The Future of Applications in Teams
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The Future of Applications in Teams

January 3, 2020


So thank you so much for joining us for
another edition of Teams Superheroes. As always I’m really stoked about what
we’re chatting through today. Would you mind introducing yourself Prem? My name is Prem Mathiyalagan. I’m a program manager with Microsoft Teams here. I work on the app platform within Microsoft Teams. I come in everyday thinking
about how every user that uses Teams can bring the tools that they use on a daily
basis within Teams so it’s part of the conversations that I have every day to
just get their work done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
So some of the things that I work on on a daily basis is the app catalog within Teams where users can go and explore the various apps that we have in Teams.
Just to clarify for everybody watching, app catalog, and when you reference that we’re talking bottom,
left-hand side of your Team’s desktop application where you click on it and
you’ve got the app store sitting there right? That’s exactly right. So there’s an
apps button on the left hand side of Teams. If you go in, that has all the
different apps that we have within Teams that you can bring in to your teams and
channels and start using them and there’s other experiences within Teams
as well or you can use apps on a daily basis that I also think about. The big
thing for us is to kind of make it feel like the apps that every user needs to
get their work done quickly and efficiently is available to them at
their fingertips, where they need them and when they
need them. Right, but for me it’s not just about bringing apps into Teams, because yes
there is some inherent value to that you have conversation around the
applications and you have your teams and your groups, but it’s how does that
application become more? How is it easier for me to interact with
that application inside of Teams? I mean this is core to what you guys are
working, right, which I find so exciting. Exactly and like if you think about it,
on a day to day basis, to get something done, a user, our customers have to
communicate with the rest of their team right? On a daily basis. Really work g ets
done as part of these conversations. Tools are just a means for you to get
something done right and and we bring these tools in context of
these conversations that’s where we light up the value for users. Now back to
one of the first things we spoke about here I think this is an incredibly
important point because it’s not just about integration for integration’s sake,
because if we’re being really honest if somebody’s a savvy user of
technology, well there’s absolutely a ton of value to having applications
alongside conversations, I want it to be more you know you’re like I want to get
more out of my apps and for them to follow me across the canvas of Teams, so I
don’t even need to context switch in Teams itself, exactly, and so what you
guys are doing there is just incredibly valuable I think for everybody but I
love that your mindsets also on the end-user not just the technically savvy
person who will go figure it out themselves. So thinking about why
you guys are doing this we kind of talk through but maybe if you could walk
through some of the details on what you’re working on in specifics around
the application experience inside of Teams. I just want to clarify for
everybody watching this isn’t just Microsoft apps right? This is applicable
to partners, this is applicable to organizations who have built their own
home-grown or line of business solutions in Teams is that correct? Yeah
absolutely correct. So I mean if you think about the app catalog within
Teams we have the obvious candidates like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Planner. On
top of it we have our external partners that bring their tools into Teams. So some
examples are apps likeTrello, MindMeister, Invision, and there’s hundreds of apps within the catalog – lots of good ones coming too – yeah and lots of new ones coming up too. And on top of it, every company they’ve started building their
own apps so they can bring the tools that’s needed within that company to be
available for all of the users to choose in Teams. So these are the line of
business apps thats available. I think this one’s really cool right because it takes the, we
start thinking about these applications beyond just the ones that are there for
productivity even though all of this is in the context of productivity, right,
and collaboration, but it’s these HR resources, these IT support, it’s you
know project management, all these tools that aren’t necessarily always related
to what we think about when it comes to Office and now we’re bringing that
together and it’s just cool amazing space that you guys have created with
Teams that is fantastic. Yeah exactly, and one of the recent
features that we shipped for Teams actually is a good manifestation of this. We have
the app layout on the left side of Teams, so if users click on dot dot dot button, you can
see all the apps that’s available for users. One of the things we’ve done now
is we’ve implemented a new grid layout so it’s much more usable for
users right like they have a good sense of what apps are available to them and
on top of it we also integrated seach right on top of it so even if a user
wants to use an external app in that context if they wanted to use one of the
line of business apps published by their company in that context they can quickly
search for it and then start using it so it’s like without having to leave what
they’re trying to do like without having to jump to this catalog page and find
this app they can just get it right there. Again this is to kind of deliver
on the apps feel available to users where they need them and when they need
them philosophy right? Love that. That’s a good example. So you’re not bouncing back and forth even in Teams any more at that point right? Exactly. That’s killer. Hey, so real
quick, I forgot about this when I mentioned earlier. If I’m a user and I
watch this video and I click on my bottom left hand side of Teams and go to
the catalog and it’s not empty necessarily, but there’s fewer apps, why
