A look at Microsoft Teams telephony functionality and why it could replace traditional infrastructure

Through the mass adoption of remote-friendly working, Microsoft Teams has become pivotal to connectivity, employee collaboration and business continuity.

Across the UK, organisations from almost every sector and of every size – from start-ups to large central government bodies and the NHS – have embraced Teams into daily practice. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed at the end of April that, largely due to Covid-19, Teams usage jumped exponentially to 75 million daily users – up from 20 million in November 2019.

Teams has very much become part of BAU. It is an opportunity Microsoft has been quick to act on, adding enhancements and modifications on an almost constant basis. And we’re seeing even more coming out this week at Microsoft Inspire.

For many, Teams sits at the heart of the Microsoft 365 experience – the ‘jewel in the crown’. But for those who are new to the platform, there is likely a lot of rich functionality that remains somewhat unexplored, including Teams telephony. Here, we take a look at Microsoft Teams telephony functionality and why it could replace traditional phone infrastructure.

Teams for Telephony: a quick overview

“Teams can be viewed at the centre of a user’s connectivity experience,” Lee Walton, Modern Workplace Practice Director, Trustmarque.

How does Teams telephony work?

As part of a basic deployment of Microsoft Teams, employees can make high quality calls to up to other users. This echoes the functionality of Skype for Business or previously, Lync. Calls will ring out on a desktop and mobile device simultaneously – enabling connectivity at home, in the office or on the go.

“Microsoft Teams can be viewed at the centre of a user’s collaboration experience,” says Trustmarque’s Modern Workplace Practice Director, Lee Walton. “Teams telephony allows users to replace their traditional desk phone and leverage the Enterprise voice capabilities which is now accessible via any of your devices, rather than just your desk, and still provides a permanent PSTN telephone number.”

The basic Teams telephony application includes all the core features you would expect from a phone system, including online address books, missed call notification, voicemail, group calls, as well as some added extras like screen sharing, audio transcriptions and live event conference audio.

This is probably sufficient for internal voice communication but could be limited for external use where you will likely need added features like switchboard integration – continue reading for information.

Key features at a glance

  • Direct routing – keep your numbers
  • Call transfers and handling
  • Multi-device simultaneous ringing 
  • Cloud voicemail with transcription
  • Call escalation – switch from 1:1 to group calling 
  • Flexible calling plans
  • Designed for an agile workforce

New to Teams?

With FastTrack Ready we  accelerate your adoption of Microsoft Teams to optimise its role in your business.

A closer look at the core features and benefits

Direct routing and business integration 

It is possible to connect existing telecom providers and numbers to Teams for full-feature calling. Teams can be integrated with traditional on-premise telephony equipment like switchboard controllers. This will help minimise the changes for your primary telephone users and maintain the customer experience.

With Microsoft Phone System you can port your numbers so employees keep existing phone numbers through Direct Routing. That means employees can be found via their Teams profile or through their existing telephone numbers – which is particularly useful for external people making contact outside of the Teams environment.

Flexible call plan options 

Microsoft have offered a lot of flexibility here, recognising the different needs of their users. There is the option to utilise existing calling plans, especially useful if you are mid-contract. Alternatively, you can switch to a new call plan via Microsoft Phone System or by integrating an alternative compatible cloud comms provider such as SIPPIO.

For organisations with a Microsoft 365 E5 license (minimum), Teams telephony includes a number of inclusive minutes, a permanent business PSTN number and a direct dial number for conferences, which allows users to dial in for the audio component of an online Teams meeting.

Improved experience and reduced costs

According to Lee Walton, Teams telephony has the potential to provide an enhanced user and customer experience.  He commented: “The mobility allows users to be more effective while working remotely by bringing the traditional business number and phone experience to wherever they are. It also allows remote users to engage more effectively with customers by providing, not only the business number to their device, but also providing a modern version of the traditional telephone conference.”

Another clear benefit is that Teams allows organisations to move away from costly telephone infrastructure, including hardware, traditional call plans and telephone conferencing facilities, which can be quite expensive.   Users simply use their laptop, PC or mobile phone to hold calls or join conferences – though for desktop users we would recommend using a headset to limit background noise.

So does this mark the end of the telephone?

With the potential to save costs and reduce infrastructure while providing a seamless, single platform experience for users and customers, Microsoft Teams could well mean the end of the traditional telephone system.

Let us know your thoughts or contact us to discuss how we could help with your Microsoft Teams adoption.

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Modern Workplace Solutions with Trustmarque

Our expert consultants are here to discuss your modern workplace needs including how to get the most out of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams. You can view  our modern workplace solutions using the link below or contact a member of our expert team for a chat.

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By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast