Expert View: Jimmy Ferreira - Microsoft Teams and the Digital Workplace Challenge

On the 31st July 2021 Skype for Business Online will be retired, and after that date the service will no longer be available with enterprise users advised to migrate to MS Teams. Videocall recently published a Whitepaper to guide IT and Facilities leaders through planning their organisation's migration strategy.

We asked six of our Videocall experts to share their experience and answer questions on the opportunities, risks and key considerations when planning a large scale migration from Skype to Teams and what impact it is likely to have on an organisation's digital workplace.

Part 6 of 6: Jimmy Ferreira 
Solutions Architect, Videocall

Rob Portwood | Simon Shaw | Chris Young | Richard Clayton | Tim Earys | Jimmy Ferreira

What do you think an organisation’s biggest challenge will be when migrating from the platform (e.g. SFB to Teams) behind their digital workspace?

One of the main challenges facing companies who are looking to move their collaboration strategy to Microsoft Teams will be legacy platforms. Legacy platform represent challenges where a company still needs to migrate its entire infrastructure to O365. Microsoft Teams is a 100% cloud based solution and will require Exchange online and SharePoint integration to deliver the optimum user experience.

For the full Teams experience, every user should be enabled for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Office 365 Group creation. Microsoft Teams is deeply integrated with SharePoint in Office 365. For example, every team that you create gets a team site in SharePoint, allowing the team to share and store their files in an effective way. Users' Exchange mailboxes can be hosted online or on-premises. However, some features require a hybrid deployment to be in place with your Office 365 tenant.

Legacy Room based systems certified to be natively registered to Skype for Business will no longer be supported in Microsoft Teams. Any standards based meeting room video conferencing solution will require a Microsoft team gateway service to connect to Microsoft teams meetings. The new Microsoft Teams room solutions deliver a Microsoft Teams user experience in most meeting rooms, however larger more complex spaces fall short in user experience using the Microsoft Room Systems.

What future issue or hidden ‘gotcha’ is most commonly overlooked with a platform migration of this scale?

User adoption is one of the challenges faced with a large-scale adoption of a new service. An increased user base or increased adoption of the new technology will result in increased demand on the corporate network. Users will experience quality issues if companies do not plan for the increased load on the network.

Microsoft certified partners can deliver network assessment services to provide guidance to deploy the optimum network to support the large scale deployment of Microsoft Teams

What future collaboration service or feature requirements should organisations be considering right now and why?

Today and in the future, more and more users will be working from remote locations or home offices. I believe the corporate structure needs to evolve to allow a remote worker with the tools to be a productive member of the team. This will enhance work life balance.

Mobile phone devices or end user personal devices BYOD will form bigger part of the corporate structure and organization will need to evolve to deliver secure, reliable connections to key corporate services from personal devices.

How important is it for IT leaders to align their platform migration approach with the wider business workplace strategy?

It is vitally important! If IT leaders do not align the wider business workplace strategy they will be faced with incompatible services and frustrated users.

If users cannot use the collaboration service or platform deployed by IT they will find another way.

We see in the market today that if a business unit cannot communicate with their partners using the corporate collaboration tools the will go “Rouge” and start using a different platform. Companies then end up using several platforms to deliver the same service at an increased cost to company.

What factors should be considered when choosing between a gradual or direct upgrade journey?

Primarily the size of the organisation and it's user base.

With a multi-regional organisation there will always be challenges to migrate users from one platform to another. Smaller organisations can probably get away with a direct migration path as the communication structure will be easier to manage but larger organisations will probably select to do a gradual migration. Gradually migrating departments, offices and then regions can be managed in a more controlled environment

In your experience what has/is the role of technology vendors in the evaluation, implementation and support of major platform migration across the digital workplace?

The technology vendors have the expertise to be the trusted adviser to assist an organisation to make an informed decision on their deployment strategy. A Certified and experienced vendor can conduct network impact assessments, infrastructure capacity planning and meeting room technology selection.

The vendor can implement the solution using their experience and knowledge of the technology being deployed. Assisting with the user migration and adoption of the new technology can be provided by conducting training sessions and workshops.

Excerpt from "Microsoft Teams and the Digital Workplace Challenge" White paper.

This paper will show why it is critical for the Enterprise to have a digital workplace strategy in place and to ensure that employees have a good user experience as they navigate their way around this migration. It will look at the benefits of a seamless, consistent experience whether that is in a physical or virtual workplace.

For the leaders of organisations this presents one of the most significant opportunity for many years to improve how their workers interact and collaborate to foster greater engagement and productivity.