Opinion

Microsoft Teams: 8 ways it creates an inclusive, intelligent workplace

By 21/05/2019 August 5th, 2019 No Comments

Microsoft Teams seamless collaboration video conferencing

With two years of steady growth and 500,000+ organisations around the world now using its collaboration capabilities, Microsoft Teams has evolved to deliver some seriously awesome feature updates. 

There’s no better time than now for SMBs (and enterprises) to start paying attention to the growing number of customisation and intelligent workplace features Teams now offers end-users that help improve collaboration and foster a more productive environment. 

Following its recent 2-year anniversary this March, here are 8 of the latest Microsoft Teams capabilities coming later this year that deliver new ways to interact, share, collaborate, and keep secure and compliant. 

 

1. Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams meetings

Microsoft Whiteboard and Teams have combined to now provide a digital canvas for Teams-hosted meetings where users can ink together on the board in real-time, share images, sticky notes and gridlines for a deeper collaboration experience. 

The coolest feature by far is Ink Grab, which lets team members transform analog content from a physical whiteboard onto the Microsoft Whiteboard canvas by taking a photo, effortlessly sharing it with all remote attendees. That incredibly complex workflow that took you an hour to mock-up and illustrate? You don’t have to make it from scratch anymore – a massive time-saver. 

While it’s still only available in preview mode, Whiteboard in Teams meetings is set to be available across desktop, mobile and web-based versions of the Microsoft Teams client. 

 

2. Content Cameras and Intelligent Capture

On top of Teams’ amazing Ink Grab feature, the broader client will support an additional USB camera for content capture to share information faster with remote attendees in video meetings. 

Businesses can capture information on surfaces such as analog whiteboards using the Intelligent Capture feature, which focuses, resizes and enhances images and text for remote attendees in meetings to clearly see notes, brainstorming and shared files in real-time, even if they’re standing in front of the surface. You can see an awesome example in real-time over at the Microsoft blog here.

 

3. Customisable backgrounds for video calls

 

Remember that famous BBC News expert whose expert TV interview got gatecrashed by his own cheeky children and their (very amusing) attention-grabbing antics in the background?  

 Video calls made via Teams now have access to intelligent background blur technology, making that sort of nightmare scenario – as well as smaller, minor distractions – a thing of the past. 

 Call leaders and participants can select custom backgrounds like the company logo, sleek office environment or a serene beachside setting to personalise their meetings further – or use the basic blur tech to keep everyone focused who is speaking at any given time. 

 

4. Live and on-demand events through M365

Teams, alongside other collaboration services within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem such as Stream and Yammer, enables businesses to host live and on-demand events for internal employees, as well as customers and partners, with support for up to 10,000 attendees able to join and participate in real-time across their devices wherever they are. 

You can make it as simple or detailed as needed for your events with webcams, screen-sharing, high-quality streams bolstered by artificial intelligence (AI) features like automatic transcription to deliver more compelling communications beyond the traditional email or instant message. 

 

5. Seamless app, desktop sharing, video calls through browser

Teams is incredibly accessible for end-users thanks to Office 365’s abundant licensing permissions, which let each user download the application on up to 5 PCs (or Macs) and 5 smartphones and tablets. Still, there are occasions when workers may be on-the-go without any of these options available, but they need to attend a call or share their screen with others fast. 

With the latest round of new capabilities, Microsoft is enabling “frictionless” meeting experiences directly via Google Chrome Web browser, with no need to use the Teams client. You can also do full application sharing and desktop sharing through Chrome, again without the Teams client. 

This new functionality will ensure Teams users will always have the ability to have remote video calls and share content with others easily and efficiently, without having to download anything – useful when you’re on the move or not near a device with Teams installed.

 

6. Data loss prevention is now extended to Microsoft Teams

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) has finally made it to Microsoft Teams! This essential, in-built security and policy feature helps businesses better secure their data and has been a big part of the broader Office 365 suite for some time, and now Teams will receive the same big benefits. 

DLP ensures sensitive information is blocked in both chat messages and channel conversation based on workplace policies, keep control over important data, and maintain proper governance to help meet internal and external compliance and privacy requirements surrounding our data. 

As an example, DLP for Teams will inspect content of messages for sensitive information as defined by the company, and will only revoke the message if it contains what is classified. It also provides users policy tips and explains to users why certain messages are blocked. 

DLP also helps keep Teams end-users from unintentionally sharing sensitive information such as credit card numbers. IT admins will be able to configure policies in the Security & Compliance Center, similarly to the process for Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. 

 

7. Teams in virtual desktop environments

Support for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has arrived to Teams, installed in each individual virtual machine in persistent and dedicated VDI environments to enable end-users to privately message, share files and collaborate in virtual desktop environments without skipping a beat. 

Microsoft has stated they’re currently in talks with Citrix to enable calling and meeting features, making it another handy feature for businesses heavily utilising VDIs to leverage Teams. 

 

8. Live captions and subtitles

Teams is better accommodating the our diverse workforce with automatic live captions and subtitles for video meeting attendees who are deaf, hard or hearing, in a loud location or have varying levels of language proficiency. 

This feature might not seem like much to regular users, but it goes a long way into providing an inclusive collaboration toolset and modern workplace that helps all attendees keep up with the action in real-time, stay in the loop and participate in discussions with clearer communication. 

 

How can I get started with Microsoft Teams? 

These intelligent workspace features are only some of the major upgrades and capabilities released to Microsoft Teams in the two years it has been available to enterprises and small and midsize businesses.

If you want to learn more about how Teams benefits organisations day-to-day and helps them reach an all-digital modern workplace, read our new guide on the 5 big ways Microsoft Teams creates a more collaborative environment. 

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