Microsoft has officially launched Microsoft Teams in Australia, with the wider channel well placed to capitalise on the new-chat based workspace in Office 365.
Teams, which is deeply integrated with Office 365, provides collaboration through instant messaging, file sharing, audio and video calling, alongside deeper levels of customisation and security compliance for business users.
Competing against popular collaboration tool, Slack, Teams is available to new and existing Office 365 users at no additional cost, with the vendor hoping to build on early market momentum for the platform, which is already being used by more than 50,000 organisations worldwide.
Meanwhile in Australia, Teams has been pioneered by Readify, Amicus, Blackmores, Objective Corporation and RSL Queensland.
From a partner perspective, Teams is well suited to application developers, service providers and system integrators, as the channel seeks ways to monetise Microsoft’s latest workplace collaboration platform.
Teams is available for developers to build applications on the platform, alongside opportunities around integrating existing applications through service providers and system integrators.
Microsoft has opened up the back-end to allow third party partners to build on Teams, developing connectors and bots capable of integrating into the platform.
Currently, more than 150 integrations are available or coming soon with SAP, ServiceNow, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ currently building on the platform.
“There’s opportunity for partners to add into the bot environment,” Microsoft Australia Modern Workplace Lead, Ian Heard, told ARN.
“This is almost a partner driven motion and it’s important that we mobilise our channel to offer these added values to the customer.”
In line with the “release the bots” speech made by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, in Sydney in November 2016, the tech giant is empowering its developer community to build connectors capable of integrating customer applications onto Teams.
“There’s partner opportunities around developing applications for Teams, but also taking existing applications and integrating them into the platform,” Heard explained.
“We have agreements with SAP and ServiceNow as examples to open up the APIs which provides new possibilities for partners to monetise and add value to customers.”
Heard reference one unnamed partner that is currently leveraging ServiceNow integration into Teams for its own internal use.
“They have a first, second and third line help desk capabilities but they also have multiple field engineers,” he said. “They distribute a few second and third line engineers to the field but obviously, field coverage is always a big challenge for system integrators but now they can gamify escalations coming through Teams.
“They receive a Teams alert and it’s on a first come and first served response and they are now lining bonuses to the number of tickets solved. This offers a gamification aspect and helps flatten the organisation significantly, allowing for much greater access to expertise.”
Furthermore, Readify is also utilising Teams, as the wholly owned subsidiary of Telstra aims to combat the challenges associated with being a highly distributed business with people based in offices or on-site with customers in multiple cities around Australia.
“Teams establishes a rich digital workspace where people can hold the back-and-forth conversations that are central to a project’s success,” Readify Chief Digital Officer and Marketing Director, Stephen Godbold, added.
“It's already proved a valuable tool in marketing and Teams is now being applied to share Power BI dashboards that Readify leaders use to measure business performance.
“This enables leaders to securely discuss and share those reports in a Teams workspace in exactly the same way they would in a physical meeting room.”
Since the November preview, more than 100 new features have been introduced, with the platform now available to Office 365 business customers in 181 countries and 19 languages.
Such scale, according to Heard, also helps provide further potential for partners embarking on expansion plans outside of Australia.
“If you look at the Australian channel, partners largely operate at a national or trans-Tasman level, but Teams allows for wider expansion,” Heard said.
“To expand regionally or globally, it’s very expensive to open new offices and most businesses probably need to go on an acquisition run to compete effectively.
“Whereas developing on Teams provides an international overnight marketplace that partners can starting immediately trading on."
In the most active organisations across the world, Heard said the number of people using Microsoft Teams has been growing 30 per cent each month, with messaging usage doubling every two months.
“Some organisations just want Teams switched on as an application within Office 365 that everyone can use from day one,” he added.
“There’s a whole raft of customer education and change management that businesses can bring it and as a tool, if you’re a Microsoft-centric user, uptake will be easier and the bots will be simpler.
“There’s also great opportunities around vertical market integration and adding in other bots through creating vertical market bots for specific and detailed project groups.”