The rise of dynamic teams

This post was written by Bryan Goode, senior director of Modern Collaboration.

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller

As we gear up for //build and Ignite and get ready to share more about the innovation going on across Office 365, I wanted to take a moment to share our vision for modern collaboration and address why Office 365 is uniquely positioned to usher in this new era.

Over the past several years, advances in cloud, mobile and social technologies have forever altered the nature of work. But look a little deeper, and it’s about more than just the technologies; it’s about the impact they’ve had on the flow of information. We used to go looking for it. Now it comes to us. In this age of greater transparency and discoverability, it’s clear that the open exchange of information leads to quicker decision-making and increases the pace of progress.

This deluge of information has also changed the way we interact in the workplace. Where work used to be a solitary pursuit, it’s now a communal one. Today, sharing and collaborating are strategies for getting ahead. People must be able to access, share and discover information in real time to move things forward. Having a collection of ideas and people is no longer sufficient—tapping into the collective thinking and “hive mind” model is the new approach to generating the best ideas and outcomes.

Because of this, collaboration has become central to productivity, and the formation of teams to address a business need has become increasingly dynamic. It’s common today for people spanning different geographies, disciplines, even different companies, to come together quickly to work as a team towards a common goal. Indeed, with 40 percent or more of the U.S. workforce projected to be made up of contingent or independent workers by 2020, people will increasingly use networks to form teams of experts on-demand and dynamically “swarm” around projects and then disperse to the next.

How can technology enable and support this agile way of working and enable friction-free collaboration anywhere, anytime? How do we make it easy for people to work as a collective, in real-time, while also building a knowledge base as they switch between projects? These are the questions driving how we think about modern collaboration. Empowering teams to work this way requires technology solutions that are seamless, allow teams to self-organize and work fluidly across locations, cultures and devices. It’s about delivering cross-platform tools that work together in concert and allow people to move seamlessly between them, even while on the go.

Across Microsoft Office 365, our cloud-based productivity suite, we offer a holistic set of modern, connected collaboration solutions that allow teams to work the way they want and need—not in the way technology dictates.

Office 365 enables a team to do things like co-author a report in real-time together, save it automatically to the cloud, discuss updates and changes from within the document itself and then easily share it with others by attaching the report as a link in email. To connect quickly for the rapid, iterative conversations that are so often at the heart of how work gets done, Office 365 enables you to automatically see colleagues’ presence and simply click a name to initiate an IM, or a voice or video call.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

But empowering a team to work more effectively requires more than just new choices and application-level integration. These days, as teams rapidly form and disband, we believe that it’s critical for people to be able to “stand on the shoulders of giants”—that is, quickly discover the work of others and build upon it through a shared intelligent fabric. This belief stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by disconnected point solutions, each maintaining a separate data silo, where useful information becomes stranded in a single app or buried within countless conversations.

This belief in a common intelligent fabric is why we’ve introduced Office 365 Groups and Office Graph, two technologies that span Office 365 and beyond, helping teams self-organize, work together and build upon the expertise of others. ringing to life the inherent power of your network and powering personalized discovery experiences.

Learn more about Office Graph.

In just the last six months, Office Graph has mapped over six billion actions and interactions from across Office 365 applications. This common intelligent fabric allows us to enable new digital workspaces that span all of the Microsoft tools a team uses to get work done as well as provide a single way for IT to manage and secure corporate data and access.

Learn more about Office 365 Groups.

By continuing to innovate on tools that facilitate teamwork and extending a common intelligent fabric, we’re continuing to push the envelope and explore new, unique ways to make teams more effective. Stay tuned for more news here in the coming weeks!

—Bryan Goode

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