Maintaining Microsoft Teams’ staggering growth

by | May 6, 2020

During Microsoft’s quarterly earnings report to Wall Street, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella described the significant spike in Teams usage as ‘two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months’.

Staggeringly, the platform now has over 75 million daily active users, and last month, it welcomed more than 200 million Microsoft Teams meeting participants in a single day, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes.

Now, more than 183,000 educational institutions use Teams, as people adapt to a world of remote everything. From a business standpoint, 20 organisations have more than 100,000 active users on Teams, including some of the most recognisable blue-chip companies in the world.

From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, Microsoft is working alongside its growing userbase to help them overcome the challenges they currently face. This means reviewing the app regularly and implementing new features that will enhance the user experience.

In response to this sudden spike, Microsoft recently revealed a host of exciting updates, including some highly anticipated improvements to the meeting and calling features.

Simultaneous videos and background effects

With social distancing measures in place, colleagues currently have very little opportunity to meet in person and discuss business matters over a cup of coffee.

Therefore, virtual meetings have become the new normal for remote working, as employees connect, communicate and collaborate via video calls, with two or more participants discussing the issues at hand.

Previously, when video was enabled, it was only possible to view four participants on the main meeting stage, but with this new experience, attendees can see up to nine video feeds simultaneously, with audio-only participants filtered below the main stage. To provide a high-quality meeting, the layout will adapt based on the user bandwidth and alter the number of videos showing to improve the overall experience.

Microsoft are also rolling out a new ‘Raise Hands’ feature that will help people be more active in larger meetings. The feature displays a visual cue to all participants when someone wants to speak, and you can also see a list that prioritises who raised their hand first, making it easier for everyone to actively participate in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has built on its popular ‘background blur’ feature with the introduction of customisable background effects. To remove any unwanted distractions, users can customise their video background from a list of pre-selected images, ensuring the meeting remains focussed and professional throughout. It is also possible to upload your own custom backgrounds to introduce more fun into the meeting or maintain a corporate identity.

Yammer and Teams

In terms of chat and collaboration, users can now enjoy a fully interactive Yammer experience whilst using Teams, with the introduction of a new Yammer app.

Instead of toggling between apps or confusion over how and where to chat, the Yammer app can be pinned to the navigation rail, allowing users to access important features with ease, alongside their ongoing projects, chats and meetings.

For many businesses, Yammer is an important way for colleagues to stay connected, providing them with important news and announcements that help them work more effectively.

By bringing Yammer into Teams, businesses have access to everything they need within one centralised hub, transforming the service into an engine room for important operations to run.

This update gives businesses the power to connect and engage with their communities, whenever they need to.

New meetings dashboard

As a business, it’s crucial that you identify and resolve issues before they become a much bigger problem, and this is no different for your Teams meetings experiences.

With the new meetings dashboard located in the Microsoft Teams admin centre, businesses can ensure their users have the best experience possible during meetings and calls by providing insights into usage, user feedback, network health, meeting details and devices.

Leveraging Power BI capabilities, the interactive dashboard allows you to filter information by dimensions such as day, countries and platform, so you can quickly get to the root cause of the problem.

The dashboard has been built using Microsoft’s industry leading analytics platform, allowing businesses to connect different datasets for more in-depth insights.

Microsoft has also outlined plans to make a ‘call record API’ generally available, so that businesses can export Teams meetings and calls data for further analysis.

Maintaining the growth…

With Teams becoming the main hub for teamwork, businesses are discovering new collaboration habits that Microsoft is confident will persist well beyond the coronavirus crisis.

Already, data from regions like China and South Korea, where many people have returned to the office, show that the Teams habits they developed while working apart, have continued.

Suddenly, widespread remote working doesn’t seem so daunting, as services like Teams enable businesses to continue operating, despite their employees being in different locations.

This period has shown organisations that they can be resilient and overcome challenges by adapting to new conditions and implementing the necessary technology.

It’s for this reason that the Microsoft Teams story of incredible growth looks set to continue well beyond the current crisis.