TechMentor Flashback: Orgs Need Gen Z, and Gen Z Needs Microsoft Teams

Why the strongest case for using Microsoft Teams isn't the rise of hybrid work, but the rise of the next generation of hybrid workers. Plus, Teams Premium is cool, but you may not need it.

For years now, Microsoft has been touting Teams as the cornerstone of the modern workplace, but that messaging hit fever pitch as the hybrid work era took shape in the shadow of the pandemic. At the TechMentor conference late last year, then-Microsoft senior product manager Stephen Rose drove home the point that Teams is critical to the viability of organizations whose employees are split between home offices, offices-offices and everywhere in between.  

"Teams has provided a new way for companies to think," Rose said in his keynote. "People, places and processes now come together in a way that they have never come together before. Hybrid changed things dramatically."

This is, by now, a typical refrain from Redmondnites speaking about Teams. But Rose, who also hosted the "Inside Microsoft Teams" podcast, went in a novel direction during his keynote. He noted that it isn't just the work environment that's changed -- it's the workers, too. The millennials climbing the corporate ranks and the Gen Zers just now entering the workforce are predisposed to be IMers, not e-mailers. For these users, Rose argued, Teams isn't just a helpful tool; it's how they expect to work.

TechMentor @Microsoft HQ

What: TechMentor

Why: Keep up with Microsoft 365 Admin Center, Cyber Security, Microsoft Teams, Active Directory, Windows 11, PowerShell 7, and more.

When: July 17-21, 2023

Where: Redmond, Wash.

Registration Deadlines: May 19 (Super Early Bird ends) | June 23 (Early Bird ends) | July 17 (Standard registration ends)

The next TechMentor conference will take place this summer (July 17-21) at Microsoft's Seattle headquarters, where a raft of experts will cover the latest roadmap updates, features and best practices around Teams. With a brand-new, AI-laden "Premium" SKU having just been released, it's a good opportunity for IT pros and admins to catch up on the latest Teams developments, straight from the experts who know it best. In the meantime, here were the most notable quotes from Rose's keynote talk.

'The New Norm'
If you are hiring new workers, if you're hiring younger workers in the millennial and Gen Z range, their ideal is, "I get to work from any device anywhere and do it securely." Companies who start to push back on that have seen issues with those workers picking up and leaving and going to other jobs, because that is now becoming the new norm. ... The companies that embrace this have been seeing great growth.

Boomers vs. Gen X vs. Millennials vs. Gen Z
Now, for the first time ever in the history of work, we have four generations of workers in the workplace. This is something we've never had before. We have 4 percent of our workforce that are baby boomers. ... Everything they did was on the device, meaning the apps were on the device and the data that they worked on was on that device -- later, maybe on an X drive or a Y drive or a shared drive, but everything was done on that device. [When it came to Gen X,] again, all the data was on the device, everything you're doing was on that device. But then things changed.

Millennials, now making up 40 percent of our workforce, are the first generation born in the cloud. What does that mean? That means all they need is a browser. That's it -- everything they need, whether they're using Google Docs or Office 365, all they need is a browser. Why? Because all of their data is in the cloud. All of their apps are in the cloud. That's all they need. They sit down, they connect to the Internet, they jump on the cloud, that's what they do. They're very comfortable with that. The idea of having to install desktop apps and leveraging desktop apps and saving files locally is not common to them. Let's take a look at Gen Z, just about coming into the workforce, making up almost 20 percent. They don't see a difference between this [browser- and cloud-based computing] and a laptop.

What's interesting is our millennials, our Gen Z -- these are the folks who say, "I want to be able to work anywhere on any device and do it securely." And if you don't allow them to do it, if you don't allow them to focus on being chat-based, which is how they're naturally inclined, they're not going to stay.  

Email Isn't Cutting It
The average response time for an email is about three hours and 38 minutes. ... When we take a look at chat, turnaround time for an IM response is about four minutes. ... The way that the newer generation works is, if there's an issue, get the right people involved, solve it right there, document it as part of that team or part of that channel, then move on to whatever's next. This idea of doing email going back and forth doesn't make sense. And that's where Teams really comes in.

What's interesting is we have seen a 40 percent reduction in email over the past three years as folks start to use Teams, and we've seen chat go through the roof in the way that folks are communicating. 

450 New 'Features'
We've seen a lot of growth in Teams. We've had 450 new features added to Teams in the last year. That's a lot of features. Now, not all of these are actual features. Some of these are admin functionality. Some of these are under-the-skin functionality. 

The other thing that we've done, and we've worked very hard at, is we've reduced memory usage by 48 percent and CPU usage by 52 percent in Teams and we're continuing to work to bring that down. So that is a big area for us.  

Teams Premium Isn't for Everybody
If you have E3 or E5 [licensing], you're going to get [Teams Premium] as an add-on. There are two things I do want to add to that. First of all, not everybody in your company will need this. Only certain people will need it. [Second,] for all the features that we're showing, especially some of the security features, as long as the person who is the presenter or co-presenter of the meeting, as long as they have that [Teams Premium] functionality, everybody in the meeting will be able to take advantage of it. So this is not something that everybody in your company needs.  

Again, these are very specific scenarios that not everyone will need. We had thought about raising the price for Teams to include these features. But after we talked to a lot of customers, a lot said, "We're never going to use any of those features." Some said, "Yes, we will."

The 'Largest Security Infrastructure' on Earth 
We provide security data to almost every major security provider, including signatures. Norton, McAfee, all those companies get 80 percent of their digital virus signatures from us. We provide it at no charge to almost every single company around the world. We right now have the largest security infrastructure of any company on the planet, and provide this even to Amazon and our competitors at absolutely no charge.

We have over 8,500 security experts, we do 9 billion endpoint threats that are blocked every year, [we get] 24 trillion daily signals, 32 billion email threats, and we're investing close to $20 billion in our security infrastructure. We are absolutely zero trust. 

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.


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