From Unified to Intelligent Communications – Microsoft’s New Vision For Microsoft Teams

At Microsoft Ignite, September 25 2017, Microsoft made a strategic announcement on “Intelligent Communications“. Microsoft essentially created a new productivity segment that combines communication and collaboration into a single unifying platform or app – Microsoft Teams .

An article by the COMPAREX Blog Editorial Team 

What does Intelligent Communications mean?

Microsoft will argue that it is the evolution of Unified Communications. Microsoft Teams is a relatively new, 6 months old workload that has already shown excellent adoption with over 125,000 organizations using it today. In short, Teams is planned to become the hub of all of real time communication needs and collaboration activities. Imagine an app that allows you to do real time audio and video conferencing, manage your meetings, collaborate real time on documents and organize collaboration efforts into specific Team sites.

Microsoft Teams already has some real time video and audio conferencing built in but currently Skype for Business is a far more established and feature rich solution. To turn Teams into the true hub of Intelligent Communications Microsoft will integrate Skype for Business into Microsoft Teams. In the long run, Microsoft Teams is supposed to become the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365 and over time will replace the Skype for Business client! It is likely that in the not so distant future, the new collaboration platform Microsoft Teams will dominate internal business communications and collaboration within companies.

If you are currently running Skype for Business or are looking into using it in the future, what does this change mean for you? We shed some light on the whole story.

What happened so far?

During the past six months, Teams communications capabilities have already been highly improved with new features like scheduled meetings, Outlook calendar integration, and meetings on mobile. The new guest access features enable customers to use Teams to collaborate with people outside their organizations. For more details on guest access, please check here.

What’s the plan?

Over the next few months, Microsoft will roll out new Teams calling features:

  • Inbound and outbound calls to PSTN numbers, hold, call transfer, and voicemail.
  • New enhancements to Teams Meetings - including audio conferencing (available in preview mode today)- enabling participants to join a Teams meeting from any telephone.
  • Interoperability between Teams and Skype for Business, including universal presence, and messaging and calling interoperability.

This is just the beginning of a large number of feature releases that will bring a complete set of meeting and phone system capabilities into Microsoft Teams that were originally only available with Skype for Business.

What about Skype for Business?

Microsoft will continue to offer and support Skype for Business in Office 365 and Skype for Business Server on-premises. For customers not yet ready to move their PBX and advanced calling capabilities to the cloud, a new version of Skype for Business Server will be released in the second half of calendar year 2018. No need to panic; however, you should make sure to prepare for the changes in time.

What are the next steps for customers with Skype for Business?

Stay up-to-date with the Teams product roadmap to find the right time for you to transition to Microsoft Teams.

1. Optimize your current Skype for Business environment for Teams

Start looking into your current Skype for Business environment and its optimization to be sure you will be ready for Teams from a technical as well as an organizational perspective.

2. Pilot Teams alongside Skype for Business

Designed to confirm organizational readiness, a pilot is a realistic validation of the resources and procedures needed on a larger scale prior to your organization-wide rollout. To achieve the most realistic results, the pilot program should imitate how users communicate and collaborate today, verifying the ideal deployment scenario with Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. Whether your organization is considering running Skype for Business and Teams side-by-side or transitioning to Teams at a future point in time, a pilot can help identify the right path for your organization.

3. Enable Teams side-by-side with Skype for Business

For organizations with existing deployments of Skype for Business Online, the recent introduction of Microsoft Teams presents an opportunity to evaluate the potential of Teams as a sole communications and collaboration solution. If Teams can meet your business requirements today, you can start adopting Teams to become your single communications and collaboration solution for your organization.
Teams is enabled by default, on all eligible tenants. Therefore, you need to decide on how to manage Teams side-by-side with Skype for Business, and continue to meet user expectations.

4. Drive value through user adoption

Change takes time, but you can start to realize value and benefit today. While you continue to use Skype for Business, we encourage you to progress along your organization’s journey to Teams, unlocking the value of intelligent communications with Office 365 and helping facilitate a successful move to Teams in the future.

  • Promote adoption of Microsoft Teams alongside Skype for Business
  • Get your organization ready for your future move to Teams

Need More Information?

Register today for our upcoming webinar to understand Microsoft’s vision of communication in the future and how to effectively roll out Microsoft Teams and drive adoption.

Get all details and register for the free webinar

If you need support on your journey to Microsoft Teams or you are currently considering using Skype for Business, feel free to reach out to our COMPAREX cloud experts. We will be happy to get in touch with you to find the best solution for your collaboration scenario.

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Leipzig, 12.10.2017

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