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Can Microsoft Teams replace the intranet?

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Digital natives of today are accustomed to getting information at their fingertips. Literally. The digital penetration into our personal lives with messaging platforms such as WhatsApp becoming a way of life has altered our habits too. It is a norm now to collaborate over WhatsApp rather than log into your computer or make a call.

Will this impact collaboration and communication in an organization?

Any organization, especially ones that are strongly dependent on digital models, needs to ensure a seamless and secure environment in which their employees operate with critical business data and systems.

In such a scenario, Microsoft Teams (MS-Teams) has risen to be a widely used collaborative platform. The ‘work from home’ mandate due to COVID-19 has further accelerated its adoption. Today, it has become a ‘Go-to’ platform in many organizations for peer-to-peer communication and collaboration.

Such is the impact of MS-Teams that it makes one wonder if the intranet is as indispensable as it used to be? The next logical question from a Microsoft standpoint is that should it ‘sunset’ SharePoint and just rely on Teams?

The answer lies in understanding the clear difference between communication and collaboration and its varying degrees. For example: There could be a communication that is sent to everyone in the organization while more sensitive pieces of information may travel across only to closed groups. In terms of collaboration too, there could be groups that can be accessed by everyone in the organization while some groups may be accessed basis roles, designation, departments etc. Meanwhile, managing access control as per the roles of employees (which can also undergo dynamic changes) is a task by itself.

Will SharePoint become redundant?

To put this in perspective, let’s ask ourselves if applications can work without the complementing technology layer on which it works. Can we get rid of the database, operating systems, etc., and work all by itself?

Similarly, the intranet or SharePoint will enable to store all the information, arranged in a structured file format. MS-Teams becomes a seamless interface for access to SharePoint and to the relevant information at any point in time.

So, SharePoint will stay. In fact, its usage might only get enhanced because the user experience build by MS-Teams has integrated SharePoint based intranet so seamlessly with it.

MS-Teams as a hub for Intranet, Collaboration and Communication?

MS-Teams has enabled Microsoft to build a user-friendly interface to access the underlying enterprise applications and the infrastructure layer. These include not only the apps in the Microsoft suite but also the apps from other makers. Let’s look at some of the interesting features that has resulted from this hub: –

  1. Notifications – MS-Teams can aggregate notifications from multiple apps and display it to the user thus enabling her/him to save time from being on different apps and managing notifications and alerts simultaneously with work.
  2. Bots – MS Teams can also integrate Bots directly into the application. For example: If the user is working and suddenly realizes that he needs to raise an access request with the IT Team. He can use the BOT and raise the ticket or chat with the support personnel without having to switch from the work that he is currently doing.

Essentially MS-Teams, can become a single window interface for access to the entire enterprise and enable users to seamlessly communicate, collaborate, gather knowledge and insights as well as access strategic reports – all in one place.

MS-Teams can also enable them to leverage and access back-end resources such as One-drive, Azure, PowerApps, Sharepoint etc. to create a comprehensive user experience that can enhance efficiency and productivity per employee. Isn’t that what every organization wants?

If MS-Teams can be leveraged well to integrate with Microsoft’s significant presence across the organization’s application and technology layer, then it will create a more fluid and agile organization that can accelerate business and growth.

However, MS-Teams cannot replace the intranet, low-code app development platforms, or even the technology layer but its power to unify all these resources to augment productivity is undermined; rather yet to be experienced. When users start seeing MS-Teams as much more than a collaboration tool to leverage the above, it can become a very popular one-stop interface to drive usage and adoption of new-applications and features.  Not only does this make the organization agile, but also enables them to pilot ideas, initiate discussions, conduct surveys, and build a playbook for informed decision making – thereby creating a highly efficient organization.

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