The corona pandemic and the associated home office offer has always been the greatest success factor for Microsoft teams. Although around 20 million were using the MS Teams collaboration software every day in November 2019, the values rose continuously and rapidly from March 2020, i.e. from the beginning of the basically worldwide obligation or recommendation to work from home. Around a year later, in April 2021, the software recorded a total of 145 million users every day – an explosive increase indeed. But why has the platform benefited so much from the introduction of home office? What features do Teams have? And is the team solution secure at all?
Microsoft Teams is computer software that helps small and large groups of people or departments to work together efficiently and comprehensively. The tool is therefore a communication, task, meeting and appointment platform in one. All data shared in MS Teams is always available to all team members (depending on their permissions) and can be significantly modified and commented on by everyone for the sake of transparency. Teams make it possible to work together on documents, hold video and telephone conferences and communicate – whether 1:1 or in groups.
This also explains why MS Teams had such an extreme influx of fresh users during the course of the corona pandemic and the resulting work from the home office: The software has absolutely everything you need to work as a group digitally on a to be able to pull a string. Incidentally, the software, which was released in 2017, is recommended for all company sizes – from small companies to medium-sized companies and large corporations, which in turn would be a further success factor for the collaboration tool.
Microsoft Teams is a component of the Microsoft 365 subscriptions. MS Teams is available for Windows, macOS and Linux as well as iOS and Android – it works both on computers and via a mobile app on smartphones and tablets.
The functions of teams in detail
The name of the computer software already suggests it – teams are clearly the focus of the Microsoft software of the same name. These teams can be departments or project teams that exist long, medium or just spontaneously. In addition to participants from the individual company, external individuals can also be part of such a team, for example service providers, partners or customers. Furthermore, groups, as such units are called in Microsoft Teams, can be open or closed – anyone can join open groups, you only get access to unopened groups if a user of the group invites you.
In addition to groups, there are also channels in teams – these are the places where groups exchange ideas, save documents and notes, set up appointments and much more. Essentially, the actual work performance takes place within the channels. Every user who has subscribed to a channel will be kept up-to-date about innovations within this channel without being asked. If a user names (so-called tagging) a special person with a preceding @ sign, they will also be explicitly notified.
In order to be able to work seamlessly with the other tools of the Microsoft family, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access can be easily integrated into Teams. Seamless integration is not only possible with applications from the Microsoft 365 world – you can also add external services such as YouTube, Wikipedia or Twitter to teams, to name just a few of the currently more than 50 apps and connectors.
You can therefore use teams to modify all files at the same time and no longer have to send documents back and forth because they are stored centrally at one workplace and are accessible to everyone. SharePoint or OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage, are usually conceivable as storage locations for files. However, other cloud systems such as Google Drive or Dropbox can also be used without any problems as central storage locations for the files that are posted and revised within the Teams application.
In addition to the channels, there are chats in which two or more users can exchange information. Because chats can also be filled with attachments, you can send pictures and even choose urgency levels, this chat feature of Microsoft Teams makes internal emails in companies completely unnecessary.
The calendar integrated in teams makes it possible to keep an eye on and plan appointments, meetings and events. For maximum service, Outlook and Teams calendars are always automatically in sync, and you can invite to Teams conferences directly from Outlook.
With the same collaboration software Teams, video meetings can also be planned and carried out. In the course of this, it is of course also possible to share a display, as you may be familiar with from Skype or Zoom. The functions chat, hand signals and a recording of the call are also possible. Teams has a modern feature: the meeting can be automatically transcribed…. and so that you are always up to date on everything that is happening in teams, there is the newsfeed. This view is reminiscent of social media sites and shows all information relevant to the projects you are working on in the feed, sorted chronologically.
Do MS Teams meet the requirements of the DGVSO?
As soon as the entire internal communication plus files of all kinds, also with sensitive information, are shared and processed in computer software, the security aspect must logically be fundamentally disclosed. Of course, Microsoft is aware of the responsibility and therefore protects all files stored in teams with their in-house, proprietary hard disk encryption method BitLocker. In addition, a distributed key manager is used, which ensures that only authorized users have access to the key that is required to decrypt the encrypted documents.
TLS and SRTP encryption is used to guarantee reliable transmission of information between the user’s computer and the data center.
The Team is consistent with common regulatory security standards such as ISO 27001, 27018 or HIPAA Business. In order to meet these requirements, the computer software has, for example, two-factor authentication and single sign-on that can be configured across the team and organization in Active Directory. This means that even protected use by teams on the users’ private mobile devices is possible.
If you want to be super-secure, you can also set up end-to-end encryption for teams. In this way, it can be ensured that nobody – not even law enforcement officers or Microsoft itself – has access to the company data stored in teams.