is that? Well so obviously Teams is a big enterprise product and we want to make
sure that the IT admins of every company they have full control over what’s
available to their users. So one of the things we provide to IT admins within
every company is this option for them to limit access to a certain apps
within their company for whatever reason. I was really excited about this feature
that I got to test because I’m on the early engineering builds recently, but how
much can we talk about user app pinning? Oh yeah, I would love to talk about user app pinning, that’s probably a crown jewel in some of the things that we’ve done
recently in user experiences. So again this is not a feature that’s been
fully rolled out yet, it’s available to our beta users now and we’re looking to
roll this out proudly. What we’ve had so far is that you just have to click the
dot-dot-dot and then select the app that they want to use.
We’ve improved that experience but we’ve also noticed that there’s a select few
apps that people need on a daily basis to get things done. So now what we
provide users is that they can simply go to the dot-dot-dot flyout and then
right-click on the app that they use on a daily basis and pin it onto the left
side of Teams. So right now it’s at their fingertips. I think one point maybe we
clarify that too is that if this hasn’t rolled out to a certain organization,
tenant admins can do this today for users right, and what I found a lot of
organizations have found really compelling as a way to start is how
do you take something like a adoption and change management tool or a website
that you use internally to educate your people how to use technology and pin
that in Teams? So teaching people to use Teams in Teams is one simple example,
and obviously the possibilities are endless, but I love that we’re making it
more personal for the end-user as well so I can customize my experience that’s awesome. Yeah this is really just to cater to the
unique needs that every user would have within that organization. So the other
thing we were chatting about earlier too was app install flow. Can you talk to us about what you’re working on there? To clarify there, so I’m a user, I want to, like you mentioned Trello earlier, I want to bring Trello into my Team’s experience.
So I go click on the store icon, I go in and it’s that experience right there how
do we make that simpler right? Exactly. So what we’ve done in new install flow, like if
your user goes to apps on the bottom, left hand side of Team’s, is they can select
an app and now we have a slightly larger canvas with screenshots and videos as
the centerpiece right? We’ve learned from user research that
users use these screenshots as a valuable piece of information to
understand how each app works right? So that’s the centerpiece, and then we also
have better descriptions for every app and we have a simple call to action
which is just an add button for users right? So it’s super clean, I love
how it’s turned out and I love the fact that we have videos and screenshots as
the centerpiece of it and users can just click the add button
and start using the app. So I know there’s only certain things that we can
share with all the goodness that you guys are working on next because this video of course will be publically available, but is there anything that we can share on what your team, even if just what you’re thinking about is the
next evolution of what you’re building? One of the things that we’re working on
that I’m so super excited about is this concept of if a user uses an app once
for themselves or in any of their teams, we’re trying to make it available across
all the Team’s channels and chats that they’re part of right, as they start you
know using the other channels. So the app follows you basically? The app follows the user right. This doesn’t mean that once you add it in one place its
installed every for you because that would be bad. This is just to make sure
that the app is available to them at the top level like where they need it right?
So I am super excited about because in this case you know if
I’m a user of a given tool, it’s highly likely that I would want to use
it in other conversations that I’m part of. So we’ll take an example right if I
use Trello, I’ll pick that as an example, and I’ve used it to pin a board to a
team, and I’m working in another team and I go to the tab gallery, this is when you
click on the plus button to the top of Teams, Trello would be one of the apps that is already available in the team. That user would just click it and
start using it they don’t have to go back into the catalog to go find for
it, they don’t have to go search for it, it’s just right there right? We’re trying to
also continue to look at how we can build overall relevance of how these
apps are surfaced to the user and this doesn’t just include the tab gallery,
this is when you click on the plus button, this also includes how apps are
surfaced within the catalog itself like how we can make it just more relevant so
the app that might be useful to that given user, that’s more prominently
placed as opposed to just having to go hunt for them. So these are a couple of
features that we’re super excited about should be rolling out in the next, you know,
few months. In terms of, if I want to start leveraging applications
in Teams, where would you recommend me to go first as an end user? The one place
I would recommend you go to is the apps button on the left hand side, bottom
left hand side of Teams. That would have the full selection of apps that we
have and you can start using your favorite app. The catalog would
also have any apps that your company might have published for you.
And a reminder that if you go look and see it, and you only see a few apps on
there you don’t see any in some cases, make sure you reach out to your IT
department because they’re the ones who have the ability to determine which apps you
can see in that store. So this is awesome. Prem, you’re a legend dude. Thank you so much for spending the time. It’s awesome to have you on here, our first actual
engineer too on the call so it’s great to have you here and hear all the work that
you guys are doing so appreciate your time man. Awesome thank you so much, cheers. Cheers.

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