Tempering the ”super-hype” around AI: A realistic outlook

Avoiding the “super-hype”

AI will be transformational, so we don’t need to debate or doubt that. However, when we look at the implications for businesses, we need to take a breather and blow a bit of the froth from the frenzied hype that is being whipped up right now. There is both fear and excitement in equal measure, and in many cases, both are unfounded. This is just distracting for businesses as they plan for the future. My contention is that by thinking clearly and taking good advice, businesses can avoid expensive mistakes and find value in practical and relevant applications of AI today.

We hear a lot about the societal and political implications of AI replacing some or even all white-collar work in future. While this makes for interesting and provocative reading, I want to focus on what business leaders should be thinking about today.

We are still in the very early days of this AI wave, and that creates hype. The news sites want content that is sensational, and the consulting firms want you to pay for consulting projects to alleviate the fear they create. You’ll notice that many blogs, articles, and IT talks use words like “could” and “should” rather than “does” and “will.” You also frequently hear “expected,” “projected,” and “forecasted” from consulting firms.

We are in “super-hype” territory, similar where we were with Cloud 15+ years ago.  Was cloud transformational? Yes, it was, completely – the world got smaller, markets grew, and all of us got access to the technologies previously reserved for the global giants.  We got this for a small fee per user plus a lot more. It took time for that value to filter through though, and for markets and technologies to mature. I expect AI to mature faster, and the potential impact to be broader but for most of us, the same principles will apply over the next couple of years.

We are seeing a lot of hype right now, particularly around ChatGPT and Copilot. Is ChatGPT delivering huge value to the masses really? Is Microsoft Copilot going to give you a real competitive advantage right now? They are very useful tools for sure but not earth-shattering yet. The whole arena is still immature.

Unless you are a very large business, a corporate giant, a specific niche player or perhaps a research organisation, I’d say your requirements will be met naturally by the market. It’s happening now, and you will not miss the boat if you think this through carefully and take advice from trusted and qualified technology partners.


Value from AI today

Although in their early stages, there is value to be had today from practical applications of AI, largely at the Machine Learning end of the spectrum. Many software and platform vendors are building and buying AI technologies to enhance their offerings already, and some have done so for several years. We are seeing steady developments in most business systems, and here are a few examples:

  • Cybersecurity: With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, mid-sized businesses are adopting AI-powered cybersecurity solutions like SentinelOne and MS Defender, which use machine learning to detect and respond to security threats more efficiently than traditional antivirus products. AI can also help businesses with data protection, compliance, and incident response.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Businesses are using AI-enhanced CRM platforms like Salesforce or HubSpot to streamline their sales processes and improve their customer service. These platforms can leverage AI to predict customer behaviour, personalise communication, and automate responses, leading to more efficient sales cycles and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Accounting: AI tools are being used to automate bookkeeping and financial analysis. For instance, many accounting platforms use AI to categorise expenses and make tax recommendations. AI can also help businesses with cash flow forecasting, fraud detection, and risk assessments.
  • Human Resources and Recruitment: HR tools with AI-enhancement assist in automating payroll, benefits administration, and recruitment processes. AI algorithms can screen resumes, schedule interviews and even predict candidate fit and thereby make hiring process faster and more effective. AI can also help businesses with employee engagement, retention, and development to foster a positive and productive working culture.
  • Inventory Management and Supply Chain Optimisation: Mid-sized retail and manufacturing businesses utilise AI for inventory forecasting and supply chain optimisation. Tools like NetSuite or SAP Business One employ AI to analyse sales data and predict inventory needs to reduce overstock and stockouts.  AI can also help with demand planning, logistics, and quality control, improving operational efficiency and client satisfaction.
  • Marketing and Customer Insights: AI within products, such as Marketo and Pardot help businesses analyse customer data, predict market trends, personalise marketing campaigns and ultimately increase engagement and conversion.  AI can also help businesses to create content, manage social media and web analytics to enhance brand awareness and reputation.
  • Predictive Maintenance in Manufacturing: Companies are implementing AI for predictive maintenance in manufacturing; using sensors and data analytics to monitor the condition and performance of machines and equipment, predicting and even preventing failures. Tools like IBM Maximo or Microsoft Azure IoT use AI to optimise maintenance schedules, reduce downtime, and extend equipment life, thereby saving costs and improving quality.

Get the right guidance

I hope I have shown that AI is delivering practical and relevant value now for organisations that know how to make use of it. The market is delivering the functionality and evolving it continually. That does, of course, mean that businesses should keep their eyes open and watch their markets.

AI will arrive through the sales engines of technology vendors. And this is where most care is needed: to avoid being swept up by the hype of a new technology, buying vapourware and undertaking projects that will never realise the sold visions and dreams.

Most importantly, this all means that every business needs access to sound advice from partners who live these technologies daily and whom they can trust to provide practical guidance rather than speculation. I always recommend appropriate research, evaluation and piloting to build awareness and familiarity. There is value to be had for sure, but we do need to calm some of the hysteria.

Microsoft Inspire 2023: Announcements Round-up

Microsoft’s premier annual event, Microsoft Inspire 2023, recently concluded, providing industry leaders and partners alike with a glimpse of Microsoft’s vision for the future. There’s no doubt that Microsoft wants to empower individuals worldwide to work in a new AI-driven way, expanding the scope of AI technology to help everyone in various aspects of their roles. In this recap blog, we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the event and how it sets the stage for a secure and AI-driven business landscape.

Advancing AI ambitions

Regardless of your feelings about AI technology, it’s hard to ignore the platform change that Satya Nadella (Chairman and CEO at Microsoft) laid out in the keynote speech. The next big shift in our way of working is here – using natural language as our interface with technology, facilitated by AI.

The event marked the launch of two groundbreaking AI-driven solutions, Bing Chat Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Copilot, promising to redefine how we work, delivering increased efficiency for business advantage through AI-driven insights and automation.

