Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series Episode 4: Teams and the Hub for Teamwork

This week, we are going to look exclusively at Microsoft Teams, the chat-based workspace that has evolved in just three years to become a hub for teamwork for tens of millions of people. Joining Paul Thurrott and Steven Rose this week is Christopher Bryan, Product Marketing Manager – Microsoft Teams.

You can learn more about Microsoft 365, here.

Transcript of the podcast:

Paul Thurrott (00:00):
Hello and welcome back to the Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series. I’m Paul Thurrott. Once again, I’m joined by Stephen Rose, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft 365, but this time around we’re also joined by Chris Bryan, the Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Teams. Hello Chris.

Chris Bryan (0:16):
Thank you.

Paul Thurrott (00:16):
Thank you for joining us. You know, this is an interesting coincidence, over a month ago we had kind of plotted out what we would be talking about for this fourth episode, Microsoft Teams. And of course, the way the world has changed in the time since has made that all the more important that that’s what we’re talking about. So we thought we’d have Chris join us to get a subject expert in here and kind of help you know, broaden out the conversation a little bit. Obviously we need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the new normal is we’re working from home when possible.

Paul Thurrott (00:38):
I know in my own neighborhood, we see lots of families out, you know, everyday walking and you know, the world has changed and will probably continue to change. I just want to, if I could, I don’t know that this was made public, but Microsoft made a video with the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella and Jared Spataro talking about how this pandemic has impacted Microsoft and its customers.

And two things really struck me in this conversation. One was the fact that Nadella said that he was basically living in Microsoft Teams. And I assume most of Microsoft is these days as well. But then Jared Spataro said, you know, we’re never going to go back to working the way that we did before the pandemic, which I thought was really interesting. I mean, can you two maybe talk a little bit about the changes that you’ve seen, especially at Microsoft?

Stephen Rose (01:30):
Well, I think, you know, first we’re working from home. You can see myself and Christopher in our home offices and it’s been great to be able to do exactly what we tell our customers all the time, which is, Hey, you can flip on Teams.

You can work remotely, you can be just as productive as you can from the office. I think the most interesting thing for us is the human component, that it’s not just the collaboration, but it’s also we’ve set up a chat twice a week to just sit with the team, how you doing? How are you fairing? You know, it’s an interesting time. So it’s also making sure that the water cooler conversation that happens normally organically can happen inside of Teams and that that has to be set up. So I think that’s probably the first part. I think the second thing is just been so many customers saying, Hey, we need to do this.

Stephen Rose (02:35):
And I think to speak to Jared’s comment for all these companies that said, yeah, our people can’t work from home. They have to be here, which is such a 2010 kind of thing where you can only be productive. I know it sounds, you know, it’s like I’m talking like a hundred years ago, but in 2010 that was it. You had to be in the office to be productive.

I think we’ve shown you can work from anywhere on any device, on any platform and be productive and get the work you need to get done each day without being in the office. So I think it’s going to get a lot of companies to rethink their policies on where people can work from and how they can work. And I think that’s going to be probably one of the longest. Beyond just the technology is just how that affects companies. Chris, what are you seeing?

Chris Bryan (03:20):
Yeah, just to expand on that, I think the human component, as you mentioned, it’s critical. I think when we think about how people work in the office, it’s beyond just coming together in the meeting to do work. There’s also that aspect of culture and the different parts of when people come together, whether it is a sideway conversation going to lunch or just other opportunities to connect. So a lot of the changing to this remote work is how do you translate that into a virtual environment? So we see a lot of our customers are resolving Micros

oft doing things like group meditation. So we just come into a beautiful environment and we just meditate together or having visual happy hours for people to have casual conversations. They still are at their own homes enjoying a beverage, but it’s still being able to do these casual conversations, relax a little bit and connect.

Paul Thurrott (04:07):
Chris, I should have not been so socially distanced before. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about yourself too. I’m sorry I didn’t ask you that earlier.

Chris Bryan (04:17):
No, no worries. Sure, so my name is Christopher Bryan. I actually am originally from Panama, so you probably can pick up my accent from my speaking. I’ve been with Microsoft for almost about eight years now. I’ve been in the Teams, team for a while, probably almost two years. And my focus within the Teams product is all about our IT Pros. So when we think about security, manageability, compliance that’s my area that are areas of expertise.

Paul Thurrott (04:46):
Okay, great. Thanks. And we’re going to go through some of the features and functionality of Teams. We’re going to talk more broadly about working remotely in the ways in which Team enables that kind of collaboration. And also of course about some of the steps that people can take, the best practices to secure their remote workers to make sure that everything is happening in a secure fashion.

But there was some big news last week about Microsoft Teams, which, you know, we will get to. It might be advisable to kind of go over the history Teams really briefly. I don’t know about you guys, but when they said, Microsoft said, when you said that Teams was three years old, my first two reactions were, wait, it hasn’t been around forever and then wait, hold on a second, it’s been three years really?

Paul Thurrott (05:31):
You know, you kind of lose track of that. And I also find it very interesting cause you and I, Stephen had talked about this, that when Teams debuted in March 2017, it was described as a chat-based workspace, which of course it was.

And then it’s evolved dramatically since then. It’s gone out to, many different markets, education, every enterprise or first-line work or features, et cetera, healthcare, which is particularly important today. But now it’s described as a hub for collaboration. And this speaks to that notion that I had that in many ways Teams might be positioned for this new generation of work to become the new Outlook, you know, where it becomes kind of this broader all-encompassing tool.

