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  • Writer's pictureJack Royle

Better business communications through Microsoft Teams

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

At Dental IT we don't send emails any more internally. None. Anyone sending an email internally would be considered a bit of a Luddite! We only use emails for external communication, and even that is on the wane in favour of calls, video calls, Teams, messages via text or WhatsApp. It is astonishing to think that email feels now like a bit of old tech - not quite in the same league as faxes, but slightly heading that way. There are various reasons for this: Security: email isn't secure, and as the world quite rightly worries more about data security and compliance, this just isn't acceptable. It is possible to make emails secure, but no one method (PGP, digital signatures) has been adopted on a widespread basis. Worse, the vast majority of threats to most computer networks come via suspect emails. Reliability: whilst the actual transmission and receipt of emails is highly reliable, real world there are no so many filters and ant-spam policies in place around the world's email systems, if I send an email to someone I haven't contacted before, I have little confidence that it will definitely be received by them Spam, junk email and the volume of emails: Many of us get so many emails these days, and so much junk, that seeing the wood amongst the trees can become a problem in itself. And cleaning out and keeping your inbox streamlined eventually becomes not worth the effort. Features. Email just isn't as powerful as the latest messaging systems. The handling of attachments is clunky and inconsistent. Integration with cloud services is poor. Cluttered. Email threads are often hard to navigate. Even if your email client keeps the threads together, the content is so dispersed between spurious content, signatures, disclaimers, duplicated text, it can be time consuming and tedious to Speed. Despite having emails on our phones, messaging systems are much faster and simpler. So much for the limitations of email. So what does Teams offer? Well, Teams has come into its own due to the Covid pandemic, but at Dental IT we have been using Teams for at least 3 years. It entirely replaces emails, and I see no reason at all why anyone would send an email internally within the business. There is no reason why even the more "official" communications such as holiday requests, or appraisals or contracts, can be done over Teams. The "chat" based communication that is at the heart of Teams, is familiar to all of us. Like texting, or WhatsApp, or iMessage, communications are instant, clear, modern and friendly. Emojis and GIFs can be used to lighten the tone, and messages can be deleted and edited too, after sending - try doing that with an email. Teams includes video conferencing that works well (depending on the reliability and performance of your Internet connection) and simple and intuitive meeting and calendar functionality. Within the video call, you can share your desktop, or applications, change your background, record the call, and more. So this is a sophisticated and advanced video calling application, but in a very easy interface - there should be no training or manual required to operate this. But what for me is really amazing about Teams is the integration with the Office suite of applications. You can edit a Word document outside of Teams, move it into Teams, and collaborate on the document with a colleague without different versions of that file flying around the place. This is cloud file sharing as it's meant to be. By integrating so tightly with Sharepoint and OneDrive, the advantages of those cloud sharing apps is brought right inside this powerful communications tool. You want to discuss an excel file with a colleague whilst you are in a different place? No problem, you can both work on the same file, chat about it, and even see the other person moving around the fields in the same file. Try even thinking about doing that in an email. Finally, and we have only begun our journey with this, you can ingrate other apps and features into Microsoft Teams. We are currently making use of the tasks and approvals apps, and I expect that is just the start.

© Liam McNaughton, Dental IT, February 2021

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