A New Microsoft… and Teams (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome back, in the previous article I talked about what I meant by ‘New Microsoft’, if you’ve not read that part, or the one before it, please go back and read them now… it won’t take you too long.

So let’s pick it up with a look at things today and where we are, remember at the start of this mini-series I said the reason my previous blog slowed down, and the reason why I started this new one…. that I’d changed? Well…

We’ve all changed

In short, technology has changed, businesses have changed, peoples’ working behaviours have changed, and Microsoft have also changed, “no, Skype for Business doesn’t have every single feature your PBX (and the one before it) had for the past 10 years, it’s newer, it’s different, it allows you to work in a more modern and flexible way”.. erm, ahem, sorry, I mean “no, Teams doesn’t have every single feature your Skype for Business (and Lync, and OCS before it) had for the past 10 years, it’s newer, it’s different, it allows you to work in a more modern and flexible way”.

See what I did there 🙂 (if not read it carefully again)

So, do Microsoft listen to customers now?

Yes, I’ve seen it first hand. Do they listen to ALL customers? no, that wouldn’t make sense… Do Walkers (Lays) ask every customer what flavour crisps (chips) they should make? It’s not designed by a committee either.

I’ve seen Microsoft take feedback onboard from many many companies in various ways, one of these ways is called TAP – Technology Adoption Programme. Customers commit to fulfilling certain criteria around using the latest software under NDA, and provide feedback from real production users at scale. The more involved I am with the various Teams TAP initiatives, I’m constantly impressed by the speed and agility where new features are proposed, validated, tested, improved, and released based on customer feedback. Although I’ve also seen Microsoft reject suggestions because there just wasn’t a valid or big enough use-case in their eyes to justify it – there is still a ‘vision’ they are following.

The Hype Cycle

The following diagram should be nothing new to you, it’s a well-known phenomenon, coined by Gartner… the “Hype Cycle”.

I’ll let you decide where Teams sits on the chart at the moment. You can just close your eyes and play a quick game of pin the tail on the donkey if you like.

You will likely pick a spot that reflects your own feelings, it depends how close you are to using Teams, i.e. do we now really have feature parity between Teams and Skype for Business Online? A colleague of mine summed it up well a few months ago (but I can’t remember exactly what he said, so let me apply some artistic licence and paraphrase)…

Claiming that Teams has a feature that Skype for Business Online has, doesn’t mean they are the same feature, they are completely different implementations of the same idea.

Remember the public transport vs car comparison from the previous part? That was my attempt at saying the same thing.

So what’s my point… I guess it’s that you shouldn’t tar the new Microsoft with the same brush as the old. They’re trying to make something that we want (otherwise nobody would buy it), if Teams isn’t right for you tell them, don’t just discount it! But even more important, you should not compare Skype for Business with Teams in the same way as you did with Lync before it. It’s best to just it in its own right, and ideally, use an experienced and skilled Microsoft Partner (you might want to bookmark that link, and yes, of course I’m biased).

But regardless of your take on what Microsoft are doing, while you’re looking at Skype for Business or Teams, keep in mind that Microsoft have at least been clear in saying Skype for Business Online will be ‘sunsetted’ at some point in the future, and the primary / sole UC solution in Office 365 will be Microsoft Teams, and therefore that inevitably means a change for your business, not just an upgrade to install.

Why isn’t everybody migrating to Teams already?

This may upset a few die-hard fans, and likely some Microsoft employees, but I believe the single most significant factor in the air of dissatisfaction and resistance surrounding Teams is the enthusiasm, expectations, and hype created by Microsoft themselves, namely sales and marketing. After all, that is their job, they aimed high, and knocked their campaigns out the park. But when has realism got anybody excited about a product, especially a new one that’s unproven?

Bringing us to the controversial ‘feature parity’ announcement from Inspire this week – I think you need to understand the ‘new Microsoft’ to see though what they ‘said’ to what they probably mean when they say ‘feature parity’… which is that Microsoft ‘believe’ Teams has all the features that were seen as ‘convergence gaps’ and blocking customers’ ability to migrate. The features they talk about are the high-level, “big pictures, short words” type features that non-technical decision makers would understand. Feature parity was their aim, not functional parity. Sure, that means we’re left with caveats and limitations with some of those features, but the important thing is they are no longer blockers by the very nature of their absence.

With thanks,

Working at Modality Systems has put me working next to some of the best people in this industry. A lot of my views and understanding has come from lengthy debates with the likes of Ben Lee who probably deserves some tiny portion of credit for an idea or two in this blog.

And finally

While I’ve still got your attention and since we’ve talked a lot about change – I’ll wrap up with an observation and a new pet-peeve of mine that I’ve noticed more and more since I’ve been using Teams, something that used to seem perfectly normal before – and it’s the habit of “Hi, are you able to answer a quick question for me?”…. now then.. what’s wrong with that you may ask…Well, they can see I’m on a call, and they think they are being ‘polite’. And the message just sits and waits patiently until I get of my call, but then I jump on another call that I’m already late for, and again after that on to another call (see, I told you my job had changed), and then by the end of the day I have accumulated a whole bunch of “are you free?”, “I have a quick question”, “Can you IM?” messages from various colleagues littering up my Teams client, and I have no idea what any of them wanted.

But that was very much the way people worked with Instant Messaging in Skype for Business… they check presence, perhaps tag you, they ask if you’re free, they engage in a conversational handshake “hi / hello / are you free / yeah I’m free / cool I just have a quick question / sure, fire away”, and THEN ask the question.

Think about how you use WhatsApp, when was the last time you checked with your friend to see if they were available before you said “hi”, then waited for them to reply, and then asked “what was the name of that film we watched last week?” you just don’t do that do you? You type it, send it, and get on with your day until they reply with the answer – do you consider that to be rude or impolite? No… So, to all my colleagues that have ‘quick questions’ but never actually ask them (you know who you are)…. PLEASE JUST ASK!!

That kind of brings me to the end of my grand-opening, and I was wondering if you could answer one quick question for me?… just let me know when you have a sec, k, thanks, yeah, bye!

One Comment

  1. A truly impressive, clear, honest and vivid elaboration – that was an emotional read. Thanks Graham.

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