Here’s an update you won’t want to miss: Skype for Business is now being fully upgraded to Teams. What does this mean for you and your business? For starters, one of these days you might have trouble logging into your Skype for Business account.But don’t be startled - this is just part of the transition from Skype for Business to Teams.
While Skype For Business is being discontinued, this whole transition is considered by Microsoft to be an 'upgrade' to Teams. As the two Microsoft apps have been steadily reaching feature parity, it has long been a plan to bring together the highlighted features of these programs under the Teams banner.
As Microsoft explains it:
“As users are working on more teams, we see the opportunity to more seamlessly integrate our communication capabilities into Teams so users can have a single place for their conversations, contacts, and content. We believe Teams also provides a modern cloud infrastructure that enables us to take advantage of our assets for artificial intelligence, such as AI, Microsoft Graph, and LinkedIn, to deliver intelligent communications. With Teams, we’re creating new experiences for meetings and calling, including preparation, delivery, and follow-up.”
What is Microsoft Teams?
Teams is part of your Office 365 collection of apps and is a perfect tool for collaboration between team members within your organization. You can find an overview and additional information about Teams here.
We personally use Microsoft Teams within Grassroots IT for collaboration between team members across three locations and it’s a really powerful tool. It enables us to do text chat between individuals, as well as across departments and the whole organisation; to schedule and run virtual meetings; record the video calls along with meeting notes, which are then stored in Microsoft Stream; and to keep track of files that have been shared within the chat.
What will change once Teams takes over?
There’s not much change expected from the usual Teams app that we currently use since it has continually been updating to ultimately reach its goal of phasing out Skype for Business. What you can anticipate, though, is to find Skype for Business features within your Microsoft Teams app.
Here are some of the features that Teams has been adapting from Skype for Business:
- Teams is now marketed by Microsoft as a “complete meeting and calling solution.” During its glory days, Skype for Business used to be our go-to app for business calls and virtual meetings. Teams was then just a substitute for that purpose but now, Teams is taking the baton as Microsoft’s main act when it comes to seamless communication.
- Teams is now capable of supporting a conference call via Meetings with up to 250 participants that allows us to communicate with peers from multiple organisations.
- You can now do a screening of incoming calls with the Meetings Lobby feature. It allows you to have control of which calls you’d like to take and decline.
- You can now record you Meetings sessions which can be very handy especially for those working in sales.
- You can find the Call Queues feature that allows you to create rules to control how phone calls are distributed.
- Full telephony integration with Teams’ Direct Routing support. This feature lets organisations use Teams as a virtual phone via an existing local phone service provider.
With this promising change happening with Skype for Business and Teams, we can expect a more intuitive and collaborative future for our Office 365 applications. Microsoft aims to put intelligent communication at the core of its focus, so there’s a good chance we'll see an extended array of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered capabilities to be added to Teams as the years develop. There is already some AI functionality in place with face detection feature in conference calls, auto-transcript on recorded Teams meetings, and auto translation.
Now, where are you in this upgrade journey?
If you have been relying on Skype for Business alone, it’s time you started familiarising yourself with Microsoft Teams so that you are ready to embrace this new app when Skype For Business is discontinued. Microsoft is encouraging customers to upgrade to Teams as quickly as feasible - we are hearing whispers that they are wanting to get the upgrades done within this month. If your organization is not quite ready to upgrade, you can deploy Teams alongside Skype for Business for a time while your team members become more familiar with the new program.
How do I Upgrade from Skype for Business to Teams?
If you’re already a Teams user and have been using it hand-in-hand with Skype for Business, you can just upgrade your account to Teams Only mode when you are ready. With all the right support in place, you can successfully navigate your way to fully utilising Teams. Microsoft devised a compilation of documents to help you in your upgrade journey.
Check out a quick podcast episode of The Power Up Project where Ben shares his insights about the predestined retirement of Skype for Business and the rise of a powerful business tool in Teams. He answers the question “How will your business be impacted by change?”
While it can bring great business benefits, we understand that introducing new technology or making changes to your existing tech environment can feel disruptive for your team. Talk to your trusted IT partner about the best plan for moving your business away from Skype For Business towards full utilisation of the powerful features in Microsoft Teams.