Stephen Rose (06:15):
Yeah. And, and even, you know, as Satya said, it’s really kind of our new Windows in many ways that this is the first thing you turn on during the day and you know, and then it stays on. It continues to run across all those platforms because it’s more than just chat. I mean, we’ve got all the file-sharing knowledge. One of the things that I always say to customers is they’re like, well, why should we look at Teams?

And I go, well, if you bring a new person onto a project and you’re using Outlook but you’re not using Teams and other things, how easy is it for them to get up to speed on this project? And I say it takes 30 minutes. It takes one minute to add somebody to the Team’s group and 29 minutes for them to read through the chat, look at the files, watch the videos, be able to search those videos. So for the specific things that they’re looking for and get up to speed, rather than, I’m going to send you a hundred emails, I’m going to send you to five shares, I’m going to send you this document that was written by somebody who left the company a year ago and this should be everything you need to get up to speed, which is insane if you think about it that way. And that’s one of the things that I’ve always shared with customers. Chris, what about yourself?

Chris Bryan (07:24):
Yeah, no, I think the key advantage of Teams is because it brings everything together in one place. It helps customers and users ultimately to reduce the context switching. So instead of having to jump around to multiple applications, being able to see everything in one place, and to your point, having all of the modalities, whether you’re willing to call, whether you need to chat, whether you need to actually use an application, whether it’s native Microsoft application or a third party, everything is right there for you. So I think that has significantly changed the way a user approach productivity on a day to day basis

Paul Thurrott (08:00):
To give you an idea of the scale that is occurring here. I think Microsoft Teams back in November had about 20 million daily active users and in the week before Microsoft was going to make this announcement last week they had contacted the press and they had said, well, there are 32 million daily active users, which is obviously an incredible jump. But then one week later, and that was the crucial week where everything kind of changed. The usage jumped to 44 million active users. And we’ll talk some more about the numbers and the news from last week.

But I mean this is probably going to continue. I mean we have more and more people coming online. Not just the businesses but, educational institutions as well. I mean, what are the core areas of functionality that these companies and educational institutions need to look at and where do you see the biggest gains or the biggest benefits of working in Teams while we’re remote as we are now?

Stephen Rose (09:01):
First of all, you pick that one.

Chris Bryan (09:02):
Yeah, sure. So I think there’s a couple of things. First of all, meetings, it’s a big area for us. When we think about the difference between being in a virtual environment and being in an office, that face to face interaction through video is critical. So a lot of those type of connections are being leveraged now to video. That’s one.

When we think about in the education sector, being able to move a lot of those in place in classes. So like face to face classes online in a virtual environment. That’s another way when Teams comes into play being able to deliver online courses it’s critical vulnerabilities, one to be able to still deliver their promises to their students even in these tough places. I think beyond that calling and chats of course are a big part of like a day to day basis. That’s something that we saw when people were already in their offices and they continued to move into a virtual environment and leveraging those as well.

Paul Thurrott (10:01):
Right.

Stephen Rose (10:02):
I think the other thing to add to that is also that folks are realizing how many partnerships we have and how many different applications also click in and work from Salesforce to, you know, there are hundreds that we have. So that going, Oh, I didn’t know that I could just make a tab and have this application here. I don’t need to switch between these additional apps.

So it’s not just that it works within the Microsoft ecosystem, that it works with a wide variety of applications and products that customers use every single day. And that becomes another thing too where it becomes this pain. And, you know, we had talked about that four generations of workers and as we start to look at those newer levels of workers that are not using as much email, this is so natural and it’s like, Oh, this is exactly what I’m looking for. So it’s also bringing that into play as well.

Paul Thurrott (10:53):
Yeah, you know, meetings just kind of the, in many ways the core part of Teams, and this is an area where we have some videos we can kind of step through. The interesting thing about this is that meetings actually become more accessible when you do them through Teams because of all the excellent features.

Live captioning, in line translation, transcript searching later after the fact, where you want to go back and find something that was said. I mean it’s getting to the point where this almost speaks to Mr. Spataro’s emphasis on the fact that things are going to change forever. I mean in many ways I think what we’re going to discover during this time is that some of these features are still going to be valuable when we’re able to go back and be in the room at the same time as well. That we might want to still be using Teams in some capacity. So do you think it makes sense for us to maybe step through a couple of these?

Stephen Rose (11:43):
Yeah, let’s do it.

Paul Thurrott (11:43):
Okay. So the first one that we have is a feature that I believe is coming soon. It’s the chat pop out functionality.

Stephen Rose (11:52):
Yeah. So what we have here is that ability that if you’re chatting with someone that you can take that single chat, pop that out, you can then, if you need to close the window, move to other things and have that sitting on top, which has been a feature that folks have been asking for, for quite a while. And it really helps that way. If you’re engaged in three chats, you’re not having to switch between that. But you can have those open and multitask with it. It’s simple, but it’s a fan favorite. And something that folks have been asking for.

Paul Thurrott (12:16):
Right? I think it just speaks to the maturity of the application as we move forward, as well, similar features in email applications and so forth. And then we might have shown this one before. I think it’s really important the live captioning capability. And this is the on the fly AI assisted stuff here with Stephen.

