Microsoft wins today's buzzword bingo with empowering set of updates to Teams

It's all about "Firstline Workers" in three new updates to Microsoft's cloudy collaboration platform.

Microsoft has its eye on the billions retail associates and service workers around the world who would benefit from the company's wares, and benefit the bottom line at Redmond, of course.

To that end, the Windows giant is adding some new features to Teams, starting with what it describes as a "customizable mobile Teams experience" and what cynics might regard as one more messaging platform.

Not so, says Redmond. While the mobile app (which will not be troubling Microsoft's moribund Windows Phone platform) features expected toys like location sharing, camera integration and, well, messaging, IT admins can now control what capabilities or access a user had via roles or policies. Employees can further customise things by pinning commonly used modules, such as expense or meeting tracking to their navigation menu.

So far, so nice to have. If not hugely revolutionary.

What will, however, be of interest to the army of IT workers who make their living by hooking up the often hideously uninteroperable systems of the world is the arrival of the first of a set of APIs aimed at connecting Teams to a myriad of external workforce management systems.

The Graph API for Shift (the schedule management tool in Teams) will allow developers to create seamless access to enterprise management systems for managers and those all-important firstline workers. There will be no need to drop out of Teams to do all that grungy scheduling stuff, or at least so the gang at Redmond hope.

Finally, Microsoft's obsession with Badges has reached Teams. Doubtless with the countless studies in mind showing that employees would prefer praise to a raise a new Praise tool has arrived, allowing managers and employees a simple and non-fiscal way of recognising coworkers.

Tap a badge, and the whole team can see the lucky firstline worker has received a well-deserved virtual pat on the back and has some pixels on a screen to show for it.

The Praise tool should roll out this quarter along with a public preview of the Graph API.

Over to you, Mr Slim. ®

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