Microsoft Broadens The Meaning of Collaboration With Teams, Dynamics 365 And Collaborative Apps
Lately, you can’t talk about work without talking about hybrid work. As the world starts to go back to regular business, brands and industry watchers begin to hypothesize what work will look like going forward. We can certainly disagree on whether the future of work will be remote or hybrid or a plain and simple back to the office. Yet, I think you will find it hard to disagree with me that no matter where you will be working, our workflows have become more digital than ever before and this will not change.
When you think about the expansion of digital workflows, you also think about collaboration in a broader sense. Collaboration is not just about people coming together for a video meeting or working together in real-time on a task. It is also about accessing and sharing data when and how you need it. With more of the process online, we are creating more data that, theoretically, can be all shared and accessed in a timely and seamless manner. We can also use more data to automate some of the more mundane tasks to be better focused on what matters the most. With all these considerations in mind and to continue to push companies forward on their digital transformation journey, this week at Microsoft Inspire, Microsoft doubled down on making Microsoft Teams (Teams) a comprehensive future of work platform. A platform to support hybrid work where hybrid is not about where we work but how we work.
Microsoft announced that Teams customers will receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost, whether or not they have a Dynamics 365 license. Smart move to get companies to see the value of Dynamics and evaluate when, how and for whom they purchase licenses. This new level of access means that employees with a Teams license can see Dynamics 365 records directly within Teams, with companies deciding the level of permissions and data access users can have. Users who require advanced features or analytics will have to purchase a Dynamics 365 license to further interact with the data. The new integration creates a more seamless workflow across marketing, sales and customer care by cutting back interim steps like manually sharing data across functions with a broader reach than we would see with a typical Dynamics 365 subscription. It will also give more control over data to companies that might have used third-party apps to bridge those functions in the past. For example, think about the ability for sales to pull up and share information like details on the sales opportunity, customer history, health of the customer relationship or key contacts while in a meeting or chat without having to collect the information and share it over email before or after the meeting. Or customer service representatives sharing the customer case record, sourcing troubleshooting steps, and tracking follow-up tasks with the person they are escalating the case to.
While I do expect some organizations to acquire additional Dynamics 365 licenses, it is clear that the more significant benefit for Microsoft is to grow stickiness with Teams and better compete with Zoom, Cisco WebEx and Google Meet but also with Salesforce and Slack.
The integration with Dynamics 365 showcases what can be achieved with a new set of enhanced Collaborative apps Microsoft is also launching. These Collaborative apps are coming to Teams thanks to a partnership with independent software vendors (ISVs) and include Atlassian Confluence, Salesforce, SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C), ServiceNow and Workday. At a minimum, these new integrations bring structured business processes and data together into a collaborative workflow. For many companies, they will also offer the opportunity to actually rethink their processes based on the data they want to take advantage of.
Apps play a more critical role in advancing digital transformation. Still, with more apps, the complexity for IT managers to deploy and manage them and for users to leverage the information across them increases. The power of integrating apps with Teams will extend to some new benefits that have been introduced for independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to build and market Modern Work apps for Teams and Microsoft Viva. Eligible ISVs, including those planning to build Teams and Viva app for B2B, will receive access to Microsoft technology, curated training, one-on-one consultations and marketing resources. ISVs will also soon be able to sell their apps directly within Teams, offering new economic opportunities and providing a simplified experience for Teams IT admins to purchase apps and subscriptions directly from the Teams admin center on behalf of their organization.
There is no question that Teams has become Microsoft’s full-fledged productivity platform, not just a collaboration platform. However, it might seem daunting when you stop to analyze all the tasks one can perform within it. You might even wonder if having so much built on it will become a burden for the user. While the answer to the question will rest on the user experience Microsoft will provide, it is also true that not every Teams user will see all these features. Depending on the services the organization is relying on and the role a user has within that organization, the experience will be different and yet consistent for IT managers. From a user’s perspective, getting the information you need when you need it has always been critical. Still, it will be even more so in a digital world of work when, right or wrong, coworkers and customers alike expect everything to be just a few clicks away.