8.1.2021 • Modern Work
What is Microsoft Teams in 2021?
Microsoft Teams saw the light of day on 2 November 2016. Over the past three years, Teams has lived, developed and grown into a versatile teamwork application – a hub for teamwork, or actually just work. It has taken several different capabilities under its wings and gives the users access to them via one user interface.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Teams is the hub for your teamwork and business applications. It is tool that enables flexible teamwork both inside and outside of an organization boundaries. Microsoft Teams enables collaboration, communication, conferences, virtual events, 1:1 calls, access to all data and resources, keeping up to date and reacting to issues and more.
Microsoft Teams brings together all of your team spaces (and a few other things), making it a real hub for work. This contemporary way of working benefits you, your team, organization, partners and customers. The countless benefits of Teams include transparency, compliance, security, governance, data & resource accessibility and recyclability, flexibility and participation regardless of the device, location and time, network engagement, equality and efficiency. The employee is able to allocate their time to the core work.
Teams works flexibly on many different devices:
- Windows app for the best user experience
- Mobile apps (Android, iOS)
- Microsoft Teams Rooms -devices that transform a traditional meeting room to true hybrid / teamwork experience
- Collaboration bars transforming small focus spaces to Teams-level
- Desk phones and Teams displays for personal use
- Internet browsers, some of which also support meetings and screen sharing. Using Teams on a browser does not require an installation of an extra application. This is particularly useful when working with a partner who does not have access to Teams.
- Mac app
- Linux application (the first version was launched in December 2019)
- Surface Hub
During 2021 we will see the use of Teams grow even more in meeting rooms of all sizes. 2020 we got used to equal and inclusive meetings (=everyone was online and thus equal) and we want to keep that trend up even when people start working more from offices towards the end of 2021. To accomplish this more Teams Rooms and devices will be used to transform meeting rooms to Teams-level and make it really easy to include everyone in the meeting equally with good quality voice and video. Gone are the days when we accept poor experience for hybrid-meetings where online-participant feels left out. With the experience we have in 2020 everyone now understand the importance of voice and video quality.
Microsoft Teams has become a versatile and scalable teamwork platform and this trend is growing & expanding
At its core is the unique way the tool connects people, chats, files, applications, business processes, calls and meetings under the same user interface. The number of applications available via Microsoft Teams has expanded over the course of 2020 and this trend is a growing one for 2021. Teams is becoming more a Platform for business applications than ever: use of applications, especially organization’s custom applications to support their business, will boom during 2021.
Using applications via Microsoft Teams makes it easy to the company admins to manage application distribution and it also makes it simple to end users as well: you sign into Teams and you have access to all resources with a single login. For information security Microsoft Teams provides applications with a platform that is powered with Microsoft 365: security, out of the box features, compliance, governance, data protection and retention come directly from the Teams Platform. That allows organizations to focus on adding value and on responding business needs with custom application. All these capabilities will reduce the need to create standalone applications and thus using Power Platform capabilities it makes the answering to changing business needs a profitable path: quick to test / pilot allows to fail fast or expand pilot to the production rapidly. This cuts down development costs and time cycle and custom applications in Microsoft Teams can create a quick return of investment. In 2021 companies learn to adapt Teams to their individual business needs utilizing Teams in full capacity over standard collaboration and communication functionalities.
Accessibility and inclusivity are still a ongoing theme in Teams for 2021
Teams enables more users to equally participate in teamwork, which facilitates the work itself, opens new vistas and makes the organization more equal. Features such as translating messages to the user’s own language or transcribing a meeting with speaker attribution help each and every one of us in the multicultural Teams environment. Reading messages out loud or increasing font size or contrast make life easier for people with a visual impairment. This trend continues with Teams for 2021 since we are working globally and across different cultures & timezones more than ever.
Teams is also the hub for company information and personal wellbeing
Microsoft Teams is the primary tool for accessing company intranet during 2021. The SharePoint Home Site application is roadmapped to appear to Microsoft Teams during March 2021. This will change the way people can access the full Intranet: it will be available right from inside Microsoft Teams and this complements to the Teams as a Platform as well. The main purpose for applications like Intranet, Communities (Yammer) and custom (add your own to the Teams) is to make the data and information accessible and access able from any device. Many prefer to use Teams while some would prefer to use browsers. This adds to equality and also to Firstline Workers who may have had not access to the Intranet before.
