After more than a year of working from home and being separated from colleagues, it’s difficult to imagine what our work environments will look like in a year from now. Will we still be working from home? Will we be working in a hybrid rotation? Will we have the flexibility to choose our own schedules? Or will we mostly be back at the office? Every organization will approach the return to work differently, so it’s impossible to tell how things will play out.
Despite all of these unanswered questions, one thing that cannot be denied is how much we’ve come to rely on technology to keep us engaged and collaborating with our peers. Just think how much more challenging this past year would have been without the ability to easily share documents, chat with team members and have voice and video calls with individual collaborators and groups. In many ways it has felt the same as being in the office, but without the annoying commute.
The growth of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is the perfect example of these kinds of platforms. In fact, since its launch in 2017, Teams has seen enormous growth, particularly over the past year. Most recently, Microsoft announced that it now has 145 million daily active users – or DAUs – up from 115 million as recently as October 2020. The growth of Teams has been truly remarkable.
“Teams brings together meetings, chat, calls, collaboration, third-party apps, and business processes into a single experience, and we are seeing increased usage intensity in Teams as people communicate, collaborate, and co-author content across work, life, and learning.”Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 (link)
Packed with new features
But Teams as a platform has not remained stagnant. Far from it. With the increasing popularity of competing collaboration and communication tools such as Zoom, Slack, Webex and others, Teams has had to adapt; constantly adding new features in order to cater to a distributed audience with far more diverse needs.
As a result, Microsoft has continued to innovate on many fronts, bringing new, unique features to Teams faster than ever before. Looking at the latest news from Microsoft Ignite 2021, the platform is getting some very exciting upgrades, including Together mode, and Presenter mode. This will include ‘Standout,’ giving Teams the ability to superimpose a presenter as a silhouette in front of shared content, shown in the example below.
Microsoft is also adding new functionality to Teams that average users may not expect. We all know about Teams’ compelling features when it comes to formal and informal video communications, but that capability is now expanding to include webinars. The platform allows hosts to easily set up attendee registration pages with automated email confirmation and attendee reporting. At present, it enables interactive webinars with up to 1,000 participants, and view-only broadcast-style webinars with up to 10,000 participants, with that number expected to climb to 20,000 by the end of this year.
These powerful new features are more than just skin deep. Microsoft has baked new security features into Teams, as well, such as better encryption options for VoiP calls, and a new feature called Safe Links that prevents employees from clicking on links to malicious sites when using Office apps in Teams.
Powerful individually. Even better together
As organizations figure out what the return to work will look like for them, the reality is that many employees will continue to be distributed and often remote. Managing this kind of agile and very mobile workforce is more challenging, primarily because of security concerns and the inherent difficulty of troubleshooting remote issues.
From this perspective, Microsoft Teams and NetMotion are incredibly complementary. Teams brings tangible productivity gains and creates a highly collaborative workspace that has proven incredibly popular with employees. Likewise, NetMotion has built a loyal user base by being secure and by helping workers maintain and enhance video and audio calls on Wi-Fi and cellular networks, even in areas with slow or spotty connectivity. NetMotion’s seamless compatibility with Teams makes it truly one of the best companion solutions for distributed workers everywhere.
- Make slowdowns and disconnects a thing of the past
NetMotion maintains a continuous connection for employees, even through coverage gaps and spotty Wi-Fi or cellular networks. The result is that real-time apps like Teams won’t get disconnected, stall or time out. NetMotion also uses packet-loss recovery to recreate lost packets and restore video and voice quality on the fly. Workers are never cut off from their teams with NetMotion.
- Secure tunneling options
NetMotion is one of the only security platforms that enables IT teams to dynamically choose whether to route traffic inside or outside of the tunnel, while maintaining complete visibility and control. Administrators have the power to select when and what Teams traffic to send through the tunnel, even distinguishing between authentication traffic and less sensitive traffic.
- Optimize traffic and policies
NetMotion gives IT teams the ability to control powerful, granular policy parameters that can prioritize mission-critical apps like Teams above all other data traffic on the network. Admins also have the flexibility to establish policies for NetMotion’s traffic-optimizing tunnel that turn it ‘on’ only when certain conditions are met. This allows employees to make audio and video calls, even on congested, low-bandwidth networks.
For more information about how Teams and NetMotion work better together, check out the Microsoft Teams data sheet here.
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