Stephen Rose (12:34):
With me. Yeah. So you know, that ability as we talk about diversity and inclusion is great. Not only is it grabbing this and you can see it, but for folks where English is a second language where reading is easier than listening or really focusing, looking for specific things, this is really great to be able to do this. And I’m excited about where this feature is going to go.

And then that transcript that you’re looking at you know, that transcription becomes a transcript that’s also searchable and that’s great when you’re going, I’m just looking to see when they mentioned this within an hour long meeting, you’re able to get right to that point. Or, again, if you’re getting back up to speed to go to the parts that are important.

Paul Thurrott (13:13):
It’s so crucial whether you were in the meeting or not, you know, after the fact to go back and see that.

Stephen Rose (13:20):
And reading and hearing also increases retention. So you have an aspect there as well. And that’s been long proven.

Paul Thurrott (13:26):
Okay. And actually we do have a video for a transcript search. So maybe we could look, that’s a little out of order here, but maybe we could look at that as well.

Stephen Rose (13:33):
Yeah. So after you know, in any meeting, once it’s recorded and uploaded to Stream, you can type in any term and it will show you every time it shows up within the video. And then by simply clicking that, the phrase, it will take you right to that moment in the video.

Paul Thurrott (13:49):
This is so powerful. What it reminds me of is the feature that debuted in OneNote years ago where you could take notes and record the audio of a meeting and it would synchronize the notes that you took with the audio, which is super helpful because most people can’t type everything that’s said, but you can at least get to that point and figure out where something is, which is incredible. There’s also an inline translation feature as well, which we have a video for.

Stephen Rose (14:17):
Chris. How many languages do we currently support now with this?

Chris Bryan (14:19):
I believe it’s 53.

Stephen Rose (14:22):
Okay. And again, it’s the same thing supporting that diversity and inclusion that just allows you to be able to simply just click a phrase, have it translate into your language, be able to type, not have somebody to go back and forth, so that we’re breaking down those barriers and making it much easier to work with people from a wider variety of places.

Paul Thurrott (14:42):
Yeah. Yeah. It speaks to, you know, the world getting smaller, which is ever more important, you know, given what’s happening, but also to the accessibility. And I have a son who’s deaf for example, and he relies on subtitling and things like this. This kind of functionality is just key for that audience.

Stephen Rose (14:59):
Yeah. My daughter has auditory processing. So for her to be able to read and hear is great and very interesting cause they’re starting school again today on Teams. I’m very interested to see how those features are going if they help her in some of the classes. So I think it’ll be very interesting to see how that moves forward.

Paul Thurrott (15:16):
I bet. I bet it works really well actually. And then Stephen and I had kind of joked about this last week, but Jeffrey Snover, Microsoft Fellow has been, in my words single-handedly making this whole thing bearable by posting pictures every day of his custom backgrounds, which is another feature of Teams because Jeffrey, like all of us is forced to work from home.

Stephen Rose (15:45):
Yeah, I’ve had fun picking some, some nice ones for this cause you can upload your own as well. So the one that Aya has behind her is a custom one that goes beyond. So yeah, there’s a bunch of really fun stuff that you can do, but it does work really great. I picked that office one and people said, I thought you were supposed to be working in braver.

And I said, Hey, check out the cool backgrounds, which is great. So yeah, you can have fun with it too, which is really nice. But it really does help go beyond the blur, which is awesome when, and I know so many, people go, Oh, my house was a mess, I flipped on blur. Or people are walking around, but it does allow you to do branding and some really cool stuff with that. So it’s a great feature.

Paul Thurrott (16:28):
Cool. So we talked about meetings is one of the core areas of Teams, but there are others, maybe we could speak a bit to the first line worker features.

Stephen Rose (16:38):
Chris, why don’t you take that, that’s all you.

Chris Bryan (16:41):
Yeah, sure. For a first line worker. There’s a lot of capabilities that Teams brings to a table when it comes to making sure that their needs are met. I think one of the most powerful features that we released in the last couple of years is the Shift application.

So when we think about historically how first line workers work, they typically had probably a printed piece of paper with their schedule, they find their name and they will come back to the store when their shift is. But there’s a lot of problems with that. So if you need to change your shift, does that mean, you have to go physically in the store or call someone to read the schedule to you? And that’s when the Shift app streamlines a lot of that specific processes.

So now first-line worker empowered to control their schedules, being able to connect better with the rest of the employees in the store, being able to contact their managers easier. And also giving a of capabilities for managers to connect with their first line worker to guide them into what they need to do in the shift. Assign them tasks, send communications, whether it’s to one specific person or the entire team. In the specific shift. So that has revolutionized the way that Teams has empowered first line workers.

Stephen Rose (17:53):
Two of my favorite features in that, one is you can actually give the ability for employees to be able to trade shifts with each other. So you can actually go in and say, hi, I have this shift. Would you like it, see who’s available. The other one that I really like is from mobile.

You can also do a location feature. So if you have a driver who’s out, they can actually go up and they can say, Hey, how long til you get to your next stop? They can actually hit location, that will send them a quick map of exactly where that person is and locations that they could go, okay, I see that you’re here. Yeah, this would be great if you could do a stopover here, or et cetera. It can really help. So it’s little things like that, that really set it apart, but give it that, oh that’s a great time saver for a lot of people in many different ways.

