Microsoft has added new features for front-line workers using its team collaboration application, including a new “walkie-talkie” feature.
With 200 million active users per month on Office 365, Microsoft has extended its reach to workers in the hospitality, manufacturing, and retail sectors. In short, to those who aren’t necessarily sitting behind a desk! According to the company, many of these employees have been poorly served by IT in the past, even though they are at the forefront with customers or products.
A series of new features have therefore arrived on Teams, Microsoft’s Office 365 collaborative application. Among them is the walkie-talkie feature, integrated into the Teams mobile application, which allows users to start a conversation with a colleague at the touch of a button or to broadcast an audio message.
Unlike traditional walkie-talkies, there is no risk of eavesdropping by outsiders, Microsoft said in a release. Because it relies on Wi-Fi or cellular data, this feature can also be used in different geographic locations and is not limited by distance. This feature is designed to reduce the number of devices and tools that workers have and thus reduce costs for businesses.
The PTT (push-to-talk) feature is already familiar to users as most smartphones have such features. The “push to talk” option should help Microsoft target front-line workers with its products.
“These workers have generally been outside the scope of corporate ICT, but they are becoming increasingly relevant when driving change,” said Raúl Castañón-Martínez senior analyst at 451 Research. The addition of PTTs in teams is particularly relevant because in many cases, front-line workers can benefit from a “heads-up, hands-free” approach to mobile communications”.
Other features announced by Microsoft include integration with Microsoft Tasks in Teams, integration with Kronos and JDA work management platforms, as well as identity and management features such as SMS connection using unique codes sent to a smartphone, delegated user management and shared device logout.
This is not the first time Microsoft has offered Teams functionality for frontline workers. A year ago, the company added location sharing, the ability to record and share audio messages, and a camera module with image annotation. It also integrated features for frontline workers from separate departments, including the StaffHub team management tool and the Kaizala communication application, similar to WhatsApp.
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