During the event, Microsoft detailed the functionalities and pricing of these new tools:

  • Bing Chat Enterprise: Think of it as Google on steroids, working with both public and private data while maintaining appropriate data governance to ensure your IP is not leaked. Currently available in preview, we expect this to roll out in late 2023 or early 2024 for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium users at no additional cost. For those rare clients without some form of M365 licensing, the standalone offering will be available for $5 per user per month.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot: While Bing Chat Enterprise will reference business data and aid you in your day-to-day tasks, Copilot takes it to the next stage of evolution It offers integrated AI that can work with and for you in your native applications, through a natural language interface. Hand off those menial tasks and focus on the exciting stuff. Microsoft has initially released Sales Copilot, with the promise of wider integration to come and we finally know how much it will cost. $30 per user per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium clients. While it may feel expensive for some, how and who you deploy it for will be key.
  • New AI capabilities across Microsoft 365: AI is coming to the rest of the M365 suite, enhancing productivity and engagement with features like Copilot in Teams Phone and Chat, Microsoft Viva updates, Windows 365 Frontline, Microsoft 365 Backup, and Microsoft 365 Archive.

To learn more, read the blog post by Colette Stallbaumer, General Manager, Microsoft 365 and Future of Work here.

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.  Judson Althoff, Microsoft executive vice president and chief commercial officer, speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.

Embracing the future of security with AI

Emerging technologies are rapidly evolving, and cybersecurity has become more crucial than ever before. Microsoft Inspire cast a spotlight on the future of security powered by AI, highlighting the unique opportunity to harness AI’s power alongside an end-to-end security solution for building a resilient security posture with rapidly adaptable defences.

Based on Microsoft’s internal data, cyber-attacks are rapidly adopting automation through AI-assisted tools. The number of password attacks detected by Microsoft has surged significantly, growing over threefold in the past year, from 1,287 per second to more than 4,000 per second.  As a result, the cost of cyberattacks is continuously rising. If organisations stick to outdated security measures and only rely on past strategies, they may leave vulnerabilities in their security posture.

Partners and clients were introduced to valuable resources to strengthen their defences against ever-changing threats. They showed how using AI can help to spot and stop potential risks before they become a problem. They also emphasised the importance of safeguarding critical data and customer information. Throughout the event, it was clear that Microsoft is dedicated to empowering businesses with smart security solutions.

For the full details, read the announcement here to learn more.

Nicole Dezen, Microsoft corporate vice president and chief partner officer, speaks to partner attendees at Microsoft Inspire 2023.



Microsoft Inspire 2023 revealed a series of key announcements and technologies, showcasing the tech giant’s dedication to AI advancements and comprehensive security solutions. From fortified cybersecurity measures to innovative AI tools elevating collaboration and productivity, Microsoft is continuously pushing the boundaries in the tech space.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, embracing these transformative technologies becomes crucial for achieving business success in today’s competitive environment. Sure, these technologies can be exciting, but we get it – they can also feel overwhelming, and you don’t have to navigate it alone.

Whether you want to secure your business against evolving cyber threats or explore how AI can enhance your operations, our team of experts is ready to support you every step of the way. Reach out to us here.


QuoStar achieves Microsoft Solutions Partner for Azure Infrastructure

We are proud to announce our achievement of the Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) designation. This recognition represents a significant milestone in QuoStar’s journey to provide unparalleled cloud solutions and support to our valued clients. In this blog, we will delve into what it means for both QuoStar and our clients to be a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure), highlighting the benefits and expertise we bring to accelerate their digital transformation.

In 2022, Microsoft introduced a transformative evolution of their partner program, replacing the traditional Gold and Silver competencies with Solution Partner Designations. By achieving the Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) status, QuoStar demonstrates our unwavering commitment to staying at the forefront of industry advancements and equipping our clients with cutting-edge solutions.

Let’s explore how our expertise translates into tangible benefits for our clients:

As a Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure), QuoStar possesses a diverse range of capabilities aimed at empowering our clients to expedite the migration of their critical infrastructure workloads to Microsoft Azure when best placed to do so.

  • Comprehensive Infrastructure Services: With our broad capabilities, QuoStar excels in designing, implementing, operating, and optimising infrastructure architectures that drive efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and robust security measures. We collaborate closely with clients to ensure their infrastructure aligns with their unique business requirements and objectives.
  • Seamless Workload Migration and Modernisation: QuoStar is well-versed in the art of migrating and modernising diverse workloads, including virtualised environments and virtual desktops. We leverage our in-depth understanding of Azure to deliver seamless and efficient transitions, enabling clients to unlock the full potential of the cloud.
  • High-Performance Computing and Azure Management: Our expertise extends to the onboarding and management of high-performance computing workloads in Azure. We empower clients to harness the capabilities of Azure for resource-intensive tasks, unleashing new levels of productivity and performance. Additionally, our adeptness in management, governance, security, and DevOps with Azure Arc ensures clients have robust control over their on-premises, cloud, and multi-cloud environments.
  • Driving Customer Trust and Recognition: The Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure) designation acts as a mark of distinction, allowing clients to identify QuoStar as a trusted partner with a proven track record of success. Our commitment to training, accreditation, and delivering exceptional solutions guarantees clients that their infrastructure will be in expert hands.
  • Certified Professionals: Our team includes certified professionals who have achieved Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification as well as becoming Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate. These certifications showcase our team’s deep understanding and expertise in Microsoft technologies. By continuously investing in our employees’ professional growth, we ensure that they stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices.

“With Azure’s powerful capabilities combined with our multi-cloud approach QuoStar can provide enhanced scalability, security, and reliability to meet the evolving needs of our clients. The designation not only strengthens our reputation but also positions us as a trusted partner in the Microsoft space.” 

Neil Clark, Cloud Services Director at QuoStar

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If you are looking for a partner to accelerate your migration to Microsoft Azure, optimise your infrastructure, and unlock the full potential of the cloud, we are here to work with you.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Cloud Expert.

How can VDI solutions help IT Managers manage a widespread remote workforce and transform the workplace

How can VDI help IT Managers manage a remote workforce

The COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way businesses deliver IT services to end-users. The lockdown and subsequent restrictions left businesses scrambling to deal with an unprecedented situation where their entire workforce needed to work from home. Most simply weren’t set up for permanent, widescale remote working but had no option but to embrace it to remain operational. 

Technology like online meeting and collaboration tools, hosted telephony, VPNs and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) saw a surge in adoption as businesses looked for ways to keep their employees connected, productive and secure. Of course, VDI solutions are nothing new. Businesses have been using it for over a decade to deliver desktops and applications to end-users. However, it is seeing a resurgence, both due to current challenges arising from COVID-19 and the maturation of Windows Virtual Desktop. This was highlighted in the recent Spiceworks Ziff Davies 2021 State of IT Report which found 46% of businesses were using or planning to use VDI by mid-2022. Furthermore, 26% of businesses planned to increase VDI deployment specifically because of the new challenges that have surfaced due to the pandemic.  