Paul Thurrott (18:39):
And just so we’re clear from Microsoft’s perspective, a first line worker within an organization is the person who is literally out on the front line dealing with a customer or a customer situation. So it could be a retail worker, obviously a healthcare worker these days. Someone who is, I don’t want to say furthest removed from the center, but they literally in many cases are out in, in either retail locations or restaurants or in hospitals and that kind of thing. So these are the people who are interacting out at the edge of the organization, I guess.

Stephen Rose (19:12):
Very often a desk-less worker.

Paul Thurrott (19:15):
Yes. Right. So they’re not gonna have a computer typically or standard type of computer. They might have a mobile device, in many cases or yeah, mobile device of some kinds. So, okay, great. Go ahead Chris. I’m sorry.

Chris Bryan (19:30):
Yeah, no, sorry. I was gonna say, so Paul, to to your point, I think when you think of first line workers, they’re definitely a mobile first worker. So a lot of the capabilities that we’re talking about being enabled by Team, have been optimized to use in the phone. So to give you another example of that is we announced a capability called walkie talkie. So that has been historically used in most of first-line working scenarios where you have a walkie talkie that is a separate device from your phone or any other tablet that you may have as a first line worker.

And that specific device is meant to connect you with the rest of just specific store, cause there is a specific boundary on radio. Now in Teams we bring in that functionality by enabling to work from your own mobile device. So instead of having two separate devices, it just comes into one device and instead to be limited by the radio. Given the technology that typical walkie talkies use now because it uses internet, you can connect not only to one specific store but multiple stores and be able to troubleshoot specific things, maybe requests from a customer about the availability of a product at scale now.

Paul Thurrott (20:39):
Right. So in other words, these clients are connected to the cloud, they can use cellular or wifi or whatever type of connective they have. The physical distance doesn’t matter in the same way that you know we’re probably 2,500 miles apart and we’re communicating and it gives you that walkie talkie style functionality. But through the Teams app itself.

Stephen Rose (20:58):
And I think the key thing for folks who are playing with this or trying to use this is when they’re using, you know, Teams on mobile, like that, I can hit that little hamburger button down at the bottom because some really cool stuff pops up and will happen when you do that. A lot of folks don’t realize that we have all these great apps that happen.

So that little three button that says more hit that and that’s where you’ll see a lot of the shifts and you know, to do, and organization and things that I use all the time and a lot of people don’t realize that that’s down there. It was a swipe up and now it’s turning into the hamburger button to make that even better and to support even more. So check that piece out if you haven’t already.

Paul Thurrott (21:41):
Yeah. And the first line worker experience is kind of a broader set of features aimed at that audience that exists in Microsoft 365 and today we’re just talking about the the Teams specific features. And then also there are, and I think you spoke about this briefly at the top of the show, but there are, there’s this notion of policies and settings and things that IT pros can do to lock down Microsoft Teams, which is a sudden need, just as the need for Teams in more and more places and with more and more people is a sudden need, unfortunately. What are some of the capabilities there? I mean, and maybe we should get into some of the the best practices as well for IT pros.

Chris Bryan (22:21):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So the great thing about Teams is that the same way that you used to manage some of the other M365 applications that mainly by Teams. So if we think about like a security and compliance perspective, the same admin portals that you use, the security admin portal, compliance admin portal, that can be Teams can be managed from there.

But when we think about the core experience, we have designed a Microsoft Teams admin center that brings together all the controls that you need. They’re going to be here. You’re going to find settings that apply to the entire organization, we also have policies that allow you to customize the Teams experience to specific types of workers, their specific needs. Just to give you an example you have org wide settings with org wide settings.

Chris Bryan (23:06):
You can tailor things like, do you want to have the ability to federate with other tenants? Do you want to have the ability to allow guest access into your organization? So for those of us who may have not heard of guest access, that’s the ability of bringing someone who is outside the organization into the Teams environment so they can collaborate with you in channels, documents.

So have that reach collaboration still in a secure environment that you have control over. And you don’t have to worry about the potential new insets of a external person having too much data or control over your environment. We locked that down. You have the controls you need so you feel secure and you feel confident and enable them to your users.

Chris Bryan (23:49):
So couple of other things to mention. When we think about core functionality of Teams, we think about meetings, we think about applications, we think about Teams and channels. All of that also come with settings and policies. Just to give you a couple of examples, last Ignite we released private channels, which is one of the great capabilities that we bring into the product.

Being able to have focus, collaboration within the Teams, ecosystem. You have as an admin, the ability to decide who can create private channels in your organization. Whether you want to lock it to specific people, maybe like department support staff or do you want to enable it for everyone? Whether you want to create specific meeting policies to allow people to decide who should be able to control the screen, who should be your participant.

Chris Bryan (24:39):
Those are also controlled that you have as an IT admin too. And finally from an application perspective, cause as we mentioned before, Stephen you mentioned that themes also brings third party applications into the frame. As an admin you have the ability to decide what applications are available to your users. Do you want to enable them to everyone or just specific people in the organization?

As well as being able to access our app catalog so you can confidently understand what are the specific details of the application. So you know, whether you want enable them or not, if they meet the compliance requirements of your organization some of the stuff there, those are a couple of the features for us to discuss. I do have a lot more, but maybe we can start there.

