There’s no doubt that Australian businesses are being digitally disrupted. In a new study by Deloitte, 88 per cent of organisations surveyed believed they needed to redesign their organisation to succeed in the digital age. However, only 11 per cent felt fully capable of doing so.
One of the biggest challenges I’m seeing small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face today is how to manage the multiple applications they need to get a job done. The digital lives of SMBs have been fragmented, and they don’t have the same resources as large enterprises do to bring it all together so they can focus on what’s important: the customer.
Microsoft Teams speaks directly to this problem and empowers SMBs to take control of their digital experience.
Microsoft Teams is the latest addition to the Office 365 suite, but it’s not a new tool exactly – it’s a place where all the tools you already use can come together. It’s a teamwork hub for the modern, mobile workforce, bringing people, conversations and content into a single interface.
What I love about Teams is that it considers what SMBs already do well – collaboration, communication and fast-paced activity – and gives them one digital space in which to achieve it all, from any device or location. Team members are no longer tied to their PCs, or constrained to working in the same office or even the same country. It’s the digital equivalent of an open plan office.
When a team starts work on a project, they create their own channel. Members can post news, discuss ideas, share files and quickly voice and video call each other via built-in Skype capabilities. They can even add some personality to their communications with stickers, GIFs and design-your-own memes.
SMBs can also cost-effectively access the power of bots in Microsoft Teams. These software robots can prompt team members who haven’t replied to a post, kick off workflows, issue status updates and reminders, respond to queries and help team members with tasks such as scheduling a meeting that suits everyone’s availability. Automating these tasks helps teams be more efficient.
Most importantly for SMBs, all the Office 365 apps that teams use every day are integrated into the platform, from Planner, Word, Excel, Power BI and OneNote to collaboration apps such as SharePoint, Exchange and Skype. You can also easily pull in the third-party apps you rely on to be productive.
Imagine all the websites and apps you use to manage rostering, stock levels, social media, payment tracking, business analytics, emails and more – all in one place. You no longer need to constantly switch between apps and windows, scroll through group email threads or spend inordinate amounts of money trying to streamline your digital environment.
There are more than 150 applications available or coming soon to Microsoft Teams. Some apps ideal for SMBs are Trello, the project management tool of choice for many businesses; DocuSign, a digital document management and electronic signature tool; and Hootsuite, a social media management dashboard that helps you schedule content across Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
One SMB realising the potential of Microsoft Teams is Amicus Group, an innovative design and fitout business in Australia. Amicus achieves exceptional results for its clients by bringing together unique teams for every project and empowering team members to work however they choose – from home, an office, a café or a car. Office 365 has helped enable this mobile productivity for two years. And now, with Microsoft Teams, employees have one central location to access Office 365 and connect with their team members, adding an extra level of efficiency.
SMB owners have huge demands on their attention, and in the past, technology hasn’t always helped ease the load. Tools have been expensive, required external support to implement or simply weren’t built with smaller businesses in mind.
Microsoft Teams changes this in a fundamental way. It clears away the digital clutter so SMBs can focus on their customers, and it’s powered by the entrepreneurial spirit that SMBs thrive on.
Microsoft Teams will be generally available on Wednesday, 15 March for Office 365 commercial users. Alternatively, people can try Microsoft Teams as part of a free trial of Office 365.