How can VDI solutions help internal IT Teams?

1. Reduced Costs

Delivering desktops through VDI helps reduce the time it takes to provision new desktops. Easy and quick to set up, VDI not only reduces the time required by the IT team and the support costs, but it also provides more immediate value to the business. 

VDI can also help IT Managers optimise and reduce their IT spend. Purchasing and upgrading hardware for remote employees is a significant cost, but as a virtual desktop can be accessed from almost any device it can really help slash spend in this area.  

2. Simplified Licencing

Software licencing is one of the most common issues for IT managers with remote employees. If an end-user uses a personal device for remote working and needs a particular app to do their job, it’s ITs responsibility to licence this. Not only do multiple licences increase IT costs, but it also complicates licence tracking and compliance. The IT team needs to be able to prove that apps on personal devices are properly licenced and differentiate between corporate-owned software and personally owned software. VDI solutions eliminate this challenge for IT teams by keeping the licenced software within the business’s own data centre and removes the need to track remotely installed apps.  

3. Improved Security

Security is a constant concern, even more so with the new threats emerging as a result of the pandemic. It’s a particular issue for IT teams where end users are using personal devices to access company data or systems. There are no guarantees that the device adheres to the company security policy, it may be infected, compromised or running an outdated operating system. However, with VDI, device-level security becomes less important as the user remotely connects a corporate desktop which IT configures to exact security requirements. The personal PC essentially becomes a thin client as all activity takes place in the data centre, with all of the corporate security systems and controls in place.




4. Reduced Technical Support Time

IT Managers’ workloads are higher than ever now they need to manage a fully remote workforce on top of their existing responsibilities. VDI solutions make it easier for IT teams to support remote end-users because it puts them in a standardised environment, with the device itself less significant. It also reduces major technical issues and speeds up resolution time because IT teams already have all the information about the user’s virtual desktop systems to handOf course, technical issues can still occur with virtual desktop users, but these are usually related to connectivity and performance and are simpler to identify and resolve.  

5. Centralised Management

With everything centrally stored, managed and secured, desktop virtualisation streamlines the management of software assets. This makes it easier for the IT team to set up and provide end-users with desktops and applications, no matter where they are located. Administrators can also deploy, patch, upgrade and troubleshoot from a central, singular location, rather than updating end-users’ environments individually.  

Are VDI solutions the right choice for every business?

Desktop virtualisation has continually developed over the last decade, but today the main two categories are VDI and DaaS (Desktop as a Service). VDI is suited to businesses who want to host and manage the virtual desktops themselves, on their own servers. DaaS is very similar but removes the need for infrastructure management by delivering it as a cloud service.  

Both VDI and DaaS are well placed to deal with the most common challenges of traditional desktop and laptop systems, such as software licencing inventory, ensuring compliance and expensive procurement. Outside of these legacy challenges, both solutions also help businesses deal with IT process concerns, such as keeping up with the rapid pace of change and the time IT staff have to dedicate to routine tasks (e.g. troubleshooting, helpdesk requests).  

DaaS has a slight potential edge on VDI due to the shared responsibility of a cloud model. It largely removes the need to manage the physical infrastructure, enabling IT teams to focus on the entire digital workspace and user experience.  

The prominent solution that overlaps both categories is Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). Previous virtualisation options gave businesses limited options over the type of virtual machines they could use to deliver desktops. They had to either compromise on user experience and deploy Windows Server Desktop experiences to achieve the cost benefits of a multi-session. Or, they had to sacrifice on cost and deploy single sessions in Windows 10.  

This dilemma, plus the opportunities presented by Azure as a platform, ultimately led to the development of Windows Virtual Desktop (WDS). It’s the only virtual desktop infrastructure that offers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimisations for Office 365 Pro Plus and support for RDS environments. An additional plus, just for IT teams, is the relatively short time to go live. A 100 person business with 4-5 servers could be looking at less than a week to set up from scratch. 

Are there any issues with VDI solutions?

However, like any technology option, VDI is not a onesizefitsall solution. Businesses still need to fully evaluate its suitability for their employees and their ways of operating. For example, while VDI is a good option for remote workers and contractors who need to securely access Office applications, it’s not the best for employees who travel frequently due to latency and VPN issues. 

Certain applications also still don’t perform as well in VDI style solutions. Microsoft Teams and Zoom are two of the most widely used conferencing platforms, yet they both have performance issues and limitations in VDI environments. For example, with Microsoft Teams some advanced features may not be available in a virtualised environment, and video resolution can differ. Call and meeting functionality is also only supported on a limited number of platformsAs there are multiple market providers, it’s recommended that you seek consultancy advice or speak to your virtualisation solution provider to confirm you meet the minimum requirements. 

VDI is just one element of the technology stack. Don’t forget you’ll need other complementary technologies to address gaps and round out the experience for the end-user if you’re looking to build a fully functioning digital workplace. 

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Using Microsoft Teams to manage the return to work and meet government COVID-19 guidance

Using Microsoft Teams to manage the return to work

With the UK government continuing their phased return to normality, many businesses are now planning how they will manage the return to work process for their employees. Thousands of office workers, such as those in financial services, recruitment and law, have been working remotely since the lockdown announcement on Monday 23rd March. Now, these restrictions are beginning to ease; employers will need to carefully review their workplace to determine how and when it is safe for employees to return. 

Managing the return to work may cause significant difficulties for employers as they look to maintain the delicate balance of risk. Will hot desking make social distancing easier or further the spread of the virus? Shift patterns are necessary to service clients, but will this result in employee bottlenecks at entry and exit points? How will we maintain operations and ensure employees feel safe in the work environment?  

There are many things to consider and changes to be made, but technology can help to reduce the burden on managers. 

What does the return to work guidance say? 

The guidance sets out practical steps for businesses focused on five key points, which they should implement as soon as practically possible.  

1. Work from home, if you can 

Employers should take all reasonable steps to allow employees to work effectively from home. However, if they cannot do this and the workplace is not an establishment that the government have said must remain closed, then employees can return to work if it is safe to do so.  

