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How Microsoft Teams Can Help Your Business Succeed

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Work better together with Microsoft’s collaboration tool.


Microsoft Teams, the company’s business communication and collaboration tool, has made a name for itself in the two years since its launch. While Skype for Business rightly remains a popular business chat choice, Microsoft Teams is used by hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world.

Indeed, research from professional network Spiceworks has revealed that in businesses across Europe and North America, Microsoft Teams has secured second place behind Skype for Business in terms of business use of collaborative chat applications, besting Slack in doing so.

Considering how young the platform is, that’s a healthy adoption rate already, and Spiceworks’ study has shown that the growth isn’t expected to stop there, with Teams predicted to experience the most growth over the next couple of years. By the end of 2020, 53% of businesses plan to use Skype for Business and 41% plan to use Microsoft Teams, compared with just 18% planning on using Slack and 12% on using Google Hangouts.

One of the key reasons behind its rise is attributed to the tool having been made available for free since July. As the default communications app for Office 365, Microsoft has naturally guided users in its direction, and while the free version does come with some limitations compared to the paid-for version, those restrictions largely affect large-scale corporations, while SMEs will be well set with the generous amount of functionality on offer with the no-cost version.

What Is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams brings together chat, meetings, calling, files and apps in a shared workspace. The tool allows users to send chat messages, plus send audio or video calls to others on a one-on-one basis or in user-defined groups. In a nutshell, Teams lets users communicate with anyone inside or outside of the business within a secure platform.

The security factor is viewed within the IT industry as a key reason to back Teams, with IT professionals involved in Spiceworks’ study ranking Teams as the leading chat tool for security, manageability and cost-effectiveness.

Microsoft Teams isn’t just about chat, though, as users can also collaborate on Office files with integrated real-time content creation on built-in Office Online apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Teams is also particularly adept at integrating with third-party applications, including Trello, Hootsuite, Evernote and Adobe. This integration ultimately makes for a more productive workspace and is one of the major bonuses of giving Teams a try.

Storage-wise, the free version of Teams provides unlimited chat messaging and search and also 10GB of shared file storage, plus a further 2GB per person for personal storage.

Isn’t Email Enough?

Email remains the main communications tool in the workplace, but chat apps are being increasingly adopted. Spiceworks’ research revealed that nearly two-thirds of businesses have deployed one or more chat apps; this compares to 42% in 2016.

Collaborative chat apps are not seen as a replacement to email, however. Rather, they are seen by IT professionals are supplementary tools, and over half of IT professionals believe these tools are critical to their organisation’s success. One of the reasons behind this is likely due to the level of functionality on offer that email simply cannot match. Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, wrote in a blog post, “Some of these collaborative chat apps offer functionality that email can’t, including chat rooms, video conferencing, social features, and more.”

Communicate, Collaborate, Connect

Microsoft Teams sets out to be simple to understand and to get to grips with, plus Microsoft has some tutorials and tips and tricks on its site for any new users. Here are a few pointers to give you a flavour of how easy the tool is to use.

There’s an Activity tab that notifies you when a user mentions you, replies to a thread you’ve started or likes a post. The Activity bell – not unlike typical message alert icons on a mobile phone – indicates how many alerts you have waiting. Also, tagging people with the @ symbol followed by a team member’s name or email address will ensure that people who you absolutely want to see your message will receive a notification in their own Activity feed.

You can tag certain teams with ‘Favourite’ status so they appear at the top of your list for quick access, and you can create custom tabs to give teammates easy access to relevant files, tools and sites – ones that are used and referenced often within the team, for example.

For additional in-tool help, your Chat list includes something called T-Bot, essentially an in-app bot that will answer any queries you have about Teams.

These are just a few of the many features of Teams, a tool with which you can host online meetings with users in and out of the organisation and host web conferences. You can hold video calls on the move with the Teams mobile app (for iOS, Android and Windows Phone), and you can make one-to-one and group online audio and video calls.

If you’re still on the fence, the fact that the tool is completely free to try, with no commitment, means that there’s really no reason not to at least give it a go. Now is as good a time as any to find out why other businesses are on board.

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TMB Privacy Policy

Why do we hold personal data?

Like any business, TMB Group has to keep personal data about staff, clients and potential customers. When you fill in the contact form on our website, for example, we need to keep a record so we can get back to you. Data is also held so we can deliver our services and so we can provide useful information, such as security update news.

What data do we keep?
Depending on our relationship with you, we’ll hold information such as your first and last names, your email address, your phone number and your postal address. We will also possibly have details about your business and those who work for you. If you’re a customer, then we may have some of your banking detail so we’re able to accept payments for the services we provide.

How is your data stored?

As a responsible IT company, TMB stores personal data on secured computer systems. Anything that is archived will be placed on encrypted drives.

We do use third-party customer management software, Autotask, which means data may be stored on their servers, but only the data we need to deliver our services. The same goes for the Microsoft services we use, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which store information on Microsoft’s cloud servers. We also use Mailchimp for marketing purposes: to send emails and to manage subscriber lists.

These third parties are not permitted to share your data or to use it for marketing purposes. You can find Autotask’s privacy policy here: https://www.autotask.com/privacy-policy. Microsoft’s privacy policy for Office 365 is here: https://www.microsoft.com/online/legal/v2/?docid=43. Mailchimp’s policy is here: https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy.

How long do we keep your data?

We will keep your data in our systems until it is no longer relevant to our business, but you can request that we remove or update it at any time. We will also inform any relevant third parties of your request.

Access to your information

The key thing to remember is that your data belongs to you. That means you can request copies of your personal data any time you like, or to access and update it. You also have the right to be forgotten, so if you ask that we delete your data, we will do so or provide a valid reason why we are unable to. We will, of course, require proof of your identity before addressing any such request.

Depending on your request, your information may be provided to you electronically. In such cases, it will be provided in a commonly used format.

Unsubscribing and deletion

Unsubscribing is not the same as a request for us to delete personal data. If, for example, you unsubscribe from a mailing list, it is necessary to keep your email address on record to prevent marketing email from being sent to you. If we were to delete that information, we would have no way to tell if you have unsubscribed. Nevertheless, you still have the right to request erasure of your personal data.

Your right to complain

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the way your personal data is treated by us, you have the right to complain to a supervisory authority. In the UK, that would be the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Website analytics

Anyone who visits our website will automatically have data about them collected via Google Analytics. This gives us broad information about what people are doing on our website and which pages they are looking at. It does not provide us with personal information that could be used to identify individuals.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files that web browsers receive from websites. They are stored on your computer, and they enable sites to do things like remember if you’ve visited before, if you’re a customer, what your preferences are and so on. You are entitled to view our website without them, but you may lose this kind of functionality if you do so.

International data transfers

Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this privacy policy.

Data controllers and processors

TMB is the controller for marketing activity and personal data/special category data we hold on our own employees, but we are the processor when processing our customers’ personal data (e.g. buying a licence for a named individual).  We  may use sub-processors for processing data given to us by customers.

What we won’t ever do is sell your data. And if you sign up to our mailing list, you’ll only receive marketing material from TMB as a result – no one else.

For any questions regarding your data, contact TMB’s technical director, Richard Shuker, at info@tmb.co.uk or write to us at A1 Endeavour Business Park, Penner Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1QN..