Since it’s launch in March of 2017, Teams has become one of the fastest growing products in Microsoft history. After only six months they announced their plans to evolve Teams as the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365. With such rapid adoption, industry analysts are forecasting it will double that of it’s biggest competitor, Slack by 2020.
“The sudden rise of Microsoft Teams is likely influenced by the fact that it’s available at no additional cost to Office 365 users,” said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. “Although Skype for Business has maintained the lead overall, Microsoft is putting more of an emphasis on Microsoft Teams as the default communications app for Office 365, which is enticing organizations to give it a try. As a result, we’ll likely see Teams adoption rates double in the next couple years.” - Spiceworks
True to their word, Microsoft is continuing to invest in this popular communications tool and here are some of the latest updates we think will have the biggest impact for our clients:
Teams TemplatesTeams Templates allow admins to pre-define a team’s channels, apps, tabs, and more; This creates optimized spaces with mission-critical content and services for each channel topic so team owners can focus on collaboration rather than spend time setting up. Admins can now easily create new teams based on the setup that best suits organizational work styles or specific project types using best practices and lessons learned by leveraging the Microsoft Graph API. There will even be template types customized by industry!
As an admin, you can use app setup policies to customize Microsoft Teams and highlight only those apps that are most important for your users by pinning them directly in the app bar in the order of your choice. No matter if the app was built by Microsoft, a partner like Valorem Reply or even by your own developers, admins can pin any app that users need. You can also limit app access for specific users through app permission policy and control app & integration interactions. This can be very useful if you want to phase app roll outs as part of your change management strategy. You can even block certain apps completely for your entire organization.
The current ‘Meetings’ app in Teams will be replaced by a new Calendar App. Don’t worry, you won’t lose any of the existing app functionality, but instead gain some. This includes:
- Option of three new calendar views - Day, Work week and Week view
- Meetings on the calendar light up when someone joins online
- The ability to see both past and future meetings
- Perform key appointment actions like Join, RSVP, Edit, and Cancel without opening the appointment, using the right click menu
- The ability to schedule events without adding attendees in the scheduling form
- The ability to edit/update non-Teams meetings directly from Teams
Office 365 or Microsoft 365 E3 plans now allow Retention for Teams channels and chats is now available as part of the core Data Governance capabilities. Through the Compliance Center, you can configure retention and/or deletion policies on Teams channels for broad organization, groups, and/or specific users. This will protect channel content as well as chat messages to ensure retention requirements are met and limit the risk of keeping data for too long.
If your Office 365 and Microsoft 365 plan includes core eDiscovery capabilities, eDiscovery for Teams calling and meetings is now generally available. This provides data discovery as part of an investigation of Teams content with the same in-place search, conditions and export experience as you use for the traditional Office 365 content.
Coming later this year, this new feature will allow you to limit visibility into associated conversation/content within a channel. Instead of every member of the Team having access to all channel activities or creating discrete teams to control visibility, you’ll be able to optimize participation and exposure with private channels inside a team. This was the number one most requested Teams feature in USERVOICE.
This feature will enable you to make your Teams meetings more accessible for attendees with hearing disabilities, limited language proficiency, or in a loud location. This will have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of each meeting by allowing all attendees to stay engaged in discussions in real-time.
This coming-soon feature takes Microsoft’s intelligent background blur technology to the next level by allowing participants of a video call to select what appears behind them on a video call. Giving remote employees the option to add a professional background behind them encourages use of video and minimizes distractions for others on the call.
Microsoft Teams Rooms Intelligent Capture processing will soon support an additional camera for content capture. Using this additional camera, you can capture, focus, resize, and enhance content such as text or images on a whiteboard even if someone is standing in front of it. Those of us who have been on a brainstorming call, struggling to keep up with the conversation in real time because of limited visibility are jumping for joy right about now!
Meeting artists and note takers, your job just got easier! Microsoft Whiteboard will soon be integrated with Teams to enable remote meeting attendees from the same tenant to start and automatically share a new board with other attendees using any device. Meeting attendees can manipulate or ‘ink’ together in real-time on the same board and even use a new intelligent inking feature called, Ink Grab, to convert content from a physical board to digital ink on the Whiteboard canvas. Yep, you read that right. No more recreating that ad-hoc idea you already started! Continue growing it in your digital board with more contributors. Remember, to enable Whiteboard in a Teams meeting, you need to turn on the Whiteboard web preview.
Soon all organizations using Office 365 or Microsoft 365 E3 plans will be able to place Teams content created by on-premise Exchange users in a Legal hold status. Your legal department will be able to use the same process to manage and discover content in Teams channels and chats for all users. This will provide all the benefits of a chat-based work experience while maintaining compliance standards.
Currently in preview, Custodian management for Teams memberships is part of a new Advanced eDiscovery update. Available to customers using Office 365 E5, Advanced Compliance or Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance plans, you can use the new capabilities to manage custodians as part of an investigation or litigation by quickly identifying content based on memberships of individuals related to the case and placing legal holds on shared locations such as Teams.
Supervision for Teams channels and chats helps organizations achieve internal and external communication monitoring requirements to meet regulatory, compliance, or internal policies. Administrators can establish supervision policies with intelligent conditions and apply them to Teams or users so supervisors can review content in channels and / or chat messages covered by those policies. The new built-in review experience enables supervisors to tag, escalate, and/or bulk resolve to save time.
Microsoft Teams is now available to deploy to virtual desktop environments. This means Teams can be installed on individual VMs and work in major VDI environments so you can more effectively collaborate with your customers private chats, open channel conversations, and file sharing. Meeting and calling policies can be customized in VDI environments to simulate a desktop experience, and additional calling and meeting features in VDI Teams instances are in development.
DLP is already available for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business however, Microsoft announced they will soon be extending it to Teams as well! Soon Teams users will have the same functionality of blocking sensitive information in chats and channel conversations to achieve their internal security goals and external compliance/privacy requirements. This adds another layer of control and governance to protect their important business data.
As one of the very first internal preview partners, then a first adopter, Valorem Reply has made Teams an integral part of internal communications and project delivery and helped clients of all size and shape deploy and adopt this intuitive productivity solution for over three years. From immersive workshops that go beyond the typical product demo to give you and your team a hands-on look at the tool, to road maps and change management planning to help migrate organizations from Skype to Teams or Slack to Teams, Valorem Reply has the experience and expertise to ensure a smooth and effective transition. For more information on our Business Productivity Solutions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.