The Future of Intelligent Communications
By Michael Fiorito, MDS
Microsoft has introduced a new vision for intelligent communications, transforming calling and meeting experiences for people and organizations around the world.
Microsoft Teams is core to their vision for intelligent communications—bringing together conversations, meetings, files, Office apps, and third-party integrations—to provide a single hub for teamwork in Office 365.
To achieve this vision for intelligent communications, Microsoft is bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Teams, along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.
All of this is being built on a new, modern Skype infrastructure for enterprise-grade voice and video communications. Microsoft’s next generation, cloud-born architecture is already powering communication experiences in Teams and is evolving rapidly. The community is excited about this new infrastructure because it will provide both speed of innovation as well as a higher quality communication experience.
As Microsoft builds out these capabilities, Teams will evolve as the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365, replacing the current Skype for Business client over time.
The future of business meetings
Combining communications, collaboration, and intelligence in this way will make new things possible across the lifecycle of a call or meeting:
- Before a meeting, Teams will surface relevant documents and rich information about the participants to help you prepare.
- During the meeting, the conversation can be captured, transcribed, and time-coded, with closed captioning and voice recognition for attributing remarks to specific individuals.
- After the meeting, the cloud recording and transcript can be automatically added to the relevant channel, so conversations, documents, notes, and action items can be reviewed, indexed, and searched by the entire team.
Introducing calling features and meeting enhancements in Teams
Microsoft has continued to enhance the communications capabilities in Teams, with new features like scheduled meetings, Outlook calendar integration, and meetings on mobile. Microsoft began rolling out guest access—so you can use Teams to collaborate with people outside your company. In the coming months, Microsoft will begin adding calling features in Teams—including inbound and outbound calls to PSTN numbers, hold, call transfer, and voicemail.
Microsoft is also introducing new enhancements to Teams meetings, including audio conferencing (available in preview today)—enabling participants to join a Teams meeting by dialing a telephone number—and interoperability between Teams and Skype for Business, including universal presence, and messaging and calling interoperability.
This is just the beginning of a big wave of feature releases that will bring the core set of meetings and phone system capabilities into Teams.
Microsoft remains committed to bringing the familiar Skype experience into any and every meeting room. Microsoft has seen strong customer momentum with Skype Rooms Systems. Today, Lenovo announced they will bring to market a new Skype Room Systems device, Smart Hub 500, expanding on the current portfolio of Skype Room Systems with Logitech, Crestron, and Polycom. In addition, Polycom, Pexip, and Blue Jeans Networks will deliver cloud video interop capabilities within Teams. This adds to the existing video interop capabilities for Skype for Business delivered by Polycom’s RealConnect for Office 365 and Pexip’s Infinity Fusion product.
Office 365 customers can take advantage of the capabilities of Microsoft Teams starting today. Microsoft is committed to providing visibility into the Teams product roadmap, so our customers can assess when Teams is right for them. MDS will continue to provide an updated roadmap for Teams.
Microsoft plans to continue to offer and support Skype for Business in Office 365 and Skype for Business Server on-premises. For customers who are not yet ready to move their PBX and advanced calling capabilities to the cloud, Microsoft will release a new version of Skype for Business Server targeted for the second half of the calendar year 2018.
Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business clients can be run side by side to evaluate and explore what’s best for your organization.