Since its release in March 2017, Microsoft has been championing Microsoft Teams as the essential communication and team co-ordination program offered within their Microsoft Office 365 package. Since its initial release, we’ve seen Teams gradually develop, with frequent updates and new features, finally culminating in the most recent update that has seen Teams reveal its true role within the Microsoft family.
When Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella took to the stage during Microsoft Inspire 2018, Microsoft Teams was clearly a subject he was excited to discuss. Satya made sure to explain exactly why he was so excited about what Teams had achieved, explaining: “One of the things that Teams has done is create this user experience scaffolding, because it’s not just the communications or the messaging, but it’s all of the other artefacts that are required for us to collaborate.” Teams’ role as a “user experience scaffolding” is set to be even further expanded through the arrival of several new and effective enhancements, due in October this year:
Full out-of-the box AI integration for Microsoft Teams
Perhaps the most exciting of the upcoming updates for Teams announced during Inspire was that Teams will provide out-of-the-box AI integration capabilities to all users – an update with almost unlimited potential. Prior to this announcement, Microsoft Teams already offered an impressive level of integration with other AI-enabled Microsoft solutions, including Dynamics 365 and Office 365.
When it comes to the benefits AI integration for Teams could bring to a company, it really is only limited by the creativity of the user. Anyone using Microsoft Teams will be able to leverage automation intelligently to create reports, communications and other BAU processes within Microsoft Teams.
The new go-to meeting program
As more and more companies embrace the freedom provided by mobile technologies, meetings have moved away from office boardrooms and into cafes, trains and even people’s living rooms. Microsoft Teams is set to offer companies and individual users alike with a comprehensive virtual meeting platform, where multiple attendees can be invited to and join a meeting instantly and remotely from any device.
The AI automation potential also really shines through when using Teams in this way; calls can be automatically recorded and transcribed, making them invaluable reference points for key decision-making. Whilst this functionality is already impressive, Teams can even analyse the transcribed information and automatically pick out and assign key action points to employees based on what was discussed during a call.
Establishing Teams as the core communications hub
Microsoft’s long-term goal driving the ongoing development of Teams and what it can offer to its end users has always been the aim of establishing the program as the ‘core’ of a business’s communication hub. Whilst these latest updates are certain to promote interest in the product, Microsoft increasing its accessibility is certain to bring Teams a huge step closer to becoming a favourite for any company looking to modernise their communication system.
To increase this ease of access, Microsoft is providing Teams for free, to any organisation up to 300 members in size. This means that SMEs under this size will be able to take full advantage of Teams’ enhanced communication and automation functionality for free, providing companies with an effective collaboration and team management system to support and promote their growth and success.
What can we expect in the future?
Whilst the announcements regarding Teams made during Inspire 2018 were certainly significant, it’s only a small ripple in the ocean as regards the true potential of Microsoft Teams. Already, we’re seeing huge organisations such as the NHS adopting Teams as their communication system, which Satya made sure to highlight the significance of during his Corenote, stating:
“The NHS is using Teams to really coordinate [their activities]. They took Teams, built a whole bunch of templates which are specific to healthcare, and they’re now deploying this as a way to really drive down the cost of bed management and electronic medical records. Both are needed together in order to be able to make sure that the best patient outcomes are delivered.”
This example sets an exciting precedent for Teams’ potential to become the universal communications platform for businesses, charities and organisations alike. Providing unparalleled intelligent automation functionalities to everyone in this way represents a major step for Microsoft in achieving their vision of a truly connected digital world.