Microsoft Teams raises the bar
With their subsequent activities, the creators of Teams consistently confirm that remote work – and ultimately hybrid work – is not a replacement model or a temporary fashion. It is a space taken seriously by Microsoft, to which it is worth delivering technological investments both at the code and hardware level.
Teams, as well as the entire Microsoft 365 environment, is such a living structure, that dozens of blogs or YouTube channels are devoted to new functionalities. We present the most interesting new “features”, that were presented or announced during Microsoft Ignite, the company’s annual conference.
We look forward to the availability of PowerPoint Live. We would be imprecise, calling it only an ordinary Power Point, working within Teams. This is a completely innovative functionality, that can be called a remote presentation environment. Thanks to the preview of slides, chat and notes in a single view, you can “read the room” during the presentation, that is, not only deliver content, but also adjust the message based on the reactions and body language of the recipients. At the same time, the audience sees only the active slide, allowing them to focus solely on the presentation. Co-running a meeting with other speakers is smooth and intuitive – they can “take control” almost imperceptibly, gaining immediate access to the presenter’s view. Additionally, the “presenter mode” function makes the present more involved – the speaker can appear in front of his presentation. Participants of the meeting will be able to interact with the content of the presentation (eg open a film or a hyperlink), and the meeting will be interactive, because everyone can share their reactions in the form of emoticons. Microsoft boasts of the “lightness” of the entire solution, i.e. optimization for weaker internet connections.
Not every meeting, organization, or classroom has the same needs. Teams offers different views of meeting participants on computers and mobile devices. The large gallery view (7×7 grid) allows you to see everyone on one screen, Together Mode will work in class conversations, and the Dynamic View will allow you to follow the content (e.g. presentation) or the person currently speaking. After logging in with an Android or iOS phone, we can select more views, such as 2×4 and 3×3. Dynamic view intelligently arranges meeting items based on the number of participants.
New presenter mode (Standout, Reporter, Side-by-Side)
The creators of Teams realize, that online meetings are already a standard and the basic way to meet colleagues. That’s why they recently focused on making the meeting look as professional as possible by developing three modes:
– Standout mode: the presenter is visible in the foreground, and the content he makes available in the background,
– Reporter mode: content is displayed above the presenter’s arm,
– Side-by-Side mode: the content is displayed next to the presenter.
Together mode uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a common background, making us feel like we’re sitting in the same room with everyone. This is not a revolutionary feature, but a nod to those who miss the traditional formula of meeting the most.
The functionality allows you to share channels with people outside your organization. In such a workspace, you can chat, meet, collaborate on applications, or co-author documents in real time. Administrators can control how external users access data.
Even before the pandemic, Microsoft demonstrated prototype hardware, that gave us a picture of what conference rooms might look like in the future. Smart speakers, developed in collaboration with EPOS and Yealink, can identify up to 10 unique voices during a meeting. This offers great opportunities – for example, transcription by person or translations.
Monitors dedicated do Teams
Microsoft decided to give the so-called Teams Certificate to another two monitors. These are models from Dell and Poly 21. Both integrate the necessary conference hardware, ie microphone, speaker, camera and lighting. Simply connect your PC via USB and you can join the meeting by receiving and sending a high-quality signal – with standardized picture and sound. The new Cam 130 camera from Aver has also received Teams certification. You can find a list of MS Teams certified “endpoints” here.
Ensuring secure communication
To meet customers’ increasingly demanding security requirements, Teams will support end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for 1: 1 connections, giving the added option of having confidential online conversations. The IT department will have complete freedom as to who in the organization can use E2EE. Individual ad hoc VoIP calls will be available to commercial customers in the trial version in the first half of 2021.
In 2020, we wrote about the virtual commutes. Now it is known, that it will be possible to use them as part of Viva Insights – an application that, thanks to data analysis, aims to improve the productivity and well-being of the employee.
Microsoft decided to create an application, that combines all educational resources in one place. Viva Learning is intended to be the heart of Teams, where users can discover, share, recommend and learn from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party content provider libraries, and custom content provided by the organization.
Microsoft has launched a new service plan for commercial Teams users called “Teams Pro”. Noteworthy are, among others, analytical functions of the platform and expanded webinar capabilities (including real-time transcription and extending the number of active participants to 1000, and passive participants to 20,000). Event organizers will also be able to export attendee data to Dynamics 365 Marketing, a marketing automation application, that helps build business relationships. In addition, the ability to conduct webinars as part of Dynamics 365 Marketing campaigns has now become generally available to all M365 users. The new plan is to be available to holders of Microsoft 365 E5, E3, A5, A3, Business Basic, Business Standard and Office 365 licenses.
TTMS trains Teams … for free!
If you want to learn, how to maximize business benefits using Microsoft Teams, sign up for our free Microsoft 365 & Teams Implementation webinar – case study, which we will conduct on April 20, 2021.
Marcin Kapuściński – Transition Technologies MS S.A.