Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Tips & Tricks: Maximize Productivity with Essential Features & 2024 Updates

In the era of remote work and geographically dispersed teams, digital collaboration tools have become indispensable for businesses to thrive. Microsoft Teams has emerged as a powerhouse, empowering organizations to streamline communication, enhance teamwork, and boost productivity. As the world embraces new ways of working, Teams has continuously evolved, introducing features that cater to the ever-changing needs of modern workforces.The platform's evolution has been driven by a deep understanding of the challenges teams face today's fast-paced, digital landscape. From seamless integration with Office 365 to advanced video conferencing capabilities, Teams has become a central hub for teamwork, enabling users to easily collaborate, communicate, and manage projects. As we approach 2024, Microsoft Teams continues to push the boundaries, introducing groundbreaking updates that promise to revolutionize how we work.This guide delves into essential tips and the latest updates to help you leverage Microsoft Teams to its full potential.Streamlining CommunicationEffective communication is the cornerstone of productive teams, and Microsoft Teams offers a wealth of features to ensure seamless interactions. One of the most powerful tools is notification customization. By fine-tuning your notification settings, you can focus on the most critical communications without being overwhelmed by constant alerts. Customizing notifications based on priorities, channels, or specific individuals can significantly reduce distractions, allowing you to concentrate on the tasks at hand.Another game-changing feature is the use of @mentions. By mentioning specific team members in conversations, you can ensure that essential messages are noticed, fostering engagement and timely responses. However, it's essential to strike a balance and use @mentions judiciously to avoid notification overload.Microsoft Teams offers a comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts for those seeking to maximize efficiency. From navigating between channels and threads to quick access to search and command boxes, these shortcuts can save precious time and streamline your workflow, allowing you to accomplish more in less time.Enhancing CollaborationMicrosoft Teams' true power lies in its ability to facilitate seamless collaboration within teams and across organizations. One of the most significant advantages is the platform's deep integration with Office 365. This integration enables real-time co-authoring of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, eliminating the need for constant file sharing and version control headaches.However, collaboration extends beyond document editing. Teams also offers robust file management capabilities through its integration with SharePoint. By leveraging SharePoint within Teams, users can effortlessly organize and access shared files, ensuring crucial information is always at their fingertips. Advanced file management features, such as version control, check-in/check-out functionality, and customizable metadata, empower teams to maintain order and efficiency in their document repositories.Another powerful collaboration tool within Teams is channels, which keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, or departments. By strategically creating and managing channels, teams can segment conversations and projects, ensuring that relevant information is easily accessible to those who need it. Channel organization can be tailored to specific teams, projects, or workflows, fostering focused collaboration and reducing information overload.Threads in Microsoft Teams allow users to keep conversations organized and focused within a channel. Engage in threads by replying directly to a specific message to maintain topic coherence, distinguishing between when to start a new thread versus continuing an existing one. Utilize mentions judiciously to alert relevant team members without overcrowding their notifications. Manage and monitor important threads by pinning or saving messages, ensuring critical information is readily accessible. Adopting these practices ensures streamlined, focused communication, enhancing teamwork and productivity.Mastering online meetings in Microsoft Teams involves scheduling and joining meetings seamlessly, leveraging features like background blur and live captions for professionalism and accessibility, and engaging participants actively. Maintaining engagement is key, as well as using interactive elements such as polls and Q&A. Post-meeting, sharing recordings, and notes is essential for keeping all participants informed and ensuring continuity of discussions. This comprehensive approach ensures effective, inclusive, and productive online meetings, adapting to the rise of remote work.2024 Updates and FeaturesAs we approach 2024, Microsoft Teams continues to push the boundaries of productivity with many exciting updates and features. One area that has seen significant enhancements is video meeting capabilities. Teams now offers expanded options for background customization, allowing users to project a professional and personalized image during virtual meetings. These features, from virtual backgrounds to blur effects, help maintain a polished appearance, even in less-than-ideal environments.Language barriers have historically been a challenge for global teams. Microsoft Teams is addressing this issue head-on with improved language translation features. With real-time translation capabilities, teams can communicate seamlessly, fostering inclusivity and ensuring that valuable insights are not lost in translation.Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in Teams is the introduction of AI-powered features. Meeting scheduling and summarization are now augmented by AI, streamlining the process of organizing meetings and capturing key insights. Additionally, AI-driven assistance can help teams stay on track during meetings, ensuring that discussions remain focused and productive.Cross-Platform CollaborationNextPlane OpenHub is a game-changing solution that enables seamless cross-platform collaboration for Microsoft Teams users. With OpenHub, teams can effortlessly connect and communicate with users on other collaboration platforms, such as Slack, Cisco Webex Teams, and Zoom. This integration breaks down silos and allows for smooth interoperability, ensuring that no one is left out of the conversation. NextPlane OpenHub's advanced features, such as universal channels, direct messaging, and file sharing, enable Teams users to collaborate with external partners, clients, and colleagues without the need to switch between multiple apps or manage separate accounts. By leveraging NextPlane OpenHub, organizations can maximize the potential of Microsoft Teams, fostering a more connected, efficient, and productive workforce in today's multi-platform collaboration landscape.Optimizing Your Teams ExperienceWhile Microsoft Teams offers a wealth of features out of the box, maximizing its potential often requires a proactive approach. Regularly reviewing and updating your Teams setup is crucial to ensure you take advantage of the latest features and optimize your experience.One area that warrants frequent attention is the integration of third-party apps. Teams offers a vast ecosystem of third-party integrations, ranging from project management tools to customer relationship management (CRM) systems. By carefully selecting and integrating the right apps, teams can streamline their workflows, centralize data, and enhance productivity.Additionally, engaging with the Microsoft Teams community can provide invaluable insights and best practices. From user forums to developer communities, these platforms offer a wealth of knowledge, enabling users to learn from experienced professionals, stay informed about upcoming features, and share their own MS Teams hacks.Advanced Tips for File Management and SharingEffective file management and sharing are critical for maintaining order and productivity within collaborative environments. Microsoft Teams offers a range of advanced features to streamline these processes.Implementing a hierarchical file system is a powerful strategy for organizing files within Teams. By mirroring project or department hierarchies, teams can create an intuitive structure that makes locating and accessing relevant files easy. This approach reduces the time spent searching for information and ensures everyone is on the same page.Metadata and tags are another valuable tool for file management. By assigning descriptive metadata and tags to files, teams can facilitate easier search and retrieval. This is particularly useful when dealing with large repositories of files, as it allows users to quickly find the information they need without sifting through countless folders.Collaboration with external partners often requires secure file sharing. Teams offers robust features for managing external access, including granular permissions, time-bound access, and secure sharing links. By carefully controlling who can access specific files and for how long, teams can maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information while still fostering effective collaboration.Customizing Teams with Apps and BotsMicrosoft Teams offers a vast ecosystem of apps and bots that can be customized to suit specific team needs, automate tasks, and streamline workflows.Identifying key apps for integration is the first step in customizing Teams. Popular apps cover a wide range of functions, from project management and customer support to productivity and data visualization. Organizations can significantly enhance efficiency and productivity by carefully selecting apps that align with team goals and workflows.Building and implementing custom bots is another powerful way to tailor Teams to specific needs. Bots can automate common tasks, provide instant access to resources, and even facilitate data collection and analysis. Microsoft offers a range of platforms and resources for bot development, making it accessible to teams with varying levels of technical expertise.Power Automate, a tool deeply integrated with Teams, allows users to create automated workflows that solve common business problems. From data collection and approvals to notifications and reporting, Power Automate can streamline repetitive tasks, freeing up time for more strategic work.Security Practices to Protect Your Teams EnvironmentAs teams increasingly rely on digital collaboration tools, ensuring the security of data and communications becomes paramount. Microsoft Teams offers a range of advanced security features and best practices to help organizations safeguard their environments.Configuring advanced security settings is a critical first step. Teams provides options for end-to-end encryption of sensitive communications, ensuring that only intended recipients can access the information. Data loss prevention (DLP) strategies can also be implemented to prevent the inadvertent sharing of confidential data.Educating team members on best practices for security is