The Future of Outlook: Is it Microsoft Teams?

Will Microsoft stick to their roots or flip email into collaboration?

Microsoft Outlook logoCollaboration is king and failure to adapt and evolve is ever so destructive. Microsoft Outlook has looked the same for the past decade. As far as groundbreaking and intuitive features are concerned, Outlook is lacking all of them.

When you look at the collaboration marketplace, Outlook is way behind in terms of both user experience (UX) and functionality. Aside from cost, these are always the top factors when purchasing new technology. So, why haven’t we seen investment in Outlook? Why haven’t Microsoft evolved Outlook into a collaboration platform? Over the last few years, we’ve seen an attempt to introduce Yammer, the huge success of Skype for Business and now the rise of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft are not failing to adapt and evolve. But, why isn’t Outlook, which is used by over 400 million users, are the forefront of Microsoft’s collaboration plans?

The Stickiness Of Outlook

For a long time now, users have been led by what companies like Microsoft provide. Since its inception, the email experience has been crucial for businesses. Outlook didn’t need to do a lot to become the knowledge worker’s email client of choice. What Outlook has done is be very sticky. Leaving Outlook behind is a yearlong project for change management in a sizeable business.

Think of all the plugins and integrations you have working with Outlook today. To send an email, to setup a meeting or to check your colleagues schedule, you operate in Outlook. Of course, you can do all of this in most email clients and every collaboration app. However, the impact of dropping Outlook versus the reward is a fine line. One of which, the enterprise isn’t ready to cross just yet.

What Do Users Want?

Advancements in cloud technology and subscription-based consumption have led to the buyer being able to be extremely prescriptive in what they purchase. License tiering is purely a guide in the collaboration market. Licenses can be tweaked to strip of unnecessary features and bolt ons and integrations can be added at the click of a button.

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Ultimately users want everything that will enable them to complete their tasks simpler and faster. Every CIO has productivity on their agenda. This means that collaboration environments need to be tightly integrated with other platforms and come packaged with intelligent analytics to report on how the system is performing and where trends and patterns occur.

The intentions to move to a fully-fledged collaboration platform and have one workspace are pure. But, the reliance on Outlook is holding back many a business.

Enterprises Are Already Adopting Team Apps

Apps like Slack have already crept into the enterprise. There are so many smaller companies with collaboration offerings that are seeping through the cracks that Microsoft have left open. However, there are clearly just as many people still using Outlook. Microsoft must act quickly to avoid missing out on a wealth of adoption and revenue from businesses shopping for a collaboration tool.

Picture the future of communication in your business. Everybody is familiar with Outlook. Usage is second nature. The nirvana is being able to complete all your tasks in one place with minimal app switching. Enterprises commonly refer to the “single pane of glass” – a utopia where users can communicate through their most frequently used application but have everything they need built in.

Microsoft Teams Replaces Outlook – we’ll see

Teams LogoOutlook could be amazing if Microsoft dropped Teams into it.

As far as users are concerned, your calendar and contacts are already natively stored in Outlook. Part and parcel of any knowledge worker’s day is in an email client. Think about it. What’s the first think you do when you get to work? Check your email.

Rules and file structures are commonplace, and you often send snippets of emails to other people over instant messaging. What happens when you need to send a file too large to transfer via email? If you’re a Microsoft house, then you probably move to Teams. If you are not a Microsoft house, you’re leaving the Microsoft stack and using a competitor’s tool like Slack or Cisco Webex Teams. It certainly seems Microsoft are missing a trick here. Outlook for everyone and everything should be a reality, not a dream.

Will Outlook Be Integrated With Teams?

The Outlook roadmap doesn’t shout innovation (just GIFs).  The roadmap for Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, requires constant attention and updating. Microsoft recently announced quite a statement – Teams now has feature parity with Skype for Business.

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A lot has happened in a short space of time. It only seems like yesterday that we were laughing at the thought of a leak in Microsoft. Turns out Microsoft Teams was a super power house in collaboration and it doesn’t look like stopping.

And, who can forget Slack’s open letter in the New York Times? Slack were absolutely right in that it takes a lot of work to produce a revolutionary platform that pleases customers day in day out. However, they may have underestimated the resource at Microsoft’s disposal.

Microsoft Teams isn’t going anywhere and has an incredible and defined roadmap. Microsoft Outlook is a staple in businesses all over the world. What the future holds for Outlook in uncertain. Will we see Teams in Outlook, Outlook in Teams or something else? What happens if Outlook becomes an addon for Teams? Could email finally be dead?

A lot of unanswered question that nobody has answers for yet. Leave a comment or reach out on social media with your thoughts on where Microsoft could go with Outlook. If you have any stories around Outlook to collaboration shifts, we’d love to hear from you – maybe send us an email 😉

One Response

  1. Sean OConnell August 1, 2018

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Dominic Kent

Written by Dominic Kent

Hi, I’m Dominic. I’m a Technology Consultant specialising in UC and Contact Centre. I’m an advocate for cloud technology and the benefits it brings.
In my spare time I run whatmillennialswant.co.uk from my garden office and get chased by my dogs on Weymouth beach.