Collaboration Tools

There are many collaboration tools that are built to enable people and organizations to work from home. However, Microsoft Teams and Zoom have been gaining most of the attention recently, and for good reason. If you google these two solutions you will find a lot of articles battling the two off, with a bias towards one or the other, which is the wrong way to look at them. You will notice that I refer to these tools as “solutions” rather than labelling them under a specific category. This is because they both solve the primary goal of conferencing software, but as a complete package they address very different needs, which we’ll go over in this blog.

Communication

Both Zoom and Teams do a great job of video and audio conferencing. Before COVID-19, Zoom was the clear winner in terms of their features and licensing costs. However, in the last six months Microsoft has more than caught up with their latest features, while Zoom has been distracted with bolstering their security features to get to the level that Teams is already at. Zoom still handles larger live webinars and conferences better, although Teams is quickly catching up. The biggest advantage Zoom has is the ease of which you can add a dial-in number to a conference call, with Teams requiring some technical knowledge to do the initial setup for users, as well as an additional license.

Sharing

The sharing feature is where Teams really shines, as Zoom doesn’t really have this capability. Teams provides channels to organize your work, messaging and audio communications. It also has many integration opportunities, such as with Microsoft’s own Office 365, which allows you to edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly in Teams. It also has many other integrations such as OneDrive, SharePoint and other organization tools you may not have heard of such as Planner and other third-party solutions. It is not fair to compare Zoom with Teams in this realm, but if you were to find a popular comparison it would probably be Slack. Slack falls well short on the conferencing side, but for sharing it stacks up well against teams.

As mentioned, Microsoft has quickly been catching up to Zoom with its conferencing features. Some of their new releases include:

  • The ability to see up to 49 people at the same time in gallery view
  • Team’s together mode, which uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making users feel like they are in the same room with everyone else on the call
  • Chat bubbles that will surface on the screens of all meeting participants, making the chat easier for meeting attendees to see and participate in
  • Live emoji reactions during meetings
  • Video filters that can be customized prior to joining a meeting to adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera
  • Reflect messaging extension which gives managers and leaders an easy way to check in with their team on how they are doing and feeling
  • iOS and Android get Cortana virtual assistant, which uses AI and the Microsoft Graph to provide voice assistance in teams to conduct tasks like joining a meeting, making a call, send chat messages, share files etc.
  • Teams displays, which offers a dedicated, all-in-one hands free and touch screen devices. This is increasingly relevant and useful as people begin to return to their workplaces.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a cost effective, easy to use and well-performing conferencing and live webinar tool only, then look no further than Zoom. However if you are looking for a more complete work from home package for your users, then Teams is a great choice. For many, Teams has become the tool that everyone lives out of for work, and in some cases, it’s become the alternative or replacement to email. Providing a place for files to be stored, worked on collaboratively and for messages and calls to be done seamlessly, it makes a great central place for teams to come together.

If you are looking to implement either of these solutions, CDW can help. We have many years of experience in the cloud space, and the expertise required to connect the cloud back to other locations such as on-premise servers and desktops. By taking a structured and planned approach with certified engineers, we ensure there are no surprises during solution deployments. Learn more at cdw.ca/solutions.

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