2019 was, by all accounts, another triumphant year for Microsoft Teams. It won at Enterprise Connect for the second time in a row. It overtook it’s principle competitor Slack in terms of Daily Active Users (DAU). It delivered a ton of new features including Private Channels which users had been waiting for for some time.
With the initiative and the momentum, it would be easy for Teams to take it’s foot off the gas and have a lighter year. It would be well earned and it’s status as a market leader in 2020 is a given. It’s success in 2020 is also a given whether or not it hits the 275% growth figure projected back at Inspire in July. Yet both users and IT Pro’s always want more. It’s an ideal time, and Teams should be looking to capitalise on this amazing year and push forward hard into 2020 by continuing to innovate and refine. On a personal level, I would love to see more in the area of refinement – particularly on easy-wins which have been flagged by the tech community and come to either frustrate users or impede their move from Skype for Business. We don’t want to give organisations any excuses to hold out.
So, in my first blog of 2020, here is 12 things I would like to see land in 2020. All the links to Uservoices have been provided so please feel free to vote for them! – and if you have anything you want to see in Teams which hasn’t been asked for – go ahead and raise it there as well!
1. Show Teams from Guest Tenants
In 2020 I would like to see the ability to show Teams from Guest tenants alongside Teams in the home tenant. I am a guest in several tenants, including Microsoft’s and therefore I have to continue to switch between these tenants several times a day. Whilst the tenant switching procedure has gotten a lot easier and quicker throughout 2019 I am still losing time having to switch out. A few issues with frequently working across tenants include interruptions to the train of thought and ending up joining meetings from different tenants meaning losing out on the full meeting experience
2. Group Calendar
There has been a call for some time about surfacing the Office 365 Group Calendar within Teams. It’s currently the second largest uservoice (sitting around 12,000 votes). Microsoft has confirmed they are working on it – but the uservoice above hasn’t had an update since mid year. The benefits of the Office 365 group calendar within Teams are pretty obvious – a shared calendar for the Team, better co-ordination, better planning. It would make sense to put it in the calendar app in the app bar. Surfacing the calendar via a SharePoint page is a workaround but isn’t the experience users want, and many are reverting to using Exchange and Outlook – whether via shared mailboxes or via a calendar shared from one persons mailbox
3. Wiki Improvements (Search etc.)
The Wiki could – and should – be a leading feature of Microsoft Teams. It is made for Teams in terms of training and knowledge sharing. However, it has fundamental limitations which have seen calls on Tech Community and social for it to be removed and replaced with OneNote. Most I know currently use it, at most, as an intro to a Team similar to a Read Me in a Git repository. Why is it so underutilized? The lack of the ability to full text search the Wiki, full formatting outside of the body, the inability to import and export, the inability to restore deleted pages, no wiki templates, the inability to copy pages from one wiki to another, the inability to print. The list goes on. It would be great to see the wiki mature in 2020, yet if these aren’t on the roadmap or there are no maturation plans in place it would make sense to simply bin the wiki and simply use OneNote. This is currently a similar case to Islands being the worse of all possible worlds.
4. Skype Consumer Integration
Integration with Skype Consumer is coming and scheduled early in 2020 (Q1 CY2020) – the sooner it happens the sooner it’ll trigger many more organisations migrating over from SfB. I personally know two to three dozen SME’s involved in B2C whose base use consumer. Despite the fact they all absolutely love Teams and the potential of what it can do, this one is an absolute deal breaker. I would put it out there and go as far to say that if Teams didn’t do this these SME’s would probably look for another app which could, advise their bases to use something else or even end up using Skype consumer themselves which is not where we want businesses to be
5. More/Custom Status Options
There are several statuses currently available, yet many users find this restrictive with the current statuses too generic or not reflective of their actual status. As the uservoice points out, more status options or the ability to add custom options such as ‘In a Meeting’, ‘In a Conference’, ‘In a Call’, ‘Presenting’ would enrich the presence experience, but also better describe what you or another individual is actually doing.
