14.10.2022

Microsoft Teams receives a multitude of updates

Companies need to look at a governance strategy for apps in MS Teams.

On the occasion of Microsoft Ignite 2022 Microsoft presented a variety of innovations in the Teams client. During the presentation, Microsoft particularly highlighted the challenges posed by hybrid working and the benefits of MS Teams, as a connector since the platform enables efficient collaboration on documents, processes, and other company operations. Microsoft's goal is to continuously expand Teams to establish it as the central platform for daily work. IT departments need to prepare for this with a strategy and appropriate processes.

Microsoft presented innovations in almost all areas of the client and the platform itself. Elements such as Meetings, Teams Calling, Chat and Channels were revised. There are also new integration/extension options.

Some selected updates in detail

Chat / Channels

The display of channel discussions has been completely reworked to allow even more interaction:

  • Posting of messages and last post now on top of page
  • Important posts can be pinned
  • Possibility to join conversations instantly
  • Pop-out conversation
  • Optimized information area
  • Multiple post types such as announcement and video clip to choose from
  • Channel header customization possible
Meetings

Features for professional planning and execution of webinars and trainings have been announced. For example, custom branding, watermarks and features for better production of webinars will be made available in the next few months as part of a premium SKU.

 

Intelligent Recap

Microsoft is integrating AI capabilities to simplify meeting follow-up. This feature makes it easier to find relevant sections in recordings, in addition to suggesting and creating tasks from conversations.

Mesh

In a first step, Microsoft introduced at Ignite the possibility to let Avatars appear in meetings instead of the own video image.

Microsoft Team Room Systems

New or improved features for MTR systems were announced, including camera control (focusing and framing).

Excel Live

Excel files can now be shared for collaborative work in meetings in such a way that all participants work on a document at the same time and changes are directly visible to everyone.

Teams Phone

Teams Phone Mobile for MS Teams: Mobile phone numbers can now be fed directly into MS Teams, enabling a fully integrated user experience regardless of the call type.

Teams Platform

Microsoft has released (generally available) or announced (public preview) a variety of base functions / APIs for integrating custom solutions, as well as components to simplify development of these. These include:

  • Azure Communication Services Support for Teams Users - this allows scenarios with end users to be easily mapped into MS Teams.
  • Teams Toolkit for Visual Studio - unified templates to start development in MS Teams.
  • Adaptive Cards based Loop Components - enables real-time information to be displayed on adaptive cards.
     

Why these updates?

With these new features, Microsoft is getting much closer to its goal of making Teams the main operating layer. With the new functions and adaptations in the Teams backend, all daily work processes can be handled from one platform. Not only can chats be conducted, but videos can also be integrated, documents can be stored and edited, and all apps that users work with can also be accessed directly. This enables employees to collaborate effectively in a hybrid world. In addition, access to Viva modules can significantly enhance the employee experience. Teams becomes the central app on all devices - PC, web, tablet & mobile.

What does this mean for businesses?

Microsoft continues to expand its App Store and putting its apps more in the foreground. At Ignite, as at previous conferences this year, a clear vision is emerging from Microsoft - so-called collaborative apps, which will be deeply integrated into teams (and in the future, for example, Outlook), will enable company processes and applications to function much more efficiently, especially for hybrid teams. Currently, many companies do not yet make extensive use of the possibilities of collaborative apps - Microsoft sees a maturity curve here in the use of the possibilities of this app at companies. 

Teams Client

In particular, they should integrate new corporate applications as well as individual developments into the Teams client to enable a seamless user experience across all end devices. More and more apps have to be evaluated by companies to determine their usability and compliance with data protection requirements. If necessary, they must roll out and operate the client on a user-group-specific basis.

What can be done?

IT faces the challenge of recognizing and accepting teams as the one-stop, everyday activity platform for employees: Teams apps have long ceased to be gimmicks; they are applications that can make every day work easier and improve employee satisfaction. Microsoft is positioning this type of application delivery very centrally, so companies will likely not be able to avoid providing applications (even if they are initially provided by Microsoft) via the Teams platform and thus via the Teams Store in the future. This becomes obvious since Microsoft recently made a change to the store - users can now see all applications in the standard view and request them from IT with one click. 

It is particularly important that companies look at holistic governance for Teams App. The deployment should be planned and anchored in an all-encompassing manner. This means a defined strategy for using the platform, configuring the platform (or the underlying platforms - Azure & Power Platform), and defining the operational processes for evaluating and developing new solutions. Here, Campana & Schott's framework "Power House - Teams as a Platform" can be an important support. Experienced consultants work with their clients to build the structure brick by brick, from strategy to anchoring. In addition, they support the embedding of collaborative apps.

Teams Client

Many IT departments currently have to develop and operate on-premises apps in the direction of cloud-native in the shortest possible time - here, too, MS Teams as a platform is an essential delivery channel. In order to be able to act as an IT department here, many companies are increasingly opting to set up a dedicated Cloud Center of Excellence.  

If you currently don't have a holistic strategy for deploying apps on the Teams platform, it is recommended to take an initial series of workshops and learn more about the platform's capabilities in terms of governance, your own maturity level, and possible next steps for adoption.

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Bastian Emondts

Bastian Emondts

Senior Manager | Head of App Innovation