Microsoft Teams users can now access a range of third-party and custom applications during video meetings, removing the need to switch screens mid-conversation.
Among the 20 apps available with Teams Apps for Meetings are task management apps from Asana and Monday.com, polling tools Slido and Polly, and video interview software from HireVue and Talview. Microsoft’s own Forms app is also accessible and the company is encouraging developers to build their own integrations for Teams video, according to a Microsoft blog post Monday.
Although Microsoft already has some 700 or so third-party and Office 365 apps that integrate with Teams chat, the integrations for video meetings are new. They serve the same basic purpose, however; as with traditional app integrations, Teams Apps for Meetings will let users carry out simple interactions without switching focus during a video meeting. That means co-workers discussing the progress of a project can quickly add a new action in Asana, for instance, without interrupting the conversation.
The announcement follows rival Zoom’s move to add added third-party integrations to its own video platform. Zoom announced its “Zapps” integrations at the Zoomtopia conference last month, featuring a wider range of third-party applications, including Slack, Salesforce, Dropbox and Coda.
Microsoft’s addition to Teams “mirrors” Zoom’s own platform-based approach, said Raul Castanon, a senior analyst at 451 Research/S&P Global Market Intelligence. Both vendorsare now seeking to enhance the value of their respective tools by tapping into external applications.
It’s an approach pioneered by Slack, which has benefitted from allowing customers to connect apps of their choice to the chat-based collaboration platform.
“At a high level, the platform-based approach reflects the need for more integration across business applications,” said Castanon. “This is a market requirement that has been building up for several years, largely due to the growing number of applications that knowledge workers (and increasingly, task and service workers as well) require to get their work done.”
451 Research’s recent Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity and Collaboration survey shows that 25% of respondents believe siloed information across different applications is the biggest obstacle to a team’s success. Other concerns include apps not integrating (24%) and having to use too many apps (24%).
The platform approach to video meetings could enable Microsoft to position Teams as a “central hub for employees and teams to get work done,” said Castanon, “providing access to different business applications, workflows and communications tools.”
Power Platform for Teams
Among the other Teams announcements is the general availability of Power Platform apps within the collaboration app.
PowerApps for Teams makes it easier to create simple, low-code applications using app templates, while Power Virtual Agents for Teams enables the creation of chatbots users can interact with in Teams.
Microsoft’s workflow tool, Power Automate, is also now available, letting Teams users automate repetitive processes to reduce time spent on mundane tasks. Users can create “flows” by selecting parameters from a dropdown menu, with 50 templates — including the ability to post a message to welcome a new team member joining a Teams channel or post a notification in Teams when a Forms response is submitted.
“This could have a significant impact on employee and team productivity,” said Castanon.
Finally, Dataverse for Teams, the low-code data platform that connects to Power Platform apps, is also now generally available.
Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.