Teams: Leveraging Extensibility and Growing your Teams Practice

If you were in Vegas for MS Inspire back in July then I’ll wager you probably heard the expression Teams, Teams, Teams! at some point during the conference. Microsoft used it a hell of a lot. Partners did too. And Vendors. Even my colleague Graeme – who I shared a room with over at the Tropicana – proudly proclaimed it Day 1 having returned from the Hub and having – in his words – caned Fifteen K purely on the freshly brewed organic coffee they were serving outside the breakouts. Now, I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that after he’d left for the evening he went on to recreate the pose he did in the room – something I can only record for posterity as bordering on lunging – at some partner event at the Venetian, or the Wynn. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he partook in a bit of photo bombing too.

So Teams, Teams, Teams! was the title I chose for Vuzion Inspired at Microsoft UK last week – partially for laughs and a homage to Graeme and partially because it is all about Teams. But what exactly does that mean? Having attended a dozen of the 50 sessions during my second stint in the silver state my interpretation is not so much about the utilization of Teams or even about the latest functionality. It is more about this: if you – as a Microsoft Partner – want to hit the mother lode in terms of Microsoft 365 adoption, or significant professional and managed services revenues then Teams is both your safest bet and the best odds within Modern Workplace to do that. Microsoft said time and time again that they are doubling down on Teams – and in reality its the gambling equivalent of red and black where you are permitted to bet on both sides at the same time.

The house is giving you the opportunity to win.

And the statistics – drawn from Forester’s Total Economic Impact study back this up. 72% of workers will work remotely wholly or in part by 2020. 80% of employee time is spent in collaboration. 68% of Microsoft customers are planning to invest in UCaaS the next 12 months. 57% find meetings unproductive and only 15% of meeting rooms are equipped for video even though video is the norm. This all fits with the MAU growth of 275% Year on Year, why it’s partners have seen a corresponding 36% annual increase in revenue from Teamwork, and why Microsoft project £13 per user per month on Teamwork managed services.

But many Microsoft Partners still ask – how do they actually achieve that?

The short answer is that the ones making the 36% year on year or the £13 per user per month managed services typically leverage the extensibility of Teams and capitalise on emerging practice areas. In the two years since Teams’ arrival several have sprung up – all fantastic opportunities to build extensive portfolios of Professional and Managed services. It is certainly bad news for traditional distributors or partners who think that the simple two dimensional deployment of Teams for chat, meetings and files is enough. Worse still the change from DPOR to CPOR means that specialization is one of the only ways to mitigate the risk of customers switching out Teamwork revenues to those who can best demonstrate the greatest value and provide the greatest return in the customers investment in Teams – as it should be. The good news in all this is that these practice areas, areas of specialism or areas of extensibility – whatever we ultimately choose to call them – are lucrative, significantly increases the providers value and differentiates their offering – three things every Partners wants.

So here are 10 areas it would be worthwhile investigating if you haven’t already started to build a Teamwork practice.

—-

TeamsEx1

1. Apps

Building Apps for Microsoft Teams: Link | Using App Studio: Link

Microsoft Teams can be extended by developing apps that provide content and services to customers. Apps provide one or more capabilities and deciding which capabilities to offer depends on what you and the customer want to achieve. For example, this could be a Departmental Tool such as an app which supports DevOps, or an Administration App for internal approvals. Hundreds of Apps (Proprietary and Third Party) which can be deployed, configured, rolled out through Adoption and Change Management and managed are already available in the Teams store. Custom apps can be built and distributed through the store or directly to users. The Microsoft Teams Developer Platform provides a significant amount of documentation to support the building of custom apps as well as SDK’s and Tools such as App Studio which help to integrate customers services into Microsoft Teams.

—-

TeamsEx2.png

2. Bots

Building a Bot in Five Minutes: Link

Bots in Microsoft Teams allow you to interact with and obtain information from a software or website in a text/search/conversational manner. A bot appears just like any other team member you interact with in a conversation except that it has a hexagonal avatar icon and is always online. WhoBot is one example which allows you to search for anyone within your organisation and provides information based on what they’re working on and who they work with. Icebreaker is another example which helps Team camaraderie by pairing two random team members up every week to meet. Since Bots are conversational apps that perform a narrow or specific set of tasks, they are ideal for Support, responding to user questions, and proactively notifying them about changes. AtBot provides a powerful Bot-as-a-Service platform for the rapid design and deployment of Bots into several different types of verticals.

—-

TeamsEx3

3. Devices & Peripherals

Microsoft Teams Devices Overview: LinkShop by Device: Link

Room systems, Desk phones, Conference Phones, Smartphones, Cameras, Speakerphones, Headsets, Soundbars, Docks, Pucks, Mikes – right up to wall mounted monitor pairs and the Surface Hub – there’s a lot to think about in terms of devices and peripherals for users, Teams and rooms to facilitate the best experience. How are these devices procured, managed throughout their lifecycle, and replaced? What happens when a device malfunctions? How are they tested? Does the customer have a clear device policy? How is QOS maintained? Which is the vendor who best fits what the organisation is trying to achieve both in terms of cost and functionality? If devices are taken in the very broadest sense the scope could also include the users laptops and IOS/Android devices, as well as the servicing of the OS upon which the Teams application runs.

