What’s new and happening with Teams during summer 2020?

Microsoft Teams has been flying fast in recent months – there are several new features that we all enjoy and have waited. Some examples of obvious ones:

  • 3 x 3 gallery in Teams meetings, which increases engagement and interactivity quite nicely. This is getting to be better with confirmed 7×7 gallery view that is coming to preview soon (June was mentioned) and should rollout to everyone in fall!
  • Pop out chat – you can separate multiple chats into their own windows. This is useful when you are in a meeting and you need to engage in a chat with others (ie: multi-tasking or behind-the-scenes activity).
  • Meetings have gotten great features like ending the meeting (yes, ending it!), uploading and using custom backgrounds (+admin controls for these) , raise hands for request to speak and quick polls (show of hands who has..) and participant report. The report you need to remember to download while in the meeting. Pop-out (multi-window) meetings are coming to preview in June as well – so it is not just chats that get their own window. I wait these especially since then I can take better benefit of my multiple monitors. And last, but not least, meeting attendee limit is growing from 250 to 300 during summer. This enhancement will last until end of September for now.
  • 10 000 members in a single team. So far it seems that org-wide teams are still limited to 5k members.

There are of course many other great features (channel analytics and Bookings app for example) that will help managing and collaborating teams. However

Applications in Teams mobile

are the one that is making a lots of difference. You can bring in your organization’s apps directly onto mobile! It may be, for example, a Teams-application, bot or PowerApps! I consider this is a great milestone when it comes to using Teams as hub for work – from anywhere. Bringing Line-of-business applications & PowerApps capabilities into mobile is a big step and makes it really possible to extend and use Teams as a platform.

Power Virtual Agents in Teams

While Power Virtual Agents (PVAs) are quite a new thing (end of last year) them working easily within Teams is quite new and unknown. What PVAs are: a part of the Power Platform that makes it easy (no/low coding skills required!) to create and maintain conversational bots in Teams – and in various other channels as well (mobile apps, web sites, ..) but let’s stick to Teams for now. These bots are also really easy to extend to backend systems and other resources by using Power Automate. PVA & Power Automate can be used to digitalize various processes and provide also useful information to users. Yes, they do come with a cost ( $1000 for 2000 sessions / month + $450 for additional 1000 sessions/ month ) but on the other hand these are very versatile and quick to create & update. What these bots are not: they don’t trigger by themselves nor they have adaptive cards in their messages – there are also other limits so it is best to stick to conversational processes.

In this example the bot is getting user’s saldo / levelling hours but processes could be more complex and also include updating or creating information.

I will dig deeper into PVAs in other blog posts. Teams SSO is one of those upcoming features that are roadmapped to this June/Summer and that will make it possible to really create a processes that know who the participant is. Consider my example above “what is possible in near future” related to user – all other information could be in production today – including using QnA Maker (or other knowledge base) for questions & answers bots without having to know how to install/deploy bots to Azure or needing to code anything.. If you want to learn how: follow this.

What to expect to Teams during summer 2020?

First: Roadmap is always an estimate when some capabilities and features might start their rollout. How and when it is available isn’t certain until you see it in your tenant. Sometimes features rollout in a day, sometimes they take weeks due to phasing and how updates are applied worldwide.

However it does look like that at August we should have plenty of new Teams to help us collaborate and work better together. This is not the complete list, but something I picked on top of those already mentioned in this post

  • Channel Info pane & pinning posts. This is going to be extremely useful: pinning specific messages to channel info pane allows members to find those important/relevant messages later quickly. This seems to be like a channel-wide “save message”. Possible uses: important news, project base information, specifications , practices threads, etc. With 10k member teams this is very useful to keep users in the same context (Teams) without a need to switch apps.
  • Tasks application is coming to combine To Do and Planner tasks. It has a better view to your tasks and what are tasks in Teams. This does not replace Planner but instead will be a new user interface for it. Planner is also getting a capability that allows user to copy a plan within existing group or team –> this has been asked a lot.
  • Templates in Teams will allow users to choose from customizable templates when they are creating a new team. Organization can also create their own. This is scheduled for August in the roadmap.
  • Contextual search (Ctrl+F) will make it easier to find relevant information in Teams. Hitting Ctrl+F will search for the information within current channel or chat. This should do a difference to the case “you can’t find anything with search in Teams”..
  • New Sharing experience and new location of chat button should finally emerge during the summer along with originally Kaizala-features Polls and Checklist.
  • Suggested replies will give you a few options to choose from – propably just like LinkedIn does today. It should make it faster to reply.
  • Push-To-Talk (aka Walkie-Talkie) should emerge during summer. This opens up a new way of collaboration within Teams since there is no range limit like traditional radiophones have. This way you can stay connected with your group very efficiently even when you are working from different cities or continents. Compared to setting up a meeting this is much faster way to talk to others.
  • Power Automate triggers to specific Teams channel message will allow power users to create lots of new processes based on single Teams message. Or just adding them to their To Do.
  • Automatic tagging will assign users with tags matching their schedule and shift group. This allows others to refer to shift employees simply with the shift tag “@nightwatchdoctors” for example
  • Ever simpler way to publish PowerApps, Power BI reports and Power Virtual Agents to Teams than it is currently. Push of a button.

And of course Breakout rooms are stated to be rolling out during fall (no, not in summer but this is too good NOT to include)! Now if you want to create a breakout rooms with Teams you need to do it manually. Read my earlier blog posts how to manage them: https://myteamsday.com/2020/04/24/tips-and-tricks-for-teams-breakout-rooms/ and https://myteamsday.com/2020/04/17/breakoutrooms-in-teams/

As you can see there are lots and lots of features that are coming out. To learn more about these check these out

And I am sure this list will go through some change but based on above I expect that Teams will surely rock in August even more than today.

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