Collaborating is an often used word in business circles. Partner companies want to collaborate on solutions. Managers want their staff to collaborate on solutions. Project teams need collaboration to share knowledge. The examples and reason continue, but what does collaboration mean in our current environment of mobility and cloud applications?
Collaborating in the modern work environment is connecting the people and various information resources into a single place where there is instant access and easy dissemination to everyone involved. Mobile users cannot be an after-thought, collaboration has to work from any platform or device. We have to consider that team members will connect from various locations and devices. We also have to support different means of information exchange while keeping an archive of that communication. In fact, historical review of collaboration is often overlooked! In our time demanding environments, team members need information on their schedule.
The past decade has seen many tools come to market to support various pieces of the collaboration need. The most notable products include Microsoft’s SharePoint and other similar web-based project collaboration tools. SharePoint was further enhanced by the addition of Skype for Business, formerly called Lync. While these tools had some interaction, they lacked the uniformity of a single interface and ability to link all the tools. In other words, IT managers had to deploy multiple products and applications to support collaboration. Often mobility required more than one phone app and forced the use of the phone web browser for SharePoint.
As we close this year, a new product is available that may answer all of the issues. Microsoft has released Microsoft Teams, a software product that leverages SharePoint, Skype for Business and the Office suite products to create a simple interface for collaboration. Teams support web browser, desktop application and mobile device access. In addition to acting as a central repository for sharing documents, chats, schedules and other information, you can instantly generate new content and conversations without changing programs. You can easily add new people to expand your collaboration and get instant notifications when they post information.
We have started piloting Teams for our client projects. I also plan to host a webinar in Q1-2017 to share more details. If you want to learn more, visit https://products.office.com/en-US/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software.