Microsoft Teams: Group chat or a solution to SharePoint collaboration UX?

I’ve been refreshing myself on the Microsoft collaboration stack for some upcoming work projects. While at first, I didn’t find much original in Microsoft Teams in group chat world dominated by Slack, I find myself changing my mind about it and here’s why.

Microsoft Teams could be the new collaboration layer

Mention SharePoint in any mixed tech and business company, and you’re bound to hear a litany of complaints ranging from poor user experience, to performance, to poor search tools. Now with Microsoft Teams you can add tabs that enable access to SharePoint data directly from the app. As if it can’t get any better, you can add tabs to access Microsoft Office file types, Microsoft Planner, and even a range of third-party tools such as Wrike, Smartsheet, and even GitHub. Giving knowledge workers access to multiple tools from such a clean UI can make users forget about their previous problems with SharePoint and other platforms

Wiki

I wasn’t a fan with the wiki in SharePoint 2013. It was slow and hard to use for the average user. The wiki in Microsoft Teams is clean and easy to use. While it’s not exactly Atlassian Confluence, it’s good enough for team to use it to centralize light content development such as capturing decisions. It certainly is a way better option than emailing Word documents around.

Bots

Microsoft Teams includes T-Bot, an AI bot that helps you learn more about how your team can use Microsoft Teams to your full advantage. You can also create bots for Microsoft Teams using the Microsoft Bot Framework. If your company runs off the Office 365 stack, the ability to develop bots can be another tool to help turn user attitudes around about SharePoint and collaboration if done right.

Conversations around Work

Creating conversation around work has been a promise I’ve been hearing for years. Microsoft Teams and the Office 365 stack do a commendable job of giving users the tools to create online conversations around documents and data residing in Office 365. With so many enterprises dependent on email, such a feature may seem appealing to those in management but ultimately it means culture change.

Files Access

Out of the box, Microsoft Teams enables users to access files across Office 365 whether it’s on SharePoint or OneDrive. You can also add access to the following:

  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Sharefile
  • Google Drive

Skype for Business in going away

While the Microsoft acquisition of Skype made sense, the application hasn’t exactly flourished as part of the Office 365 platform. Skype as a group chat solution has always felt like it was more of a “me too” versus anything new and dynamic. Making video calls directly from Microsoft Teams isn’t anything new. It does keep Microsoft Teams competitive in the market though.

Final thoughts

I’m not about to compare Microsoft Teams to Slack because I think that’s not the right thing to do because to me Teams is more about Microsoft Office 365 not just Group chat. Being able to access files and data across Office 365 and other third-party cloud platforms is testimony to the changing Microsoft.