As I logged into Microsoft Teams to attend Commsverse this week, the first thing that struck me was the sheer volume of content available. It became apparent immediately that Microsoft Teams is not merely a standard application. Taking place over three days the virtual event was jam packed with every possible Microsoft Teams related topic you could imagine. With over 200 sessions and more than 100 speakers the most difficult consideration was choosing what sessions to attend at any one time.
The various keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions covered five main areas that underpin Microsoft Teams and its growing success. Collaboration, voice, automation, administration, and adoption are all areas where Teams has excelled and why, from the perspective of the cloud communications industry, they all represent a host of potential opportunities waiting to be explored. However, Teams main asset – which has taken it to its lofty height as the market leading collaboration solution globally – is clearly the community it has established.
Community is Key for Microsoft
Microsoft is fully aware of the power of its community. The community driven event was a clear demonstration of that power. In the Vision Keynote, which concluded the opening day of the conference, Jeff Teper, Microsoft’s CVP for Microsoft 365 Collaboration with Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive was unequivocal in his thanks.
"The support that you have given us in the growth of Microsoft Teams, the feedback that you have given us on the product, all the partners who have built solutions - hardware, software, or services around Microsoft Teams - we wouldn’t be here without you."
There are several key overarching themes that can be taken from Commsverse this week, even if you ignore all of the great content that was on show, which you shouldn’t. These themes should go some way in reassuring a cloud communications industry that at various points has been sceptical about Microsoft’s presence in the industry.
An opportunity not a threat
Firstly, Microsoft’s commitment. Microsoft has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to partner organisations and the channel. Those commitments aren’t just verbal. Look at the Microsoft Teams infrastructure. Direct routing creates a huge market for traditional telcos and service providers, that’s why we have seen to many organisations look to incorporate Microsoft Teams related services into their portfolios, and it’s a two-way street. Microsoft would probably be the first to acknowledge that it needed to leverage a global partner community to make Teams into the global powerhouse that is today. Teper reaffirmed this at Commsverse and encouraged partners to leverage all the opportunities that Teams creates.
"Please keep that feedback and investment coming. We are trying to make it an incredible career opportunity and business opportunity to be part of the Microsoft Teams eco-system. We think the best days are still ahead of us for that."
Then you have to look at the industry’s reaction. Back in early 2020, before the global pandemic took hold, over 55% of the cloud communications service providers that Cavell Group surveyed said they were looking to, or already offered some form of direct routing service for Microsoft Teams. You might imagine that percentage has radically increased now.
The fact that so many businesses are looking at Microsoft Teams as a revenue opportunity can only be encouraging. This trend was even more apparent during Commsverse with over 30 headline sponsors and a host of contributions from smaller organisations demonstrating their commitment to the community and Teams. For anyone who still considers Microsoft Teams as a more of a threat than an opportunity then I’d encourage you to ask what these partners have seen in the platform’s potential that you might not have.
No shortage of talking points
So, if we acknowledge that Teams provides a wealth of opportunities, how can you find the right niche or particular area that is right for your business to exploit? Well, the event had that covered, three times over. As well as a plethora of content focused at Teams usage and optimisation in end user organisations, Commsverse, also covered the opportunity that the Teams application presents for partners, telcos, and service providers.
There may be a shift required in approach for more traditional cloud communication technology stakeholders. Revenue opportunities surrounding Teams generally tend to be in supplementary areas. Helping end user organisations across key stages in design, deployment, usage, and support. All of these different areas were covered during Commsverse with segmentation for the fundamental Teams principles.
Voice, direct routing, and contact centre are instantly apparent as areas of huge investment by cloud communication companies. These are areas where Microsoft has acknowledged that it needs partner support and during the show a host of different vendors and partners put forward their own offerings that either enable resale or wholesale partnership agreements. Best practices, technical considerations, and internal expertise all need to be considered by partners who are exploring the new world of Teams, but this isn’t uncharted water. There are businesses who have done this already and offer the tools and platforms to assist you.
Lastly, massive kudos must be given to the Commsverse team and Microsoft Teams community as a whole for putting on such a comprehensive event. I can only encourage any service providers who missed out this year to look to next year’s conference, which all being well will take place in person in early March 2021. If you want to understand what all the Microsoft Teams hype is about, and how you can get involved, then Commsverse is an essential date in the calendar.