SHOULD MS TEAMS BE THE CENTER-OF-WORK OR THE LIVEWIRE IN THE FLOW-OF-WORK?

Work, workforce and workplace are getting increasingly intertwined as we transcend into the new Hybrid Work model. Microsoft Teams (Teams) has been at the forefront of this transformation enabling clients, employees  adapt to this hybrid workstyle with as many as 250 million active users reported in July 2021 and growing.

Enterprise clients are now exploring adoption of MS Teams beyond chat, call, meetings, team collaboration, to embed and power real-time collaboration in applications, processes, and data / information processing to drive greater workforce productivity and organizational efficiencies. Microsoft calls it Collaborative Apps and there are broadly 2 different adoption strategies at play here:

  1. Teams as the Center of Work: Deploying and embedding custom line of business apps or 3rd party apps & tools directly into Teams (as a channel), thereby ensuring that employees have access to all their apps within Teams as a “single pane of glass”, eliminating the need to switch between applications for their work. A rich ecosystem of 3rd party apps (Productivity & Devops tools, SaaS apps from SAP, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday, etc.) are already available directly on Teams and leverages the native capabilities of Teams Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to foster collaboration across project and business teams.  Value proposition: Augmented employee productivity. 
  2. Teams as the Livewire in the Flow-of-work: Embedding Teams digital collaboration capabilities directly in your line of business apps interface and processes by leveraging the rich Graph API’s, fluid framework and Azure Communication Services.  This empowers the users to collaborate real-time within their apps in the flow-of-work. ServiceNow and other SaaS apps are taking advantage of this capability to provide real-time digital collaboration capabilities within their business apps and processes. Value proposition: Collaborative EcosystemImproved organizational efficiencies and business agility through real-time collaboration in the flow-of-work.

What is surprising is the collective rush towards the first adoption strategy of moving all line-of-business apps onto Teams (Quick wins). This is akin to the early days of cloud migration when the initial focus was on Lift & Shift of apps onto cloud or the emerging SUPER APP concept for digital consumers bringing all micro-apps and consumer services into one container. The challenge with this approach is that it can stifle innovation like with any standardization initiative.

I recently listened to a wonderful panel discussion in the NASSCOM Cloud summit around #PlatformizationPlay. A profound point emerged from the discussion, that the greatest value of a true platform is usually realized outside the platform when built using an open & inclusive architecture with APIs for ecosystem to build innovative services. Great examples of this are AADHAR and UPI platforms that cater to billions of users, support countless transactions while powering multiple use-cases outside of the platform.

MS Teams, too has the potential for similar #PlatformizationPlay, with its rich, extensive set of Graph APIs (to integrate chat, meetings, notifications, adaptive cards and more) and a fluid framework to enable real-time collaboration in business apps and processes.

A healthcare client adopted this approach successfully, to improve productivity and cash flow. This involved digitizing Order-to-Cash management process, eliminating manual interventions and, enabling real-time collaboration that sped up the approvals and decision-making, brought to fruition by leveraging MS Teams, Conversational AI, and RPA technologies.

Similarly, on the SaaS front, the “Collaborative Apps” paradigm brought in by MS, where SaaS platforms like Dynamics 365, ServiceNow have leveraged MS Teams & its APIs within their SaaS app interface, is another great example of creating intelligent and collaborative applications in the flow-of-work.

The importance of understanding employee personas in designing the digital workplace experience has been much talked about in the recent past. Equally important to understand are the different hats an employee wears, mainly the “ME” hat which is about employee services & well-being and the “Org / business role” hat which focuses on work and organizational goals. Trying to force-fit the same collaborative app strategy for the 2 different needs might be counter-intuitive.

Adoption of strategy # 1 is handy for delivering integrated employee services, adaptive teaming as well as supporting citizen developer needs that are focused on employee productivity & well-being. Adoption of strategy # 2 on the other hand, is useful for enabling real-time collaboration within the business apps and in turn improve overall productivity and organizational efficiencies.

I truly believe MS Teams has the potential and opportunity to rise above and beyond the center of work to becoming the livewire (aka digital fabric) in the flow-of-work that keeps employees, organization connected in a hyper-personalized and collaborative ecosystem.

Excited about the endless possibilities and the value we can create by embedding real-time collaboration directly into your business apps & ecosystem. Do share your thoughts and experiences around Teams adoption as we embark on this journey to reimagine the #futureofwork. #MSTEAMS #DigitalWorkplace #flowofwork

Author Details

Chidambaram Ganapathi

Chidambaram Ganapathi, is the Associate Vice President and Head of Infosys Digital Workplace Services. In his current role he is responsible for orchestrating the breadth of infosys digital workplace service offerings, employee experience platforms and solutions to deliver an integrated and human-centric experience to our enterprise clients in their journey to the future of work. He has over 20+ years of experience in IT consulting, delivery management, practice building and pre-sales, driving digital transformation for global Fortune 500 clients across multiple industry verticals. He has extensive experience in IT Strategy & Consulting and providing technology advisory services to client executives in delivering tangible business outcomes. Chidambaram is an active speaker in industry forums, conferences and brings thought-leadership in the areas of Cloud, Digital and Workplace transformation through his blogs and podcasts.

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