Posted on December 14, 2020 by Keith Vallely
The Third Step – Teams
At the 2019 ILTA Conference, the most attended sessions were the Office 365 tracks. Granted, it is anecdotal, but from an interested observer’s perspective [mine], users of Microsoft 365 were now starting to drive their firm’s innovation. From the questions asked of the speakers, to the comments made by attendees, instead of the traditional “IT or Management” dictates of new tech solutions being rolled out, end-users were simply clicking buttons for apps in the App Launcher of Microsoft 365. This was creating anxiety for IT. While simultaneously, the firm’s end-users were generating new collaboration and work models organically, utilizing the capabilities that the Microsoft Teams application provides. What started as a cool idea, with lots of powerful uses, was now over running the firm IT departments.
What can Microsoft Teams do for your organization or law firm? The single most loved feature set for users is the notion of a “Team” having “all” the work product (Documents, Tasks, Video Calls, and Chat) in one place. With chat also being searchable and persistent (it doesn’t delete itself), added to the massive increase in collaboration, while reducing email, the old-style way of collaborating. Once COVID-19 arrived, Teams adoption skyrocketed. I recall reading a blog post from Microsoft in May of 2020 stating they had hosted three (3) billion “video” call minutes in a single day.
Getting back to ILTACON 2019, with a myriad of questions being asked of the speakers, one IT Director leaned over to me and said: “This is the classic case of the not seeing the forest for the trees.” I turned my head sideways like a dog does when he sees something that is perplexing. What my colleague was pointing out was that Teams is built-on top of SharePoint. Large firms that have let Microsoft Teams expand throughout their enterprise are now grappling with the fact that lawyers are using the easy to use, built into Teams, SharePoint document storage to save matter related information in Microsoft 365. This is in lieu of going out of their way to store them in what is becoming another data silo of unintegrated software, a/k/a, the legacy document management system. Microsoft probably already knew this would happen, but the fact that large and small firms are now seeing the value of Teams, and are investing more heavily into that solution. This will eventually mean they will want their documents in the same place as they are already working. In other words, the next big step is coming, and the end-users are driving it.
And this points the way to how your law firm or law department can derive the maximum benefit from the Microsoft 365, which will be the subject of the fourth and final part of this article.