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Enabling the digital workplace

Mohamed Arif, Business Group Director,Modern Workplace and Security, Microsoft UAE discusses about how Microsoft Teams, a chat-based digital workspace for Office 365 is built to make collaboration and group work easier and more efficient. 

Please elaborate on the functionalities of Microsoft Teams
The value that Businesses service from Teams goes beyond video conferencing. It is a modern chat based collaboration workspace. It enables integration of apps and of course enables video calling and conferencing. At Microsoft, we have always maintained that work is not a place you go to necessarily but rather what you do and which is truer today than ever before. Teams enables you to travel with your work, serving as a hub for your workspace. Beyond the fact that it enables get together with your colleagues, it allows work with features like transcription for instance- as you speak, automatically transcribing and translation of the talk so little is lost in terms of listening and understanding by all colleagues. So it includes some AI features like transcribing/translation and settings like blurring of the background, helpful when operating out of home environments. So the objective with Microsoft teams is to provide a hub for your workspace.
Previously as well, we have been seeing strong adoption with customers like Emirates Airlines, adopting Microsoft teams as workspace of their choice. We have seen over the past a strong adoption across the board- possibly one of our fastest rates of adoption across product lines. Recently, we have a seen a sharp spike and had published recently about a 500% increase in adoption in China. We are seeing a real sharp increase because of the current challenges and are focused on helping partners and customers in terms of adapting. We recently announced a free trail version for anybody without a Microsoft license. We are constantly innovating, adding new capabilities.

What is the value proposition that stands out?
The defining value proposition is that you can bring in all applications you work with generally into Teams as tabs. It integrates with the entire Microsoft office 365 portfolio so you can edit Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point within Teams adding them. You can have One Note and even integrate with third party applications. It its a platform that you can continue to add what you need for your workflow. This is a space where you can get all applications within Teams and get work done, without the need for shuffling between different applications.

One of the challenges is on data residency requirements. Please discuss how Microsoft is placed well to provide these services in line with the regulatory requirements?
We are global cloud provider and we have a lot of services companies across the spectrum use. There have been requests from government side customers and Financial sector customers especially about how they would like to leverage the cloud but in compliance with regulatory requirements of the need for data to reside locally. We announced the local datacenter last year and made investments and have seen a great momentum generated further to that for cloud

Tell us about some deployments in the region?
The Ministry of Education has a plan around rolling out Microsoft Teams as a tool for enabling distance education for students. The federal government has announced the plan to use Microsoft Teams to enable employees to work remotely. We are encouraged by the fact that these segments from education to government are looking to us for the support in this hour of need. Public health of customers, partners is our top priory now. We are here to support them to
enable and support remote working. That said, what differentiates us is the ability for organizations to meet data residency requirements and the fact that we are the office productivity solutions vendor of choice for many means that they are able to leverage the deep integration of Teams with Microsoft office 365, setting us apart.

Will this this spike in current demand also to likely fashion a longer term change in workforce engagement even after normalcy returns?
At this point, how we are focused on helping customers, partners, students & teachers adopt and overcome challenges. This phase will likely accelerate a larger number of people to familiarize with the concept of remote working and how Technology enables that effectively.