What is Teams, Anyway?

Part of Office 365, Teams is an app that simplifies how work gets done by bringing together people, content and tools into one place, with anytime, anywhere collaboration. Teams is the future of Microsoft’s intelligent communications vision, which aims to “transform calling and meeting experiences” while “enabling you to complete tasks more efficiently with minimal context switching, participate in more productive meetings that cover the entire meeting lifecycle, and better manage your everyday communications overload.”*

The Basics of Teams

To best understand Microsoft Teams, it’s important to begin by understanding how it’s structured. In its simplest form, the app is divided into teams and channels. There can be many channels in a team, which help organize the topics that are discussed within each team. For example, a team of Sales employees may have a channel for their Quarterly Business Review, a channel for their Sales Playbook and a channel for Insights. Each channel can house conversations, files, notes, connectors and tabs (more on those later) that relate specifically to the topic. .

Above: How Microsoft Teams is organized within the platform. Image c/o Microsoft.

As you’re getting started with Teams, it’s useful to think about how it will be used in your organization. Teams is especially helpful at promoting cross-functional collaboration, since it provides users with a place to share information across department lines. For example, you may have a team for your Annual Charity Event. Within it, you could have a channel for volunteers, a channel for event logistics, and a channel for marketing. People from your Operations, Public Relations and Finance departments may all need to be a part of this team. Now that they have a place to share information, they’ll be able to collaborate on different topics that pertain to the planning and execution of your event, while never missing a conversation thanks to the built-in persistent chat.

How Teams Works

Microsoft Teams is built on existing Microsoft technologies, woven together by Office 365 Groups, leveraging identities stored in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). When you create a team, it will automatically create an Office 365 Group, a SharePoint Online site with document storage, and an to store information such as meeting invites. Alternately, you can create a team from an existing Office 365 group, making it easy to link your existing group memberships and content to Teams.

In addition to all the native capabilities of Teams, you can extend its impact by integrating your favorite Microsoft and third-party apps into tabs in the dashboard. Displayed in an iframe hosted in Teams, the information is instantly accessible in the very same window in which your users are already interacting. Choices range from other Office 365 services like PowerBI and OneNote to Zendesk, Asana, Jira Cloud, SmartSheet and SurveyMonkey (among others). More advanced integrations can occur through the use of Office 365 Connectors, which push an app’s rich content into Teams to connect services like Trello, GitHub, or even Twitter, and get notified of the team’s activity in that service.

Pro Tip!

While you’re preparing for your Teams launch, make sure that it is deactivated in the Office 365 Admin Center so users can’t accidentally log in.

The Move from Skype for Business to Teams

As part of Microsoft’s vision for the future, they’re integrating Skype for Business capabilities into Teams to create an intelligent communications platform that offers a single, unified experience. Running on the same Azure-based cloud services as Skype for Business, Teams provides the ability to host meetings or ad-hoc calls directly within the platform. Over time, Skype for Business will be phased out and Teams will become the core communications client for enterprise clients in Office 365.

No need to worry right now – Microsoft understands that it takes time for organizations to adapt, and are not yet publicly releasing end of life dates for Skype for Business. However, this makes it the perfect time to begin learning what Teams has to offer and how you can best integrate it into your infrastructure plans. As one of Microsoft’s top global partners, we’re here to guide your journey.

Join our webinar on May 2 to learn the best ways to manage data, user access and security features in Microsoft Teams.

If you’d like to speak with a local expert about Teams or the changes to Skype for Business, please fill out the form below.


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