6. Ability to set Download location
Files which are downloaded from Teams downloads to the Download folder on the local machine. If I personally had a choice then, obviously, I would want to set it to a folder in OneDrive for Business, which would sync it back to the cloud. It would cover me in the event of machine failure but also in the event if the device was ever stolen. Admin’s may want to set this, say, via GPO to a network share. Users may want to set this to a more commonly used folder on their local machine. The fact that it’s fixed to this specific folder draws fire from several quarters so would be good to see this one closed out as a quick win
7. More than 4 people in video chat and custom backgrounds
People generally love the experience of meetings in Teams. They love background blur. They love these features so naturally they want more than 4 people on video in the call and they want the ability to go beyond background blur and have fully customized backgrounds. Zoom has them. Others have them. Now, we know that both these features are coming – they were both announced in a blog way back in March 2019 when Teams won Enterprise Connect. This has been recorded for posterity in this blog by Tom Arbuthnot and the image taken from that. Custom Teams backgrounds have also been demoed recently by Loryan Strant. When will we see these? There isn’t any definitive timeframe as yet – but it’s important to not leave this as a competitive advantage for Zoom and others for too long. The noise on this is only going to get louder.
8. List of Users in Meetings
One of the perennial asks on the Microsoft Tech Community is the ability to export a list of users and metrics on who attended the meeting. With the growth of online meetings and remote working its becoming increasingly important to both track attendance and ensure that attendees are engaged. Whilst this is currently in planned status per the uservoice, the uservoice has been open since the middle of 2018, and as seen the commentary is becoming somewhat more colorful of late. Personally, I can understand the frustration as I run multiple webinars per month, but I’m pretty laid back about feature releases especially ones which are recognized and planned. I do, however, urge more people to vote this one up
9. Set Default Landing Tab in the Channel
I’ve got a secret to share – I’ve never particularly been one to advocate conversations (now posts) as the default landing page in a channel. In fact, I strongly believe that it should be whatever makes sense to the Team, whether that is a SharePoint tab, a Web tab, a Power App, or a Wiki. The longer I have used Teams the more I have wanted to be able to customise it to the needs of the Teams I am in, and these days I typically go to other tabs in a channel first rather than a posts tab. The result is that most of the time I am actually clicking channel then tab, rather than just channel. In fact, my use of chat in Teams has sloped off considerably this year and I now typically do more co-authoring as a first touch activity. It would be good to see this, along with being able to dislodge posts and files as the default channels.
10. Raise your Hand Feature
As an MCT I do a lot of webinars and seminars in Teams. I am even planning to run MOC courses virtually this year. Whilst Teams has made massive strides forward with the shared system audio and presenter/attendee controls, one of the features which is lacking is the ability to raise hand. This is when a virtual user has a question, much like someone raises a hand and asks a question in the classroom. I would consider this an essential feature of a quality virtual classroom experience and one that was previously in SfB. Microsoft have confirmed this is planned. I am eagerly awaiting it and hope it lands as early in 2020 as it will certainly enrich the quality and flow of MOC courses whilst keeping that inclusivity intact
11. Centrally administered Contact Lists
The ability for a user to be able to create contact groups is great. They keep contacts organised and easy to find. However, I completely understand and resonate with the point from admins that they would like to have centrally controlled contact groups which can be pushed out to every user within the organisation. This would help the orientation of new starters. This would save a lot of time for users having to manually add people within their organisation to contact lists. This would help people locate people in other departments faster. This doesn’t have to be a mandatory implementation, but the ability to set up contact groups via the TAC and apply it to specific individuals like a policy would be a really valuable add
12. Multiple Numbers on the Contact/Contact Card
Like the list of users in meetings, another perennial ask on the Tech Community is showing multiple numbers on the call contact and contact card. In Teams, the contact card seems to be truncated/abbreviated and does not seem to show multiple numbers, simply the office number or the mobile number. In modern times, people generally have multiple numbers. As this was a functionality in SfB as was the ability to customise the contact card, this one has been met with some frustration within the community. Several admins (on the uservoice, in the tech community and some I have spoken to personally) have fed back that it is forcing users to go back into Outlook as the authoritative source for contacts which is impacting the traction of Teams within the organisation. This would be a quick win for the Teams Team to sew this one up.