[UPDATED March 23, 2020]
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic emergency has forced businesses everywhere to reconsider the state of their remote workplace. If your organization is looking for a solution to enable employee communication and collaboration, Teams is worth a second look NOW—particularly because Skype will no longer be supported as of July 2021.
Microsoft launched Teams in 2017, but it has become one of the most widely used business communication applications in the world. It surpassed Slack in number of users back in July of 2019, and has since seen a spike in Daily Active Users (DAU) from 32 million to 44 million within just the last week alone—undeniably a direct result of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
Teams is also FREE, and for a limited time, Microsoft is also offering businesses 6-months of O365 access for free as well. This is the ideal pairing for setting up your Digital Remote Workplace. We can tell you more and help with setup—contact our Teams experts.
Teams offers significant advantages when it comes to collaboration, communication, and file sharing. It’s why we’ve been using it here at StitchDX for the past 3 years with our staff, partners, vendors, and externally with clients. It’s also why we recommend it as a core component of any Digital Workplace solution.
If your organization is looking at utilizing Skype to fortify your work-from-home policy during this crisis, you might want to consider migrating to Teams.
Skype is Going Away. Make Way for Teams.
Last summer, Microsoft officially announced the end-of-life for Skype for Business Online, effective July 31, 2021. After this date, organizations using Skype will be forced to use Teams for internal and external communication, screensharing, and conference calling.
Current Skype for Business customers can continue to use the existing service, including adding new users, until August 1, 2021. New customers, however, have been immediately routed to Microsoft Teams since September 1, 2019.
While this announcement is significant, it is hardly surprising. Microsoft has been less than subtle about their plans to put Skype in the rear-view mirror and shift to Teams as their preferred communication platform. They’ve made significant investments in making Microsoft Teams “the hub for teamwork,” combining chat, video, voice, and document collaboration into a single, integrated application.
Why is Microsoft Making This Change from Skype to Teams Now?
Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011. Around the same time, major advancements in mobile technology, data network reliability, and bandwidth increased employee mobility. This undoubtedly helped Skype become one of the most popular Voice Over IP (VoIP) communication tools to help gather disparate teams at organizations of every size around the world.
But as workforces have become more dispersed, there’s also been a massive shift to the cloud —especially Microsoft’s own SharePoint platform. As organizations continue to proliferate a growing volume of data and content, there’s been an increased demand for better document management and collaboration tools. These functions are beyond the capabilities of Skype chat and video alone.
Backed by SharePoint, Teams integrates all the things people love about Skype (chat, screensharing, video conferencing) with the collaboration and document management features a modern workforce demands: file sharing, editing, notifications, social, group discussions, and more.
How Can the Switch from Skype to Teams Transform Your Organization?
Teams introduces a considerably different approach to the way most organizations function. Beyond how groups communicate, Teams shapes how they organize and govern themselves, and how they manage, control, and collaborate on their content.
At first glance, all the tools and capabilities of Teams and SharePoint can be overwhelming. Which is why a strategic approach to implementing Teams can help maximize your organization’s existing investment in O365, streamlining operations while maintaining control of your data.
Microsoft’s continuing investment in Teams means a growing list of functionalities that enable and empower your people:
- Users can chat with individuals inside and outside the organization, define ad hoc groups, save conversations, and collaborate on projects or content.
- Integrated document management and collaboration means native Microsoft documents can be viewed and edited without having to leave the app.
- Teams Channels integrate “micro-site”-like web experiences that include a shared calendar, “sync-able” document-management, news-based communication to keep everyone on the same page, and much more.
- Meanwhile, business rules allow your IT and security groups to maintain control over managing high-level permissions, taxonomy, provisioning of channels, and data governance — or decentralize by distributing the responsibility among specific users.
- Scheduling meetings is much easier. Calendars are integrated into the experience to send invites from within Teams. This eliminates having to switch between Outlook and Teams to coordinate schedules.
- Teams also offers integrations with a wide range of third-party tools, including productivity solutions like Jira, Asana, and Zendesk.
- In addition to the traditional individual and group video calls, Teams has incorporated recording options, screen-sharing and remote screen-control.
- Microsoft has also introduced a more social experience to organizational chat—with support for inline emojis, gifs and stickers that give employees the ability to react and engage with their colleagues.
UPDATE: New Teams Features as of March 2020
- Noise suppression for calls
- A “raise hand” feature that promotes more orderly conversations
- “Breakout” capability for sidebar conversations
- Offline and low-bandwidth support
- New integrations
A Better Employee Experience Awaits.
Even though Microsoft will continue to support Skype for Business into 2021, organizations that want to make the most of their Microsoft investment should begin considering a strategic implementation of Teams now.
Using our proprietary Discovery process, we’ve helped implement Digital Workplace experiences with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint at the core. We’ve seen how a thoughtful implementation of Teams can drive better utilization and transform the way organizations work.
Interested in learning more about how StitchDX can help your organization move to Teams or better use Teams to create a more engaging Employee Experience? Reach out to us anytime.