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Microsoft Teams beefs-up enterprise offerings for 2021
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Despite competing in a market that has never been hotter, Microsoft Teams has never been more popular. But with Slack and Zoom planning big plays for a larger share of the market for enterprise unified communications as a service (UCaaS), Microsoft unveiled a mile-long list of upgrades to Teams that they hope will maintain its status as the go-to collaboration platform for large businesses.

The only potential downside for users is whether they can keep up with all the new features forecast to come online in the next few months.

First up is a more dynamic way for users to host meetings. Microsoft is adding a number of new “scenes” to Teams’ Together Mode function, including a coffee shop and conference room, that allows users to share a background and collaborate in a shared (albeit virtual) setting. While this may make attending meetings on teams a little more aesthetically pleasing, the ability for users to finally leverage breakout rooms – where private cohorts of users on a meeting can chat alongside the larger group – bridges a significant gap in capabilities between Teams and other UCaaS tools.

Both features are due in October, while custom Together Mode backgrounds will be available later this year.

Also coming later in the year is the ability for Teams Users to automatically create thorough meeting recaps, complete with a meeting recording, transcript, chat, shared files, and more. The recap will be shared following each meeting in the Chat tab and viewable in the Details tab, as well as be available in the meeting event in an Outlook calendar entry.

Webinar capabilities are another feature that has been on many Teams users’ wishlists that Microsoft says will be available by years end, though details on specifics are still pending.

These upgrades come alongside a seriously thorough list of improvements that touch everything from telephony over Teams to even greater integrations with Microsoft 365 and third-party vendor solutions.

And, as is on trend with other major tech announcements in 2020, well being and health will even start being easier to track and support via a new Teams update to MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics to Teams starting in October. Other “soft” features, including “virtual commute” and integration with the Headspace meditation app, as well as “an emotional check-in experience” are set for early 2021.

It’s clear that Microsoft understands the moment and the need for more flexible and scalable enterprise business solutions to keep users connected wherever they’re accessing the network. And while Zoom may have become the default video chat tool of the pandemic, business interests have increased their reliance on Team significantly over the course of 2020.

In fact, back in April 2020 – arguable the height of the pandemic-induced rush to WFH across the United States – it was reported that Teams had reached 75 million daily users; more than double some of it’s closest enterprise competitors.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: collaboration tools, team collaboration, collaboration, unified communications, UCaaS, UC, Google Cloud, Google, O365, office 365, microsoft cloud, microsoft teams, microsoft, network performance monitoring, network monitoring, enterprise IT

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