equally important. Regular training programs can help users identify phishing attempts, secure their personal and team accounts, and adhere to organizational security policies. By fostering a culture of security awareness, teams can minimize the risk of data breaches and protect sensitive information.Regular security audits are also essential for maintaining a secure Teams environment. These audits help identify potential vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with data protection regulations, and provide an opportunity to update security measures as needed.ConclusionMicrosoft Teams has become an indispensable tool for businesses seeking to maximize productivity and foster seamless collaboration in the digital age. By leveraging the platform's ever-expanding features and staying abreast of the latest updates, teams can streamline communication, enhance collaboration, and achieve new levels of efficiency.As we look towards 2024 and beyond, Microsoft Teams continues to innovate, offering advanced file management features, customization through apps and bots, and robust security practices. By embracing these tools and best practices, organizations can create a secure, productive, and future-ready environment that empowers teams to work smarter and achieve their goals.Boost productivity with Microsoft Teams is an ongoing journey that requires a proactive approach, continuous learning, and a willingness to adapt to new features and best practices. By committing to this journey, teams can unlock the full potential of digital collaboration and thrive in an increasingly connected world.

Best Microsoft Teams Apps

Best Microsoft Teams AppsIn the world of multi-channel productivity software, Microsoft Teams reigns supreme.Built for businesses of all sizes operating in any industry, the platform has proven itself to be much more than your typical group messaging application. Its integration with more than 600 apps makes Microsoft Teams one of the most versatile collaboration platforms on the market, helping you stay connected and engaged.In this guide, we’ll run through some of the best Microsoft Teams apps designed to supercharge your user experience and keep you and your team happy, focused, and productive.PollyFirst up is Polly—an app that allows you to create surveys directly inside your Microsoft Teams channels, giving members a quick and easy way to vote on specific questions. All you have to do is provide the questions and answers, and Polly will perform the vote-counting analytics in real-time.Despite its unassuming interface, Polly has plenty of advanced offerings, particularly when it comes to running polls.Among an array of other features, Polly lets you schedule polls and ask single, multiple-choice, and agree/disagree questions. There’s also the option to postpone results, display or hide results, and allow your audience to respond anonymouslyTrelloFrom big picture projects to last-minute details, Trello is a project management software that keeps track of all of it. The Trello board is made up of lists, and within each list are cards that allow you to add comments, upload files, create labels, and add due dates.This is somewhat of a departure from other similar tools as it takes a more visual approach to task management.As one of the best apps for Microsoft Teams, the Trello integration makes it easy to view assignments and facilitate discussions between team members. Its intuitive design also enables users to organize and prioritize projects in a way that works best for their team.MindMeisterIf you have an idea in need of development, you might want to consider using a mind map. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a mind map is a diagram built for visualizing and organizing information that maps out the relationships between different pieces of content.With MindMeister for Microsoft Teams, you can bring this content to life in a collaborative way, allowing multiple contributors to make additions and edits to the mind map.Additional features include turning mind maps into dynamic presentations, commenting and voting on topics, and adding visual elements to map topics.SalesforceWhat once started as a SaaS company has grown into the 5th-largest enterprise application software company in the world. Founded in 1999, Salesforce specializes in customer relationship management and is now used by more than 150,000 organizations worldwide.The Microsoft Teams Connector for Salesforce keeps your team up-to-speed by delivering relevant content from services you’re already using directly into a channel. The Salesforce Connector sends regular updates about activities in the Salesforce account you want to track.With teamwork continuing to be a driving force in the workplace, the integration between Salesforce and Microsoft Teams will boost productivity and efficiency.Adobe Creative CloudAdobe Creative Cloud is a set of 20+ apps and services that give subscribers access to a variety of software used for web development, video editing, graphic design, photography, and more.Instead of purchasing each app one at a time, this option allows users to pay a monthly subscription fee depending on which ones they’re using.Together, Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Teams combine creative work and teamwork. With the Creative Cloud app for Microsoft Teams, graphic designers can easily share their work, receive feedback, and stay in-the-know regarding the latest actions taken on their assets.Google AnalyticsIf you run a website, blog, or any other type of internet property, chances are you’ve already used Google