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Skype for Business & Microsoft Teams in 2017

Here are some of my thoughts on Microsoft collaboration for 2017.

Skype for Business in Office 365 Is It

What does this mean? This means a shift in skill set for Skype for Business and UC professionals. Some skills that will become increasingly important and get more focus since nitty gritty tech details are not primary concern for UC pros are ensuring the core network can support real-time traffic, user adoption and integration of Skype for Business into business processes. Back in the day I wrote various guides on how to install Skype for Business (Lync...) for tiny SMB clients as many wanted to do it. This is no longer an issue as Cloud PBX can easily be implemented for even the smallest companies technically in literally 5 minutes. The great thing about Office 365 is that UC pros can focus on more holistic business value of UC instead of file shares & SQL server updates.

Microsoft Teams Is It

Its no secret that Microsoft Teams is a big item for Microsoft and collaboration. Microsoft needed to answer Slack and Teams in my opinion is quite a lot of value right out of the gate as it is in Preview. But it is going to get better and its deep integration into the Microsoft suite of products brings value to the table fast. Things like using a Team as an agent group for your small call center using Cloud PBX Call Queues is a first in the industry. With Teams at the heart of what Microsoft is doing a lot of possibilities are possible with little effort on Microsoft’s part.

From my experience using Teams in house is that it really brings an experience that users can love as well. In many ways Teams is the "Skype for Business Persistent Chat" that is going to really catch on because instead of sitting at the periphery, it sits right on top of everything else Microsoft is doing and does in a very nice experience that is fun to use. In my opinion, don’t ignore Microsoft Teams.

Office 365 Cloud PBX Is It

Microsoft is making a big push to get the toughest parts of Skype for Business working in Office 365. Features like Response Group Service and Exchange UM Auto Attendant are not simple or perfect and Microsoft is putting a lot of effort into rewriting this functionality in a way that is cloud optimized and at the same time correcting some of the weakness of the on premises versions of these features. To avoid confusion Microsoft has given new names to the cloud version of Response Group Service and Exchange UM Auto attendant: Call Queues and Org Auto Attendant respectively. How long will it take Microsoft to get feature parity with Skype for Business Server? It will take some time, and if the Exchange journey to the cloud is any guidance, a few years till feature parity with Skype for Business Server is achieved. Naturally Microsoft is going to complete that top needed functionality like Call Queues & Auto Attendants and work its way to more and more esoteric features. But lest we think Skype for Business Server development will languish in the mean time, take heart: Marina Kolomiets, PM in charge of Call Queues and Org AA, reminded me at Microsoft Ignite 2016 that they are taking care of 2 issues in Skype for Business Server RGS on each update of Skype for Business Server.

Cloud API's Are It

The good news is that Microsoft is creating web based Skype for Business API's to be web optimized. The bad news is that it takes some time.
 
I get the question quite regularly: What is happening to UCMA? (Server based trusted application server api) Will we need to rewrite our Call Center, Auto Attendant, what-have-you applications to work with Cloud PBX? Will we need to maintain 2 code based for our Skype for Business software? The simple answer is that UCMA code will not automatically port to the new Trusted Application API. But, before your blood pressure goes up remember we are living a new world and their are new options. I suspect that the way forward will often include hybrid scenarios where the on premises Skype for Business users consume services (new applications like call centers) in the cloud. This is great for streamlining the implementation of complicated applications like call centers and I am convinced more and more that IT departments want a BYOD-like experience even for quite complicated applications. The new cloud api's go a long way in bringing us closer to this experience. A great MVP to follow to get everything about Skype for Business Developement in Tom Morgan. Follow him right now: https://twitter.com/tomorgan

2017 is going to be fun. New stuff and adjusting to new realities and fun.

Using Microsoft Teams Team Members as Call Agents for a Skype for Business Call Queue


With Skype for Business Cloud PBX, members of a Microsoft Team can be used as the Call Agents in a Call Queue (Preview at this time). This means if a Microsoft Team contains the members you want as Call Agents in a Call Queue, just assign the Microsoft Team as the "Call Agents" in a Call Queue and you are done! Talk about integration. Talk about setting up groups one time and reusing them! I'm impressed.

How is this configured? Just setup a Microsoft Team as usual  and add the members. (In a hybrid scenario these members can be in the cloud or on premises).

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Okay, now we have some members setup in our Team.

