02 Nov Microsoft Launches Teams And Cramps Slack’s Style In The Process

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicks off the Teams event in New York (Credit: Patrick Moorhead)

I had the chance to watch Microsoft’s announcement of their new persistent chat tool for the office, called “Microsoft Teams”, and I’d like to share some of my quick opinions on it. First, some background. Office and Dynamics are a staggeringly large business. Office 365, Office and Dynamics is a $27B annual business generating $12.4B in operating profit based on their recent, Q1-17 earnings announcement. Microsoft currently holds the dominant market position in paid office productivity with Office 365 and Office, and has been the franchise player here for 20 years. Remember Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect, harvard Graphics or Wordstar? Didn’t think so. Office 365 was launched in 2011 and supports many platforms spanning from desktop to mobile, on-prem to cloud, and natively supports Windows, iOS and Android. Microsoft cemented the lead in 2014 by launching Office 365 support for iOS and Android in 2015. The experiences are killer and I think it surprised even the staunchest Apple and Google fan. Microsoft has many Office deployments, estimated in the 100′s of millions and has 85M Office 365 monthly paying users and grew 40% last quarter. They’re on a swift ramp converting businesses from Office to Office 365.  Competitors to Office, Office 365 are Google GSuite, Apple iWork, Facebook Workplace, Cisco Spark and Slack.

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Microsoft Teams (Photo credit: Microsoft)

Teams is inside the Office 365 portfolio and with it, you get the security, compliance and interoperability across Office and Office 365, not just inside a walled garden. Teams leverages office trends of mobility, geographical disbursement, inclusiveness and more millennials in the workplace who are more comfortable with persistent chat. The notion of Teams is simple- do all of your collaboration and work in a persistent chat mode. You can work on documents, presentations, spreadsheets in real-time, chat back and forth in-context, share files, create meetings, all in one chat console. If you want a deeper dive into all the features and functions of Teams, head over to Microsoft here.

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Microsoft Teams Channel (Credit: Microsoft)

Here are my quick thoughts on Microsoft Teams after watching the event:

  • Very positive: Overall, I am very positive on Microsoft Teams as it accommodates new work-styles, works with existing Office and Office 365 deployments and supports accepted enterprise security and compliance requirements.
  • Minimizes disruption while accommodating new work-styles: Teams works inside Office 365 meaning with addition of Teams, Microsoft Office 365 customers can accommodate multiple work-styles. Now Office 365 supports a persistent chat workflow in addition to the local or web-based PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and Android phone platforms with a more traditional experience. IT and small businesses will love that they don’t need to bring in and support multiple platforms.

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Android support (Credit: Microsoft)

  • Supports accepted enterprise security and compliance: Teams supports all of the enterprise and government-accepted and compliance standards as Office 365 does. Teams is part of Office 365 and supports EUMC, HIPAA, ISO 27001, ISO27018, SSAE16 SOC1 Type I and II, SOC2 Type I and II, FERPA and GLBA. Data is encrypted at rest and in transmission and supports Office 365  MFA and SSO. All this means there won’t be any security and compliance conversations as other vendors like Slack have experienced.
  • Minimizes a threat: Unlike previous Office threats, Microsoft is getting ahead of the curve and not waiting for services like Slack to siphon off meaningful customers like Google for Work (now GSuite) did in the early days.
  • Real, not paper launch: On day one Microsoft Teams preview will support 181 countries in 18 languages with support for 70 connectors and 85 bots. This has been years in the making and blends many organic investments like bots and Office 365 and acquisitions like Skype and Yammer.

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Polly bot integration (Credit: Microsoft)

  • Slack likely at risk: If Microsoft can keep up with Slack’s connectors and maintain their Office 365 pricing model, Slack could likely be at risk of decreased growth as they no longer have a giant utility lead.

In the next few months, I will trial Microsoft Teams and let you know what I find interesting and important. I use Google GSuite, Slack and Office 365 and am eager to get my hands on Teams.