Analytics to monitor traffic, review page views, and look into user demographics.By connecting Google Analytics to Microsoft Teams, you can receive updates directly in Microsoft Teams on your site’s traffic – and then collaborate around them, all within a single application.Aggregating data from different sources and accessing everything you need in one place; this opens up plenty of opportunities to take action and make powerful business decisions.RememberThisRememberThis is one of the newer apps on this list, one that’s ideal for those who misplace content and have trouble keeping track of conversations.When used in tandem with Microsoft Teams, RememberThis allows you to set custom reminders on your most important chats.Sometimes, we create channel threads only to attempt to refer to them later without being able to find anything. They may have been accidentally deleted or buried underneath newer chat threads.RememberThis helps prevent those discussions from disappearing in the stream of new content.By setting time-based reminders, RememberThis will add a reply to the conversation, so it pops back up into your activity feed. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting again and can therefore, focus your efforts on other aspects of your business.MURALLaunched in 2018, MURAL is a leading visual collaboration tool that utilizes agile and design thinking methods to improve the way people work together.This digital workspace integrates seamlessly into your Microsoft Teams workspace when you add a custom tab, notification bot, and messaging extension.If you receive an invitation to MURAL or someone has @ mentioned you, the bot will inform you via a private message. If the conversation requires additional visual collaboration, just find and share a template right there and then using the MURAL messaging extension.Using any device and any browser, even distributed teams can work together more efficiently by having all their favorite digital whiteboard tools in one place.GivitasIt’s no secret that loyalty and engagement contribute to a positive working environment.Givitas is a software solution that operates under the idea that “no question is a bad question” and seeks to make employees comfortable asking for help.The integration with Microsoft Teams ensures that users have access to a wealth of resources, advice, and connections. Not only does it encourage sharing and collaboration across silos, but Givitas also provides analytics and metrics detailing usage and benefits.When knowledge-sharing is made simple, more people are likely to find the correct answer, solve their problems, and better retain everything they learned.JellPart collaboration app and part project management tool, Jell is essentially a goal-tracking platform where teams can share daily plans, accomplishments, and challenges from one central place.Jell brings structured communication to Microsoft Teams through daily standups, as well as customizable team check-ins and flexible reminders.The daily standups in Jell can be used to keep track of what your teams are working on, without having to spend time in unnecessary meetings. While Jell offers several pre-made templates, you also have the option of completely customizing your check-ins for management updates, one-on-one sessions, and more.You can even set up reminders to reflect your team’s schedule. Jell makes it simple to optimize reminders for teams that may work across multiple time zones too.Bonus AppsWhile we’ve barely scratched the surface with our list of top paid apps, check out some of the Microsoft Teams best free apps we’ve listed below.WikiAside from using main channels, threads, and chats, Wiki offers users an alternative way to communicate in Microsoft Teams.While most immediately think of “Wikipedia” when they hear the term “Wiki,” this software actually allows companies to share and record information online.You have the option to add a Wiki as a tab directly to your channel, add pages to Wikis categorized by topic, and collaborate within Wikis using @ mentions. Use the app as your own dedicated workspace to keep notes or and keep all your information in one place. Wiki definitely comes in handy for FAQs.Cisco WebexThe modern business uses more than one messaging app, as they often have trouble finding just one that can fulfill their specific needs.However, with Microsoft Teams, you don’t have to choose between two different apps, especially if you love the functionality of both.The Cisco Webex Meetings bot combines the functionality of Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx Meeting so that you can easily schedule, start, and join meetings without switching from app to app. You can even share content created in Microsoft apps in the Cisco Webex app and send links from Webex into Microsoft Teams.Final ThoughtsThere you have it—the best Microsoft Teams apps around. This is by no means a comprehensive list of every integration worth looking into. There’s plenty more to explore if you want to maximize your team’s efficiency. Productivity is especially important where collaborating remotely is essential.NextPlane enables Microsoft Teams users to connect with their colleagues that are on different collaboration and messaging tools. They can communicate with them, inside or outside their company, through messages with rich text and emoji reactions, sharing presence status, inviting and participating in channels, and sharing files.Plus, NextPlane connects over 750,000 enterprise users every day from thousands of Global 5000 companies. That means interoperability won’t be an issue.

