining popularity and Skype for Business going end of life in 2021, you get a sense from the market that the late majority of adoption has started. Perhaps this is the right time to talk about my experience as a late adopter. By the time I started using Teams, it had all chat, call, and meeting functionalities of Skype for Business. Here are some thoughts I’ve had as I adapt to using Teams for collaboration with my colleagues.
New Chat Functionality
The short-lived chat experience on Skype for Business was so discrete. On Teams, the individual chat stays in the app, giving a sense that a permanent communication channel has been open between you and your collaborator. The persistent chat experience creates a pathway for ongoing collaboration. It provides a feeling that the collaborators are sitting across the worktable from you, even when you are miles or continents apart from them. One complaint I had for Teams was that it does not allow you to separate individual chat windows on the desktop as Skype allows. Recently at their annual conference, Ignite, Microsoft announced that they are adding functionality to Teams that will enable you to pop out individual chats—I am definitely looking forward to that.
Calls and Meetings
I noticed the enhanced quality in VoIP calls on Teams as soon as I migrated my calls from Skype for Business. Setting up meetings on Teams was very intuitive. Teams has its own Calendar app that is in sync with my Outlook Calendar. I could set up a meeting right from Teams without having to leave the app and go to Outlook and come back. Also, Microsoft Teams pop-up windows notify you a few minutes before a meeting; this is extremely useful to me since this allows me to be on time for my team meetings. I also like the lobby system that enables existing callers to allow external participants to join the call. The other thing that I really liked about the call experience is the ability within Teams to select individual apps rather than selecting your entire screen—this way, I don’t have to worry about people seeing my messy desktop. Overall, Microsoft Teams gives a very satisfying call and meeting experience.
Productivity and Collaboration Tools
Improved chat and meeting experience are great, but what makes the Teams user experience exceptional is the productivity and collaboration apps that wrap around the chat, call, and meeting components. This is where you start to see the power of Office 365 and Teams combination. I was delighted to see that I can open and edit files right from Teams. This way you don’t have to go out of Teams to work on your recent Office 365, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. With the help of OneDrive and SharePoint, the collaboration on documents with your Team feels seamless. Also, you can integrate a lot of other apps, such as Microsoft Planner, to Teams. Teams also allows you to add many external apps for your various productivity needs. At Ignite, Microsoft also announced a Task tab in Teams, which I think will be essential enhancement to the productivity component of Teams.
Making Teams My New Home
I can see myself breaking away from email and making Teams my work hub. Teams is transforming the way I collaborate, and it is also transforming the work culture, making it less formal—yet more productive. I am looking forward to learning more about Teams every day and to helping more colleagues adopt Teams.