Windows 11 and Microsoft Teams: How to prepare for the integration
Author: Brian Rosher, Corp Presales Solutions Engineer - Collaboration

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Back in July 2021, we lifted the veil on action-steps you should take now to prepare for a full Windows 11 rollout. Now that Microsoft has begun to roll Windows 11 out globally, it is becoming increasingly clear that these action items should be a top priority for businesses, particularly around the integration with Teams. Here’s why.   

As first shared at Microsoft Inspire 2021, the company is doubling down on improvements to Teams to drive productivity, creativity and ease of use. And, for good reason: since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams alone has seen a steep increase in adoption and usage. The platform now has roughly 115 million daily active users – up over 50% over the past year. And with no signs of hybrid and remote work slowing down any time soon, Microsoft is positioning Teams as an central facet of their O365 solution.  

To further capitalize on this momentum in the connectivity and collaboration space, Microsoft is entrenching Teams within Windows 11, featuring expanded capabilities and unprecedented reach. With this integration being deployed across consumer accounts first, businesses should be preparing for when Microsoft rolls out the Teams integration across enterprise and commercial accounts, so you can ensure your organization is equipped to offer the best user experience for your employees.  

Prioritizing a better user experience for the hybrid worker  

In our new world of hybrid everything, users are leveraging devices from a multitude of differing vendors, running on competing operating systems, to complete their given tasks. So Microsoft decided it was time to cut through any productivity barriers by giving Teams full parity across differing devices and systems. 

This enhanced level of integration will have significant implications for organizations that both have and have not standardized on Teams as their collaboration toolset of choice. Microsoft’s decision to bundle certain apps into its operating system will seriously influence what we use for years to come, and how. This is especially important now, after over a year-and-a-half of working from home, and as companies everywhere plan for their return to office (RTO) strategies.  

Here are just some of the integrated features of Windows 11 and Teams that Microsoft is rolling out to better enhance the user experience in a hybrid world of everything:  

  • Improved Taskbar experiences making Teams chat capabilities more user-friendly.  
  • Chat features working across email and SMS, allowing for communication across teammates who are not signed into their Teams account.  
  • An entirely new architecture leveraging Microsoft Edge WebView2, which reduces memory consumption by 50% and streamlines the user-interface.  

It’s clear the integration with Teams will play an integral role in enhancing productivity and the overall user experience, all while making multitasking easier – a necessity as more people continue to work from home. So, how should IT teams begin to prepare for this integration? With Windows 11 now rolling to the consumer market, time is of the essence.   

Four strategies to prepare for the Windows 11 Teams integration 

1. Watch for duplications in technologies and subscriptions   

The tighter integration of Microsoft Teams requires continued analysis of the productivity – and cost – implications of maintaining varying collaboration platforms, and how that might end up impacting the overall user experience. Following the rapid shift to remote back in early 2020, many organizations were challenged with duplication in both purchases and subscriptions – and in the process realized their UCC tools weren’t being maximized to their fullest potential. In many cases, the rapid shift to remote work left little to no time to focus on the adoption and consumption of all the features and functionality on offer.  

For example, many organizations that increased their use of Microsoft Teams were still using a different provider for voice communications, or they had legacy file sharing applications still in use. We recommend revisiting the relatively hasty decisions made in 2020 and focusing them into a more considered, long-term UCC strategy for 2021 and beyond.    

2. Consider integration of telephony platforms with Teams voice 

For organizations using alternative telephony platforms – whether on-premises or UCaaS offerings – considering a move towards a more integrated and secure UCC platform like Teams would offer a seamless end-user experience, especially in the face of greater work from home opportunities.  

As organizations continue to map out their return to office strategies, they’re looking for solutions to co-exist with old phone systems and integrate between the two environments. To streamline the process, many are opting for migrating to Microsoft Teams and using the calling plan.  

3. Adapt on-premises meeting spaces for growing Teams users 

For when you do return to office, consider your existing meeting and conference room spaces, because chances are the technology in place pre-pandemic is no longer sufficient. If your returning workers are using Teams as their standard collaboration toolset, are these office spaces still able to support them? Organizations everywhere are now tasked with transforming these rooms with a combination of HD audio and video hardware and devices to ensure an inclusive experience for both on-site and remote participants.  

4. Accelerate training and adoption initiatives 

With seamless interaction with Microsoft Teams within Windows 11, you can expect that your users will begin to inherently leverage Teams – if they’re not already doing so – for every aspect of work that they do. 

As tighter Windows integration drives usage, we’re seeing a need for training and adoption on both sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, your people may be using Teams but not taking full advantage of all of the advanced productivity features and functionality that the platform has to offer. On the other hand, organizations are looking to roll out Microsoft Teams as their standardized collaboration platform, and they’re realizing that any change in technology requires a change in behavior. This further reinforces the need for ongoing training to ensure proper adoption of the new platform.  

There may be a lot to digest here and you might be wondering where to start, and as always, we’re here to help. Depending on where your organization is in its Microsoft Teams journey, some, none, or all of these strategies may apply to you as you prepare for Windows 11 deployment.  

Exploring SHI’s Microsoft Teams deployment, training and adoption services is a good place to start. Alternatively, you can contact us directly or reach out to your account representative for more information on how to prepare for the new frontier of Microsoft Teams!  

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