ITEXPO Exhibitor NextPlane Connects UCaaS, CX with Microsoft Teams and Generative AI for Frictionless Interactions

Gone are the days of isolated teams and clunky communication channels because seamless communication across platforms have become the lifeblood of collaboration, innovation and success.But why is this so critical? The answer lies in the fabric of how we work today. Businesses are dynamic ecosystems teeming with diverse teams, often scattered across different time zones and continents. Global partnerships, remote workforces and the often-changing tech landscapes demand agility and adaptability. Information needs to flow freely, regardless of the platform it's housed on.Of course, achieving this communication promised land isn't magic. It requires a strategic approach, often involving adopting unified communication platforms, like NextPlane, a prominent figure when it comes to interoperability solutions for businesses that need to connect users on different collaboration platforms.NextPlane bridges the gap between popular options like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom, which allows for effortless communication and streamlined workflows regardless of chosen software. In another step to break down communication silos, NextPlane announced an expansion that broadens its offerings to seamlessly integrate UCaaS and CX platforms, particularly with Microsoft Teams. The expansion also marks a foray into generative AI LLM services.Through this integration, UCaaS and CX platforms can effortlessly connect to Teams, which extends their PBX functionalities and provides customers with AI-powered features for an enhanced user experience. These new capabilities allow users to leverage features like AI-powered transcriptions, smart summaries and automated follow-up action items.Highlights of the new features include intelligent meeting summaries, which facilitate asynchronous information sharing and action-oriented follow-ups by suggesting next steps and summarizing key points.Then, there are enhanced meeting transcriptions that distinguish between speakers and suggest actionable insights, reducing the need for redundant and time-consuming tasks like manual note-taking as well as improved tracking that lets users directly link meeting artifacts to CRMs like Salesforce for centralized access, tracking and reporting.“The recent AI enhancements to the NextPlane platform and services epitomize our goal of delivering superior experiences for both employees and customers,” said Melissa Abramson, chief revenue officer at NextPlane. “We are dedicated to developing and introducing features that bring significant value to our customers, demonstrating our deep commitment to their success and satisfaction.”The expansion follows previous moves NextPlane made to start 2024. For example, NextPlane introduced key innovations to bridge communication gaps in January. The flagship release, the NextPlane Phone App for Microsoft Teams, enables PSTN calling directly within Teams, eliminating the need for additional licenses or software.NextPlane also launched OpenCall, which integrates existing UCaaS platforms with Teams. This feature allows users to make and receive calls in Teams while utilizing their UCaaS features. As for providers can map Teams users to SIP extensions, offering full control and automation. The built-in Teams app unlocks seamless integrations with other Microsoft 365 applications.Then, NextPlane's OpenAxys integrates UCaaS/CX platforms with advanced LLMs like ChatGPT and Bard. This simplifies access to AI capabilities, which opens the door for service differentiation and potential revenue growth for providers.“Our ongoing commitment to AI-driven advancements is fueled by our dedication to equipping organizations with the technology and solutions that enhance customer engagement, communication and collaboration,” said Abramson.Offering innovative solutions like OpenCall and OpenAxys allows NextPlane to not just bridge the gap between different communication platforms but also elevate the user experience with advanced AI capabilities. This recent expansion further solidifies that bridge.Source: tmcnet.comAuthor: Greg TavarezGreg is a writer for TMC's family of digital properties, covering a broad range of business technologies. He brings more than 8 years of content writing and editing experience to TMC, having spent time as content producer and editor with USA Today Network and GateHouse Media. Greg earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Intracompany Federation – Connecting Avaya IX Workplace and Microsoft Teams

Integrating Avaya IX Workplace and Microsoft Teams For Intracompany Collaboration