Paul Thurrott (25:27):
Well, I mean I think that’s part of the challenge, right? So, first of all, we’re dealing with just the, human need to interact both personally and at work, but at work particularly, we have to secure that as well. And that those capabilities are available. Microsoft, for whatever it’s worth has done a really neat job over the past, I would say two, three weeks, a month of just starting to really document this stuff. Not that it wasn’t documented before, but just blogging about it because, it is new to so many people now. There’s just a whole, I’m sure they were in many organizations the notion, we have Teams and you know, we use it in some capacity, but now it’s very central to what we’re doing and that needs, not just to use it but to secure it is sudden, you know, unfortunately, and is something we need to figure out.

Stephen Rose (26:20):
Yeah, no, I had one or two customers that said, Hey, you know, a year ago, year and a half ago, we rolled out Teams and everybody’s just using it for chat. And it was a lot of it because they still had X drives and things like that and they really hadn’t planned out how they were going to move folks over or haven’t trained.

And we have so many great resources to help IT pros, to help end-users, to drive campaigns, to help people understand the functionality and why this change is good. So hopefully IT pros are also taking a look at all that content and we’ll provide some links for that where they can go out and say, Hey, here’s a great cheat sheet. Here are five things that you may not know about the product that it can do. Encouraging people to do that and leaving the product not to lock down so that people may say, Hey, you know what?

Stephen Rose (27:06):
I know that you don’t think that this is important, but this is a really great feature for us and here’s what we’re able to do with it. And to really not try to overly control end users, but to create a partnership to let them do things and also best practices because there is a lot of potential for Teams, sprawl, so really who can create those Teams.

This is how we as a company are doing it. If you’re going to create a team, it should be under these circumstances. If not, this is something within the team. So it’s also really sitting down chatting with your different users on how they want to do it and then bringing that together and that really sits firmly in the role of IT. So it’s a really critical thing to be able to do.

Paul Thurrott (27:43):
Yeah, that notion of Team sprawl is something we had seen before with the self service IT and SharePoint. I mean it’s kind of a thing that happens again and again. But I think, you know, in the making lemonade sense with what is going on in the world, I mean, one of the, you try to look at some of the positive outcomes.

If, you know, it’s unfortunate that this happened, but you know, the conversation around Teams say last November, it might’ve been, well, Teams is a tool in your arsenal. It’s one of the many ways that your organization can use to communicate and collaborate. And there are old-timers that like to use Outlook and email, et cetera, et cetera. You know, in some ways this is driving more of a central solution because of the need to work remotely. And I think people who may have been resistant to it in the past can suddenly see the, the advantage to it.

Stephen Rose (28:34):
We’ve also seen companies do some great things with Power Apps and Flow to start to automate the product and things like that too. And that’s another thing is that once you get through this, go back and take a look and say, Hey, how can we start to automate processes set up rules?

We’ve had some great case studies on customers who have built really simple Power Apps to be able to search databases and be able to know, Hey, this is where that part is, with a low code or no code solution. So that also becomes that double click, as you start to dig in deeper that you can also bring that functionality into the product.

Paul Thurrott (29:07):
There’s also probably some learnings that are coming out of this situation where because we are suddenly now working, we can kind of talk theory, you know, but confronted by the fact, well we are literally now working from home. There are gonna be spikes in usage at certain times of the day. There’s going to be certain situations that maybe weren’t immediately obvious, but now that we’re living it, you know, you can kind of see. So you know, again, the COVID pandemic has maybe really brought home the fact that this is something we need to pay attention to.

We need to manage it. We need to observe how it changes the rules and we need to adapt with it accordingly. Just like as Teams is as well. So we talked about some of the, we talked about a lot of the meetings stuff, but there are other features in Teams obviously that are useful when you’re working remotely. Real-time collaboration features. For example, did you want to speak about any of that functionality?

Chris Bryan (30:09):
Yeah, sure. So I think when we think about collaboration specifically we think document creation or having to create deliverables. Teams offers that integration with the rest of the M3655 that allows customers to within the framework of things being able to go out there and document real-time being able to comment in specific lines.

So everyone has a sense what needs to change, how do we get this to the finish line? I think that’s one of the great advantages that we have when you think about Teams bringing the power of M365 and older applications into the same frame and the thing is evolution of work. It may start as a chat, it can move into a document so you can collaborate, maybe there’s the specific situation into a document or a specific missing data point that you need to clarify and immediately you can escalate into a call and solve everything seamlessly when you just jump and progress throughout the product functionality. To be able to bridge that gap and get your work done.

Paul Thurrott (31:08):
Approaching work is, I’ve done kind of in reverse of the way most normal people work in that I’ve been working remotely for a long time and it is rarer for me to be in a room with other people and going back and forth. One of the things I have noticed is that when you do that, things tend to happen because you can, sometimes you can work remotely and you can interact over chat or whatever.

Email and things kind of happen slowly. But sometimes you get the room and there’s a whiteboard and you’re drawing things and people are working visually and it tends to kind of come together, but those capabilities are still available in Teams. That’s one of the nice things about Microsoft 365, those capabilities don’t necessarily go away. You might not be in the same room, but you can whiteboard literally using a Microsoft whiteboard application and you could do that collaboratively in real time.

Stephen Rose (31:57):
I think one of the other things, and this is I think something we talked about earlier was in my previous role with OneDrive, I worked very closely with engineering and it was my first time doing so. And I would send an email and get an answer back a day later and then I’d have a question on that and it would take three, four days to get a resolution. And then they go, look, we’re on Teams, we do everything via chat, so don’t send us emails.

