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Are you ready for the next phase of Microsoft Teams… True Unified Communications?


Microsoft Teams has been in the ascension for some time now, rising exponentially in popularity throughout 2020, to the point it is now the default internal communications tool for many organisations, with the distributed workforce utilising it to effectively collaborate with colleagues on a day-to-day basis.

Its success over the past year has recently led Microsoft to announce that it will be discontinuing its once-ubiquitous Skype for Business solution, meaning users of this platform will soon need to select an alternative Unified Communications platform.

However, while this may seem burdensome to organisations who're accustomed to Skype and have had no desire to change, with the right approach, the coming shift can potentially open up numerous opportunities for streamlining, cost savings and enhanced customer support. 

Start early, and consider a phased migration

'Lift and shift' operations are frequently stressful and time-consuming, particularly when there are legacy systems to be considered, and disruption to regular operations must be minimised at all costs. It's therefore much more effective to conduct the move to Teams in a phased, strategic manner, well in advance of Skype for Business being formally discontinued in July 2021. This will provide internal IT teams and technology partners with plenty of time to ensure any early issues are resolved, and that staff are properly supported as they begin using Teams. 

Don't forget the cultural changes!

Almost every team has their preferred way of working with their preferred set of tools, and it's important to consider this when deploying any new technology. Without the internal consensus being 'for' your solution of choice, even the most effective deployment will prove ineffective in the long run.

If your teams have already been utilising a different communications platform for a number of years, they may well be reluctant to adopt a new solution, which means the many advantages of Teams should be communicated well in advance, to give them time to prepare for the change, supported by training from early adopters, if necessary (another strong argument for a phased migration).

Consider your long-term digital transformation and customer contact strategy

As we touched on above, Teams is rapidly coming of age, with many organisations expanding on its well-established internal communications capabilities, and treating it as a fundamental part of their long-term customer contact strategy, including interconnecting it with legacy applications. Direct Routing for Teams allows organisations to consolidate their communication, collaboration, and telephony solutions in a single platform, lowering costs whilst putting a range of tools at staff's fingertips and providing customers and end users with true omni-channel support.

This is just the beginning though… The support of the right technology partner (ideally, a Microsoft CSP partner), there are numerous opportunities to integrate further solutions - call recording, storage or email, for instance - into the core Teams platform. In purely practical terms, this will have a dramatic effect on your teams' overall productivity, as they no longer have to juggle multiple tools and applications throughout the day, with everything they need available through a single platform. And utilising a proven, well-established solution to enable communication and collaboration across your entire organisation provides a strong foundation for future growth and scalability.

The potential is huge, but be sure to consult your preferred technology partner to establish what can be achieved in line with your long-term digital transformation strategy. It's also important to consider how a phased deployment can minimise disruption to daily processes, compliance and security, while helping staff make use of the new solution as smoothly as possible. As this model becomes the norm across all sectors, we will see a truly unified approach to internal and external communications establish itself, opening further opportunities for innovation that we look forward to exploring.

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