This post is less about a cohesive message, and more about a series of random thoughts and ideas that have been on my mind:
During this very difficult time of quarantine due to the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “baptism by fire” many organizations and individuals are going through in regard to their work from home (WFH) capabilities. No matter what level of capacity planning and feature testing you do, real-world emergencies like this will inevitably uncover weaknesses in your planning — and force people to adjust.
I’m not sure that people realize that we will never go back (entirely) to the pre-COVID normal. On the positive side of things, I think this experience will cause many organizations who were previously unwilling or unable to consider remote working scenarios for their employees to rethink this strategy post-quarantine. We are entering a new era of remote working IMO.
During the Microsoft Teams launch event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went to great length to define the difference between other tools offered by the company, pointing out that not everything will be a fit for every team. Satya Nadella referred to Yammer as his “company pulse – a way to see what is happening across a broad organization.” Of course, it can also be used for small teams. How a team works depends very much of the context of the work, and the working style or culture of the team. Where Microsoft has failed on their “separate-but-equal” messaging for their workloads (think SharePoint vs Teams vs and Yammer as the latest example) they are succeeding on their integration roadmap between workloads. I’ll be able to see and respond to Yammer and Teams activities in Outlook? I’ll be able to see tasks assigned to me in 3 different MS Project plans and 2 Planner boards in a single app (To-Do) on my phone? Cool!
One of the toughest problems for organizations has been the constant battle in keeping their end users engaged. Microsoft has been producing some fantastic resources — but the problem is that too many organizations are still failing to do some proper planning and invest in this area. In the long-term, a failure to proactively manage adoption and engagement will cost more than any tools and processes put into place to support end users. #imjustsaying
The traditional intranet has been replaced with a wide variety of mostly consumer-based tools, each with their own security and administrative challenges that may or may not comply with corporate standards. However, we’re seeing Teams becoming the go-to replacement for a formal intranet…which at least has an easier path back to a formal intranet if a company ever decides they need to go this direction. Because Teams is built on the back of SharePoint (and Exchange), organizations can quickly move content and leverage existing Teams infrastructure when building out an intranet. As Nadella stated, “What underpins all of these tools is a very powerful platform. (Office 365 provides) a common identity, a common profile across all of these tools and powered by Azure Active Directory.”
The idea of Office 365 as a “universal toolkit” is that different teams have different collaboration and communication needs at different stages. If working through email in the initial stages of a project, an organization may not yet be ready to move a discussion to a Team or to Yammer. An Outlook Group allows anyone (depending on how your organization manages Group creation) to create a Group and invite key players so that everyone has a common platform to work from. Creating an Outlook Group generates a related Yammer Group, a SharePoint Team Site, and soon — a Microsoft Team, enabling those conversations started in email to move to the appropriate location.
Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Lehi, Utah, through which he provides fractional-CMO for partners in the Microsoft ecosystem.