Expert View: Richard Clayton - 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 4 of 6: Richard Clayton
Head of Services, Videocall

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

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

User adoption, user adoption, user adoption!

It is critical that end users are aware of impending change and how they might use the service, what impact it has on them, how it differs from their current workflow.

Providing a centre of excellence for ongoing support is possible, ensure pre migration briefing sessions are held, essentially don’t surprise the end users and make sure they have the capability and knowledge to use the tools from the outset.

Also, take into consideration current usage and ensure the network and infrastructure is capable for potential growth, if the migrated service is successful it’s always surprising to hear how well utilised it is by end users and therefore capacity planning must be considered at the early stages.

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

In reality I would say the there are three key areas: impact to users, network/infrastructure capacity impact, day one and ongoing support. Never be surprised by how resourceful a person can be when facing adversity, end users will if not supported properly find work arounds that may not be desirable to the organization. Whilst this goes without saying, ensuring adequate planning and provision for time for when things don’t go according to plan.

Finally, not overlooking the nature and outcomes required of a support model across the entire service and users experience.

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

MS Teams is the current most discussed collaboration service right now. That’s not to say it’s necessarily the best though, the needs of the organisation and end users need to be taking into consideration and I would not say there is a one size fits all service.

For good reasons, younger workers and new graduates are starting to question why offices are required at all. Increasing adoption of mobile working practices are quickly undermining the need to be present in an office space at all times.

A younger generation is looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, but also manage a healthy work life balance that technology is finally allowing us to readdress. Mobile pop up offices, video conferencing, hot-desking and providing users the correct tools to be able to work effectively from home should be at the forefront of any employer looking to encourage application from the newest and brightest.

While the above is not specifically related to a collaboration service, a collaboration platform such as MS Teams is designed from the ground to function in a mobile and powerfully young way. It would not do to overlook this.

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

Personally, I feel it is important but it is alarming how many organisations we’ve seen that don’t take this into account. It’s critical that those responsible understand the needs of their users and given available technology.

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

In particular with this type of migration it’s ensuring all users can continue to collaborate; internally and externally. Again, taking into account user adoption programmes to ensure support is available.

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?

One could question whether the vendors have a biased agenda in all of these areas so by being pragmatic and considering all of the options available a decision should be possible ensuring the best fit for the organisation.

A vendor needs to be reliable, knowledgeable and trusted to successfully deliver these services and if achieved can have significant benefit for the customer by having a full end to end managed service if required.

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.