3 Reasons Why Microsoft Teams Matters

The shift to hybrid work has made Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) one of the fastest-growing technology sectors. In Q1 2021 the UCaaS user base grew by 46% from the first quarter of 2020 according to a recent Synergy Research Group report. 

UCaaS brings together voice and video calls, meetings, and messaging functionalities that a hybrid workforce requires on a platform that can be accessed from the cloud. It effectively delivers the collaboration and communication tools of their office to wherever they work. 

In looking at the UCaaS space, there is one product that is really shaking up the market right now. That is Microsoft Teams. We think there are three reasons for this: 

1. Teams is Now the Second Largest UCaaS App 

2. Identity for Teams is Deeply Integrated with Microsoft 365 

3. Built Like a Modern IT App, not an Aging Telecom System 

1. Teams is Now the Second Largest UCaaS App 

Microsoft Teams is the fastest-growing business application in Microsoft’s history. The usage of Teams has grown tremendously during the pandemic. As reported by the Business of Apps website, the daily active users for Teams expanded 894% during the first few months of the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Teams has rapidly established itself as the internal collaboration platform of preference for many businesses, becoming the new way to work for more than 145 million daily users. Many large organizations around the world are using Microsoft Teams: 124 organizations have more than 100,000 users of Teams, and nearly 3,000 organizations have over 10,000. 

In 2019 Microsoft’s Skype for Business had a negligible share of the UCaaS market. By integrating what is now called Teams Phone into Teams, it turns Teams into a powerful UCaaS platform for both internal and external communication. This has vaulted Microsoft’s UCaaS market position from outside the top five to number two in just 12 months, easily overtaking many established UCaaS providers. Included as part of the Microsoft 365 subscription, there’s no incremental cost for Teams Phone.  

For all these reasons, the growth of Teams Phone currently has no hindrances. 

2. Identity for Teams is Deeply Engrained with 365 

All of the Teams capabilities use the common user identity that is a part of Microsoft 365. This seemingly benign capability enables truly powerful unified communications experiences. 

This unified identify simplifies group work with multiple easy-to-use channels of communication from group chats to video seminars. Multiple teams groups can be set up in a click or two, organizing conversations – whether chat, voice, or video – to make them easier to follow, and notifications can be set to pop up on-screen. File sharing is also deeply integrated and the same identity that controls file access rights is also part of the Teams experience. 

Remote meetings that are as effective as being in-person 

  • PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams: Entirely new PowerPoint presenting experience exclusive to Microsoft Teams that benefits both presenters and attendees. As a presenter, you can lead meetings while having access to your speaker notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants. As attendees, you can view slides at your own pace and use Slide Translate to see the slides in your own language.
3. Built Like a Modern IT App, not an Aging Telecom System

Microsoft Teams is encroaching on the traditional territory of VoIP solution providers like Cisco, Avaya, and others. Microsoft partners are positioning Teams Phone as a way to replace an existing PBX system, or cut costs from more expensive VoIP providers. 

Built more like an IT Application than a telecom system, Teams make sit easy for your IT department and employees to work faster, smarter, and better together. Teams is designed with a simple and intuitive user interface, making it easy to learn for your employees. Administration of Teams is handled in an IT-friendly way that is familiar to IT professionals, who can often find traditional telephony services to be arcane and antiquated. 

This modern, IT-centric approach leads to some direct feature advantages for Teams Phone users. Calling, for instance, is integrated directly into the flow of devices and applications of modern workers. Enabling features such as: 

  • Easily transfer calls: Teams Phone now offers the ability for you to transfer a call from your computer to a mobile device or vice versa, without interrupting the call. 
  • Apple CarPlay: Apple CarPlay support for Teams enables users to join calls and meetings using your vehicle’s built-in controls or hands-free using Siri. 
  • “Better together” device experience: The “better together” experience means that Teams devices now complement each other, allowing users to answer a call, mute or unmute, and end the call on either the device or the Teams client. 
  • Spam call identification: Teams Phone uses advanced industry techniques to identify likely spam calls, allowing users to avoid unnecessary interruptions to your day by spam calls. 
  • Walkie-talkie for desk phones: Connect quickly with colleagues with a push-to-talk function available on desk phones. 

This IT centricity does not come at the expense of traditional telephony features and integrations including: 

  • Operator Connect: Operator Connect, enables customers to simply connect your operator-based public switched telephone network (PSTN) service into Teams with a managed experience, now extending the ability to enable PSTN calling in Teams to three great options. 
  • Teams Phone Calling Plans: Teams Phone Calling Plans offer a simple way to deploy calling in Teams without on-premises equipment, available in 33 markets. 
  • Bring Your Own Contact Center: Teams Phone integrates with your existing contact center solution, and Microsoft’s connected contact center program provides a new level of validation from rigorous third-party testing to ensure seamless and reliable integration. There are now 8 certified contact center solutions with an additional 14 in the certification process. 