In 2020 it is already possible to bring key information from the Intranet and the organization policies & practices directly into Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is also introducing My Analytics and personal insights with wellbeing capabilities to be available to employees. This makes it easier to follow the way we work and thus take personal steps how we could balance out our worklife better than before when the world is going through changes also during 2021.
Meetings are transforming to Virtual Events
During 2020 we saw the exponential growth of usage in Microsoft Teams: 115 Million Daily Active Users at the end of October 2020. This growth required a lots of new capabilities and functionalities to be added to Microsoft Teams to meet the needs of users working from different locations. Meetings developed faster than ever and drove the Teams roadmap forward in a quick pace. And it doesn’t stop on year’s change.
Microsoft Teams meetings are becoming more flexible and adjusting to the needs. They will automatically scale up from 1:1 calls & small group meetings to townhalls, to webinars to virtual events during 2021. The need to create a separate Live Event to create a large meeting will go away and instead it will be just a meeting in Teams that expands automatically to the audience of 20 000 attendees. This simplifies the event setup & delivery and adds more customization options than Live Events do now.
During 2021 Microsoft Teams meetings can have up to 1000 interactive participants and can grow up to 20 000 with view-only attendees in the same meeting. Event organizers can add polls and applications to meetings (this can be done already), manage meeting structure (who can speak, use camera or chat – part of that is already there) and include meeting registration & engagement report for the process – right from inside teams. Rich features in the roadmap like custom layouts, dynamic views, live reactions (already in the preview), video filters and PowerPoint presenter view in Teams meetings will help to create flexible and great looking meetings & events. There are already features out that can be used to create a virtual stage (NDI-support, spotlight), reduce meeting fatigue (Together mode with several scenes) and preparing a meeting in advance & innovating together (Breakout Rooms, Whiteboard). Whiteboard will expand in features and also to support external collaborators during 2021. Breakout Rooms will get new features to support planning rooms in advance and managing them better. During 2021 Microsoft Teams will change the way we create and attend virtual events.
Themes for Microsoft Teams in 2021
Firstline Workers will start utilizing Microsoft Teams more than ever: the applications, tasks and access to data will be in their fingertips (in their Teams on mobile device) and thus this theme is packed with line of business applications tailored for Firstline employee’s needs. This is complemented especially with Microsoft 365 capabilities to make sure that the data is secure and protected as well as in device management ensuring compliance and governance across the experience.
Teams as a Platform expands Microsoft Teams from out-of-the-box hub for collaboration and communication to a versatile hub for work matching organization’s individual business needs and processes. Dataverse for Teams, Power Virtual Agents (smart, intelligent bots), Power Automate and Power Apps for customized apps and automated processes and Power BI for faster and better data-driven decisions right inside Teams play a key role complemented with ready-for-production application templates and full custom code solutions that transform the Microsoft Teams to the full business critical solution with line-of-business applications and integrated backend systems.
Microsoft Teams is more integrated rather than a solo application than before. While this is part of the Teams as a Platform theme this needs to be it’s own place in the list. Using different ways to extend Teams makes it more connected and up to date with various inside and outside organization backend & legacy systems making it possible, with Teams as a Platform, to take next steps in Digital Transformation.
Accessing company & personal information via Teams and managing personal data is going to be happening more via Microsoft Teams than earlier. Using smart bots, SharePoint/Intranet -applications, custom business apps and integrated backend systems seamlessly via Microsoft Teams makes it easier for employees and Firstline workers to use self-service tools, knowledge bases & FAQ -databases, company policies & practices and participating in processes for both employees and Firstline workers. This will release some pressure off from HR and IT departments under heavy load since these tools and automations can provide quicker answers 24/7. Wellbeing is also part of this theme heavily.
During 2021 Microsoft Teams will change the way we create and attend virtual events. This will revolutionize how we create, produce and attend events when Teams can scale meetings up to become Virtual Events with rich capabilities. Simplified setup combined with customization options and registration support with integrations makes Microsoft Teams the tool you want to choose for your events. Using already-existing technologies (NDI) it is already possible to produce and stream even larger events to even audiences larger than 20 000 attendees.