Technology Record - Issue 29: Summer 2023

82 Microsoft Teams first launched in March 2017, but it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic hit three years later that the use of the collaboration platform suddenly exploded, with Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index Annual Report – which focused on frontline worker trends – revealing that there was a 71 per cent increase in Teams meetings between March and May 2020. This number increased thereafter with Microsoft recording a 400 per cent jump in Teams usage by November 2021, according to Mayank Verma, senior director of product marketing of Microsoft Teams for industry and frontline workers. “It’s pretty impressive to see how quickly and effectively organisations have adapted to the changing work landscape using the application,” says Verma. “By May 2023, Teams had 300 million active users each month, a jump from 280 million just a few months earlier in January 2023.” But for Microsoft, the importance of the platform goes beyond the number of Teams users. Rather, it’s more about the innovative ways Teams is helping firms in various industries to streamline operations, boost employee productivity and enhance collaboration for frontline workers. Teams is transforming the way that businesses operate through built-in applications such as Tasks, Praise and Approvals. For example, healthcare workers can use features like Virtual Appointments and Electronic Health Record connectors to conduct virtual patient visits, while retailers are using the Shifts app for employees manage their schedules. The importance of the partner ecosystem Microsoft’s extensive ecosystem of software partners are playing a key role in developing tailored solutions that can help organisations in specific industries to optimise their use of Teams. “We cannot overlook the significant role played by our partners,” says Verma. “For instance, we’ve partnered with UKG [a human resources and workforce management solutions provider] and co-engineered a Teams Shifts connector for UKG Dimensions, a mobile app that connects workers via their phones. This is a game-changer for the manufacturing sector, as it empowers workers with the ability to easily view and accept open shifts, request time off, and even clock in and out. It’s all about streamlining processes and making it easier for workers to manage their time and tasks.” Microsoft’s Mayank Verma explains how Microsoft Teams is empowering essential workers to overcome communication challenges, streamline workflows and improve operational efficiency FEATURE The frontline revolution BY ALICE CHAMBERS