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Now that Microsoft has ported the communications and messaging features of Skype for Business Online to Teams, the company is adding the ability to record and transcribe conferences and is extending it to specific industries.
September 25, 2018
MICROSOFT IGNITE — Now that Microsoft Teams supports all the communications capabilities of Skype for Business Online, the company is adding new features to its new collaboration interface.
New in Microsoft Teams is the ability to record and transcribe meetings and background blur to remove distractions from a video-conferencing session, the company revealed at its annual Ignite conference, taking place this week in Orlando.
Next month Teams will interoperate with cloud conferencing solutions from Polycom, BlueJeans and Pexip. Also in October, Microsoft said Teams will have added security, and the company is extending Teams to first-line workers and to specific vertical industries starting with health-care professionals with support for the HIPAA privacy standard.
First-line workers, by Microsoft definition, makes up those who have industry-specific jobs such as factory workers, store employees and service technicians. There are 2.5 billion such workers worldwide, according to Microsoft. The HIPAA support coming to Microsoft Teams will let health-care professionals securely communicate about patients.
Microsoft sees Teams as a critical interface to the entire line of Office 365 and Microsoft 365 services. Added to Office 365 commercial licenses 18 months ago, Teams has become the most rapidly adopted business application in Microsoft’s history, company officials revealed at Ignite, where the company said that 329,000 organizations now use Teams.
It was at last year’s Ignite conference when Microsoft revealed its plans to integrate the Skype for Business Online voice, video, chat and screen-sharing capabilities into Teams. It was a surprising move since Microsoft had just rolled out Teams six months earlier.
The entire set of communications capabilities in Skype for Business Online became available in Teams last month. Over time, Microsoft intends to depreciate Skype for Business; it hasn’t said when, but has signaled organizations to plan migration for existing customers with a call to action for partners to facilitate that planning.
New Office 365 subscriptions now only include the Teams client – not Skype for Business – said Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, speaking in one of Monday’s technical keynote sessions.
“This is a critical application,” Markezich said referring to Teams. “We encourage you to plan your move to Microsoft Teams, so you can take advantage of its intelligent communications capabilities, [which is becoming] that true hub for teamwork.”
Touting its rapid growth, Markezich said that 87 of the Fortune 100 use Teams. The numbers notwithstanding, the company said only 54 enterprises have rolled it out to more than 10,000 employees. Markezich said Accenture is the largest known customer with more than 100,000 employees now using Teams.
Indeed, businesses are still early in their consideration of enterprise communications tools with large communities within organizations that use different tools, notably Slack, HipChat, and Cisco Teams.
“Current Microsoft customers are kicking the tires on it,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes, a research firm focused on networking, communications and collaboration.“ Not a lot of enterprise-wide deployments, but they are trying it and doing work proofs.”
An unintended consequence of Microsoft’s shift from Skype for Business to Teams is that many customers are putting on hold plans to deploy Skype for Business Server, the on-premises version, which is not yet shifting to Teams.
“Companies that are adopting Skype for Business or were planning on it, have put the brakes on those plans to figure out how to get to Teams,” Lazar said.
While that’s good for Microsoft’s long focus on trying to veer customers to Teams, it’s not welcome news for short-term sales, and means partners who thought they had solidified deals, are now in a holding pattern.
“Anyone close to selling a Skype for Business deployment is finding that going by the wayside,” he said. “But the Microsoft Teams story resonates better than Cisco’s because Microsoft has a clearer cloud strategy. They can host it and integrate it, where Cisco has HCS [Hosted Collaboration Solution] for voice and video, and WebEx for meetings and team applications — and those are still two separate offerings.”
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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