Recently Microsoft recognised our expertise in Microsoft Teams by granting us advanced specialisation status in ‘Calling for Microsoft Teams’ and ‘Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams’. This is on the back of us attaining Microsoft Azure Expert MSP status last year along with the work delivering solutions across Australia and New Zealand.
The deployment of enterprise voice and video solutions is something that we have always done, first with Microsoft Lync, then with Skype for Business and today with Microsoft Teams. We think this is something that sets us apart from others – we’re always focused on how we can provide the best hybrid working experiences to ensure employees are as productive as possible, whether they’re in the office or away from the office.
The ability to collaborate productively is more important today than it ever has been. It's fair to say that many of us were hoping that we would be able to return to normal by this time, however it seems that such a hope was fanciful. What we really meant by normal was "how it was before COVID-19" because we have, most likely, found ourselves in a new normal.
From a work perspective, this new normal has three key characteristics:
- People don't come to a central location for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Instead, they work from the office, home, cafés, their cars (hopefully parked!), public transport, children's sporting events and all sorts of other places, and they do that work across multiple devices.
- Less (or no) travelling for "non-essential" work reasons. Of course, the definition of essential will differ by organisation and industry, however almost all have cut back on business travel. For example, for Empired, this means that we will rarely travel for an internal meeting.
- Expecting the unexpected. We can go from no masks and packed sporting events to lockdown within an afternoon.
During the first part of the pandemic, many people quickly found themselves working away from their office and, for a good proportion of them, this is not something that they had experienced prior. There was a scramble to take up the tools like Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams to be able to stay in communication with their colleagues. Microsoft recently recorded 145 million daily active users (DAU) on Teams (this number sat at around 32 million before the pandemic).
Everyone seems to have now embraced this, and now, as part of this new normal, people expect an experience away from the office that is at least as productive as their previous, office-based, reality, including the manner in which they deal with people outside of their organisations, such as customers, partners and support (helpdesks). To enable this, we need to provide people with certified personal equipment such as laptops (with the right specification), headsets, speakerphones, cameras, desk phones or even all-in-one Teams-certified personal productive assistant devices to ensure the best possible experience regardless of physical location.
Whilst telephone numbers are not necessarily important for internal collaboration, or even collaboration with partners with similar technologies, many of us still need to make calls to mobile phones, contact centres, retailers and suppliers. This is where solutions like complete cloud-based Telstra Calling O365 (in Australia) and worldwide Microsoft Teams Direct Routing become a crucial piece of an organisation’s application suite to ensure employees can have that same productive experience that existed when they were office-based. With the upcoming retirement of Skype for Business Online (on 31 July 2021), we are seeing an additional imperative to move to Microsoft Teams.
Of course, enabling people to work anywhere has opened up another series of concerns regarding cyber security; the old perimeter approach will no longer work. In this new normal, individual employees play an important role in keeping information secure and the organisation protected from threats.
Less travel means fewer face-to-face meetings. Many will say that face-to-face provides the best interaction and collaboration and they may be right; however one thing that we have worked out is that, with the right equipment and Teams Meeting Rooms, we can achieve a pretty close second! So much so, as I said earlier, we rarely now travel for internal meetings. For organisations with multiple locations, or who work collaboratively with partners and customers in multiple locations, having the right AV solution within meeting rooms has become critical. For many customers, this will mean addressing those legacy meeting rooms that are not compatible with Microsoft Teams to ensure that workplace experience meets the expectation of the returning workforce. While 20 years ago sophisticated, room-based, video conferencing was pretty much for the larger end of town, today by working with our partner, Pro AV Solutions, and with advancements in reasonably priced room AV equipment, we are able to provide complete meeting rooms solutions for customers, whether they’re small business or multinationals.
As organisations got over the initial shock of the impacts of COVID and worked out that they could continue to operate, we have found an increasing demand across Australia and New Zealand to provide Microsoft Teams calling and Microsoft Teams Meeting Rooms solutions to ensure that their employees have an experience that allows them to be at their most productive. Of course, Microsoft Teams is an evergreen, cloud-based solution that is always offering more to customers. Increasingly, we are also being asked to manage these solutions on an ongoing basis as customers look to make the most of the regular advancements in Microsoft Teams.
Through Microsoft's recognition of us through the Calling for Microsoft Teams and Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams advanced specialisations, customers know that they can rely on us to help them provide the workplace experiences that their employees need to be at their best.
For more information about how Empired can assist your organisation, please visit our Modern Work and Communications site here.