Don’t just take ChatGPT’s word for it; Here’s why your business should really use (or switch to) Microsoft Teams
Ask Chat GPT why your business should use Microsoft Teams, if your organization doesn’t already leverage the conferencing and collaboration platform, and the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot will list all the traditional reasons you’d expect. The AI engine states small and midsize businesses should employ (or, by extension, switch to) Microsoft Teams because the cost-effective application improves communication via file sharing and video conferencing, provides a secure collaboration platform for more effective problem solving, integrates well with other Microsoft solutions, boasts solid support and training, works with numerous mobile platforms and is cost effective.
Certainly, those are all valid reasons firms should adopt Microsoft Teams within their daily operations and workflows. But there are compelling related and other justifications that warrant taking another look at the business communication and collaboration platform’s recently improved feature set. And it’s possible even firms using Microsoft Teams every day aren’t aware of all the program’s capabilities.
Updates & New Features
First to note is the fact Microsoft just introduced new and enhanced Teams features. In a late March 2023 collaborative apps and platforms blog post, the company announced the release of the new Windows version. The newly updated platform provides performance that’s up to twice as fast as before, while using half the memory. Those improvements translate to time savings for busy users and more efficient operation.
The interface is also easier to use. Frequently accessed actions and components—including notifications, search features, messages and channels—require fewer clicks to reach, which simplifies usability and adds convenience.
The Teams platform has also become more flexible. Firms operating multiple tenants—essentially independent organizations within Microsoft services accounts—are now better supported. Authentication processes are streamlined and users will find data synchronization and notifications are more seamless and consistent.
As a result, businesses with users spread across multiple organizations and tenants no longer need to log out and back in to access their other accounts. These users can now remain logged in to one profile and receive notifications from all their accounts.
The new Windows version of Teams also incorporates Microsoft’s next-generation AI tool Copilot. Microsoft 365 Copilot better enables capturing information—including from calendars, emails, chats, documents and meetings—to assist users in improving their understanding of their data and corresponding trends and, subsequently, make more informed decisions.
Were we snarky, we’d point out Chat GPT, an AI solution itself, missed the part where one of Microsoft Teams’ advantages is its ability to use AI itself to assist business users in better understanding the data they’re already using and employing that knowledge in helpful and productive ways. But we’re not cheeky, so we’ll let that omission pass.
Chat GPT did note one of Teams advantages is its cost effectiveness. But that observation doesn’t tell the entire story. The chances are your organization already pays for a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes Microsoft Teams. The app is included within the Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans popular among small and midsize businesses (SMBs).
For firms operating without a Microsoft 365 subscription, seemingly an increasing rarity these days, an inexpensive Microsoft Teams Essentials is available. While a free Microsoft Teams version is another option, too, the paid versions extend numerous benefits.
Among the features SMBs receive when subscribing to any of the corresponding paid plans are support for up to 300 audio and video meeting participants and extended durations (30 hours) for one-on-one and group meetings. Other features available with most every Teams plan include noise suppression, screen sharing, scheduled meetings, live captioning in English and the abilities to join a Teams session without an account and view default Outlook calendars. Optional Teams features, included with such plans as Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Microsoft 365 Business Standard, include screen sharing, meeting recordings and transcripts, breakout rooms, 1TB of file storage for each user and live captioning using more than 30 languages.
While Chat GPT notes Microsoft Teams integrates well with other Microsoft solutions—including the widely used Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as Dynamics 365, OneNote, Power BI, Power Apps, SharePoint and Whiteboard—the business subscription versions of the collaboration solution provide additional functionality with third-party platforms. Microsoft Teams can also be interconnected with numerous third-party tools. Asana, Bigger Brains eLearning, Evernote, Jira Cloud, Lucidchart, Monday, Polly, Survey Monkey, Trello, Wrike and Zendesk are among the supported solutions from other companies whose operations can be further integrated directly within Teams.
Third-party (as well as other Microsoft) apps are easily added within the app. When using a supported subscription, users need only open Teams and click the + icon that appears within the Chat and Teams tabs, then browse and select the intended app. Little assistance if any is typically required from an IT expert. There’s also a Manage Your Apps button that further assists and simplifies viewing installed apps and adding new ones.
Teams users can, of course, also make and receive voice and video calls directly within the program. Basic call controls, including the ability to merge and transfer calls, as well as access voicemail, are additional features.
With chat and instant messaging capabilities and support for audio and video conferencing and virtual events with up to 1,000 attendees and broadcasts featuring up to 10,000, the platform can meet most any business’ messaging and conference and virtual meeting needs. But not as many businesses may be as familiar with Teams collaboration capabilities. Using Microsoft Teams, a company’s users can collaborate to coordinate, create, edit and track files in real time thanks to the platform’s automatic synchronization and version history tracking. Files—as well as chats, meetups and tasks—can also be saved and stored within the platform, providing a central repository for operations and project coordination and collaboration, not just communication.
Add in the fact a dedicated Teams app is available for Mac users, as well as for popular mobile and tablet platforms, and you have a business collaboration solution that addresses multiple functional needs within a single cloud-based app that enables and empowers users regardless of the location or time zone from which they’re working. Better yet, many companies will find the app is already included within their Microsoft 365 subscriptions, as mentioned earlier. Thus, there’s likely no additional cost for many SMBs.
Those firms needing to purchase standalone Teams subscriptions can obtain the Microsoft Teams Essentials plan for just four-dollars-per-user-per-month. That plan supports unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours, up to 300 participants per meeting, 10GB of cloud storage per user, anytime phone and web support from Microsoft, unlimited chats with coworkers, file sharing, tasks administration, polling features, data encryption to ensure meetings, chats, calls and files remain secure and live captions in English.
Firms interested in Microsoft Teams without a Microsoft 365 subscription can also explore the free version, as noted previously. The no-charge option includes support for up to 100 meeting participants, 60-minute group meeting lengths, screen sharing, noise suppression and a host of other features, thereby ensuring even the free version provides capable features smaller companies can employ to address meeting and collaboration needs.
Still unsure how your firm can best use Microsoft Teams?
If you still have questions—such as whether Teams is included within your Microsoft 365 subscription, how you might better integrate Teams within your office’s daily operations or what steps you can take to make better use of Teams’ many features—call Louisville Geek. Our Microsoft technology specialists are happy to meet and help your business determine how it can make the most cost-effective use of the productivity-enhancing platform.
You can reach Louisville Geek at 502-897-7577 or by emailing [email protected].
Hit us up. We’d be happy to provide a demonstration and show you how Microsoft Teams assists in powering our own daily operations and production and give you a better idea how the platform really works.