Wow. Big news! Congratulations on today’s announcements. We’re genuinely excited to have some competition.
Akin to the cringe-worthy adverts which best depicted the increased intensity of the Apple vs. Samsung rivalry, the open letter dominating The New York Times advertorial pages shows a company under pressure.
In a bid to scupper the launch of Microsoft Teams, cloud collaboration company, Stack, has instead exposed a weakness, attacking its new market competitor under the gaze of the watching world.
Unveiled this week, Microsoft Teams is a new work-chat application spanning its Office 365 suite across PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Positioned directly against the multi-billion-dollar Silicon Valley start-up in Stack, Microsoft Teams is designed to further enhance the collaboration capabilities in Office 365, tapping into more than 85 million monthly active commercial users.
“Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration,” Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, said.
“Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”
Available in preview across 181 countries and 18 languages, Microsoft Teams is expected to become generally available to all Office 365 Enterprise or Business customers in the first quarter of 2017.
“Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet to Slack and other chat-based workspace providers with the announcement of a new Office 365 product family member,” Ovum research analyst, Richard Edwards, said.
Billed as a chat-based workspace in Office 365, Edwards believes the web-based product and mobile companion applications presents a new experience for users of the cloud-based communication, collaboration, and productivity platform.
For Edwards, the unveiling of Microsoft Teams comes at a time when “co-working and collaboration software” are long overdue industry overhauls.
“Transforming the way that work gets done means shifting from legacy industrial norms to modern digital processes and workflows,” Edwards said.
“To support this digital transformation, organisations need to develop digital workspace strategies to better orchestrate team collaboration, integrate business workflows, and drive customer-adaptive behaviours.”
Edwards believes a digital workspace should enable an organisation to “standardise, systematise and externalise” its products and/or services.
“Enterprises have been trying to move their business processes out of the inbox for years, but old habits die hard,” he explained.
“As a learned man once said, ‘The difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but escaping from the old one’.”
Enterprise social networks
Across the board, enterprise social networks can lend a boost to employee engagement while team workspaces can enhance group productivity.
But for Edwards, real business transformation requires these mediums to be integrated with the tasks and activities that individual employees undertake every day and the applications they use to get work done.
“Microsoft appears to have learned this lesson, and promises integrations with over 150 partners (Slack has a directory of more than 400 apps) when the product if officially released next year,” he said.
Early partners include Zendesk, Asana, Hootsuite and Intercom, with Microsoft Teams also sharing the Office 365 Connector model, providing notifications and updates from third-party services such as Twitter or GitHub.
In addition, Redmond will also be including full support for the Microsoft Bot Framework, an initiative launched at the company’s developer event earlier this year.
“Microsoft was keen to emphasise the security and compliance capabilities of its new product, highlighting the capabilities of the underlying Office 365 services,” Edwards added.
“Data is encrypted in transit and at rest, and Microsoft said it will support compliance standards, including EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, and HIPAA.
“Microsoft Teams is unlikely to win the hearts and minds of dedicated Slack users (derogatorily called “Slackers” by some), but it will probably be enough to stop millennials and those who “don’t do email” from defecting to other chat-based collaboration platforms.”
But what about Watson?
Microsoft’s announcement comes just days after the introduction of Watson Workspace, a new offering built atop IBM’s impressive “cognitive services” technology.
As explained by Big Blue, IBM Watson Workspace learns how an individual works and interacts, consolidating multiple work conversations from various communications channels into a single space as a result.
Using Watson, the technology highlights the most urgent action items, points to the right content needed at the time, and automates everyday tasks so employees can focus on prioritising business tasks.
“IBM is working with Box, Cisco, DocuSign, and Apple to bring its new co-working platform to life, but it is not the only competitor in town,” Edwards added.
“Workplace by Facebook became generally available last month, and it too offers a chat-based collaboration workspace.
“These offerings are not going to replace Microsoft Outlook overnight, but who can deny that co-working and collaboration software are long overdue an overhaul.”