Could phones be a thing of the past?

Modern Telephones lined up in a row

Microsoft Teams announced changes to the application will be underway with the integration of Skype for Business.

At the recent IP Expo event in London, one speaker was explaining the upcoming changes to Microsoft Teams. It left a vision of death for the traditional office phone, we may be the last generation that will make “phone calls”. 

If you haven’t come across Microsoft Teams yet, you should. It’s part of Microsoft Office 365.  Teams provide a working area for each team in your organisation – it could be the finance team that wants to prepare next year’s budget, the cross-department New Services team or perhaps for your very popular Entertainments Team. Each group has its own ‘team’ area, tying together documents, calendars, chat and, most crucially, communications. It is all part of what Microsoft calls The Modern Workplace. 

Cloud-based communication

In the context of Teams, “communications” means any combination of messaging, audio calls, video conferencing or content and desktop sharing. Because it’s all Cloud-based you can join from any location and any device – phone, video conferencing system or PC. 

 There is a lot of new technology coming down the track, much of it powered by Skype. You might remember that Microsoft paid billions of dollars to buy Skype ($8.5 billion, to be precise). One outcome of this is that the Skype developers have produced new software to power Teams communications, based on the kernel of the Skype software.  

New Features  

This new Microsoft software will be appearing in two different ways. The first is inside the Teams application itself, where Skype for Business will be embedded inside Teams instead of being a separate application. That means you will be able to move smoothly from email-style chat to a voice conversation, then to a video conversation if you want, then to desktop sharing and document sharing or a video conference with multiple people. You will also be able to do the usual things you do with a telephone, like transferring calls or bringing extra people into a conversation. 

 These changes completely blur the lines between the separate systems of email, phone calls and video conferencing. It will be just one set of communications, carried around the internet linking different people in different places with different devices, and in different ways. The idea of a ‘phone call’ will disappear. 

 The second way in which the new software will be appearing is with Microsoft Teams software embedded in different devices. The companies that make telephone handsets and video conferencing systems need to make sure that their devices will all work with the new Teams, so it makes sense to put the communications part of that software on a chip inside their products. You can expect to see ‘Teams-ready’ or ‘Teams-enabled’ devices coming on to the market. These include a new style of desk phone that is a combination of a docking station for your mobile phone, a keypad and headset plus the smart part – a dedicated Teams button. See the links below for a couple of examples. 

Teams haven’t replaced traditional phone calls yet. We are still at the beginning of what might, or might not, become a revolution in the way we communicate. But, given what Microsoft has already achieved with Office 365, there is a bandwagon out there labelled ‘Teams’ and that bandwagon has momentum.  

 

Find out more about Teams by speaking to our sales team on 01235 426700 or emailing enquiries@riverbank.co.uk.