By Andy Jonak
I've talked a lot over the past few years about Office 365, and for good reason: it’s one of Microsoft’s flagship solutions, and firms like, embrace, and use it. Most of the firms we work with are using M/O365 or at the very least, evaluating it. I find myself in a thought process that is fascinating: Teams is an excellent example of one of the things that has caused Microsoft to be cool and trendy again—see my post from July 2019 that talks about this here. As part of your O365 or M365 solution package you get many products in the bundle, but I feel that one of the most intriguing is Teams.
I’ve been using Office solutions for going on 25 years, and as a long-time user, some of my favorites are Outlook (been using it since it came out in 1997, part of Office 97), and I’ve talked about my affinity for OneNote throughout my blog (which is by far my favorite Microsoft product, as I’ve been using it since the first version, OneNote 2003). The latest product that has me jazzed or enamored (but yet frustrated) is Microsoft Teams. Let’s talk about it.
As we all know, you get Microsoft Teams as part of your O365/M365 subscription, so you essentially get it free. I believe that we all know that it’s going to replace Skype for Business, but not the retail version of Skype, so soon everyone will be forced to move to Teams and get off of Skype for Business. Goods and bads to that. Skype for Business worked well and was very easy to use. A great single-purpose product that I liked, used and embraced, as my other did. Since my company already moved all of us over to Teams, what’s my take?
I must say that I do like Teams. It’s a bit more complicated (because it does a lot more) than using Skype for Business, but it does what it’s supposed to do very well. In terms of meetings, chat, screen sharing, and calls, it works exceptionally well. The interface is clean, and it works well in all forms: browser, desktop, and mobile. So kudos there.
But on the concept of creating teams and channels within Teams, I am a little more ambivalent. I think the idea of a team with channels makes sense, but I still struggle for a use for it, especially for my responsibilities. I haven’t found a significant need for that as of yet.
Many have heard me say it, but I look at Teams as a solution looking for a problem. And I’ve yet to identify that problem that the Teams concept can solve for me and my needs, but I am sure I am not alone in that. We’ve used it as an internal private social network for company events, and I use it as a way for our team to filter and aggregate marketing content up to me for marketing purposes. It works well in those instances, but it’s not a be-all, end-all—again, at least for me.
Not to say that it’s not a great solution, I believe it is. I’m just looking for the value for me in its use. For those that use and have embraced Slack, I think it’s a no brainer to consider using Teams. Why pay for Slack and the team and channel capabilities when you get Teams with your M/O365 subscription where also you get the other capabilities Teams has to offer, including meetings, chat, calls, screen sharing, recording, and calls.
I feel that Slack is a solution that solved the problem of group collaboration while Teams brings that plus other capabilities that, as I mentioned before, has you reaching for a problem to use the solution to fix. That’s how I’ve felt since I started using it a few years ago, but continue to use it I will.
No doubt that Teams and it’s predecessors (Skype and Skype for Business) do what they are supposed to do and do it well. But is that enough to have people embrace and use it? The numbers show that it is and that Teams use continues to increase, so that appears to be the case, but I can’t be the only one that feels as I do.
From an overall business perspective, our firm has many customers who have engaged us to have discussions on Teams, as they are looking to understand what it means to them, how they can use it, and how it can be secure and play into their overall environment. They know they get it as part of their M/O365 solution, but most importantly, they want to understand the potential value they might see out of using it. That means that firms are embracing it, or at the very least, embracing the concept of it, and looking for the value that it can bring to their specific environment. Not unlike my thoughts above, but on a much larger level.
Microsoft continues to put out excellent solutions that are cool and trendy, and Teams is an outstanding example of that. While I love the solution, I am looking for a way to find value out of it and not just have it be a solution in search of a problem. But maybe that’s on me, not Microsoft.