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Will Microsoft Teams Bring Millennials to Office 365?

The launch of Microsoft Teams this week is an important building block in Microsoft's focus on digital transformation and ensuring a new generation of workers gravitate to Office 365. It's critical because many millennials hate e-mail, are more accustomed to using chat and likely use other productivity suites such as Google Apps.

Microsoft Teams is poised to be omnipresent in the workforce early next year when the company releases it to all business and enterprise subscriptions of Office 365, though it apparently will let users opt-in rather than opt-out. But the goal is clear -- the company wants Teams to evolve into users' core digital workspace with the Web-based interface serving as a hub for all collaboration.

"Think of Microsoft Teams as a digital transformation of an open office space environment. One that fosters easy connection and conversation to help people build relationships. One that makes work visible, integrated and accessible across the team so that everyone can stay in the know," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate VP overseeing Microsoft's Office client team, at this week's New York launch of the new offering.

Workers under the age of 30 are more accustomed to communicating in environments such as SnapChat, Facebook Messenger and a slew of other chat-focused environments. And as they join the workforce, Microsoft risks many being turned off by Office 365 and Outlook e-mail in particular, which is what Teams aims to overcome.

"Our workforce is already two-thirds millennial," said Andrew Wilson, CIO of the large IT consulting firm Accenture, speaking at Wednesday's event.  "So they have been behaving like this in the consumer space.  But what this does is provide enterprise security, enterprise foundation and that nice integration with the things we've already invested in."

Alaska Air is another customer that has spent several months testing Microsoft Teams. Systems engineer Randy Cochran said the airline's customer service group is testing the new tool. "Teams provides persistent chat for keeping track of conversations," said Cochran. "So if a customer calls and speaks to a different rep, they can retrieve a history of the prior discussion. They can just discover documents [and] it gives them the ability to share knowledge and go back and retrieve knowledge that's already been maybe in the silo and get that back. It also gives us a single pane of glass for documents and manuals and everything that's already been put into SharePoint."

Time will tell whether millennials embrace Microsoft Teams. But the early testers believe it has a good shot. "This will be a no-brainer," said Wictor Wilén, a digital workplace architect at Avanade, who is currently testing Microsoft Teams. "They will understand from day one exactly how to use it." When asked about the older generation, he said that remains to be seen, given they've used e-mail for two decades.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/04/2016 at 2:16 PM


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