Microsoft Teams as a UCaaS platform
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
If you ever found yourself asking any of these questions, this blog is for you:
Can Microsoft Teams send text messages?
Can I text from Microsoft Teams?
Does Microsoft Teams have direct messaging?
Can you text a phone number from Teams?
Can Teams phone numbers receive text messages?
How do you send Teams messages outside an organization?
This blog is also for you if you have ever wondered:
Can Microsoft Teams make external calls?
Can Teams call external users?
Are Microsoft Teams unified communications?
I was having a brainstorming session with my colleagues the other day when we stumbled upon a question, “Is Teams a UC platform?” The research that followed brought forth various answers worth considering. However, it is not the answers, but the quest that came along with them that intrigued me.
Yes, we have the answer. But before going forward with this adventure that ends in a not-so-subjective answer, I would like to add a brief backstory of how we were greeted with this wonderful question.
The Three Marketers
It all started with me and my colleagues discussing the MS Teams capabilities. One of us
was arguing that Teams is an incredible workspace collaboration, to which the other guy retaliated with some limitations of the tool, claiming it could do better. Before this could conclude, we had moved on to laying the base for evaluating MS Teams as a UC platform.
This is exactly when I thought out loud “Does Teams classify as a Unified Communication platform at all?”
The answer is – both yes and no!
I know, I know. But hear me out. I say ‘yes’ because it does satisfy the definition of a UC platform, having unified communication capabilities, i.e., voice (telephony), video, chat (messaging), meetings, collaboration, document sharing and so on. Also, their landing page clearly says ‘Meet, chat, call, and collaborate in just one place.’ (No pun intended.)
Then why the ‘No’? Because I am a working professional (not just an MS Teams user), with communication needs that vary across my schedule. Simply put, yes, I find Microsoft Teams as one of the best internal collaboration tools but sometimes, I need to go ‘outside’ my organization to get stuff done. My duties involve external calls, texts, and conversations as much as internal communication with my boss, teams, and colleagues.
What is the solution then? Can MS Teams fix this? They definitely can. Will they? I am not so sure. You can check out the millions of feature requests on the Microsoft community and forums. On the other hand, even when Teams competes with Zoom, Slack and many others on different fronts, I don’t think Microsoft is trying to position Teams as an all-in-one communication platform based on their lack of efforts towards external communication. But that’s another story for another time!
Microsoft had introduced Teams back in 2017 to compete with the market leader and pioneer in the collaboration world, Slack. It has come a long way since then, adding elements to the existing infrastructure and flourishing in the pandemic era. We all know the ‘20-44-75-145’ story! For those who don’t, Daily active users (DAU) for Microsoft Teams went up from ‘20 million’ in November 2019 to ‘44 million’ in March 2020 and then to ‘75 million’ by April 2020. Microsoft announced 145 million DAU for Teams in April 2021. Some reports even claim Teams has 250 million monthly active users!
Read ‘Is Microsoft’s Claimed 250 Million Teams Monthly Active Users Believable?’ for an interesting take on these numbers! (Not promoting it, but it's worth taking a look.)
Despite many feature additions and its exponential growth, Teams has failed to give a concrete solution to my (and possibly many other users') external communication needs.
Many players in the communications market are attempting to overcome these problems by competing with the expensive Microsoft calling plans and introducing texting applications for external environments. But we are yet to find the perfect solution for adding an external world to the Teams galaxy. Will the Microsoft universe do it? You never know!
At the risk of sounding promotional, I can say that Falkon Systems has succeeded to allow a smoother transition of Teams into a near-perfect UCaaS solution. The two flagship products, Falkon SMS and Falkon VoIP open up the world of external communications into Teams by enabling external texting and external calling respectively, from the same (Microsoft Teams) interface and at affordable rates.
Coming back to the brainstorming session with my colleagues, we concluded that Microsoft Teams is the perfect solution for internal workspace collaboration. However, anyone looking to extend beyond internal communication will have to opt for other standalone solutions or a solution that transforms Teams into a true UCaaS tool by adding external calling and texting capabilities to its existing infrastructure. (Hint: It’s Falkon Systems.)
Or we wait till the Microsoft fraternity decides to take this matter into their own hands!