November 02, 2020

Unlock the collaboration tools in your Microsoft 365 subscription

Scott Gosling
National Practice Manager - Microsoft at Data#3
As we’ve catapulted into a new way of working, collaboration tools have played an important role in keeping teams connected and productive. To make it happen, organisations had to move quickly, with mere days separating assessment and implementation of various collaboration tools.

For many organisations, this pace removed the opportunity for a disciplined and detailed evaluation. Decisions were made in haste, and many adopted the latest collaboration tools to meet the current needs at the time, ignoring potential future problems.

Months down the track, many are starting to reassess their initial decisions. This is driven by security concerns, a lack of cohesion with existing apps, sub-par functionality, an inability to effectively scale, or simply to cut costs.

However, what many organisations do not realise is that they already had access to collaboration tools that are integrated and scalable, offering additional functionality to support a remote workforce and the transition back into the office.

Do you have access to a collaboration tool you’re not even using?

In this economy, every cent saved is critical for the bottom line. From an application consolidation perspective, if your organisation is paying for a Microsoft 365 subscription (Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium and Enterprise E1, E3 and E5 plans), you also have access to Microsoft Teams.

So, if you’re also paying for another vendor’s video conferencing platform – such as Zoom – then you’re paying for another product that does the same job. This is surprisingly common!

Microsoft Teams is a powerful, integrated platform for enterprise collaboration, and it’s about to get a whole lot better following some recent announcements. Let’s take a look at what this means for users, and why it’s worth ditching that costly video collaboration platform to take advantage of your existing Teams subscription.

What’s new and improved in Microsoft Teams?

It’s clear that Microsoft has been working at breakneck speed to enhance the Teams platform, addressing user feedback to make sure it’s built to support collaboration both at home and in the office.

Microsoft has enhanced their collaboration platform with new functionality, including:

  • Breakout rooms: This has been a frequent feature request by users and Microsoft has delivered, with breakout rooms coming to Teams in 2020.
  • More video streams displayed at once: Now increased from a maximum of nine participants (3×3 grid) to up to 49 participants (7×7 grid).
  • Interoperability with other meeting platforms: Previously, if an external organisation was using Zoom or Webex – and your organisation was using Teams Rooms – it was difficult to connect to those meetings. This has since been fixed with native Zoom and Webex capabilities within Teams Rooms themselves.

And it doesn’t stop there! In the coming months, Microsoft Teams is also rolling out some exciting new capabilities across meetings, calling, chat, integrations, management and security – helping organisations connect and collaborate more effectively. The standouts include:


New Together mode scenes

As the next evolution of Teams’ custom background effects, this mode transports your team to a variety of virtual settings to create a more engaging and collaborative meeting experience.

Custom layouts

This is all about creating a more dynamic content viewing experience, with presenters able to customise the way their content is displayed to meeting participants.

Meeting recap

To eliminate the scramble to take notes, a recap containing the recording, transcript, chat and shared files will automatically be shared with participants post-meeting.

Call, Chat and Collaboration

  • New calling experience: A simplified call experience is coming, with contacts, voicemail and calling history in one single view.
  • Teams templates: Get Teams up and running quickly with pre-defined channels, apps, and guidance.
  • Info pane and pinned posts: An at-a-glance summary of active members, important posts pinned by members, and other relevant information in each channel.
  • New search results: Expect better context and faster, more relevant results.
  • 25k member teams: Go big with team membership – increased from 10,000 to 25,000 members per individual team.

Microsoft 365 integrations

Wellbeing and productivity insights

With role-based recommendations powered by MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics.

SharePoint Home site

Get quick access to your organisation’s intranet via the app bar in Teams, providing multi-level navigation to your community and resources.

Security and Management

  • Customer Key Support: Adding yet another layer of data encryption in Teams.
  • Bulk policy assignment: Allowing administrators to efficiently control features available to users.
  • Delegate device management admin role: To view and manage devices in Teams Admin Centre, restrict and control permissions.

And that’s just to name a few! Check out the full list of new capabilities coming to Microsoft Teams here.

Enable Live Webinars

For virtual events, many organisations have defaulted to using Zoom to support large scale webinars. But there’s no need, with webinar functionality built into Teams via Live Events.

It’s tried and tested too – with Data#3 choosing Teams to host its JuiceIT Digital event earlier this year due to its  capabilities, providing a greater user and guest experience. There’s some exciting new features coming to this area too, but we’ll dive into this in a future series.

Safe and hygienic in-office experience

As we return to the office, organisations need to ensure meeting spaces can support safe distancing between employees and excellent hygiene standards. There are a couple of upcoming Teams features that will be critical here:

  • Touchless meeting experiences for improved hygiene: Including Room Remote for Microsoft Teams Rooms, Support for Teams casting, Proximity Join on Surface Hub and Cortana voice assistance for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows.
  • Meeting room capacity notifications: To help organisations remind users of room capacities and social distancing practices, in-room meeting participants will be alerted if a room is over capacity.
  • Microsoft Teams Panels: A new category of devices that can be mounted outside a meeting area to streamline space management, providing users with the ability to view space and meeting details, reserve a space, view upcoming reservations and easily identify availabilities.

Need help migrating to Microsoft Teams?

As Microsoft’s largest Australian partner, Data#3 is the perfect fit to help your organisation take advantage of everything your Microsoft 365 subscription has to offer, providing comprehensive strategies for Teams as well as the broader Microsoft ecosystem.

Contact a Data#3 Modern Workplace Specialist  to set up a Teams Workshop for your organisation.