The future of Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business

Image: Skype for Business and Teams logos with twisty road image to depict roadmap
By James Mallalieu on

Image: James Mallalieu Silversands Principal Consultant

During the Ignite conference in September Microsoft set out their vision for intelligent communications. This positions Microsoft Teams as the primary application for communication and collaboration within Office 365, which effectively means that it will eventually replace Skype for Business. Therefore any organisation already using, or planning to use either of these services needs to consider the roadmap ahead.

In this blog I have outlined a set of common questions that have arisen since this announcement.


What is Microsoft Teams?

It is the latest addition to the Office 365 suite and offers a new, unique way for co-workers to collaborate. Teams are collections of people, content, and tools that centre around different projects and jobs within an organisation. Users can have conversations and share files, notes and more, all in one place, via either a browser, desktop or mobile app.

If you want to know more please read my previous blog “Introduction to Microsoft Teams” for more information.


Why is Microsoft replacing Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams?

Users need tools to work more collaboratively in both 1-1 and team based scenarios. Microsoft sees the opportunity to seamlessly integrate the Skype for Business communication capabilities into Microsoft Teams. This gives users access to everything they need in one place, e.g. private chat, team collaboration, file sharing, calling and meeting experiences.


What does this mean if you are already using Microsoft Skype for Business?

Don’t panic, Microsoft plan to continue supporting the Skype for Business service and client for the foreseeable future. In addition, the next version of the Skype for Business Server on-premises, with a new set of server updates will be released by the end of CY2018 for those organisations with unique requirements.

Over time, Microsoft will bring the key Skype for Business capabilities into Microsoft Teams along with new voice, video and meetings innovation.

You may choose to migrate Skype for Business users to Microsoft Teams when the capabilities meet your requirements. However, even if you have no immediate plans to deviate from Skype for Business, we would encourage all organisations to start evaluating Microsoft Teams and plan a roadmap accordingly.

More information about the Microsoft Teams roadmap can found in the Office 365 Roadmap.


Should you migrate all Skype for Business users to Microsoft Teams today?

This depends entirely on your current usage of Skype for Business. As of today, Microsoft Teams does not yet support all the capabilities of Skype for Business. Therefore we would suggest that you evaluate the business requirements against the roadmap and plan accordingly.

Microsoft Teams provides many useful capabilities that are not within Skype for Business and so even if you need to maintain usage of Skype for Business, we would recommend evaluating the two side-by-side (see below).


Can you use Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business together?

A definite “Yes” and for most organisations this will be the reality for at least the next 12-18 months.

As of today, Microsoft Teams offers a compelling set of features for supporting collaborative working practices. However, currently it does not replace the need for Skype for Business in several key usage scenarios. So, whilst an organisation could decide to wait until Microsoft Teams can replace Skype for Business entirely, they would be effectively denying their user community access to probably the most innovate collaboration tool that Microsoft has ever delivered.

Running both applications side-by-side does require some planning. There are a few options that should be considered to help reduce user confusion, due to overlapping capabilities. For example, Microsoft Teams supports some interoperability with Skype for Business and users within Microsoft Teams can chat with users in Skype for Business. However the presence information within each is not unified so a user may appear “Available” in Skype for Business but “Away” in Microsoft Teams.

It is worth noting that Microsoft Teams is enabled by default on all eligible tenancies. So unless the global administrator has removed this capability, organisations might already have users running both side-by-side!


What if you are currently planning to deploy Skype for Business?

If you are planning to deploy Skype for Business, we suggest that you evaluate the business requirements and project timescales against the Microsoft Teams roadmap and plan accordingly.  Whilst the outcome of any evaluation might not alter your immediate plans, there will be an impact further down the road. So being forearmed with a clear understanding of the roadmap will mean you are prepared for future planning decisions.


How can Silversands help?

At Silversands we understand the importance of getting to the heart of the matter and talking to the right person with a clear agenda. We offer a complimentary 1-2-1 skype session with one of our top specialists in this field. This gives you an opportunity to ask questions this blog raises or start a dialogue on the best possibilities when planning for Microsoft Teams within your organisation. Complete and submit the form below if you want to take up this offer. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with our regular blogs and commentary.

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