2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment 

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety. They should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with their employees or trade union to determine which guidelines to put in placeWhere possible, businesses with more than 50 employees should publish their risk assessment online.   

3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing where possible 

Employers should redesign workspaces to maintain 2 metres distance between employees. Measures may include things like moving desks, staggering start times, creating one-way walkthroughs, opening more entrances or exits, or restricting the number of people allowing in meeting or break rooms.   

4. Where social distancing cannot be maintained, reduce transmission risk 

Employers should look at putting barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns or fixed teams to minimise the number of people in contact with one another or ensure colleagues are facing away from each other.  

6. Reinforce cleaning processes 

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, with attention paid to high-use objects like keyboards and door handles. Hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities should be provided at entry and exit points.  

The role of technology 

There are already reports of employers rushing out to buy the latest tech in a bid to make their offices safer. Some businesses are utilising existing building technology to track the numbers of employees in the office at any one time. In contrast, others are considering surveillance options like thermal sensors, motion detectors, and contact tracing to track the movements of infected employees. 

Some of this technology requires significant investment and may be out of the reach of mid-market and growing businesses, particularly during a pandemic when they need to scrutinise every financial decision carefully. There’s also a question of how surveillance will make employees feel, even if the technology is for their benefit. In a time where tensions are already running high, and employees may be reluctant to return to the office environment, the last thing your business wants to do is add to the stress. 

However, there are options in technology you’re already using, such as Microsoft 365, which leadership teams can repurpose to help manage the return to work and meet government guidelines with little to no extra cost. 

Shifts in Microsoft Teams 

Shifts is a schedule management tool that helps you create, updates, and manage schedules for your team within Microsoft Teams.

An example of Shifts in Microsoft Teams

Features in Shifts

  • SchedulesTeam Owners can create a schedule from scratch or import an existing one from Excel. It shows days at the top and team members on the left-hand side. If you are an owner of multiple teams, you can toggle between different shifts to manage them.  
  • Day Notes: Add notes to share relevant news or reminders with your team.  
  • Groups: Name groups by job function or location to keep organised.   
  • Shifts: Choose a slot to assign a shift, then add activities or specific tasks, so individuals know what they need to complete. 
  • Requests: Review requests for time off, shift swaps, or offers. 
  • Time Clocks: Allows employees to clock in or out using a mobile device. Enable location detection to ensure team members clock in from a designated work site.  
  • Share: Once you’ve finished making edits, share your schedule updates with your team. 

Office or Facilities Managers can use Shifts to centrally manage and share available space to employees based on location or floor. Managers can allocate workspace, or allow employees to reserve or request it, ensuring social distancing is maintained wherever possible.  

Available as a mobile, web or desktop app, Shifts is included with every Teams licence at no additional cost and your IT administrator can quickly roll it out to your whole business.  

App Templates 

App Templates are production-ready applications for Microsoft Teams that can help streamline and improve the employee experience. No coding is required, and all templates come with detailed documentation and support guides to ensure smooth deployment and configuration.  

  • Company Communicator Bot – This app allows businesses to create and send messages to teams or large groups of employees right where they communicate. Companies can use it to share things like new policies, company-wide initiatives, employee onboarding or company-wide broadcasts.  
  • Incident Reporter Bot – A Microsoft Teams bot designed to streamline incident management in your business. The bot facilitates automated data collection, customised incident reports, relevant stakeholder notifications and end-to-end incident tracking. The bot allows users to report incidents with facilities quickly while providing a centralised location for responders to see and respond to incoming events.  
  • Scrum Status Bot – A simple scrum assistant bot that enables users to run asynchronous stand-up meetings and provides an easy way for users to share their daily updates. Designed to work in Teams Group chats, all members of that group can contribute to the scrum which could help remote project teams keep their projects up to date and on track.   
  • Icebreaker Bot – A Microsoft Teams bot designed to help your team become closer by pairing two random co-workers each week to meet. The bot not only helps facilitate conversation and connection between remote teams but could also be helpful if you need to onboard new team members before everyone returns to the office.  
  • Facilities Bot – Use this bot to send targeted, location-specific updates to employees on Teams, helping manage the use of large communal areas such as cafeterias, kitchens and break rooms.  

The office of the future? 

The lockdown has shown many businesses that their employees can remain productive and operations can continue outside of the confines of a traditional office. Looking to the future, some may evaluate the cost of ample office space, and if it’s an overhead they really need – or want to – continue budgeting for.  

In-person meetings are certainly still valuable, but is there a need for every employee to be in the office for the same set hours each day? Technology has made it vastly easier for teams to remain in contact, and it means your business is no longer geographically confined when it comes to hiring talent.  

While there’s no one size fits all policy, this could certainly be an excellent time to review your operations and ways of working to see if changes could make a measurable difference to your business.  

Direct routing turns Teams into a full unified communications solution

Telecoms providers launch direct routing for Microsoft Teams

Many Telecom providers have now launched direct routing for Microsoft Teams, allowing users to make and receive calls external to their organisation through the platform. Users can now use the normal Teams application whilst remote or on the move without the need for third-party softphones. 

Microsoft recorded a huge spike in active Teams users since the lockdown was announced, as businesses look for an easy way to remain connected and collaborate with staff outside of the traditional office environment. This addition takes the functionality of Teams one step further, transforming it into a full cloud-based unified communications solution with enterprise-grade telephony.  

Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is a flexible, accessible and cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Calling Plans and allows your business to make calls within Teams using SIP trunks to route the calls, without the need for on-premise hardware. It utilises Microsoft certified Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to deliver better value, greater flexibility, increased functionality and support for migration.  

Direct Routing provides connectivity to your Microsoft Team’s tenant enabling full PSTN breakout on the public telephone network. Connections from Microsoft Teams to the telecom provider networks are via an IP connection (for example Broadband or Leased Lines). 

What is required to enabled Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

  • Microsoft 365 or Office 365 license including Teams 
  • Microsoft phone system add-on 
  • An internet connection 

What are the benefits of Direct Routing?

