blog_listing_hero_img.jpg

Microsoft Teams 2021 Year in Review and 2022 Trends

2022, here we are. It's been a couple of years since I was invited to write one of these "look back" articles (maybe I was too harsh last time?) but with the rapid pace of innovation in Microsoft Teams, I think it's good to look back at how far we've come.

The following are my top 10 advancements in Microsoft Teams in 2021. They are not presented in any specific order. In addition, my daily focus leans towards the voice and meetings topics so my list leans that way as well. I hope folks will continue the conversation with their top advancements via Twitter (@enowconsulting and @AdamCBall):

  •  
  • Real Time Analytics - This is one of those features that we have been wanting since the OCS/Lync/Skype days. The ability to go into the Teams Admin Center and see how a call is doing quality-wise in real time is a game changer for admins who have to deal with VIP's.
  • End to End Encryption announced - Clearly a response to more and more folks wanting true privacy, this is a great feature that allows customers to know that there is no one listening in. This addition (Microsoft Teams was already secure by default) allows for participants to know that their devices are talking directly to each other with nothing in the middle.
  • SIP Gateway - A feature that has been sorely needed in the Cloud first world. This is a first step forward towards solving the needs of basic SIP devices without requiring a Session Border Controller on-premises. Today, this only supports specific handsets but I'm super hopeful that this will be opened up to things like Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA's) and other SIP based devices (like strobes, bells, loud ringers, etc.).
  • Operator Connect - I know if this list was ordered, this might be at the top of the list. This was a big step forward in providing the ability for organizations to bring their own carrier in the same way they can get a Calling Plan. It's especially helpful for locations where Calling Plans are not available. Then on top of the calling portion of Operator Connect, Microsoft broadened it later in the year to allow for Audio Conferencing. Now organizations can leverage an Operator in countries where Microsoft might have had limited capabilities to offer a local phone number for Audio Conferencing (I've seen this issue in locations in India as an example). Operator Connect brings the benefits of Direct Routing and the management benefits of a Calling Plan (i.e. phone number management in Teams Admin Center) together in one place.
  • SfB Online Retirement - For those of us who have been in the Microsoft UC game for a long time, this was a little personal as we watched the end of an era happen. That said, I think most of us are extremely happy with Microsoft Teams and see all the benefits it brings. All of the planning and effort to move forward came to fruition at the end of July. I didn't hear of any issues with the retirement and organizations were all able to move over successfully.
  • Microsoft Teams Multi-Geo - For those who work in multi-national orgs, having Teams come to Multi-Geo was a big sigh of relief. There were many times where a roll-out could be paused/stymied due to needing to keep data local to a specific Geography. Most of the time this is due to local regulations regarding data privacy and sovereignty.
  • Microsoft Loop - Announced at the November Ignite, Microsoft Loop itself is not a Teams feature but the bringing of Loop components to Teams is a big deal. Loop's capabilities as a productivity tool are really interesting to me and I'm curious to see if it is successfully adopted by organizations. The ability to use it in Microsoft Teams will probably be a big reason it succeeds by being at people's fingertips. I'm looking forward to when the components are not just in the chat but also in Channel conversations.
  • Dynamic 911 - This one qualifies for the "coming skidding into the end of the year, just before the deadline" award. In January of 2022, the second part of Ray Baum's Act goes into law here in the United States. Microsoft added to the client the ability to leverage dynamic geo-location in order to meet this requirement. I know many orgs are trying to get Teams fully compliant with the new law as quickly as possible.

Since we are at a list of the top advancements and have eight topics already, let's just go ahead and round it out to an even 10 with these two bonus topics:

  •  
  • Meeting Advancements - In 2021, there were quite a few advancements to meetings from the Order of Raised Hands to increased limits of the number of participants. The ability to hold an online meeting keeps improving almost on a monthly basis (including around the devices like Microsoft Teams Rooms and Teams Panels).
  • Front Line Workers - For those on the Front Line, we saw the addition of the Walkie Talkie feature to the Teams client. For folks in industries like manufacturing, the ability to use Push To Talk (PTT) can be a quick and easy way to communicate without the need for an extra device like a radio.

As I look to 2022, here are a few things that I personally am either looking forward to or believe will become a trend/impact in the Microsoft Teams space:

  •  
  • Shared Channels/Teams Connect - I'm hopeful this will be the end of having to switch tenants with Guest accounts. Teams Connect will allow external channels to show in your Teams client and allow you to interact without the need to switch tenants. This will greatly reduce the friction of collaborating with external participants in a Team.
  • Dynamics Customer Service - This was shown at Ignite in 2021. First teased in March then announced in November, Microsoft basically is bringing a Teams Contact Center to Dynamics with this. The integration with Teams and Dynamics in the demos looks super slick and for Dynamics shops, this will be a no-brainer.
  • Contact Center in General (more companies moving to it) - Going off on the idea of Contact Center, I really believe that more companies will start moving theirs to platforms that integrate or are based around Microsoft Teams in 2022. So many Contact Centers were never built around the idea of remote work and as organizations realize they need to change that they will move towards these new platforms since the rest of the company is already on Teams.
  • Azure Communication Services (ACS) integration - For many, this might not a be platform you are aware of but should be. ACS, in my opinion, will become the platform that enables partners to build robust communications solutions for Microsoft Teams. While ACS can be completely stand-alone, I believe the more integration it has with Microsoft Teams, the more powerful it becomes.

What do you think? Did I miss a major update in 2021? Is there something else we should be looking forward to in 2022? One last thing I can predict in 2022 is that we will continue to see rapid innovation and change with the product. This will all keep the Adoption and Change Management folks busy for sure.

 


Exchange Hybrid and Office 365 Monitoring and Reporting

On-premises components, such as AD FS, PTA, and Exchange Hybrid are critical for Office 365 end user experience. In addition, something as trivial as expiring Exchange or AD FS certificates can certainly lead to unexpected outages. By proactively monitoring hybrid components, ENow gives you early warnings where hybrid components are reaching a critical state, or even for an upcoming expiring certificate. Knowing immediately when a problem happens, where the fault lies, and why the issue has occurred, ensures that any outages are detected and solved as quickly as possible.

Access your free 14-day trial of ENow’s Exchange Hybrid and Office 365 Monitoring and Reporting today!