Publish Interactive has been using Microsoft Teams to aid its collaboration and communication internally and with key business partners for almost a year now – but why did we start using it?
In a previous post, we detailed the requirements that led us to search for a new communications and collaboration tool. Here, we’re just going to focus on our deliberations; basically, why we finally decided that Teams was the tool for us over other ways of trying to meet our needs.
Group chat or a workspace system?
The choice boiled down to whether we were able to extract sufficient value from a chat or group workspace tool that was already on the market.
We had been using Slack in the business (on a trial basis) to see how everyone responded. So, we asked ourselves a few questions about it:
1. Was it easy to communicate (message/voice)?
Internally, we found it was; but perhaps it would be difficult to scale this to use with customers.
2. Was it easy to find stuff?
In terms of finding chat, fine; but ‘stuff’ includes so much more. We thought it would quickly just became one more place to search (in addition to email, shared folders etc).
3. Any sense of information overload?
4. What difference did it make to you?
It was fun and collaborative, but perhaps it didn’t help us as with our efficiency.
We loved the ability to gather communications and notifications, we liked the slick interface, but it didn’t solve the wider issue of getting all our information into a single place. Slack might have partially replaced email communication, but we didn’t feel that in its current form it couldn’t do anything about the issue of having files and other information scattered through loads of different systems.
So, when we applied our list of requirements to Slack (you can read about these requirements on our previous post) we found it only really satisfied two:
- A single, searchable communication system so that information isn’t lost
- Minimal effort to adopt
As a result, it didn’t seem a great fit. It was a fantastic tool, but it only solved a part of the problem. In fact, when we started to apply our requirements generally to chat and workspace systems, the chat tools it did n’t measure up as well.
It was this kind of thinking that helped us conclude that a workspace solution would fit our requirements best and – lucky for us – Microsoft was rolling one out…
And just in time too, because until Teams arrived there really wasn’t anything else like it available. There were some more niche providers that compete in some ways (like Basecamp), but nothing as generic and wide-reaching as Teams.
Microsoft really was one of the first to launch a general (by that we mean with the possibility of being widely used) workspace solution that integrated deeply with loads of other everyday systems, technologies and pieces of software. Particularly with Office365, which we use.
What is everyone else doing?
We felt it was important to ask ourselves what systems other organisations (so, that really means businesses we might partner with) and potential new recruits might be familiar with.
It would make it much easier, day to day, if we could start using a system that was simple for others to interact with or had commonalities with technologies that existed outside the group area.
For this, we looked at research from SpiceWorks, which found that Skype for Business ranked mostly highly for current usage for business collaboration and ranked highest for deployment plans for business collaboration.
So, we thought, a Microsoft technology would be good because it would integrate with Skype (which is MS owned) and everyone else in the world was likely to know how to use it.
This research also highlighted something very interesting: at the time Teams was only in beta, but Spiceworks’ survey of 450 IT professionals globally found that 11% of businesses were already thinking of deploying the tool.
In addition, the analysis estimated:
“Microsoft Teams will be the second most commonly used messaging platform in the workplace by the end of 2018, surpassing Slack and Google Hangouts, and coming in behind only Skype for Business.
“This bodes well for Microsoft, who owns Skype, and could speak to the fact that Microsoft Teams is free to use for companies that subscribe to Office 365.” – SpiceWorks
Those figures come from earlier in the year and now over 125,000 organisations are reported to be using Teams in one form or another.
In fact, in September, it was reported that Microsoft had taken the decision to go all in with Teams as its core communications platform for businesses, in effect replacing Skype for Business as its core offering here.
Well, yes. It was a technology that met our needs better than any other tool, it was likely to become popular and was going to allow simple integration with the outside world. How could we say no?
Additionally, and importantly, at a time when security, compliance and GDPR are such hot topics, there’s comfort in moving more into a Microsoft world where it’s a given that sufficient safeguards will be provided as standard.
With Teams ticking so many boxes, and with no clear superior alternative, we really couldn’t go with any other approach.