Microsoft Teams hails as one of the more recent members of the Microsoft platform roster. After the announcement of the platform’s pending release in late 2016, Team’s ironically received early fan fair from its natural competitor Slack who decided to publish a full-page ad in the New York Times simply titled “Dear Microsoft“. In satire fashion, Slack took shots at the Microsoft product team to let them know they aren’t worried. The power of Teams doesn’t simply come from its feature to feature comparison to other platforms, but from it’s soon to be ubiquitous integration into the Microsoft ecosystem making it the obvious choice for most Microsoft customers.
Microsoft Strategically Trades Skype for Teams
In earlier times what later became known as Skype for Business was going to be the darling of collaboration in the Microsoft business platform and there was talk about how to integrate with Dynamics CRM. I even saw an early prototype of a Skype/Dynamics CRM integration at one point. At that time a few years ago I assumed there would be an announcement of the Skye integration, but for whatever reason that never happened. I later heard the idea was totally dropped and wasn’t going to happen. The thing that was peculiar to me at the time was there wasn’t any mentioned of another strategy if Skype wasn’t going to be the golden solution.
At the end of 2016 Microsoft Teams was announced as a new collaboration platform which surprisingly had many of the same features as Skype. Teams however, seemed to be much more modern and extensible. Later it was announced that Teams was going to be the predecessor to Skype and eventually taking Skype’s place as the main collaboration experience. In the most recent Dynamics 365 for Sales Sprint 2018 release announcements the Dynamics product team has unveiled their intention to integrate Teams with Dynamics by the end of the year. This, of course, is wonderful news consideration the collaboration space within the Dynamics platform has been a much-needed area of improvement.
Teams Fill the Collaboration Gap for Dynamics 365
In almost every single Dynamics project I’ve implemented there has always been a white space when it came to users collaborating within the system. The activity feeds solution was one attempt to try and fill this space at one point, but it never took off. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe any of my customers thought feeds was great and asked for it to be turned off altogether.
At one point other solutions came into the mix with the Yammer integration and Office Groups. The Yammer integration didn’t really seem to make sense to a lot of customers. Office groups was another possibility with its limited chat functionality, but it didn’t really provide a great cross-device user experience and wasn’t ubiquitous.
The Teams platform, however, covers all the basics from an access standpoint with a web, desktop, and mobile application. It’s natural extensibility also allows it to create mashup views of data from different platforms both inside the Microsoft ecosystem and externally. Teams is quickly becoming everything Skype currently offers with the benefits of a more modern platform architecture. Add to the fact that Teams allows for attachments and searchable content it already has more utility allowing for asynchronous communications without resorting to email.
For Dynamics 356 implementations Teams will hit the mark as far as true team collaboration within a system. No longer will it be necessary for users to fire up Outlook to send email, make a phone call or create a separate detached conversation within Skype that end up lost in the data cosmos. Teams will be a sidebar option within the Dynamics interface and records will be attachable to channels within the Teams app which are contextual groups for collaborative conversations. Eventually, Teams will be available across the Dynamics platforms and even Office 365 allowing cross business function collaboration that will enable significantly greater productivity. The way I see it the biggest challenge will be how customers and users decide to organize their group conversations in the context of business operations.
The big win when it comes to the Teams integration is a ubiquitous collaboration between groups of people whether they are inside Dynamics, on their desktop or mobile device. Used correctly this will enable a much more efficient level of communication that Yammer, Office Groups or Skype could accomplish individually. With the Teams mash-up capability we’ll be able to add Dynamics 365, PowerApps and PowerBI dashboards straight into a Team channel to give it a uniquely relevant perspective. With the addition of so many external connectors, the options for group collaboration will be considerable.
Teams to Spread Throughout the Microsoft Ecosystem
Just as PowerApps will spread to become the standard of non-technical system customization I believe Microsoft Teams will do the same throughout the Microsoft ecosystem. It only makes sense. As customers signup and engage more Microsoft platforms they will be able to utilize Teams as their primary collaboration tool within the various platforms or in a standalone capacity.
This is where Teams will overtake competitors such as Slack on the Microsoft platform. It will be much more challenging for customers to try and integrate Slack when everything will just work naturally with Teams. As the gravity of the Office 365 and Dynamics 365 platforms continues to grow it will become more challenging for Slack to compete with Microsoft in the enterprise space. Instead Slack will have to resort to attacking around the edges for enterprise customers who are non-Microsoft shops or haven’t fully adopted the Microsoft technology stack.
Microsoft Teams is the latest advancement in what has been the technological revolution in the Microsoft platform strategy. What PowerApps is going to do for empowering non-technical development, I believe Teams will provide for business collaboration. As the Microsoft platform strategy continues to emerge their dominance seems almost certain in the enterprise space.