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(Note that we might need to wait a bit for this Team to show up in Skype for Business Admin portal)

Now let’s navigate to the Skype for Business Admin Center in Office 365. (Skype for Business admin center | call routing | call queues | add new/edit). Let’s go to the “Call Agents” field. Note that you don’t enter individual Skype for Business users here, instead Exchange Distribution Lists are entered. Since a Microsoft Team is an Exchange DL behind the scenes you can search for a Microsoft Team just like an Exchange DL. Let’s search for our “Marketing” Team. Sure enough, there it is and we’ll select it.

Note, you can select more than one Exchange DL/Microsoft Team. Nice!

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Now we need to wait a bit till the Microsoft Team contacts are sync’d into the Call Queue. You will get a notification message indicating this. (show below) This notification will go away momentarily, but doesn’t mean its finished quite yet, keep an eye on the Call Queue “status”.

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Watch the Call Queue until the “Status” no longer indicates “Synchronizing your agent list…”

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When syncing is complete you can make a test call to the Call Queue and all the members of the Microsoft Team (that are Skype for Business enabled, presumably!) will ring. I say: “Very Nice!”


Other Related Items:

Configuring Office 365 Cloud PBX Call Queue's In Receptionist Scenarios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX5aCJS6irM

To see more Microsoft Teams User Tips:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/MicrosoftTeamsUserTip

[Video] Learn Microsoft Teams in 5 Minutes:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2016/11/learning-microsoft-teams-in-5-minutes.html

Office 365 Skype for Business Admin Center Appears to be Moving to New Skype for Business Colors

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Cloud PBX Auto Attendant Business Hours functionality is now in Preview for those in the Preview program and it seems new functionality coming into the “Skype for Business Admin Center” is getting the new Skype for Business color scheme that has been already delivered in the Skype for Business client. (below)

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In November 2016 the Skype for Business client got some significant user interface changes which included new colors. One interesting thing to note with new functionality appearing in the Dec Auto Attendant Preview is that it appears the “Skype for Business Admin Center” may be moving to the new colors as well. The old Skype for Business color is shown on the left & new on the right. (below)

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New Skype for Business client user interface:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2016/11/skype-for-business-november-2016-user.html

Auto Attendant Preview New Features:
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Skype-Operations-Framework-Skype/New-Call-Queues-Preview-and-updated-Auto-Attendant-Preview/ba-p/35787?attachment-id=904

“Chat-Based” Solutions Seem Fond of Video: Microsoft Teams Included Video at Preview Release & Slack Announces They Are Adding Video

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Microsoft released their Microsoft Teams chat-based workspace with several differentiators from Slack, a key one of them being video. On 12/12/2016 Slack announced it was adding video as well.

How is Slack video different that Microsoft Teams video?

  • 1 to 1 Video is included in Slack’s free product but not group video. (Parity)
  • Group Video (up to 15 people) is only available on one of Slack’s paid plans. ( -1)
  • Slack has “Emoji Response” which appears to be analogous to Periscopes “Heart” feature that allows users to give feedback in real-time that floats up alongside the video (+1)
  • Slack doesn’t mention scheduled video meetings which is a current feature of Teams. (-1)
  • Slack doesn’t include Screen sharing (-1) which is a current feature of Teams.

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At the moment neither Microsoft Teams nor Slack store a recorded version of video meetings which could be quite interesting and tie in nicely with “chat-based” collaboration that is searchable, especially if they would include a “speech to text” translation with the recording.

Read More:
https://slackhq.com/slack-calls-now-with-100-more-video-50bf365a0d98#.3vldiw644

Microsoft Teams User Tip #9: How Long Can You Edit a Reply or Conversation?

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A nice feature of Microsoft Teams is the ability to Edit a Chat response, but users should be aware that the ability to edit a response (s new chat conversation or reply) seems to expire after a certain amount of time has passed.

It appears from my testing (and I am not 100% sure) that responses dated today can be edited and after they are no older than that they can not be edited.

  • It does not seem to be triggered by a reply from my testing

So as long as not too much time has passed you can edit as often as you wish. The chat will show a little pencil (shown below) to indicate that it has been edited by the original contributor. Unlike Facebook you cannot see the edit history.

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Enjoy Microsoft Teams!

To see more Microsoft Teams User Tips:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/MicrosoftTeamsUserTip

[Video] Learn Microsoft Teams in 5 Minutes:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2016/11/learning-microsoft-teams-in-5-minutes.html

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