We look at emails last, because it was a much younger worker, different type of group, different type of way that they chose to collaborate and work together. So I’d find one, I’d send them a text, Hey, I have a question on this. I’d get an answer quickly. They would bring someone else in on the chat. That issue would be resolved and it was very much about let’s have a chat, resolve that issue and then move on to whatever’s next.

Stephen Rose (32:42):
And it was great because within a few minutes I was not only getting the answer but connected to the right people. They would say, Hey, here’s a doc that has everything you’re looking for. And all of us were able to move on to what’s next. And it took me a little while to go, wow, this is better and this is really a new norm. And when you think about it, you know you’re going to have more and more and more of those experiences as you start to move forward.

So that, that’s another thing you know, in real world, which I think people are going to start to see is chat is so much more efficient than email in many ways. You know, my favorite line ever was a gen Z said, look, you know emails, how you tell me that there’s donuts in the break room, not how you tell me about anything important. I get it now. I understand.

Paul Thurrott (33:26):
Email is increasingly the telegram of the communication role today. And the other thing is maybe this isn’t true everywhere, but to me there’s a, there’s a formality to email that doesn’t exist as much in the chat-based, in the chats essentially. So I think that’s valuable too, for just getting things along, you know. And also there’s an interruption capability in chat, which is positive.

I don’t mean that in a negative way where you just have a quick question, need a quick answer. Someone could be out in the world doing whatever they’re doing, they can answer it and move on with their thing. Whereas email, it feels like more of a process, you know, something you have to kind of sit down and really consider. Did I reply to all? Did I, you know, there’s a lot of stuff you need to worry about. And I hope, you know, again, I’m always looking for something positive to come out of something terrible, but if this pushes more people into these kinds of chat-based scenarios, I hope it triggers a surge of usage and people that might previously not even consider.

Stephen Rose (34:32):
Oh I agree. Yeah. I think we’re going to find a lot of folks, you know, leveraging these platforms and also saying, Hey, this doesn’t work as well, so this we should really keep the process organic. This is something new, which we realized we’re now able to do that we couldn’t before. So I don’t think that Teams is the end all be all for everything. But I think certainly in many areas it’s going to allow people to do things that they couldn’t either do before or do quite as easily or simply going, Oh, that’s really easy. I just dropped that into Teams. I invite four people. I say, Hey, everybody comment or do this.

And this is much easier than sending out an email where I don’t know who’s looked at it or who has seen it or they don’t know where to find things or they’re searching their email looking for 20 different things. We’re going to just keep this all here and everything related to that is right there. And that makes that much easier. Like, you know, with Chris and I said, Hey, here’s all the videos that I’ve shared with Paul. I dropped them into our chat. They were all right there. He could see everything. They’re stored in files, so if he wants to go through them online, offline, they’re all there. And that’s much better than trying to send an email with that and figuring out what’s what. So yeah, and I would see more of that.

Paul Thurrott (35:37):
In a traditional office situation that that instance where you’re working on something and someone pops into your doorframe and says, Hey, whatever the quick question is, and then they move on. The reason they’re doing that is because they don’t, well A, they want to move around, but they want to not have that formal email. Will I ever hear back? I just need the answer now. It’s quick. It’s not, you know, intrusive and you know, Teams, it gives you that capability remotely, which is, you know, super important these days.

Stephen Rose (36:05):
They’re great.

New Speaker (36:06):
So, excuse me, you folks had a ton of news last week and this speaks to the new innovations that are coming in the product. And I think this is another important part of Teams that it’s always evolving, always improving. And some of this stuff is really, really neat. I mentioned earlier the 44 million daily active users.

Paul Thurrott (36:25):
Some of the other numbers that came out of the news announced last week was that 93 of the fortune 100 are using Teams and 20 customers are using Teams across over 100,000 users each. In fact, I think one of them was Accenture, maybe it was over 200,000. It was, there was some big, some big numbers there. But some really cool features happening. These are not, I don’t know what the timeframe is. I don’t think you folks are saying exactly, but let’s say, in the coming weeks and months we’ll see those new features is that accurate and okay to say.

Chris Bryan (36:58):
Yes.

Paul Thurrott (36:58):
Okay. So the coolest one to me, a lot of these are awesome, but the coolest one, and we do have a video for this is the real-time noise suppression feature, which is a you’ll see in the video soon has someone crunching a potato chip bag.

Paul Thurrott (37:32):
Right. Which is amazing. And look, we’re working from home. They’re going to vacuum going in the background. There’s going to be kids running around. Hopefully, you’re not going to be playing video games, but we talked about that. It’s a possibility. You know, things that, you know, this is crucial in any situation. But it is a well-timed.

Stephen Rose (37:52):
Especially good where we have a worker, let’s say at a construction site or something like that where there’s a ton of noise going on that you can hear that. And not hear that person, you know, easily or in a manufacturing floor, in a hospital where there’s a lot of noise going on. And that’s the thing also is, you know, we’re so about getting people to turn on their cameras and companies are too, because that drives more engagement. You can’t really be multitasking effectively when your camera’s on. It’s going to be pretty obvious.

And this is another thing to make that even easier for everybody to be able to do that and connect even in those noisier environments, especially as we look at those first line workers scenarios and make that a better experience for everybody so you don’t have to rely upon hopefully hearing what that person said, the transcription’s better, everything will be better for folks. So it’s cool, Chris, did you want to add any of the cool science behind that cause there was some kind of neat stuff that we announced that helps to power some of that.