  • Call your normal contacts directly from the Microsoft Teams app without the need for additional third-party softphones
  • Keep the same geographical number wherever you are 
  • Complete cloud-based solution with no CapEx costs 
  • Maximise your existing Microsoft 365 license 
  • Access to advanced call statistics such as call handling efficiencies, productivity, caller patterns and caller behaviour. 
  • 01, 02, 03 and 08 termination with no number translation 
  • Tailored business continuity with network and number level resilience to keep your business working 

If your business is still using Skype for Business as it’s telephony platform, then it’s imperative that you make the move soon. Microsoft will be retiring Skype in 2021 and is encouraging all users to move to Teams. Not only does it offer all the functions of Skype for Business, but it includes instant messaging, screen sharing, web conferencing and a centralised collaboration.  

Free Download: Moving to a new business phone system. Download this guide to find out how to select the best phone system for your business requirements. Click here to access.

Windows Virtual Desktop review

Cloud - A review of Windows Virtual Desktop for business

Our Client Infrastructure Manager and Azure specialist reviews Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop.

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is Microsoft’s newest Platform as a Service offering. It supports multi-session Windows 10 virtual machines and boasts significant improvements to the user experience and capabilities of certain Office 365 apps in a virtual desktop environment.

WVD became globally available as of September 30th, 2019 and is exclusively delivered on Azure. There’s a lot of good press around WVD, but it’s questionable how much of that is just buzz and how much is solid analysis. This article provides a more nuanced breakdown of how applicable WVD is in a business IT environment, what benefits it brings over other virtual desktop solutions, and whether Azure exclusivity is an issue?

How does Windows Virtual Desktop meet key business requirements?

Cost per user

Unlike VMWare and Citrix virtual desktop solutions, WVD does not require additional per-user licensing (such as RDS CALS or Windows Server) to run, making it very appealing to the price-conscious. This is also particularly beneficial for very large organisations as it limits ballooning costs for big user-bases.

WVD is not completely free though. Each user requires a Microsoft 365 or Windows 10 E3 license and you need to pay for the compute to run the virtual machines within Azure, but’s that’s to be expected.

What is the cost of Windows Virtual Desktop?

The precise cost will vary based on your number of users, the quality of the virtual machines and whether you’re using multi or single sessions, but you’ll be looking at around £8.25 per user per month in compute costs in an optimised environment.


WVD being restricted to Azure makes latency a hot issue since hosting the virtual machines on in-house infrastructure simply isn’t an option.

The (un)fortunate truth here though is that any latency problems are likely to come from your end, rather than from Microsoft’s. Azure is a global platform and Microsoft has enough money to pour into infrastructure that any latency issues are likely to come from your end rather than theirs.

Whilst this doesn’t solve the problem of latency, it does mean that if you already have the Internet connectivity to support cloud-based virtual desktops on a public cloud platform, Azure will not be a bottleneck.

What will my latency be with Windows Virtual Desktop?

There are a few tools to estimate your latency with Azure. This tool calculates the round-trip time with all eligible WVD regions and this tool lets you compare regions more easily.

In WVD’s documentation, Microsoft recommends a latency of below 150ms for a smooth experience, but VMWare documentation suggests below 250ms is still acceptable for running virtual desktops. Depending on your users and the work being done, you’ll likely have an acceptable experience if you can hit below either of those values.


Since WVD runs on Azure, scalability is almost limitless – regardless of the size of the business. The only restriction you may face is how much compute you can afford.

However, since a per-user license isn’t required, the price curve of WVD is much shallower compared to Citrix or VMWare. This frees up budget which can then be funnelled into even more Azure capacity or used to create value elsewhere in your business. So, chances are, WVD will meet your scalability requirements easily.


WVD holds native support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and HTML5 environments – the latter allowing for access through a browser window. This lets a WVD virtual machine run on any mainstream device and opens a host of remote working opportunities.

Being a Microsoft product, WVD also integrates tightly with the other Microsoft products which make up the backbone of your operations such as Office 365, Outlook or Windows Server. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the tidiness gives WVD a notable sense of refinement compared to the layers of integration and configuration needed for VMWare or Citrix.

A final point regarding application performance and interoperability is that Microsoft acquired FSLogix during WVD’s development which enables seamless use of stateful applications such as Outlook, Teams and OneNote in a virtual environment.

A practical example of this new functionality is that it now only takes a second or two for a user’s Outlook inbox to populate instead of the minute it would usually take on a virtualised system.

This is achieved by containerising users’ profile data (e.g. emails, notebooks or chat messages) into a separate virtual disk which attaches to the session when needed. When you consider the number of times employees check their emails, this already presents considerable time savings.

Benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop

Free extended security updates for Windows 7 virtual environments

In a move that recognises some companies need to stick with Windows 7 to support specialist software (and perhaps as an enticement to coax Windows 7 users to Windows 10 in the long run), Microsoft will provide free extended security updates through to January 2023 if those Windows 7 desktops are virtualised in WVD.

For companies who haven’t yet migrated from Windows 7, or can’t, this is a lucrative offer since it eliminates the costly security updates (£25 per machine in the first year, £50 per machine in the second and £100 per machine in the third) whilst offering a potentially improved desktop environment with the same updates for free.

Offered as a fully managed Azure service

Managing a virtualised environment has traditionally been an enormous headache for IT teams. Not to mention the upfront slog there is to even get the environment set up correctly in the first place. Microsoft has eliminated much of this pain in WVD by making it a fully managed Azure service.

This takes all the infrastructure management, optimisation and fine-tuning off your plate and tasks like load balancing, diagnostics, gateways and connection brokering are fully managed whilst still being configurable to your requirements.

Configurability also extends to other areas of the virtual environment such as the size of the virtual machines, specific resource allocation to specific user groups, whether users are assigned using a breadth or depth technique and more. These options are managed through the Azure interface rather than requiring configuration on the back-end which keeps things simple for you as well.

In-built security and compliance

Whilst users may think access to files from anywhere on any device is a flexible working dream, for IT teams it sounds a lot more like a security nightmare. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided several security options which can let you sleep easier at night.

Probably the biggest security concern is that data stored on too many devices means an instant GDPR breach if any of those devices are lost or compromised. To alleviate this concern, configurable information protection controls are easily accessible and allow IT Managers to ensure data stays on the virtual machine and never resides on the connecting device.

WVD running on Azure also means you get to have your data and systems hosted in some of the most secure data centres in the world. Security is provided at all layers from software and hardware through to physical defences – which can take another weight off your mind.