—-

TeamsEx4.png

4. Live Events

Delivering Rich Live Events: Link | Live Events with Teams: Link

Between 2017 and 2019 the use of Live Events at Microsoft went up 68%. The need for scalable, feature-rich, professionally produced one-to-many events – think here of Ted Talks – is increasing due to scenarios such as an MD wanting to perform monthly updates to all of the companies users or organisations wanting to perform virtual presentations to all of their customers. With encoding solutions such as OBS Studio and eCDN solutions such as Hive, this great event experience can includes screen transitions, green screen backgrounds and introductions with music which can be delivered to thousands of users simultaneously offering much more than a simple Teams meeting at a fraction of the cost of a physical live event. For Partners, there is a massive opportunity to produce those events for customers, manage the integration between Teams and the encoder/eCDN solutions, prepare and maintain both the equipment and spaces used in the production

—-

TeamsEx5

5. Meeting Rooms

Inspire Slide Deck: Link | Introduction to Teams Meetings: Link

Per the Inspire statistics, Microsoft estimate that £1,250 of Professional Services can be made per meeting room when designing and fitting out the room, as well as layering on recurring managed services post install for maintenance, Tier 1 – 4 support, recurring room assessments, user education and the procurement of hardware. A great starting point to learn more about Teams Meeting Rooms is Sean Wilson and Lance Moss’s session at Inspire, the PowerPoint available via the link above. They ask – is the light adjustable in the room for all times of the day? Are the acoustics right in the room? Can the walls load bear the screen which the company intends to purchase? Can cameras capture all participants in the meeting and is the right cabling available for all the devices being used within the business? By demonstrating how these meeting rooms can be managed by a PowerApp they also list a number of other essentials including a device strategy, mandatory network assessments and planning for break fix

—-

TeamsEx6.png

6. Migrations

Skype for Business to Teams Migrations: Link

Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams will be the principle scenario – yet managing migrations for Teams has many more scenarios. It could be migrating files from on premise SharePoint, a File Server, Dropbox or Box into Teams via SharePoint online. It could be a migration of Staffhub to Shifts. It could be migrating from Kaizala to use the Teams mobile app. It could be migrating from Slack or Flock or Facebook Workplace to Teams. It could even be a move from Jira to Azure DevOps with a view to connecting Azure DevOps into Teams. How about a migration of devices from Polycom to Yealink or a migration of on premise PBX to Phone System? How about Phone System to Direct Routing? How about an instance of Teams in one tenant migrating into that of another? There are huge professional services to be made in this area – and like migrations for both Exchange and SharePoint there will be continual splits and mergers that will make the professional services sustainable for the foreseeable future

—-

TeamsEx7.PNG

7. Power Platform

Power Platform Vision and Roadmap (Ignite 2018): Link

The Power Platform is a combination of Power BI (Analytics and Visualisation), Microsoft Flow (Task and Process Automation) and Powerapps (Low Code No Code apps). All three can be used with Microsoft Teams to significantly enrich the overall Teams experience. Want to add performance or financial metrics into the Team via dashboards in order for the Team to make better data driven decisions? Or post answers to Forms directly into a Teams channel as soon as the Form is answered? Or provide the Team with an app for expenses directly accessible through a Tab alongside the Teams conversations and files? With the Power Platform this can be done with ease – all are simple solutions yet could equally be multiple day engagements with managed services to monitor and maintain them over the long term.

TeamsEx8.png

—-

8. Security & Governance

Security and Compliance for Microsoft Teams: Link

Security in Microsoft 365 is a massive area – of the four pillars of Modern Workplace it sits distinct from Modern Desktop, Teamwork and Intelligent Communications. However, broad and deep as it may be it can be easily packaged in terms of Professional and Managed Services for Microsoft Teams. Think about everything which can be applied to Teams from a security perspective – MFA, Conditional Access, Authenticator, DLP, Retention Policies, Information Barriers, Supervision, App Protection Policies in Intune, App Permission and Setup Policies, RBAC and admin permissions, File and Folder permissions in SharePoint, Moderation, External and Guest Access, control of third party storage. There is the ability to implement Meeting, Messaging and Calling policies. In the future we’ll see even more with features such as Private Channels. It is not just about the unbridled use of Teams and letting users do what they want – its about protecting users and data and secure teamwork. A simple example of a security add for Teams is the hardening of the security posture during the adoption over a 30, 60 and 90 day period with tools such as secure score. A similar example of a managed service is monitoring it on a recurring basis after the initial adoption phase to ensure that the security posture is maintained

—-

TeamsEx9.png

9. SPFx

Robert Shouten Blog: Link  Docs.com: Link

One of the best blog’s I read this year was Robert Shouten’s Microsoft Teams extensibility using SPFx. With version 1.7 of the SharePoint Framework (SPFx), Microsoft introduced the possibility to create Tabs in Teams. It meant that where a customer has already invested in the development of SharePoint web parts using SPFx, these could now be brought into Teams and utilised across both applications if required. Building custom enterprise Tabs and web parts for organisations opens up  Professional and Managed services in terms of designing, building the webpart, and then maintaining it. Examples include a Search Web Part, or one which came up on the Tech Community recently involved the web part accessing the Graph API to pull data on Teams and then piping that back into Teams for administrative purposes

—-

TeamsEx10

10. Voice

Phone System: Link|Direct Routing: Link

68% of Microsoft customers are looking to invest in a UCaaS solution within 12 months. At the back end of July, Microsoft was also recognized as a UCaaS Leader on the Gartner Magic Quadrant. With options for Microsoft telephony via Phone System/Call Plans, and Direct Routing – where the customer’s PBX (on premise or hosted) is maintained and Teams is used as the endpoint, the next few years is filled with opportunity. Microsoft have worked hard this year filling the functionality gaps. The Inspire announcement of compliant call recording and call centre integration will further remove barriers to its adoption which plagued its predecessors. With greater reporting through the TAC as well as the ability to manage Teams devices, Voice will likely be the #1 area of extensibility for the majority of Microsoft Partners – purely because of the typical experience of Partners which cover both IT and Telephony, or the link to multiple other areas of extensibility such as Devices and Peripherals, Migrations and Live Events