Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business: 7 Key Focus Areas
Why is it worth considering Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business? Microsoft Teams is catching on in large enterprise environments. Microsoft tells us that over 125,000 organizations are using the application in 181 markets in over 29 languages. And, with the 120M Office users to easily market Teams , it seems likely that this momentum will only continue to accelerate. As we would expect, Microsoft is even getting in on the action (not surprisingly) with a significant fraction of the company already using Microsoft Teams.
Like many enterprises out there, Microsoft is slowly ‘evolving’ their tool set from Outlook, SharePoint & Skype for Business (SfB) to Teams. In contrast to all the strengths that Microsoft brings to the table with their Teams offering, what are the issues and watch-outs that Microsoft and any typical organization needs to keep in mind as it contemplates the Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business decision and works through a Teams migration— we’ve picked 7 to focus on —- let’s have a look:
1- User experience: in the realm of content/document management, Teams is an elegant and highly usable alternative to the SharePoint user experience, which it will slowly replace. In terms of conferencing and voice, the integrated “intelligent communications” experience – when fully ported over from SfB by early 2019 – will be an important element of a fully immersive user collaboration & communications experience. Having said that, although the eventual full Teams experience will be an improvement, for those users who have full embraced SharePoint or SfB for many years, the change may initially be a struggle and IT will need to proactively provide training and assistance during the migration period.
2 – Organizational effectiveness: In early production rollouts, Teams is already proving to be an important catalyst of organizational change, effectiveness, and agility. Teams brings previously email-threaded-conversations out “in the open” for everyone in the team to see, which has led to more effective organizational cohesion and decision-making. This effect is particularly significant for managers and leaders, as they are now more aware of the specific team-level dynamics and issues within their organizations than previously. Teams also has a way of empowering everyone in the organization — a “democratization” of work, in line with expectations of the increasingly millennial workforce. Along with empowerment comes speed of execution and decision-making; Teams is helping drive agility and urgency across the organization.
3 – Teams Sprawl: Based on early usage patterns, it is not uncommon for an enterprise user to have visibility into hundreds of different Teams. This presents users with a dizzying array of choices when deciding which Teams they should regularly engage with. Like DLs and the ‘old’ Exchange Public Folders, IT and/or business divisions in organizations need to figure out a way to manage Teams sprawl (e.g. through provisioning guidelines or tools, as one avenue), lest the sheer number of Teams become unworkable and overwhelming for end-users.
Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
4. Conferencing, voice, and video: Microsoft Teams has only just begun to grow thru the roadmap which will eventually have it equal and then surpass Skype for Business for production conferencing, voice, and video usage in the enterprise. Here are a few examples of areas where we have seen some initial trouble spots:
- Conferencing: When attempting to multi-task across apps while in Teams app sharing, users can easily lose visual context for the entire conference, needing to resort to a painful series of steps to re-engage in the conference. Additionally, conference meeting calendar invites generated in Teams today can take some getting used to.
- Voice: For enterprises looking at switching from SfB conferencing/voice to Teams conferencing/voice, Teams appears to confer no immediate additional business advantages over SfB when it comes to voice specifically. Over time, the integration of communications and collaboration within Teams has some obvious advantages, however in the short term, it may be harder to make the business case for an accelerated migration from SfB to Teams for voice, especially since that migration may (for many larger enterprises) also involve a migration from on-prem to the cloud.
- Endpoint Devices: Unlike Skype for Business’s focus on certified devices, it’s currently the “Wild West” with devices when it comes to Teams. There is no certified list for Teams devices. As a result, for example, the “mute” function isn’t in sync between devices and PCs, other HID controls don’t work, device settings aren’t in sync across SfB, and devices follow Windows defaults, leading to users often ending up listening through one device but speaking into another.
- Video: In multi-party video calls, Teams today presents a seemingly arbitrary visual layout – a different view for each participant. Further, participants can be presented with an arbitrary split across video streams for participants – a jarring and disorienting experience.
5 – Decentralized user adoption dynamics: Unlike Skype for Business, the primary mode of adoption in Teams appears to be “tribal”, with enterprise business unit leaders each driving adoption within their own organization vs any sort of centralized and IT coordinated Microsoft Teams administration. This can slow down adoption (relative to the IT-driven migrations of the past) unless tightly orchestrated across entire top leadership within an organization, or proactively spear-headed by IT but in a way that strongly engages business unit leadership across the company.
6 – Compliance and Privacy: The open collaboration model of Teams lends itself to being a repository for significantly more content than previous SharePoint deployments. Although Teams stands out in its enterprise manageability and security relative to other “open” solutions (e.g. Slack), we still anticipate compliance and privacy being a very significant factor gating the pace of Teams rollouts. Enterprises will need to ensure compliance by region (given the cloud model) and also implement scalable privacy practices for appropriately marking documents based on company privacy and confidentiality policies.
7 – Migration: Expectations and strategies must be set for potentially complex/long-term content migration from SharePoint to Teams, on time scales similar to the transition from SharePoint on-prem to SharePoint online. Further, some enterprises already have significant user populations on alternative team chat solutions such as Slack or Workplace by Facebook. Because of the “network effects” involved with moving team collaboration solutions, migrating existing team chat solutions to Teams may potentially prove extremely challenging. Indeed, the scenario of a single end-user regularly utilizing multiple team chat solutions is commonplace in initial pilot environments. This raises the possibility of IT needing to plan for an end-state of multiple solutions on users’ desktops.
Overall, the Teams offering is rapidly catching on as organizations begin to consider which platform, Teams vs Skype for Business, is best for enterprise for collaboration. Enterprises considering switching from SfB to Teams have a lot to think about. Using Teams across a work group appears to drive a reduction in email volume within the work group for internal communication from anywhere between 30% and up to even 90% (as reported by Microsoft in certain scenarios). This is an impressive testament to user value-add and user experience. The rapid proliferation of team chat alternatives might be a forcing function for IT to act sooner rather than later in driving business units to accelerate Teams roll-outs, even if the approach is two-phased (ie chat & collaboration, followed by voice). Having a proactive IT strategy, engaging the right partner for software and services, and working closely with leadership and business units, while making smart bets on the right business unit migration points, can have significant ROI payoffs for enterprise organizations.
We look forward to you contacting us today so that we can talk to you about our Microsoft Teams best practices and about how we can help you with your Teams piloting plans and transitions from Skype for Business to Teams. To learn more about our Microsoft Teams offerings check this out.
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