Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has great ambitions for his company’s video conferencing software Microsoft Teams in 2021, hoping to build on last year’s success. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic led to a huge surge in popularity for the likes of Teams, Zoom, Cisco’s Webex, and other similar digital tools.
Now, in an interview with the Financial Times, Nadella has outlined his vision for turning Teams into a “digital platform as significant as the internet browser.” Ultimately, collaboration tools like Teams could serve as the glue that holds the digital work environment together, offering meetings, chat applications, and other programs through a single, unified interface.
Nadella’s hopes for Teams would probably not be quite so ambitious if not for the coronavirus pandemic, which forced many businesses to adopt digital collaboration tools in order to remain functioning while social distancing measures were implemented. By the end of September, for example, the number of daily active Teams users reached 115 million, a rise of more than 100 million compared to the year previous.
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The post-pandemic world
Microsoft moved fast to fix bugs and make improvements to Teams throughout the last year, making use of the vast amounts of feedback the company received as its user figures surged. For example, Microsoft added a Large Gallery view to facilitate bigger meetings and streamlined the call experience.
However, Microsoft knows that it will need to keep iterating if Teams is to fight off stiff competition from a host of other video conferencing tools. Many of the app’s rivals also added new features throughout 2020, while Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack at the tail-end of last year could provide further competition in the digital collaboration space.
Microsoft has begun offering Teams as a free add-on to its Office software, making it a natural choice for businesses that already pay for the productivity suite. Of course, what the world of work will look like exactly in the coming years is difficult to say. Although the pandemic has shifted workplace trends markedly, how the office will look once the pandemic recedes is anyone’s guess.
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Via the Financial Times