Whether you work in the office, from home, on the road, or—if you’re like most of us these days—in some combination of all three, it’s likely that collaboration software is something you can’t live without.
It wasn’t always this way. Before the pandemic, videoconferencing played only a small role in most employees’ day-to-day workflows, and only after COVID-19’s outbreak did adoption of cloud videoconferencing platforms skyrocket, growing by an amazing 21X over a two-year period.
Microsoft Teams has seen consistent increases in adoption ever since, with user numbers rising from 20 million in November 2019 up to 75 million by April 2020, and then increasing to 270 million by 2022. Today, more than 300 million individuals and one million organizations rely on Teams as their default communications and messaging platform.
There are many good reasons for this burgeoning popularity. Teams is flexible and versatile, incorporating many capabilities beyond videoconferencing and chat. It’s natively integrated with the entire Microsoft 365 productivity suite, making it effortless to share—or work collaboratively on—documents, presentations, data analyses, and much more. Teams includes voice calling capabilities, automated meeting transcription services, and productivity enhancers like channels and shared task lists.
Now, however, it’s possible to further enhance your Teams experience with greater personalization, additional intelligence, and stronger data protection. By upgrading to Teams Premium, a new offering that builds on the already-extensive capabilities of Teams, users can level up their productivity by leveraging the power of generative AI to boost efficiencies and make Teams meetings more productive.
Teams Premium has built-in generative AI to help participants get the most out of every Teams meeting that they join. Users with access to this add-on license still have access to the automatic meeting recording and transcription features that are available for standard Teams meetings, but they also get an intelligent recap, which uses OpenAI’s GPT to generate a summary of the meeting.
Plus, Teams Premium has an AI notes feature. This not only summarizes the entire discussion, but also highlights key aspects of the conversation in a way that’s concise, easy to understand, and simple to navigate. Want to hear what was actually said during a particular part of the meeting? Just click on that segment in the recap, and Teams Premium will automatically replay the right part of the discussion.
Teams Premium makes it easier for meeting participants to surface and review the content that’s most relevant to them. It can automatically add timeline markers every time an individual’s name is mentioned, can highlight when people joined or left the meeting, and can flag instances when others spoke.
How often do meeting participants say, “I’ll look into it and get back to you”? With Teams Premium, they’ll get an AI-generated list of follow-up tasks from the meeting, making it much easier to remember—and complete—every one of those action items.
If your business—or healthcare organization—would like to be able to offer online appointments that are very simple for attendees to join from any browser or mobile device, with no need to download Teams software, Teams Premium has got you covered.
Virtual Appointments, a new way of creating meetings that’s available only in Teams Premium, makes it exceptionally simple for participants to join meetings by presenting them with a stripped-down browser-based interface that’s highly intuitive to use, even for people who aren’t tech-savvy. Attendees receive an email link inviting them to the meeting, and simply have to input their names and click “join”—that’s it. There’s no need to download the Teams client, but on the backend, the software uses the same engine as all other Teams meetings. This means it meets the same security and compliance standards, too.
Because Teams is HIPAA-configurable, healthcare organizations can use Virtual Appointments to schedule online encounters with providers, while organizations in other industries can take advantage of this feature for client meetings or customer support sessions. Virtual Appointments offer end users an experience that’s personalized from end to end, with appointment reminders automatically sent out via SMS, on-demand scheduling, and pre-appointment chat available.
Teams Premium includes advanced data protection capabilities to help reduce the risk of data leaks including enhanced encryption and the ability to automatically apply configuration settings for meetings in which sensitive information will be discussed or high-value intellectual property shared.
By default, all Teams meetings use secure data exchange protocols and encryption. However, with Teams Premium, an enhanced end-to-end encryption option is available. When this is turned on, Teams will automatically generate a private encryption key for that meeting—one that no one has access to (not even at Microsoft). When Teams Premium meetings are encrypted in this way, no one can access their content, and no external tools (including Microsoft applications like PowerPoint and OneDrive, or capabilities like automated transcription) will be permitted to handle meeting data. This does mean that certain features like recording or automated transcription may be unavailable, but it adds an extra layer of protection, which is appropriate at times when confidentiality is especially important.
To further protect content shared during meetings from accidental leakage, Teams Premium also has watermarking capabilities. This stops participants from simply taking screen shots of information and saving it as their own.
These settings can be automatically applied within Teams Premium, since it’s possible to create meeting templates that can be re-used across your organization. For instance, you can create a template for all client meetings that prohibits participants from recording, or one for confidential information exchange that leverages end-to-end encryption. With these templates, you can establish general guidelines that reflect corporate policies, and ensure that they’ll be adhered to consistently.
Teams Premium does require an additional add-on licensing fee per user, but not every employee in every organization will need its advanced capabilities. Instead, admins can pick and choose the employees to whom they provide Teams Premium access—it may be worthwhile for compliance officers, legal professionals, or administrative assistants (who can leverage its automated scheduling capabilities), for instance.
Keep your eyes open, though. Microsoft is planning to add even more capabilities to Teams Premium in the near future, so the number of relevant, time-saving use cases will continue to grow.
Interested in Microsoft’s latest offerings? Want to learn more about how AI can boost productivity within your own organization? Contact us today to learn more.