Microsoft starts move from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams today

Nov 8, 2018   |  

Today, Microsoft started moving its 220,000 employees and vendors to Microsoft Teams-only mode for all communications and collaboration needs, including calling, instant messaging, and meetings.

The move signifies the company’s upgrade to Teams, permanently replacing Skype for Business inside Microsoft.

“It’s the end of an era, but it’s also the beginning of a wave of new possibilities,” says Pouneh Kaufman, a principal program manager on the End User Services Engineering Team in Microsoft Core Services Engineering (CSEO), the group in charge of the internal Skype-to-Teams migration. “Microsoft Teams gives us one hub for communications and teamwork, higher quality and more reliable communications, and it sets us up for a whole new wave of opportunities.”

While 12,000 early employee adopters made the move to Teams-only mode in July, a steady cadence of voluntary upgrades has since pushed that number up to 24,000. The migration for the rest of the company starts today and will extend through February. The changeover is happening division by division to ensure entire groups of employees are using the same collaboration client at the same time.

One of the biggest accelerators to employees fully embracing Teams was the addition of the Teams add-in for Outlook, which CSEO rolled out to its 220,000 Microsoft users in September. Other key product milestones that made Teams ready for a full rollout include the ability to create meetings with dial-in numbers included the integration of Teams with Outlook for consistent presence across Office 365,compatibility of existing devices such as desk phones with Teams, and to ensure Teams meets accessibility standards.

“We’ve addressed each of these, which is why we’re able to start our upgrade today,” says Mohammed Anas Shaikh, the senior program manager who is leading the technical deployment of Teams for CSEO.

Kaufman says the goal is to make the migration as seamless as possible, but she added that the team has scaled the migration quickly given the need to ensure everyone is using the same platform for communications and collaboration.

“Since many of our employees are already familiar with Teams, and Teams now meets the needs of our organization, we feel comfortable in accelerating our move to Teams-only mode,” she says.

The migration team has made training available, highlighted by a series of snackable videos that share key pointers in a quick, easily consumable format. The team is prepared to answer questions quickly and share FAQs and other information as soon as it’s needed, is urging leaders to lead the transition by example, and is depending on active champions within each community to get involved.

“We want to make sure people are prepared for this change from Skype for Business to Teams, especially since Skype for Business is going away for us internally,” Kaufman says. “That’s why we’ve invested in training resources and videos to help them learn.”

As for the champions? There are 853 of them who are ready to help anyone who struggles to get through the transition. “They’ve been using Teams for quite some time, and they love being able to help out,” she says.

There is a very active community of unofficial early adopters who will pitch in. “We rely on them as well,” Kaufman says.

Once the upgrade is complete, the company’s focus shifts to implementing further functionality and new innovations coming into the platform. That includes using bots to book meetings, take meeting notes, and assign action items to meeting attendees following a call.

“We’re going to the next level with intelligent meetings,” Kaufman says. “Being able to capture data, to get telemetry, and then respond to that is very powerful. We’re going to get better at sharing info, collaborating, and get more of the right, impactful work done.”

Kaufman and team expect the role of Microsoft Teams to grow as a hub for employees’ workday as new capabilities are built into the platform.

“The most powerful part of Teams is that it sits on Office 365,” Kaufman says. “That makes it a very powerful hub for teamwork.”

To learn more about how CSEO thinks about collaboration at Microsoft, take a look at this IT Showcase case study or watch this webinar series.