Chris Bryan (38:50):
Yeah. Yeah. So essentially what’s happening is over time Teams will understand what is your language signal. So like your actual speech and it is being able to separate that from every other background noise. So it’s not gonna necessarily always going to understand oh, this is your dog.

It just understands that this is just noise. It’s going to be able to separate out you speech and be able to block anything but your speech. So when we think about the evolution of the product is with background learning, customized backgrounds, we allow you to focus on your image and your video. And now with this real time noise suppression, we’re gonna be focusing on your speech. So you will be able to do more focused meetings or time.

Paul Thurrott (39:31):
Nice. Really nice. I’m always impressed by how many of the great features in Teams, make the product more accessible. There’s the new one is raise hand and this is a way for remote workers to just kind of send a visual signal rather than just blurt out an interruption when they have something to say. Literally the virtual version of someone in the back of the classroom raising their hand, you know?

Chris Bryan (39:56):
Yeah, absolutely. I think you know, myself, I’m always a remote worker. So this feature is actually something that is super useful when we think about having these huge meetings.

Maybe there are some people in the rooms, there are some people that are online being able to raise that hand and get your voice in. If it’s a little bit of a, maybe like a heated conversation, very passionate people in the room, sometimes it’s hard to get in a word. With this feature that allows you to send a visual reminder and people in the room can see that, stop, allow you time to chime in and being able to be heard.

Paul Thurrott (40:33):
Hopefully you haven’t been feeling that pain with Stephen and I, we do like to talk, try to be inclusive.

Chris Bryan (40:40):
I’ll raise my hand in that case.

Paul Thurrott (40:40):
Yeah, you can raise your hand. I had never heard of RealWear, but RealWear is an Android-based AR headset. So similar kind of an Android version of HoloLens I guess. And aimed at first-line workers. So another great first line worker who these are people that are out at a remote location working on something and they need someone back at the office, an expert perhaps to see what they’re seeing and then integrate, or interact with them. I’m sorry, in real-time.

And Teams now supports RealWear as well, or will soon I should say. That’s, you know, another, just, and I think this speaks to the extensibility aspect of Microsoft Teams where it’s not just things that Microsoft provides internally, but it works with other products and services as well.

Chris Bryan (41:31):
Yeah, absolutely. I think specifically for that integration, for those listening to see, if you guys haven’t seen the video, it’s a great video in our last blog but essentially it’s integrated to a hard hat. First-line workers can go up and maybe they’re fixing a pipe, maybe they’re fixing a vacuum system. What this allows them to do is to do their work without having to worry about having any device in their hands.

And they’d be able to track with Teams through voice and be able to do as Paul mentioned, call someone back in the office, show them what they’re seeing, get instructions on how to fix it but also maybe take pictures for like the records and being able to do all of that without having to break their workflow of having to maybe go down, pick up a camera, take a picture. All of that is streamlined with Teams and this integration with RealWear.

Stephen Rose (42:27):
Think about inspections and how much that would help if you were able to basically record exactly what you’re seeing, what you didn’t know. Yes, we did do a thorough inspection and I looked at this, it was here. So even from a legal standpoint, it opens up some really interesting opportunities for our customers.

Paul Thurrott (42:43):
Right. Even a basic safety standpoint, if it’s something where, you know, there is a first-line worker on hand, but the expert who knows about the electrical system or whatever it might be, which of these wires is going to electrocute me if I touch it. You know, it’s helpful to have that kind of interaction with an expert on the backend.

Stephen Rose (43:02):
Yeah.

Paul Thurrott (43:02):
So Chris, are there any other of these new features that really stand out for you as somebody? Do you have any personal favorites, because there is a long list obviously of features that are coming.

Chris Bryan (43:11):
There is a long list. It’s hard, it’s like picking what is your favorite child? I think a couple of ones that are my favorites. I think the booking app is very powerful, especially when we think about industry scenarios for those who are new to the booking app, essentially it’s the ability to schedule, manage and conduct online meetings with people who are outside your organization.

Think about if you are a medical professional, being able to schedule meetings through the booking app to streamline the process of like scheduling your patients. The patients receive a personalized email from with branding and is able to join the meeting. And if you need to manage your schedule, you can do that too. From organization, you can actually see everyone in your staff, maybe you have multiple doctors on call, you’re able to see who is doing which meeting, being able to see who’s available for a specific timeframe, all of that within Teams. So again, I think it’s a great value add for our customers.

Paul Thurrott (44:18):
I can’t help but think that this, you know, is a replacement for something in Outlook and you know, I often see, you know, I always, I dunno for some reason I always think of Teams as the new Outlook. We talked about pop-up chats obviously. What about offline and low bandwidth support? I mean obviously being able to handle poor network conditions is critical. But how is Teams gonna work offline? What does it mean to be able to use Teams offline?

Chris Bryan (44:47):
Yeah, sure. So, and I think this is an interesting time for us to be able to deliver this capability, especially with a lot of people had to move to remote work and then perhaps none were prepared for the level of bandwidth they will need to be working from home. But essentially, there’s two aspects, that’s being able to use Teams offline. So being able to, even if you don’t have connectivity, being able to read your chats, being able to access things you had recently accessed, being able to maybe write a message, but if it’s not, you’re not connected yet, you’re being able to send it when you’re back connected. And then there’s an aspect of low bandwidth. So being able to use Teams in very low bandwidth scenarios where you perhaps, you were trying to send a chat out and instead of having to wait until having activity, being able to just queue it up, as soon as you have bandwidth, you will fire up. So there’s a lot of optimizations where we have done in that space. We’ll be able to give you access to the data that you have in Teams and understand that you still need to communicate. So as soon as Teams has a queue of that and the right level of bandwidth, being able to fire that out.

