13th March 2018

By Steven Godwin – Product Adoption Consultant at GCI

By 2030, Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce. Born into a world full of technology and tasked with challenging and changing the world in ways not previously known, these individuals will require the technology in their working lives that matches the standards of that in their personal lives. But how will our industry welcome them, and what solution is needed to truly empower them?

Recently, my colleague Daniel Bruce wrote a piece around being a millennial in the workplace, and I think this snippet from his blog sums up the task at hand perfectly: “When I first stepped into the workplace I was contemplating how I could adjust to being in meetings and deciphering long-tail email messages, as I was used to getting answers in seconds via WhatsApp, Snapchat or Twitter.”

Enter Skype for Business – a software platform that almost all of us are familiar with. Offering advanced features such as screen sharing with up to 250 people and broadcasting to 10,000, Skype for Business is certainly advanced! Naturally, some features simply aren’t there and so a need for an all-in-one solution appears. The question on everyone’s lips was “What else could IM, calling and collaborating become? What’s missing…and what’s next?”

In one word – Teams. Microsoft Teams is a task-focused, Office 365-oriented, collaborative platform designed around productivity. Let’s take a look at how Teams pushes the borders one step further in comparison to Skype for Business:

Building a Team – This is strongly encouraged by default due to the collaboration-focused interface of Teams. In contrast, Skype for Business has the small “create a group” icon. From inception, Teams is set out to enable users to work on documents, chat, collaborate and plan – all in one place.

Web enabled – Teams sits within Office 365 so it’s fully “Cloud based”, with a Windows 10 app delivering desktop notifications. It’s therefore easier messaging your team, viewing updates and making calls.

Channels – Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organised by specific topics, projects, disciplines—whatever works best for you. Conversely, SfB allows groups and although you can send a group message you can’t distinguish between “topics”.

Bots – Akin to downloading an app; Teams allows users to search and “add Bots” for productivity. For example, the POPin Bot enables anonymous questions, allowing more genuine feedback on something shared in Teams. This can’t be achieved via Skype for Business Instant Messaging.

Files – Due to being Cloud-based when files are shared (whether from OneDrive or uploaded from your device) they are stored and organised. The Files tab holds a linear historical log but the Teams and Contacts tabs are reference points for quick access. This “log” feature isn’t available in Skype for Business.

Just from the above comparisons you can see that Teams truly is more productive for collaboration on projects, chatter within channels and flexibility “on the fly”. Indeed, Teams may well be a “Millennial” itself, wishing to disrupt the industry. It will become the prime communications tool for all Microsoft’s Cloud users; Cloud PBX users, along with their calling plans, will be migrated into Microsoft Teams, officially making Teams the dominant collaboration platform.

As the adoption of this unified collaboration workspace grows and we move away from traditional email inboxes, I’m excited to see how divisions, departments and teams with members from all generations utilise it, and whether it fulfils the Millennial appetite for instant information.

Since Daniel’s blog led me to writing mine, I thought I’d ask for his take on Teams. ‘I think one of the crucial elements to pleasing my generation with workplace tools lies in the aesthetics and functionality. To me, Microsoft Teams looks and feels like a sophisticated social media platform and that’s great; you have the Yammer like timeline for your team conversations, the LinkedIn/Twitter-esque sidebar for jumping to different places, Bots that work on my behalf and an instant messaging capability all in one place – as a Millennial in the workplace, you can’t wish for much more than that!’

Want to see how Teams and other Microsoft technologies can transform your business? Take a look at our upcoming events:

Steven Godwin is a Product Adoption Consultant at GCI.

Steven is responsible for the successful adoption among customers of GCI’s Skype for Business solution. In his current role at GCI, Steve has contributed to an online learning portal – a new product for clients to train staff on Skype for Business. Steven’s main interest is with embedding cultural change within organisations, removing the boundaries to allow clients to work seamlessly in real time. Steven also holds a Degree in Social Science.