Microsoft Teams and Smarter Meetings

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Recently, Microsoft announced further progress on its intelligent communications vision for Microsoft Teams, adding support for its own and third-party calling and meeting room devices. Microsoft’s Surface Hub device will run Microsoft Teams natively from later in 2018, and audio and video conferencing room systems from multiple partners will be able to plug into Microsoft Teams, enabling Teams to be used as a solution for meeting rooms. With the momentum behind Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft’s intent to retire Skype for Business Online in favour of Teams, this allows third-party vendors to carry forward their “Skype Room Systems” into Microsoft Teams. It does, indeed, seem intelligent to leverage the existing ecosystem of vendors and devices to propel Teams to even greater heights.

Of course, “intelligent” is an easy word for vendors to throw around (along with phrases like “machine learning,” “big data,” and “deep learning”), but the real test is intelligent utilisation.

One technical capability to support intelligent utilisation is having video cameras that sense where the participants are in the room. This is offered by Logitech and Crestron to support two end goals:
– Dynamically adjust where the camera focuses to give the remote party the best viewing experience (e.g., removing a hindrance to intelligent utilisation).
– Automatically capture and log the number of people in each meeting room throughout the course of each day, and to make this data available for understanding room utilisation rates. Decision makers can see the reality of how the meeting room infrastructure is being used, and make plans accordingly.

Microsoft Teams silverside

We hold one major concern for intelligent utilisation, however, and it’s a concern that further technological development and Microsoft’s own roadmap for Teams will never be able to resolve. It’s the very human issue of how to run a productive and effective meeting in this new world of work. How do you bring together a diverse group of people, in one room or multiples, to combine their human experience, insight, intelligence and wisdom to explore an idea, make a decision, and further the reach and impact of a team, department or organization? It’s an issue that endures in the face of technological advancements that are incredibly amazing, and forces us to face up to the fundamental questions once again:

  • What is the purpose of this meeting?
  • Who should be here?
  • What agenda topics best enable us to address the purpose?
  • How do we enable a tool like Microsoft Teams and its intelligent capabilities to add to the productivity of a team, not detract from it?


Beyond questions, we have answers. For those, please check out our brand new principles whitepaper on holding smarter meetings, and our companion workbook on using Microsoft Teams in Office 365 to do so. The first offers a deep dive into the state of meetings today and how they need to improve, and the second gives clear guidance on how meetings can be brought to life in Microsoft Teams aligned with our principles whitepaper.

Intelligent capabilities must be met with intelligent utilisation, otherwise it is just dumb.