As the ‘future of work’ (FoW) movement morphs into the new normal, Microsoft Teams has become the standard-bearer in unified collaboration (UC). However, on closer inspection of this highly competitive and fickle market, a more complex picture emerges. Even though users have Teams installed, many are informally using other apps to communicate with colleagues. This is partly due to preference. Increasingly, however, it’s driven by the need to complement Teams to suit different use cases in the modern workplace.
This informal use not only makes enterprise communications more chaotic and less auditable, but it can also cause dangerous security issues. Communications software is particularly conducive and vulnerable to leaks due to misuse and naivety. For all these reasons, Microsoft offers comprehensive guides and training materials to help enterprises drive adoption internally.
Enterprise IT leaders responsible for Teams are faced with a choice. One option is to take a very draconian approach and mandate a ‘Teams only’ policy. However, this can be hard to enforce and lead to employee resentment. I propose a better alternative: actively select Microsoft-certified UC systems that complement Teams to serve a wider range of FoW use cases.
With millennials and younger generations starting to dominate workplaces, video is becoming increasingly popular as the meeting standard. Also, modern workplaces that employ a diverse mix of full-time employees, consultants, freelancers and business partners use video to integrate teams and make people feel more engaged. For this reason, Microsoft partner technologies can play a supporting role, especially in these common scenarios:
Large meetings - video quality tends to degrade when hosting large groups of more than 10 participants. If your enterprise hosts a lot of global ‘town-hall’ style meetings you might be familiar with some of the technical issues that frequently arise.
Low bandwidth - whether you need to support remote workers located in North Yorkshire or South Africa, specialist UC systems are available to complement Teams that are engineered to overcome low bandwidth problems. Overcoming these is a great way to make these remote employees feel better connected and less isolated.
Planes, trains and Ubers - people increasingly work from wherever they can get online - whether it be on public transport, in noisy cafes and even in the back of taxis. Typically these people are asked to go on mute due to interference and loud background noise. Specialised video UC systems with noise-cancelling can block out this noise and allow people to participate in video meetings without being disruptive.
Endpoint diversity - you have no control over endpoints in highly diverse workforces, whose people may be working on Macs or old PCs that aren’t Teams-compatible. Also, many enterprises have invested millions in Cisco and Polycom endpoints in meeting rooms that don’t support Teams natively. This is one of the most common reasons we find for enterprises complementing Teams with a certified UC alternative.
So, as Teams follows in the footsteps of Office products, becoming part of every PC user’s repertoire, we see that there is ample space for Microsoft’s partners to serve the ‘long tail’ of additional use cases in a modern video-first workplace. By actively selecting certified partners as part of a wider UC strategy, employees are much less likely to ‘go rogue’ with their own less secure, unauthorised apps. This also means your people are also much more likely to embrace Teams as standard in the right scenarios.
Paul Scholey is the vice president of international sales at BlueJeans Network, a cloud-based video conferencing provider
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