The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about voice and internal communications is Skype for Business. For years, Skype has been the go-to tool for business communications, be it internally, externally, or globally. To date, Skype has around 300 million active users. Nevertheless, it’s popularity is slipping. Other tools are starting to replace Skype, one of the most popular being Microsoft Teams.
What Is Microsoft Teams and How Does It Relate to Communication?
Microsoft Teams is a relatively new offering as part of the MS Office platform. It is a unified communications platform that combines several features such as chat, video meeting, phone calls, file storage, and application integration. The service can integrate with all other Office 365 suites and extensions, as well as non-Microsoft products.
In broad terms, it’s similar to Skype for Business but with several additions. Besides, Microsoft is planning on steadily phasing out Skype in favor of Teams. The main reason for this, as we’ve mentioned, is the Teams’ capability to be fully integrated into the Office 365 environment. As such, team members can exchange files, edit and write notes in shared documents, and collaborate more efficiently with each other.
Also, Microsoft Teams provides a series of easy-to-use communication channels to better organize inter or cross-departmental processes. Team members can choose to communicate with the entire team or one-on-one by using text, voice, or video chat. The added benefit is that both voice and video can be used within the platform, itself, supporting a large number of individuals at the same time.
Moving Your Business Phone Into the Cloud
Businesses that already have Office 365 and groups know that they can use Microsoft Teams to make voice calls over IP (VoIP) to other team members using desktops, laptops, or mobile devices running the Teams app.
Nevertheless, this Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls act more of an intercom system within an organization since Team apps don’t connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Because of this, the Team app cannot be assigned a dedicated phone number, which means that nobody outside of the organization can use this feature to connect.
Something like this is only possible when a business connects to the PSTN by using Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware installed somewhere on the premises. The Phone System feature, part of Office 365, provides businesses with a cloud-based PBX system. Instead of having that PBX hardware installed in the office, companies can subscribe to this cloud-based service. The Phone System makes it possible to use Teams to make calls precisely as you would a regular telephone. You can make and receive calls from anywhere in the world and from any device that runs Teams, as long as there is an internet connection.
Furthermore, you can also add Calling Plans to better fit with your business needs. You can, for instance, have your finance team only make domestic calls while the sales department does both local and international. Some of the other features of Calling Plans are things like call answering and initiating based on name and number, call holding and retrieving, simultaneous ringing, call forwarding, voicemail, call history, emergency calls, etc.
Most importantly, however, you can do all of this from the Teams app that’s on your phone, tablet, or laptop, as well as a range of other Teams-compatible devices and hardware such as conference room speakerphones, or headsets, among others.