MICROSOFT TEAMS, introduced in its current form in 2017, has emerged as a heavyweight collaboration tool in the business world. The application, an answer to Slack and its wildly popular command-line collaboration interface, integrates with Office 365 and serves as a hub for voice over IP (VoIP), chat, instant messaging, videoconferencing, calendaring, and additional group functions.
According to Microsoft, providing migration, customization, and other services for Teams is among the biggest opportunities today for cloud partners. Yet, because Microsoft offers the tool at no cost to Office 365 users and it’s relatively easy to set up and use basic functions, channel pros must find ways to transform it into a profitable offering.
“Microsoft Teams can represent a recurring revenue stream,” states Eric Long, president of TeraCloud, a Dallas-based cloud services provider and Microsoft partner. “The challenge with Teams is that there usually isn’t a lot of money to be made in the initial setup. It’s necessary to sell clients on the optimization and automation of business services and make Teams part of a broader package of business process improvement.”
Indeed, channel pros looking to build Teams into their service portfolio must recognize that any significant revenues derived from Teams projects will come from integrating apps and building automation into workflows and processes.
The growing appeal of Teams is obvious. “Microsoft Teams is an excellent internal communications app and service with a very good mobile client. It is very easy to adopt and use,” states Mike Mackey, CEO at IT Partner, a Wilmington, Del.-based MSP and Microsoft Gold partner.
As of November 2019, the application had reached 20 million daily active users, according to Microsoft, which continues to expand the product’s features, scope, and capabilities. For example, Teams now has tools for tracking notifications, creating specialized channels, and handling cross-channel postings. It also supports 53 languages in 181 markets and powers teamwork for industry giants like Emirates, FedEx, Lexmark, and KONE.
The product’s ecosystem is growing steadily too, with ever-more rich and robust communication and collaboration capabilities. Every month, “there are more third-party apps and services and more integrations from third-party software developers,” Mackey says. The list of Microsoft and outside integrations includes SharePoint Online, eXo Digital Workplace, ServiceNow, Flow, Power Apps, Graph API, Adobe Creative Cloud, and many others.
Teams solves a common problem for businesses. Today, it’s not unusual for a firm to use a mishmash of products and solutions to collaborate, including Office 365, Dropbox, Box, Evernote, Skype, FaceTime, and others. “Many companies wind up struggling to integrate everything and work in the most effective and cost-efficient way possible,” says Michael Goldstein, president of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based MSP and Microsoft Cloud Services provider.