Like all businesses, we don’t change our IT infrastructure every year. We upgrade and improve it over time. Even while providing the latest infrastructure to clients, including cloud-based systems, there was no ‘cloud’ switch to flick built into ours, and we were a very office-centric business.
That said, a move to Teams has been on our radar for a while. It makes business sense: Teams makes it easier to collaborate, share, and it means assets are accessible from a variety of places and devices. It means we can save on equipment and be more responsive and dynamic as a business.
To be real, we’d been dragging our feet on this change. Any major change to operations means some interruption to how we work. But recent developments helped us make the move. Here’s what we discovered in the process, and some tips on your own transition to Teams.
Teams tip #1: flatten your folder structure.
When your files are sitting on a drive, you can organise them however you like. But in Teams, file paths being too long is a common issue. You might need to flatten your information architecture a little, by bringing the contents of some subfolders into their parent folders, for example. And it’s best to do this before moving files, cos frankly, it’s easier to move files on the desktop.
Teams tip #2: use search and naming conventions.
Nesting files under too many subfolders should be avoided in general because it makes things hard to find. In teams, finding files is a bit easier than searching. Rather than using folders, consider using naming conventions for files.
Teams tip #3: slow and steady wins the file transfer.
Teams is getting hammered right now as many businesses are moving their files into the cloud. It can take quite a long time to upload files, particularly when OneDrive times-out. It’s especially problematic at the moment with so many people trying to migrate to Teams at once.
Teams tip #4: you still need to backup!
Having files hosted by a managed cloud service will definitely boost the security of your data. It means they are invulnerable to any insecurities with your local network.
There are still reasons to backup your data though. What if for some reason or another you are deined access by the host? It’s also possible to accidentally (or on purpose!) delete files that you still need.
It is possible to backup Teams data. Our Keycloud Backup service is the best way we know of. We can draw down your cloud data and make sure a copy exists somewhere local, and accessible to you.
With the massive growth in video conferencing in 2020, Microsoft have added some useful features to Teams, with the promise of more to come. Let’s take a look at some of the new functionality.
Instead of seeing all the users in a square or rectangular grid separately, you can see all of them together in a virtual space. This feature is the new “Together Mode” which is designed to build a virtual live avatar of all members of the team and negate their backgrounds.
Raise Your Hand
During a Microsoft Teams meeting, a participant can use the Raise Your Hand option to get the speaker’s and moderator’s attention.
Thanks to this feature, participants can signal that they want to talk without disrupting the meeting, and the moderator or speaker can see if anyone in the meeting wants to talk.
Raise Your Hand makes meetings more inclusive by encouraging participation from participants, and provides a simple, quick way to take a poll of participants.
Third Party Meeting Join for Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR)
Microsoft Teams Rooms devices support a one-touch experience for joining third-party online meetings. When enabled, you can use a Teams Rooms device to join meetings hosted on Cisco WebEx and Zoom just as easily as you can join meetings hosted in Microsoft Teams.
Before you can join third-party meetings from a Teams Rooms device, you’ll need to do the following:
Configure the Teams Rooms device’s Exchange Online room mailbox to process invites for third-party meetings
Make sure your organization doesn’t have any policies that would prevent you from connecting to third-party meeting services
Configure your Teams Rooms devices to allow third-party meetings
Breakout rooms allow meeting organizers to split up meeting participants into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions. Presenters can choose to hop between breakout rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and/or close the breakout rooms that then bring everybody back into the main meeting.
Custom layouts (coming soon)
Coming later this year or early 2021, custom layouts allow for a more dynamic content viewing experience and enable presenters to customize how content shows up for participants during a meeting. For example, when a presenter is showing a PowerPoint slide, participants will be able to see the presenter’s video feed transposed onto the foreground of the slide they’re showing.
Teams is rapidly adding useful functionality to maintain its place as one of the leading videoconferencing solutions, while maintaining interoperability with other platforms. If your business is looking for such a solution, now might be a good time to hop on the Teams train.
The recent outbreak and spread of coronavirus has sent shockwaves through world markets and underscores just how interconnected we are in this age of global supply chains and mass travel.
The ASX has shown signs of vulnerability, with major players such as Qantas down as much as 20% since the start of the outbreak, and markets still on edge for further flow-on effects.
So, with travel down, and the supply potentially affected, how much do you need to prepare and make contingency plans for your small business? Major governmental and nongovernment bodies emphasise that the crisis is far from something to panic over, and so far the response and adaptation internationally has been heartening.
Examine your supply chain for direct connections to mainland China, and it may be worth considering how to keep things running if those particular elements are cut off or run low in supply. For most of us with businesses directly relying on Chinese supply, that will be an urgent and specific issue to keep track of. But there’s also the indirect effect of a general slowdown affecting your bottom line, efficiency of delivery and cash reserves.
Back to the news. Some products expected in early 2020 have delayed. Companies, including Apple, have been confirming their supply chain has been affected by Coronavirus, affecting all kinds of tech products. Apple has been the first to officially recognise this impact but you can bet they’re not the only ones.
What should you do about it? Keep your products and systems in good shape, and if your depreciation schedule is telling you it’s time to upgrade, don’t throw out the old ones until the new one’s have arrived! If you have any concerns about the health of your system or devices, we’re here to help you get the most out of them.
Lookout for coronavirus phishing scams!
There are also phishing scams a plenty around Coronavirus. Scammers pose as health officials, asking you to log into other sites. Businesses who host their own email and access it via old school IMAP (or even POP!) are vulnerable to such attacks as their spam filters are less powerful than those used by white label email services such as gmail and outlook 365. Talk to us about modernising your email, but in the meantime, rather than clicking a suspicious link, copy and paste it into your browser’s search bar and see if the domain matches the advertised link.
This event – so far – gives us a good opportunity to examine our systems and prepareness for untoward events, while falling short of worst-case scenarios. Use it to stress-test, and let’s hope it all fizzles out soon.