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The Ultimate Guide to
Chat-Based Tools

Introduction

You’ve seen the impact high-performing teams can have in business. But what if they could achieve even more? What if they had the space to be themselves, to share ideas instantly and easily across geographies and generations while staying in sync with each other?

In a world where collaboration is how work gets done, all teams need to have are workspaces and tools they’re comfortable using. And it’s up to businesses to make it easy for them to get both.

Businesses must recognize that there’s never been a wider spectrum of work styles. There are more millennials in the workforce than ever before, remote working is commonplace, and the tools used to get work done have expanded far beyond emails and phones. Businesses need to provide collaboration tools that suit different personalities and skillsets and meet varying needs.

Employees today expect their personal tools to be available at work. They’ve been using chat tools like text messaging and social media with ease for years. Transitioning to similar forms of communication in business is a natural next step in the mobile-first, cloud-first, instant communication-driven workforce.

But taking modern business conversations to chat only succeeds if your platform supports the needs of all teams. So, what is the right workspace for chat-based collaboration? It needs to be flexible enough to meet all your teams’ needs, become a hub for dispersing teamwork, be customizable, and stay secure.

The thing that’s challenging is to make sure that there’s a platform for collaboration. Teams are very liquid; we need to keep up with the way our people like to work.”

Jason Warnke, Managing Director, Internal IT, Accenture

Such a workspace is possible. With scalability, app integration capabilities, ease of use, and automation at the forefront of the tools you use, you can create higher-performing teams.

Here’s what your chat-based tools should empower you to do:
Chapter 1

Invite the group, while increasing the efficiency

Today’s workplace has seen a consistent and growing need to communicate in the moment and keep everyone in the know. Great ideas often start small, among a few people, then quickly grow to include a larger team that helps bring them to fruition. To keep that momentum going, fast communication is essential.

At such times, teams need to be able to communicate freely and scale up/down as needed. Additional team members must be able to enter the conversation, while keeping the larger team in the know on activities. Conversations should be possible at a private or group level and from devices and locations of their choice.

Conversations can happen across all of your favorite devices

Microsoft Teams, the chat-based workspace, lets you build a team environment dedicated to a project, campaign, or department, enabling the team to communicate in real time, make fast decisions, and share content as a group. The work that traditionally required an in-person meeting happens right in the workspace—through instant messages, smaller group video conferences, and shared files—faster than before and from virtually anywhere.

35%

Employees can see as much as a 35% reduction in time spent searching for company information when social messaging tools are used internally.1

Bringing all the conversations to one place also lets you reference them later or easily bring new members up to speed. Don’t remember a decision made months earlier? A quick search reveals an entire record of the conversation. New members just joined the team? Adding them will give them access to group conversations and files in one go.

You have that constant thread of communication that you can go back in history and see. It’s all right there in a single interface.”

Matt Cochran, Information Technology Manager, Hendrick Motorsports

Chapter 2

Be more productive through better integration

When teams use disjointed applications, siloed information can make collaboration feel like a complex, time-consuming effort. They’ll waste time locating files, remembering different logins, or switching between apps.

Your team needs flexible tools to work with. When tools are integrated with the business applications teams are already using, work happens faster, enabling easy communication and collaboration.

We’ve designed Microsoft Teams so that employees can have access to chat, content, people, and tools in one workspace—ultimately spending less time searching and more time making decisions. They can directly link to files, documents, and emails for instant discussions within the app. It’s also integrated with familiar tools like SharePoint, OneNote, and Planner, and it works with Skype for Business to facilitate instant chat, video, or voice meetings.

Review documents within your chat

What’s more: An integrated solution can directly affect your bottom line. Last year, organizations that successfully adopted a unified communications system saw huge returns, compared with those that did not.

The connection between unified communications systems and inc r eased operating income 2 +19.2% Successful adoption (operating income) -32.7% Unsuccessful adoption (operating profit)

When your applications work together as well as your teams do, productivity soars. Consider this: New employees will only have to learn the interface of one new program instead of six. With fewer passwords to remember and fewer blockers, your team won’t be kept from doing what matters most: their work.

