Why Microsoft® Teams does not want to team up with anybody else

by Werner Theis, CTO of SYSTAG Group

 

Microsoft latest gift to its customers is called Teams and promises to combine the teams’ features of SharePoint with Skype, Enterprise Chat, Team Organization and Calendering, Resource Planning, Unified Communication and much more. It also provides utilities for mobile use with the Teams App as well as capabilities to build add-ons.

It does not provide API’s to third party vendors which makes the product a closed shop for other developers building enterprise solutions like:

  • Enterprise Chat
  • Video- and Webconferencing
  • Mobile Clients which access existing Microsoft Backends like SharePoint despite those parts where Teams uses the Sharepoint respository as a means to store data
  • Project Organization and Calendering
  • Many, many more.

The only way to develop add-ons is staying inside Teams. You cannot simply decide not to use parts of Teams and decide to use another Webmeeting tool like GotoMeeting, ZoomIn and such and still integrate services into Teams or inherit data from Teams. One should bear in mind that other tools like ERP and CRM might also want to interact with Teams to use it as a backend for team and project work. If you are not part of Microsoft’s own world of IT products and solutions you might find out that that door isn’t there for you as a vendor or user / client.

Even if you had a running Skype for Business integration with your PABX and now wish to use the Teams functionality you will learn that even Skype for Business has no access to Teams (and won’t get one, too). If you are planning to use Teams instead you will have to upgrade to an E5 licensing agreement as this feature of Teams isn’t part of your running E3 software plan.

 

The result of that strategy is clear:

  • If a Microsoft shop (or a new logo client) wants to use Teams to replace the existing SharePoint environment for team and project support they will have to take the full menu selection. There is no choice for a different starter, main course or dessert
  • If you want to integrate your PABX / unified communication solution into Teams you have to upgrade from E3 to E5 (or pick E3 add-ons moving your monthly due very near to an E5 Enterprise Agreement plan – which about doubles your monthlies to #Microsoft).

If we look at that from a free market and free customer choice perspective this is a strong limitation of your freedom of choice. In case we take the view point of any ISV and VAR developing or selling third party products and add-ons this is a sweeping out of their markets. In case we want to put ourselves into the job description of a strong supporter of competition this is the endgame of a relevant set of sectorial market niches providing great products and services offered by great and dedicated vendors to satisfied clients who have to go away if they want to part for the cloud backend developments which Microsoft almost already has full control of.

The ultimate rational of that development is transparent. The question is do we want to let that happen and do we believe that the strategy to become a monopolist is an ethical one. If not the time to act is now.

Nearby: That doesn’t mean that Teams isn’t a great product. This statement, however, does not really facilitate any understanding why the vendor of #Teams tries to circumvent the laws of a fair competition which simply lets the best solution win. Or is there a valid reason for fear to fail otherwise?

 

To read more about the niceties of the New Microsoft, click here: https://www.mobileiron.com/en/blog/Microsofts-power-play

To contact me with your concerns regarding what you just read please email here: business.ethics@systag.com