You may have heard recently that Microsoft have finally set a date for the retirement of Skype for Business Online. That date is July 31, 2021, after which the service will no longer be accessible. Sounds like a long way away but you’d best start preparing now as moving off of Skype could come as a culture shock to many of your staff. But fear not, there is a newer, more powerful alternative – Microsoft Teams. Teams takes many of the best parts of Skype and then adds to it, because it is currently much more than just an instant messaging app. The good thing is that you are probably already entitled to it with your Microsoft Office 365 subscription. Let’s take a look at what teams is all about and how you can transition from Skype.
- What is it? – Think of Teams more like a collaboration tool than a messaging tool. You can still chat with colleagues through it (or converse over audio and video) but you can also work with them at the same time. Documents can be opened within the Teams application allowing true real-time collaboration. All of this takes place within ‘Teams’ which are basically Office 365 security groups with a SharePoint team site behind them. Teams can be public or private and can contain their own document libraries. Conversations are threaded and searchable. You can share notebooks, planner task lists and even share a virtual whiteboard, all within the one app.
- Use it for meetings – Integration with Outlook means you can send a ‘Microsoft Teams Meeting’ invitation. The meeting can then be hosted through the Teams client, where participants can dial on via PC, phone or mobile app. One of the real cool features is that Teams can also record the meeting and automatically transcribe. This meeting replay can then be viewed on-demand (and the transcription is searchable) through the Microsoft Stream service. The virtual whiteboard feature does away with the need for everyone to be in the same room. Using a touch screen you and your invited meeting participants can share a virtual whiteboard, seeing it update in real time.
- Integrate apps – As mentioned before, you can view Office documents within the teams app. But you can also connect other services, like SharePoint lists, use a shared OneNote notebook, browse the team document library and even embed a public website. The list of integrations is constantly growing further pushing the possibilities within Teams.
- Access it anywhere – You can download the client for Windows and Mac and it is also available on iOS and Android. If none of that works for you, you can access it via the web as well.
- It can reduce email – Most people would admit they can get a bit tired of the daily email grind. Amongst the noise there maybe some relevant communication, but a lot of it is not. By making your teams relevant to certain topics, departments or projects you have an avenue for distributing information as an alternative to email. It also means conversations are relevant to the team.
- You can start the transition today – Microsoft have made it possible for Teams to co-exist with Skype while it is still around. This means you can start getting your pilot users onboard and familiar before rolling out to the wider organisation. They can still chat to Skype users but any incoming message are directed through Teams. If you are ready to flick the switch completely over, you can make your tenant ‘Teams Only’ which will retire Skype for your tenant and force everyone to use Teams.
- Animated GIFs! – Yep, teams has a searchable animated GIF tool for chat. Don’t like it? You can turn it off too.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to Teams. July 31, 2021 is not far away. The time to start planning your Skype transition is now. Get your users on-board and take advantage of the rich functionality that was not possible within Skype. If you need help starting your migration, stuck getting users on-board or just want to see what else you can do with Teams, get in touch with the team at Starboard IT today.