Over the past few months, an unprecedented shift has rocked the business world — remote work. Voice is no longer the only way, or even the preferred way, to stay in touch with customers and colleagues. Instead, video, content sharing, and instant messaging are fundamental activities now.Just as importantly, employees now expect more than only desktop communications. They want a seamless communications experience that helps them stay in touch on their device of choice as they move throughout their day.According to a recent survey conducted by NextPlane, 79% of IT professionals stated that their companies are operating in a mixed collaboration environment, which can include Avaya IX Workplace and Microsoft Teams. We are excited to announce supporting Avaya IX Workplace. With Avaya IX Workplace, Avaya embeds communications directly into the applications, browsers, and mobile devices your employees use every day to create a single, powerful gateway for calling, messaging, meetings, and team collaboration. As a result, end-users are freed from their desktop and have a more natural and efficient way to connect, communicate, and share — when, where, and how they want.Avaya IX Workplace InfrastructureAvaya IX Workplace works tightly with the Avaya desk phones. It also provides apps for Apple IOS and Android devices. Features include key telephony features supported by Avaya Aura, voice & video, rich conferencing, instant messaging, Presence, corporate directory access.Avaya IX Workplace User InterfaceNextPlane views actual Presence states as the foundation for any real-time collaboration across messaging platforms. By supporting Avaya IX Workplace, NextPlane allows Microsoft Teams to see their co-works' phone status, such as on the call, or in a conference call. Users can also send messages.NextPlane ConverseCloud OverviewNextPlane ConverseCloud acts as a universal federation and interoperability hub between Avaya IX Workspace, Avaya Aura Presence Service, and Microsoft Teams.NextPlane ConverseCloud enables users to exchange messages with rich text and emoji reactions, add external contacts, share Presence status, participate in channels, and share files.As a universal hub, NextPlane ConverseCloud performs a transformation of XMPP, SIP, and API-based protocols, as well as the conversion between different formats of encapsulated text messages for platforms.ConverseCloud by NextPlaneFor IM translations, NextPlane ConverseCloud takes into account each vendor's support for plain text, rich text, and other embedded content.For Presence, translations require handling competing standards for the format of Presence information (often called a Presence Document). NextPlane ConverseCloud also performs conversion to and from all of the UC vendor's supported Presence Document formats, including standard formats such as PIDF, XPIDF, and XCAP, as well as proprietary formats such as Microsoft Enhanced Presence.Also, NextPlane ConverseCloud performs semantic translation for Presence states within a Presence Document.NextPlane ConverseCloud uses equivalence-based mapping to map specific Presence states on different platforms when there is no one-to-one correspondence.After ConverseCloud terminates and decapsulates the message from each platform, ConverseCloud determines the routing destinations and reassembles each message based on what is expected by the target UC or TC platform of the message. For most federations, ConverseCloud routes the messages based on the domain of the destination address. ConverseCloud uses TLS (transport layer security) for all SIP and XMPP signaling, as well as for API-based communication between federating our supported UC and TC platforms.Avaya IX WorkPlace and Microsoft Teams Intracompany FederationNextPlane uses apps to act as proxies for Avaya IX Workplace users on Microsoft Teams. NextPlane generates them in the NextPlane's Microsoft account. The NextPlane Microsoft Teams bots act as proxies for Avaya users and provide NextPlane ConverseCloud with the ability to exchange messages through the Microsoft Teams Channel.The NextPlane Apps are not executable code. They are registrations of NextPlane ConverseCloud within Microsoft Teams infrastructures. These registrations provide NextPlane ConverseCloud with access tokens to call the Microsoft Teams API methods and listen to events on behalf of the NextPlane.Avaya IX Workplace to Microsoft Teams Integration through NextPlane ConverseCloudOn the Avaya side, NextPlane uses the Avaya Aura Presence Service XMPP Interface to exchange chat and Rich-Presence Information between IX Workplace Client and Microsoft Teams.