For IT departments, Teams Phone eliminates complexity and cost of managing a legacy set of telephony systems and services from their operations. Replacing legacy on-premises phone systems with a UCaaS solution such as Teams Phone has a clear, strategic business advantage, but the transition to cloud-based telephony can be challenging. This is largely because the start point for many organizations is a disparate array of legacy on-premises hardware and a patchwork of carrier relationships across all their sites and countries. 

Need a Partner? 

Transitioning your company’s communication to Microsoft Teams Phone is relatively straightforward but enlisting a partner that has done it before can assure that you have a smooth and successful transition. Talk to us today to learn how your company can also take advantage of this modernization in communications. 

7 Hidden Features of Microsoft 365 You Are Lucky to Find

Microsoft 365 is the largest SaaS platform for mid-market and SMB companies. Microsoft 365 now has over 50 million subscribers. Over 1 million companies now use Microsoft 365 to power their core productivity functions. 

Companies usually sign up for Microsoft 365 to get email and desktop applications. And increasingly now with hybrid work, Microsoft Teams is becoming a big feature of M365. There are, however, most users don’t realize that beyond the most popular features of Microsoft 365 lie some not-so-obvious capabilities and tricks that are severely underused. These “hidden” features are designed to make using Microsoft 365 simpler and more effective. 

Whenever there’s a way to use technology to make our work more efficient, we’re all for it! With that in mind, we’ve put together seven hidden features of Microsoft 365 that, when used correctly, can make the way that you spend time on your computer more efficient and streamlined. 

1. Teams Voice 

Another little-known feature in Microsoft Teams is Teams Voice, which allows users to make and receive voice calls via the Teams app. You can take or make calls both from within Teams and externally via Cloud Phone, giving you a single number and a single app for voice and video calls on all your devices – in fact, you’ll never need to give out your mobile number again. 

Choose from an array of full calling solutions with VoIP—including custom on-hold music, advanced call routing and queues, auto attendants, and call parking. 

2. Teams Live Events 

Microsoft is lowering the barrier for companies to host and run webinars and other live events with Teams live events. Companies can use the Teams platform to set up basic events within Teams or more highly produced ones using Microsoft Stream or similar tools. It is a great tool to get most companies started in doing live events. Teams features that help enhance Live events include breakout rooms, word cloud polling, and standout mode in which the presenter appears to stand in front of their presentation to create richer experiences for the audience. Teams also supports real-time captioning and translation services to help you reach a broader audience. 

3. Content Sharing in Teams 

Teams has some great ways to make it easier to share content from whiteboards and notebooks. Within the Teams application (on Mac or Windows), you can use the share content button to specifically focus on a real-world whiteboard or document visible in the camera You can also use the digital whiteboard feature to allow everyone to engage. 

4. Shortcuts in Teams 

Similar to Slack, Teams has slash commands that calls features directly from the Search box. You can change your status, make a call, or send a message with these simple commands. Here are some useful examples: 

/call – Make a call 

/chat – Send a message 

/org – See the org structure of a person 

/files – See your recent files 

/available – Set your status to available 

/busy – Set your status to busy 

/mentions – Set your status to do not disturb 

/activity – See someone’s activity 

5. Task tracking and project management: Microsoft Lists and Microsoft To Do 

Microsoft includes several task management tools within Microsoft 365 including Planner, Lists, and To-Do. 

As the name implies, Microsoft Lists is a way to manage lists. Lists works within the whole Microsoft 365 suite to help people manage and track projects. It can have a bit of a learning curve, so Microsoft has provided pre-built templates to help you get started. A few interesting features include issue tracking for help desks, event itineraries, asset tracking, project planners, and social media calendars. 

Microsoft Planner is a project management tool – think Trello from Microsoft. It uses Kanban boards to track and provide information about each task in the project and integrates with To-Do and Tasks in Teams making it simple to see whole projects briefly, and for users to see their own tasks from the different projects they are a part of. Microsoft Planner provides set fields to create your plans and tasks, making it easy to use and easy to understand. 

Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Lists have a lot of overlap. It is easier to get started with Planner and is a good tool for most users. Lists provides a lot more flexibility and is likely better for full-time project managers or task automators. 

Microsoft To-Do is intended more for personal task tracking. You can still use To-Do to collaborate with colleagues, manage their tasks, and many users love its task scheduler and prioritization tools. Tasks from Planner and Lists that are assigned to you will show up in To Do, so it is another place. 

6. Real-Time Office Apps Collaboration 

With so many people working from working remotely, it is always great to have new ways to collaborate. Microsoft has added a real-time editing feature to PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. 

Like Google Docs, Microsoft 365 gives your team online collaboration to see edits made to documents and files in real-time. You can save your file to a shared drive and have multiple users making changes that update simultaneously, which is gratifyingly convenient for remote workers. 

7. Workflow Automation 

For the power users out there, Microsoft Power Automate enables workflow automation across all Microsoft 365 services. Flow is the tool used to take advantage of Power Automate and connects to IM alerts, email, files, SharePoint, and other triggers. Microsoft maintains a gallery of examples of flows you can automate to help get you started. 

Montra successfully manages thousands of Microsoft 365 users across all our customer instances. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you get the most from 365, please email us at sales@montra.io.