Windows Virtual Desktop is Azure exclusive – is this a problem?

Microsoft obviously hopes to increase their cloud market share by making WVD exclusive to Azure, but this decision risks deterring some businesses.

Chances are, if you’re already dedicated to a non-Microsoft cloud (Amazon, Google, IBM) for compliance reasons or because you have a strategy built around it, you won’t be willing to pick up Azure just for the sake of virtual desktops.

Since those are solid justifications, we’re not going to try to convince you to change your path. However, if you’re on the fence regarding Azure or cloud in general, here are some reasons WVD being exclusive isn’t as much of a problem as it seems.


A specific objection to Azure compared to other big cloud providers is that Azure’s pricing has traditionally been prohibitive to smaller businesses without cash reserves. Azure’s pricing previously required upfront payment for the one-year or three-year reserved plans – forcing smaller businesses into the overall more expensive pay-as-you-go plan.

But Microsoft changed this in September 2019 to allow for reservations to be paid with monthly instalments rather than a single fee. For businesses without big cash reserves, this lets them set out a budget whilst also getting access to the savings a reservation provides (which can be as much as 46% for one-year reservations or 72% for three-year reservations).

Windows Virtual Desktop Azure reservation discounts

Data out of your hands

The idea of your most valuable assets and corporate secrets being held in a third party’s hands is honestly frightening for a business. However, in the case of Azure, it’s mostly an unfounded fear.

Your data is likely to be safer in Azure’s data centres than your own due to how Microsoft rigorously adheres to global security standards including ISO 27001 and constantly pours an enormous amount of money into data security.

Whilst you do still need to deploy the solution in Azure correctly for true security (e.g. multi-factor authentication and proper user permissions configuration), these are the sort of things a competent Azure specialist will have in place from day one anyway.

The truth is that this problem comes down to psychology and fear of loss of control. If you’re adhering to best practices during deployment, Azure’s security is more than enough to protect your critical assets.

Azure datacentre downtime

Another common concern with running virtual desktops in the cloud is that if the platform goes down, employees won’t be able to do any work. Azure’s downtime tracker showing a list of several recent downtime events doesn’t help alleviate fears either.

However, you should bear in mind that Azure has at least three million servers. And when operating at that scale, even with 99.99% uptime, there would be 300 servers constantly in a down state. Since there aren’t 300 servers constantly in a down state, Microsoft is doing a pretty good job of service availability.

The concern of downtime is certainly genuine, but to address it you should acknowledge that Microsoft and their army of engineers are probably more capable of managing the hardware side of a data centre with less downtime and shorter downtime windows than you can.

Having the hardware managed by Azure also takes a load off your shoulders and allows you to focus efforts towards activities which are of actual benefit rather than day-to-day maintenance.

Should you get Windows Virtual Desktop for your business?

As of now, the short answer is no. You might be surprised by that answer, but things are much more nuanced if you dig deeper.

If you’re already operating a virtual desktop environment or are an expert in Azure and VDI then yes, WVD is certainly worth reviewing. However, if you plan on using WVD as your first foray into using virtual desktops, it would be best to let it undergo a few months of fixes first.

WVD is on the bleeding edge of virtual desktop solutions right now. Whilst it shows a lot of promise and represents a lot of improvements, it needs refining before it can be considered a best-in-class solution.

Microsoft’s development cycle means it shouldn’t take too long to work out the bugs. And during that time WVD will likely gain some new and improved features – so you’ll even get some additional value for waiting.

In the meantime, upskilling your existing IT team in Azure will provide you with some decent in-house expertise. Additionally, moving to Office 365 now, if you haven’t already, gives your users plenty of time to grow accustomed to the extra features and productivity tools which are included.

What is Sway? | 7 benefits of Sway for businesses

IT solutions - What is Microsoft Sway?

What is Sway?

Sway is a presentation tool included within Office 365 which fulfills the role of a “digital storytelling application”. Sway is ideal for creating business reports, presentations or updates. Allowing users to make visually compelling, content-rich presentations without needing any serious design skills.

Sway and PowerPoint are often compared with one another. But whilst they’re both presentation tools, they both fill very different niches. PowerPoint is the ideal tool for presenting content to an audience. Whereas Sway is best used for presenting content onscreen to an individual.

What are the benefits of Sway for businesses?

Optimised for mobile:

With an increasingly mobile workforce, users need applications that can be used on whatever device they’re using. Sway is optimised for mobile devices to accommodate this. It even has a range of features which allow created sways to look just as good on a phone or tablet as they do on a desktop.

In-built mobile previews, touch-screen friendly interactions and an image focus-point customiser all contribute towards making Sway a superior presentation tool. And one which is ideal for the modern, mobile age.

This makes Sway great for sending a report to a travelling executive. Or for ensuring an important company announcement is accessible by anyone at any time. Regardless of the device they’re using.

The Sway mobile preview for images showing a desktop and mobile preview

Sway’s mobile preview is just one of the features it includes to ensure optimal performance on mobile as well as desktops or tablets.

Customisable templates:

Ensuring a consistent visual approach is integral to having a solid brand style. So, Sway’s in-built ability to save a created sway as a template to use for future documents is invaluable. This is also useful for semi-automating the creation of recurring documents such as sales reports or newsletters.

Sway has a massive range of pre-set layouts. Plus the ability to tweak these or create a new one from scratch. This lets you create a plethora of unique styles. Or find the perfect one to align with your brand’s identity.

Accessible to everyone:

Something easy to overlook but valuable nonetheless is accessibility. Sway has its own accessibility mode which lets created sways be usable by everyone.

Features like adding in alternative text for images to assist with screen readers. Or restructuring pages to a simplified layout for people with dyslexia both go a long way. And an in-built accessibility checker ensures created sways aren’t difficult to use.

Sway also has a set of free guidelines available for ensuring created sways are accessible to those with dyslexia or visual impairments. You can also use the accessibility checker to analyse the document and find issues like insufficient colour contrast. Something which can cause problems for those who are colour-blind or have low vision.

The Sway accessibility checker

An example of the suggestions the accessibility checker provides for ensuring an optimal Sway experience for everyone.

Quick import:

As well as being able to write content natively, it’s also possible to import a pre-existing document into Sway. This can be a something like a Word file or a topic outline from Wikipedia.

