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Microsoft Updates Teams Collaboration System: Page 2 of 2

The new message types, delivery options, and administrative features unveiled today are designed to add further fuel to strong adoption of the Slack competitor, which Microsoft calls a major potential revenue source for partners. By Rich Freeman

New policy packages functionality, meanwhile, gives administrators centralized and more precise control over user-level configuration settings. “It will allow IT admins to have a predefined set of policies to set up how Teams will function for particular people and particular roles,” Spataro says.

A new trial offer announced today lets partners offer Teams to customers free for six months. Unlike the previously introduced free edition of Teams, which provides limited functionality, the trial applies to the complete application. Available through Microsoft partners exclusively starting August 1st, the trial offer applies only to end users who either have yet to move to the cloud or whose only current Microsoft cloud solution is Exchange Online.

According to Spataro, Teams is one of Microsoft’s hottest-selling cloud applications, especially among small and midsize customers. “SMBs love Teams,” he says. “It allows them to have all of the capabilities that their big brothers or big sisters in the industry have without the same type of massive infrastructure that’s required.”

It also boosts productivity, Microsoft asserts, by providing access to chat, meetings, voice calling, video, document collaboration, and more through a single interface.

“Right now, people are in an environment with lots of apps, and as a result they’re spending a lot of time switching between a bunch of different applications,” Dundas says. “With Teams, you have a single app that brings together the other apps and services within a single frame, so there’s reduced context switching. We’ve actually done research and found that people save, on average, four hours a week getting their work done when they work in Teams because of that reduced context switching.”

To further reduce context switching, Spataro notes, Microsoft is prodding users of its Skype for Business telephony system to use Teams for voice and video calling instead. “We definitely are trying to get people to move from Skype to Teams,” says Spataro, who adds that Microsoft will discontinue Skype for Business at an unspecified time in the future.

According to Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner group, Teams is a huge potential revenue source for partners. “Teams is absolutely the biggest opportunity in this coming year,” she says, pointing to implementation and workflow customization as especially needed services. Partners can draw on the new functionality announced today to build role- and vertical-specific solutions as well, Spataro adds.

“The new opportunities of firstline and industry solutions open the door for our partners to do a lot with our customers,” he says. “That’s where the partner opportunity is really popping for us right now.”

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