Paul Thurrott (45:56):
Okay, cool. Yeah, we’re also starting to see Teams obviously, and Teams is intended to subsume a lot of the capabilities of Skype for business. And what used to be, you know, the office communication server, et cetera, et cetera. So we have new devices coming online soon. But also what I would say is a really interesting capability, which is a Microsoft 365 Business Voice, which is what for smaller businesses gives them the capability to transform Teams into a complete phone system, which is, yikes. That’s very interesting. So how does, what’s going on there?

Chris Bryan (46:38):
Well, I think from a Teams perspective is we understand that different types of businesses have different needs. And I think the SMB space is one of the ones that we want to make sure it’s empowered with everything that they need. And being able to provide them with this service is to augment the portfolio of capabilities they have. To include things like telephone systems. So your point, I think it is giving those customers that option to augment Teams and start thinking about Teams so they help for everything they need and avoid having to maybe outsource or use different applications or different services to have everything to be able to function.

Paul Thurrott (47:19):
Right.

Chris Bryan (47:20):
Yeah. Stephen do you have any perspective on that.

Stephen Rose (47:23):
I think as we take a look at help desk and things like this, this is going to really dramatically help in the cost savings when small businesses take a look at what they’re spending on telco today and maintaining those expensive phones. I haven’t had a phone on my desk in years and the ability to get away from that, that your iPhone and your Android tablet and your laptop are also your business phone and can really go anywhere opens up a lot of opportunities and especially for emergency responders and things like that, it’s just huge the opportunities that it brings forward and allow them to communicate on different devices in different ways, in different environments. With that standard-ness that you tend to only get in the past from a landline system, at an incredibly affordable cost that these companies couldn’t do before. Also doing redundancy and backup. If something happens to your office, you can simply hit a button and now your whole call centers working from home. And I know living in California for many years, that was always a fear is what happens if an earthquake hits, we’re out of business. Well, no you’re not because you could have the folks that were East of it or still service. They turn on, they’re immediately up and running in minutes and the business doesn’t need to start rewiring itself in many ways. So it opens up some great opportunities for folks.

Paul Thurrott (48:43):
Yeah, we used to, enterprises would integrate with or have their own PBX’s or integrate with PBX and then eventually it’s virtual PBX. And then, and now it’s being brought down to the smallest businesses, which is really cool. Before we go, I wanted to highlight the work that Microsoft has done on the Microsoft 365 blog. I would, I guess I would tell people just to search for that phrase cause it’s kind of hard to describe the URL to get to it. But again, you know, over the past, let’s say two to four weeks there’s been an incredible amount of content about not just working specifically with Microsoft tools but about working remotely about the IT issues that Chris raised. And it’s an incredible resource. I mean, is there anything else you folks want to highlight before we call it a day here?

Stephen Rose (49:32):
I think, you know, I did a piece on adoption a few weeks ago and I have another one coming out on some really great features. I think it’s just checking out the stuff there and seeing the great work that our different teams have done and also hearing about how our customers, and I think that’s been the big thing for us is Hey, here are how customers are now working remotely. Here’s some of the great things that they’re doing to enable their workforce. Because it’s great for us to say, Hey, our product does this. But it’s another thing to hear from all of our customers when they say, Hey, this has really made a difference from your peers in healthcare and manufacturing and retail, et cetera. You know, education, health and life science, et cetera. Hearing from them really becomes the proof in the pudding and what they have to say. And I really encourage folks to check that out, to learn about the new functionality and how people are using this to see, you know, what functionality you may want to take a look at, that can really change the way that you do business. Chris?

Chris Bryan (50:26):
Yeah. So a couple of resources I think our Microsoft community blog for Teams that’s where we post the latest and greatest. Every month at least we put what’s great, what has been released over the last couple of months. A couple of, another one is we have a Mechanic Series. So if you are new to Teams and you want to see from security and compliance to adoption to if you were migrating from Skype you can find that mechanic series at aka.ms/microsoftteams for it. And finally our technical documentation is a great place to get up to speed with deployment resources, understanding technology. So if you go to aka.ms/successwithteams you will find a plethora of resources including a guidance for IT to support remote workers. So if you find yourself for the first time in this specific place, that is a great place to get up to speed with what should you think about, adoption of Teams for remote workers, what do you need to do to involve departments? So I highly encourage people to check it out.

Paul Thurrott (51:35):
Nice. And then the Mechanic Series that you referenced, is that a video series, right?

Stephen Rose (51:39):
That’s Jeremy Chapman’s video series. Yeah.

Paul Thurrott (51:41):
So that’s, yeah. So there’s something there for everybody, depending on how you want to learn or how you want to find out more about Teams. So video, blogs, et cetera. So lots of good stuff there. That’s great guys. Thank you so much. Obviously in this critical time. This is the right tool for the time and it’s great to speak with both of you. I hope everybody stays safe and we’ll be back next time with some more Microsoft 365 information.

Stephen Rose (52:12):
Thanks, Paul.

Chris Bryan (52:13):
Thank you.

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