From there, Sway breaks the document down into its main components. A headline, titles, body text, images and tables for example. And displays it in your sway.

Sway can then takes this a step further, adding in a few extra touches. These additions are only cosmetic such as text extracts. But they vastly improve the visuals of the document.

Once you import the document, it can still be edited to get it to your liking. But from experimentations, Sway tends to do an already good job of presenting imported content.

Accessible anywhere and shareable with anyone:

Sway stores created sways in the cloud. Meaning that you can view any sway you want as long as you’re connected to the Internet and have access permission. This does have the downside of meaning that whilst offline, you won’t be able to access any sways. But for the increased flexibility offered by a cloud approach, it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

Being stored online also has the advantage of simplified sharing. The types of documents you make in Sway are meant to be shared. Whether that’s with only a few as with a report or many people as with a newsletter.

Having no need to upload or download any files and fiddle with versions is great. Considering that sways are often packed with rich media or images. You also get to avoid long transfer times due to a large file size because your sways are stored centrally.

Rich content:

Sway allows users to insert content from a variety of sources to enrich their presentation. Flickr, Bing Images and Pickit all offer a variety of images under the Creative Commons licence. Letting you use them freely as backgrounds or features within the sway.

Additionally, you can embed YouTube videos, tweets and Facebook posts into sways. Allowing for easy viewing and no need to link out of the presentation for content which is on another platform.

Of course, you can also embed any images or videos you already have into the sway. Either via OneDrive or by inserting the file into your presentation.

An example of the image import via Bing

In addition to images, Sway allows users to easily import videos, social media snippets and other rich media.

Slick presentation:

A major issue with PowerPoint presentations is that they can seem unprofessional or lack finesse. Which in turn reflects poorly on your business. Likewise, Word documents are difficult to organise and are often visually sparse. Sway on the other hand is built with elegant design and impressive visual performance in mind.

Through using the pre-made templates and styles – or creating your own – it’s simple to create a presentation which looks good and impresses your client or manager.

How to get Sway for your business

If you’re interested in getting Sway, it’s included for free within certain Office 365 licenses. If your business is yet to adopt Office 365, discover some of the great features you’re missing out on.

Other articles in this series:

8 considerations to ensure a successful Azure migration

Cloud - 8 considerations for a successful Azure migration

For far too long Microsoft Azure has been sold as something it’s not – an instant magic wand for all your IT requirements.

Simply put, Azure is a tool for delivering an IT project and, as with any project, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job. The magic wand status of Azure has come from the fact that there are few IT infrastructure migrations where Microsoft Azure is not that tool.

The reason Microsoft Azure is used so often is (continuing the tool analogy) many cloud platforms are the equivalent of a hammer – very good at one thing, but perhaps less useful in other scenarios. Azure, on the other hand, is a Swiss army knife – highly capable and highly versatile in a range of situations.

With Azure, you can undertake projects ranging in size from running your entire IT environment in the cloud all the way down to a cloud-enabled file backup. Whatever you’re looking at doing, there are 8 key areas that can enhance an Azure migration project and save you unnecessary pains and costs in your journey. Here’s what they are:

8 considerations for a successful Azure migration

1. Ensure you have the bandwidth

In any migration, be it to a public or private cloud, bandwidth can easily be overlooked. It’s a factor that needs to be under continual evaluation – since missing something here easily swallows up savings.

It’s also important to be considering latency. Far too often, businesses move a service into the cloud which originally ran on a local LAN and realise too late their WAN can no longer support the additional load. The best-case scenario for if this happens is the newly migrated application runs slowly. The worst case is the entire network grinds to a halt.

2. Know your rollback

Even with all the experience in the world, unforeseen issues can arise during a project. Something goes wrong or is delayed and suddenly you needed that service yesterday.

Rollbacks are sometimes necessary to keep operations running smoothly, so knowing how you’re going to get back to your previous position is vital.

You should never be in a situation where there is no way back, nor should you attempt a ‘big bang’ migration. The risk you expose yourself to is simply not necessary.

3. Model your environment and true costs

On the surface, public cloud services (such as Azure) look cheap. However, when you start moving noisy programs and bandwidth-heavy systems, a different picture of how much you’re spending emerges.

Modelling your true costs prior to the migration is imperative to prevent your project from going grossly over budget. Don’t assume you will simply be paying for space and compute like you typically do with a cloud provider. It’s likely that reads and writes of data, as well as the costs of transporting it around, will be included as well.

This can quickly lead to you chasing bottle-necks, often in areas such as disk storage speeds and IOPS and therefore losing out on performance. A good place to start when sizing up your project is the Azure Migrate tool. The Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool is also valuable at this stage.

4. Ensure compatibility

One of the well-known phrases trotted out by service providers and software vendors when discussing if their application will continue to function if you move it to the cloud is: “well, it should work.” Many software vendors are still only in the exploratory stages of rigorously testing how their applications run in a public cloud environment, so take that “should” with a large grain of salt.

You should always be getting guarantees on performance and support prior to signing any migration and service contract. Too many service providers will simply sell a solution without proven experience. If in doubt build a test platform and test it to destruction.

5. Manage and Monitor

Whatever you’re hosting, you need to have the right monitoring, management and reporting in place to ensure there are no surprises during your journey to, and the time following your migration.

Before you enter the cloud, you need to know what service levels you require and what your capacity management structure is. You also need to consider where all your alerts and logs will go and how you’ll manage them and act when required.

Fortunately, there are numerous products to deal with these issues. Just be sure you start with the end in mind, instead of dealing with issues as you encounter them.

6. Consider DR and Continuity

Yes, Microsoft has a huge cloud infrastructure and yes, your data is replicated all around the place. But this doesn’t mean you won’t have an outage.

There are so many variables involved in cloud infrastructure that, chances are, you will at some point experience an outage. If you’re moving into Azure then know what your DR and business continuity plans and solutions are. Then once you know them, test them to ensure they’ll actually work when they’re needed.

7. Ensure you have the skills in place

Azure is a completely different ball game to managing a traditional private cloud platform or on-premise solution. It’s therefore important you either partner with a trusted consultancy and service provider and/or you skill up your internal team with training.

There’s a wealth of training solutions out there, and Microsoft’s own certifications are an excellent place to begin. Covering a wide and granular range of areas, allowing you to tailor your skill-set to exactly the right level.