Ultimately, all teams should be able to collaborate across distances. Teamwork should be as easy online as it is in person. Sometimes, video conferencing will fill the gap when text communication just doesn’t cut it.

Because it’s a part of the Office 365 set of collaboration tools, it’s a part of what we already do. It’s an essential hub where the conversations happen. It opens possibilities for connection and collaboration that we never thought were possible before.”

Domnick Parretta, Managing Partner, Valorem

Teams also enables for visual communication between teammates. Workers can easily share pictures and video, whether for clarity, emphasis, or simply a lighthearted response. Need some face-to-face contact? Through integrations with Skype for Business, users can launch a video call from a conversation in seconds.

Host a voice or video chat within the app

Chapter 3

Customize features for every team

Every team needs a space to work together—one they can reshape and call their own.

And no two teams work alike. Your marketing team may use instant messages to share updates on sales leads and website analytics, while your customer service department might rely on quick calls to resolve customer request tickets.

Your tools need to account for your teams’ unique needs, making workspaces customizable. Teams should be able to pull preferred tools into their workspace and have multiple conversations and work threads, with easy access to the files they commonly use. Automation, notification settings, and chatbots can provide additional support to ensure everyone has what they need.

62%

62% of global employees agree that artificial intelligence assistance could make their jobs easier.3

Microsoft Teams enables threaded conversations within a channel to keep conversations organized and key stakeholders informed. Work that has traditionally required an in-person meeting happens in the channel instead.

It also enables users to customize and automate their chats with dozens of first-party chatbots and third-party app integrations.

Chatbots can instantaneously improve employee efficiency. Instead of relying on an employee to pull data or retrieve an alert or email, chatbots alert teams when an action is needed or a report is ready.

Giving employees the ability to customize their chatbots and chat-based workspaces means they can receive alerts and notifications as much as they want. Integration with third-party apps means the work you used to set aside time to complete can come directly to you.

T-Bot is the embedded assistant that teaches you how to use Teams

Chapter 4

Provide confidentiality you can trust

When collaboration is needed, employees will find a way. Whether company-approved or not, workers will still use instant chat solutions, shared document spaces, and more, giving rise to security risks. Your IT managers are probably on the alert for tools that don’t hold the same security and compliance standards as the rest of your business applications, but some unauthorized tools might still slip through.

60%

Nearly 60% of IT pros believe sensitive files/information should not be shared via group chat apps.4

But it’s possible to provide secured solutions without putting an additional burden on your IT team. We’ve created Microsoft Teams with enterprise-level security in mind, providing data-encryption for at-rest and in-transit data in company cloud storage and email. Broad compliance standards and multi-factored authentication help protect sensitive company information from multiple angles. Plus, because everything is from one vendor, IT won’t have to worry about another set of security and compliance issues—or another possible breach point.

When it comes to keeping files and conversations private, allowing employees access to pertinent conversations means peace of mind for your IT team.

Let’s chat

Once you know what to look for, choosing the right tool can reinvigorate your entire collaborative process. A Spiceworks study indicates that an additional 17% of organizations plan to adopt Microsoft Teams over the next 2 years.4

This is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. This is how we think the world of tomorrow will work.”

Jason Warnke, Managing Director, Internal IT, Accenture

What to look for in your chat-based workspace:
Customization for teams
Scalability and search for growing organizations
Business application integration
Automation
Ease of use for employees and IT
End-to-end security

Check out our free interactive demo to see how chat-based workspaces lead to increased productivity for diverse teams.

What are you waiting for?
Microsoft Teams: All teams welcome
Experience Teams
Sources
  1. “The Social Economy,” 2012, McKinsey Global Institute
  2. “Are Workers Ready for the Workplace of the Future?” 2016, Information Age
  3. “Dell & Intel Future-Ready Workforce Study Global Report,” 2016, Penn Schoen Berland
  4. “Business Chat Apps in 2017: Top Players and Adoption Plans,” 2017, Spiceworks

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