Skype for Business Online’s combination of video, voice and instant messaging has made it a vital tool in the workplace. The application has made it easier for employees and departments to contact each other and to contact customers and external parties.
For many organisations, it’s difficult to imagine life without Skype. From July 31, 2021, Skype for Business Online will cease to exist. Fortunately, Microsoft has spent the past few years refining a replacement: Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams offers the exact same functionality as Skype for Business Online, along with a range of new and improved features that make organisations more collaborative and productive. Microsoft Teams is more than just a replacement, it’s a significant upgrade.
Microsoft Teams is already the default communication tool within Office 365 and all Skype for Business Online customers will have no choice but to migrate before the service is switched off. So, there’s no time like the present to discover the array of useful features Microsoft Teams has to offer and how it will aid your organisation.
Microsoft has spent time ensuring Microsoft Teams has feature parity with Skype for Business Online. Microsoft Teams has the same voice, video and chat capabilities, but goes beyond the basics by offering more effective group conversations and social networking-esque features that drive engagement. Users can receive notifications, mentions and comments, and include rich media content, GIFs and emojis in chats.
The headline feature of Microsoft Teams is the ability to organise different departments or project groups that can be organised into ‘teams’ comprising up to a few thousand staff. This allows participants to access the people, content and tools they need to complete a task. Within ‘teams’, separate channels of conversations allow for real time, contextual conversations with multiple participants. This is far more effective than a chaotic group chat in Skype.
Another major advantage Microsoft Teams has over Skype for Business Online is deep integration with Office 365 applications such as Word, Excel and Yammer. This means users can gain rapid access to the most relevant files, people and applications they need to complete work within their ‘teams’. This close relationship simplifies workflows and saves employees time.
Workflows are made even more efficient through hundreds of third-party application integrations as well as a Teams App Store – minimising friction and potential silos within an IT environment.
Office 365 integration also means ‘teams’ can work simultaneously on documents and communicate changes to other members in real time. Changes made by one member of a ‘team’ are easily visible by other authors, and comments can be made on any alterations.
This is a significant advantage over asynchronous collaboration across Skype or email, which is more time consuming and results in multiple instances of the same document circulating within an organisation.
It can be difficult to find the information you’re looking for in Skype for Business Online, which lacks powerful archiving or search capabilities. Microsoft Teams offers powerful search tools, persistent chats and bookmarks to make life easier. Microsoft Teams can also add ‘tabs’ for certain applications within Channels, while keyboard shortcuts assist with navigation and search. There is also the inclusion of the ‘T-Bot’ chatbot that lets users ask questions in plain, natural language.
Microsoft Teams uses the information entered by users and these application integrations to automate processes. Automation frees staff from time consuming, repetitive tasks so they can focus on higher value work. Teams learns how individual users operate, serving up recommendations, while it also offers support for chatbots and automatic translation. In the future, Cortana will also be integrated. All of these aid digital transformation strategies and help to build a connected workforce.
Just like Skype for Business Online, Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based service. This means it is supported by the same multi-billion-pound investments that Microsoft makes in cloud security, and updates are applied automatically. Organisations can be confident that migration will not impact their protection in any way.
By default, Teams conversations are persistent. This means it is easier to find and archive information. Organisations can set retention policies that see Teams made inactive or even deleted after a certain period for compliance reasons. Additionally, individual policies can be set for private chats or channel messages.
Microsoft Teams is an opportunity to transform how your organisation communicates and collaborates and is as much of a cultural shift as a technological one.
Our guide on ‘How to migrate from Microsoft Skype for Business Online to Teams’ will help you identify the optimal transition strategy for your organisation and highlight how you can maximise the potential of the connected workforce.
To start your migration journey, read our guide on ‘How to migrate from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams’