Just in case you got all comfortable using your shiny new Skype for Business platform with your team, now comes news that it’s all going away. Kind of.
Microsoft has announced that it’s going to move away from Skype for Business as its main collaboration tool and roll out Microsoft Teams. This may sound like bad news at first—after all, many companies have just begun to migrate to Skype and now it’s changing again. Microsoft haters will spout all the usual curses upon the name of Bill Gates and all who follow him, but it’s unnecessary. Yes, this is an attempt to keep pace, and eventually overtake, Slack as the tool of choice for remote teams and workers. No, it’s not something you need to freak out about.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Change is inevitable, misery is optional. The generation time for new technology is actually less than a year now in nearly every field you can think of. It’s not a surprise that the feature arms-race with Teams’ main competition, Slack, is heating up. (By the way, have you kept track of the number of updates Slack is putting out on a regular basis?) Think about how many versions of pretty much everything you’ve been through in both your business and personal Tech. Remember the great “heaven help us now I need to learn Windows 7” nightmare of 2009? We all lived to tell the tale. Products get tweaked and tweaked until they become entirely brand new products and the cycle starts all over again.
- If you don’t use all the features it won’t matter, and if you do it won’t be a big deal. One of the ironies of collaboration technologies is that they are constantly getting new features built into them and most people don’t use the ones they have. 80% of Skype subscribers use only 20% of the features as it is. This is the same for Slack, Google’s GSuite, Basecamp, and any other collaboration tool you can think of. It’s not a Microsoft thing, they just happen to be the biggest player and thus the easiest target.
- People have been complaining for years about too many technologies not working together. That’s exactly what this is supposed to address. If you’re an IT administrator, do you want to constantly assess, purchase and try to integrate various competing “best” technologies, or find something that works well enough but all works together (more or less) and goes on a single purchase order? The plan (and if you want to hear the Tech Gods laugh, tell them your plans) is for an entire organization to use a single tool across all their devices that ties together. Some companies will opt for this, others will continue to use other options. If you’re already using Skype for Business, the change will be one of degree, you probably won’t have to relearn everything from scratch.
- Yes, it’s trying to squeeze out the competition. So? We’ve been watching this cycle play out for 30 years now. Remember when Internet Explorer was going to rule the world and devour all the other browsers? How’s that going?
- Stay focused on what you’re doing. How is easily fixed. One of the founding principles of the Remote Leadership Institute from Day One has been that we are platform neutral. If you really focus on the work to be done, and help people stay focused, motivated and engaged, they’ll find a way to succeed whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Slack or well-coordinated carrier pigeons. If people are left to flounder without guidance, leadership and explicit conversations, it won’t matter how many millions of dollars are poured into infrastructure.
This news from Microsoft is nothing to panic about, nor should people be dancing in the streets. It’s the natural order of things and your organization will either adapt it or not. This is not an excuse to forgo making the most of whatever you’re using now because “it’s only going to change in a year anyway.” There’s a lot of work to do between now and whenever this actually touches your life. Focus on what you need to do to help your teams be successful today, and whatever change comes will be far less painful and stressful than you think.
If you do need to learn how to use Skype or other team presentation and meeting tools effectively, check out the Lync/Skype for Business for Leaders program to help you use the technology more effectively and successfully.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.