8. Secure your environment

You can’t talk about anything related to IT without mentioning security, so this point was inevitable. The summary is that you shouldn’t treat your cloud platform any differently to your internal security. You certainly shouldn’t believe you can offload the risk to Microsoft.

Securing your cloud is a vast enough topic that it would be unjust to try and cover it under this one heading, but one key area often overlooked is watching the network – both for internal and external traffic. At a minimum, you should really be using Deep Packet Inspection and UTM firewall appliances, of which there are numerous in the Azure marketplace.

In summary…

As with any platform migration, it’s all about planning. The more you plan and prepare the smoother your migration will be and the lesser your costs. If you’re looking for a highly experienced consulting firm to ensure your Azure migration is successful, get in contact with us and one of our senior Azure consultants will be able to help you with your move into the cloud.

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What is Microsoft Teams? | 7 benefits of Teams for businesses

IT solutions - What is Microsoft Teams?

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based chat and collaboration platform, designed to simplify and streamline communication between employees by offering one centralised place to connect.

Instead of relying on clunky email chains, employees can send direct messages to co-workers, set up group chats or organise video, audio and web conferences, all without leaving the platform.

But Teams is more than just a communication tool (something valuable enough on its own) as it also has the following features natively integrated:

  • A central hub for quickly accessing and sharing your files
  • The core of the Office Online suite for seamlessly accessing and collaborating on documents
  • Its own calendar for setting up meetings and ensuring projects stay on track
  • And optional integrations (called Connectors) with third-party applications ranging from Salesforce to GitHub to MailChimp.

Should I use Teams or Yammer?

With there being so many collaboration tools in Office 365, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the range of options available. At an incredibly basic and simplified level, you should use Teams for sending messages to individuals or smaller, more tightly knit groups and should use Yammer for sending a message or announcement to large groups of people or the whole company.

Be aware that this comparison only looks at using Teams’ and Yammer’s messaging functions. When comparing each program as a whole, it’s apparent that they both fulfil very distinct roles outside of their chat features.

For maximum business impact, you should be using both Teams and Yammer because each one offers various exclusive features the other does not. However, to determine which program to use when sending a message, the above breakdown is a good rule to follow.

What are the benefits of Teams for businesses?

Centralised access to files:

The core Office file editors (Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint) are all accessible through Teams and files can be opened, edited and shared in a seamless experience without ever leaving the app. Additionally, files stored in OneDrive can be viewed and shared within Teams.

With the addition of plugins, the viewing feature can be extended to support additional file formats such as Photoshop, Illustrator and other programs in the Adobe suite.

By having the ability to natively work with content, workflows can be streamlined and users can collaborate much easier on documents. By improving the efficiency of your work, you can do more with less time and then utilise Teams’ innate sharing features to make sure what you’ve made gets in front of the right people.

Live, threaded chats:

Unlike email chains or sporadic messages sent over a range of channels, Teams utilises threaded, persistent chats for communications. This means that people can easily go through the history of a conversation in order to understand the context of what’s happening or double-check what has been said. Additionally, adding in new members to a chat allows them to immediately see a history of events, communications and decisions without having to play catch-up.

Having a live chat also leads to far more spontaneous and active communication. Unlike with emails where a question can sit unanswered for days, the directness of Teams means it’s much simpler to respond to messages which in turn increases collaboration between co-workers.

An example of a Teams chat between two people.

Teams chats allow employees to quickly exchange information and collaborate with one another on projects.

Bots and automation:

A multitude of bots are available in Teams which fulfil a variety of helpful roles. T-Bot acts as an interactive help feature where you can pose questions about using Teams. StatsBot automatically compiles reports based on data from sources such as Google Analytics or Salesforce and PollyBot lets you create polls for your co-workers.

Many bots are available through the in-built ‘store’ and offer further integrations and functionality to Teams.

Highly integrated:

Teams is naturally integrated with other apps in the Office 365 suite such as Skype for Business, Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote. Enabling video and voice calls, meeting scheduling, file sharing and note-taking to be done inside the app.

The file hub aspect of teams also supports integration with cloud storage outside of Microsoft’s own OneDrive, with it being possible to link Dropbox, Box, ShareFile and Google Drive accounts. And on top of all that, Teams also features third-party connectors which provide integrations for external programs ranging from Adobe Creative Cloud to Google Analytics.

Some of the optional integrations for Teams including Adobe Creative Cloud, Aha!, Airbrake, Aircall and +BI Collaboration.

Teams supports an array of third-party applications which improve what users can do and share within Teams.

Synced with your Microsoft account:

Teams includes its own calendar (found under the meetings tab) where meetings can be scheduled, viewed and edited. What makes this particularly valuable is that the calendar is synced with Outlook’s own calendar. Meaning any meetings made in Teams will appear in Outlook and vice-versa. Teams is also synced with your OneDrive (found under the files tab), allowing you to easily share and collaborate on any document.

These simple integrations lead to a far more cohesive work experience, lead to less duplication and mean you can still use the tools you’re familiar with whilst also benefiting from the range of benefits Teams brings.

The teams calendar

The Teams calendar is synced with your Outlook calendar to let you effectively schedule meetings.

Security built-in:

Like the rest of the Office suite, Teams is highly cyber-secure. The software is built to ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SOC 2 and HIPAA standards to keep it regulatory compliant. Additionally, encryption is used for data both in transit and at rest, preventing information from being intercepted and a resulting data breach.

Versatile application:

Teams is available on both Windows and iOS desktops, plus has a mobile application for Android, Apple and Windows phones. Furthermore, Teams is accessible through any of the standard web browsers, meaning it can be used without needing to install the dedicated application.

Because Teams is available on such a range of platforms – regardless of your business’ current hardware setup, Microsoft Teams will be able to provide value for your business. Moreover, the addition of the mobile applications means remote workers or employees who are often travelling between sites gain just as much value (if not more due to being kept in-the-loop much more readily).

How to get Teams for your business

If you’re interested in getting Microsoft Teams, it’s included freely within certain Office 365 licenses. If your business is yet to adopt Office 365, see our blog post on the topic to discover some of the great features you’re missing out on.

If you already own Teams but want to get more from it, also check out #10SecondTeamsTips where genuinely useful advice and features are highlighted.

Other articles in this series: