Microsoft stepped into the enterprise collaboration market today with the full release of its Office 365, chat-based workspace Microsoft Teams.
Similar to how Outlook merged email, contacts and calendar, Microsoft Teams brings together chat, Skype video calls, access to Word, Excel, SharePoint, OneNote and Power BI.
It is targeted squarely at Slack (which Microsoft reportedly once considered buying) and the likes of Workplace by Facebook, Salesforce Chatter and SAP’s Jam, in a bold grab for the market.
Microsoft offered up a number of happy Australian customers that had been using Teams as early-adopters in the launch material, including RSL Queensland; commercial space fitout company Amicus; supplement maker Blackmores; software developer Objective Corporation; and Telstra subsidy, developers Readify.
The Teams workspaces can be customised with tabs, connectors and bots from third party partners as well as Microsoft tools like Planner and Visual Studio Team Services. More than 150 integrations are available or coming soon and SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ are building on the platform, the company confirmed.
“We’re reinventing productivity by digitally transforming the workplace itself and delivering coherence around ideas, actions and values,” Office Business Group lead for Microsoft Australia, Sharon Schoenborn, said.
“Everyone is kept informed, everybody’s voice is heard, and the culture of the organisation is sustained in the digital as well as the physical workplace.”
Teams on top
RSL Queensland chief information officer Simon Button, said teams working on the organisation’s overhaul of its national lottery system had used Teams to communicate.
“It’s primarily been for the project teams and the lotteries project. They were using Slack but as soon as Teams was announced we were an early adopter. It’s really bringing the SharePoint play to life – there are really tight connections around document share and real time collaboration and the opportunity to get off email.”
Button added that he envisaged a wider deployment across the RSL head office, districts and sub branches as well as external partners.
“Because we are a very decentralised operating model through the three tiers there is a lot of difficulty sharing knowledge across the organisation. SharePoint has helped – having Teams on top of that with collaboration and talk around issues in real time – that will be a key use case for us.”
Blackmores CIO Brett Winn, said Teams was being used within the company’s IT department and would be extended to employees working in Asia.
“We’ve always had SharePoint that let us share access to documents and reports, but the really tight integration of Teams with Office 365, along with persistent chat means that everyone is always on the same page with access to the same information right there in the Teams workspace,” he said.
“As we bring people into those groups from Asia we will become more distributed – and that’s where Teams will really be able to stretch its legs,” Winn added.
Teams – which was in development for about 18 months – was first made available in preview in November, and more than 50,000 organisations worldwide have started to use it, Microsoft said.
Some 100 features have been added for the full release including mobile audio calling, email integration and advanced security compliance capabilities, the company added.
Teams will also integrate with Yammer, the social network for work that Microsoft made available to Office 365 subscribers early last year.
The general release of Teams is the latest of several big-player movements in the enterprise collaboration space in recent weeks.
Google announced last week that it’s going after the work group chat market as well as the group videoconferencing market even harder than before by splitting Hangouts’s functions in two.
Hangouts Chat, a service designed to provide teams a shared space to discuss work will gradually roll out to all G Suite customers over the next few weeks and Hangouts Meet, that provides teams with more robust online audio and video conferencing capabilities is available through an early adopter programme.
Last month Amazon announced Chime, a managed service which runs on AWS to which makes it easy to “communicate with people inside and outside your organisation using voice, video, and chat”.