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Newly Updated Microsoft Teams Released

Congratulations are in order — Microsoft has finally entered the online collaboration and communication platform market in full force. This March, they released Microsoft Teams to the general public and in one fell swoop re-inserted the Microsoft brand back into a front-runner position in the business innovation arena.

But how well does it work? Can it compete with other, already well-established chat-based communication and collaboration platforms like Slack? Here’s what you need to know.

Integrations

So, let’s talk integrations. As you’re aware, Teams is a Microsoft product, and as you may guess, integrates with a full flock of other Microsoft business apps.

Right now, Microsoft Teams is offered as an added feature of an Office 365 subscription. If you already have Office 365, then all the services you’re getting in that package will be seamlessly integrated into one dashboard in Teams.

That means the following apps are built into Teams:

  • Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Delve
  • SharePoint
  • Planner
  • Cloud Storage
  • Meetings
  • Notes
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Skype

In this regard, Teams aims to solve the problem of sharing files across different platforms. Everyone knows how easy it can be to miss an emailed update or let an emailed file slip through the cracks.

This is one area where Teams clearly excels. Slack only allows file sharing via downloads- in other words, users can share files, but they have to download them first in order to look at them. That’s why Slack is often used in conjunction with Google Apps for Business (aka Google Docs, Sheets, etc).

Connectors

The integration doesn’t stop there, although with third-party apps it’s not technically an integration. Teams has what’s called “Connectors”, which serve to pull outside services into the hub. Updates from the following services can be pushed to your Teams interface using Connectors:

  • MailChimp
  • Zendesk
  • GitHub
  • Salesforce

There are more, too. There’s a base of 70 Connectors, and there’s also an API framework so developers can build more.

Bots

Now here comes the magic. Slack has Slackbot, that friendly AI-like assistant that answers your questions and keeps notes you send to yourself. Teams takes bots a few steps beyond that and offers both T-Bot and WhoBot.

  • T-Bot. This is like Slackbot, in that it searches the data in your Teams account to find answers for you. You can ‘chat’ with T-Bot or you can use it more like a search window.
  • WhoBot. WhoBot searches a whole new area to find data for you: your entire company intranet. You can ask questions about individual team members at your company and WhoBot will go find answers in Active Directory. Use it to find internal experts in a certain field, for example, or someone who can help you get sales numbers from last year.

Security & Privacy

Teams is Office 365 Tier C compliant. Read more about their security (as well as privacy standards) here.

They do not use members’ data for advertising and offer transparent operations so users know where their data is stored and who is given access to it. Microsoft was also a voluntary signer of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework.

Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Can You Compare?

The marketplace for collaboration platforms is still new and the big players like Slack are pretty much defining the industry in their own terms.

While Slack has been called ‘the office messaging app that may finally sink email‘, Teams is aiming in a different direction. Slack is looking to deep-six email as a business communication tool. Microsoft is taking a less-disruptive approach and integrating Teams with their email program (Outlook).

It’s mission-based differences like that which make it difficult to compare brands on equal terms. Nevertheless, they are all aiming (sort of) to generally improve communication and collaboration. It’s just that Microsoft comes with a fully-developed suite of products behind it while others are still just chat apps