Everyone’s Talking Teams

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The fastest growing app in Microsoft’s history.

The battle for poll position in the great collaboration sweepstakes started well before the pandemic, with both Cisco, Microsoft and others well aware of the pending importance of the connected workplace battleground.

Blissfully unaware of the extent of what was to follow, Cisco started the ball rolling in 2007 with the purchase of WebEx, and a further four years elapsed (2011) before Microsoft woke up and bought Skype - the same year Zoom was born!

Cut to the present and on the face of it, things don’t look all that different – the same players are still largely jostling for position. The most surprising outcome perhaps from the pandemic induced collaboration growth was Zoom grabbing such a large slice of the cake, and initially out-flanking both Cisco and Microsoft as the preferred video app for public authorities and enterprise across the globe.

For a time, the term Zoom became the unofficial name for video conferencing (‘let’s have a Zoom’) - in the way that brands like Sellotape and Hoover entered the vocabulary generations before.  

But over the last 12 months things have been changing. Google has beefed up its forgotten child and re-joined the fray, and other moves have taken place, like Salesforce buying Slack.

And in the Enterprise space, Microsoft seems now to be the partner of choice, and it’s become commonplace to hear phrases like ‘I’ll send you a Teams link’, or ‘let’s set up a Teams call’. Even the politicians speak of Teams now, and less of Zoom.

Many devotees point out that Microsoft was always there. The ground lost to the competition evidently hurt them, and they’ve been fighting back to the point where Teams is now the clear leader.

Convincing IT departments and then winning the hearts and minds of users are the two key steps to changing workforce behaviours, and Microsoft has done this.

Windows and Office 365 remain the ‘de facto’ business software the world over, underpinned as always by the big three applications of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Quite why so many organisations overlooked the fact that their Microsoft licensing investments already included Skype and Teams, and agreed to pay for other services, is somewhat baffling - perhaps both Microsoft and the customers were equally complacent.

8 years ago, Microsoft’s then new CEO, Satya Nadella, started an innovation and culture transformation to’ jump start’ the sleeping giant and reinvigorate the disenfranchised workforce.

Just how unique are collaboration’s USPs?
Whilst all collaborative platforms claim to have USPs that differentiate them, the fact of the matter surely is that they all do pretty much the same things nowadays, and the improved user experiences are in no small part due to the shift to cloud based operations, and cloud native operating systems.

Given the ubiquitous availability of the services, wider factors like ease of use, enterprise security and commercial realities have come to fore – and here Microsoft scores heavily.

Their Office user interface is extremely well known and popular. Its inherent security and wider eco-system of cyber security partners provides assurance, and commercially the game is pretty much in the bag – with most customers already paying for Teams in existing licensing arrangements.

Microsoft continues to sharpen its collaboration focus as organisations reconfigure their workplaces to meet the continually changing employee expectations, and if user growth figures are anything to go by the corporation is getting something right.

Daily active users (DAU) of Teams almost doubled from 75 million in 2020 to around 145 million in 2021, and the monthly active user figure (which will become the norm) rose to around 250 million. The next release of statistics is expected to show a hardening of those impressive growth figures.

What’s the best collaboration platform
It’s often been said that the best collaboration platform is the one you already have, and with Teams sitting alongside other familiar applications in the 365 suite – most organisations already have it, at no additional cost or inconvenience.

As active users of Teams ourselves we have a detailed knowledge of how to optimise and secure the Office application suite, and our expertise in the complex world of Microsoft licensing helps customers manage investments and keep costs to a minimum.

If you’d like to know more about our collaboration practice and how we help customers optimise investment in all aspects of technology, please email us at contactus@sure.com

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