Jan
09
2019
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Microsoft’s latest Teams features take aim at shift workers

Collaboration tools tend to be geared toward workers who are sitting at a desk for much of the day, but there are plenty of shift workers, also known as first-line workers, who rarely use a computer, but still need to communicate with one another and management. Microsoft released several new features today aimed at including these workers.

In a blog post announcing the new features, Emma Williams, Microsoft corporate vice president for modern workplace verticals, wrote that there are two billion such workers. By making the product more mobile-friendly and linking to existing enterprise employee management systems, Microsoft can make Teams more relevant for shift employees.

For starters, Microsoft is making mobile Teams more flexible to meet the needs of a variety of shift worker jobs. Some might need to record and share audio messages, while others might need to share their location or access the camera. Whatever the requirements, Microsoft has started with a Firstline Worker configuration policy template, which IT can customize to meet the needs of various worker types.

The mobile tool also includes a navigation bar, which allows workers to add the tools they use most often for easy access. The idea is to make it as simple as possible to access the tools they need, given that these workers tend to be on their feet or on the move a good part of the day.

Photo: MicrosoftNext, the company has released a new API to help IT connect Teams to existing workforce management systems. The Graph API for Shifts enables first-line managers, who are responsible for setting up worker schedules, to share data between a company’s workforce management system and Teams, allowing employees to get all of their shift information in one tool. This will be available in public preview later in the quarter, according to the company.

Finally, the tool now includes a new Praise feature, designed to let managers recognize good work by their employees by issuing badges with messages like “Thank you” and “Problem solver.”

The company wants Teams to be more than a tool for knowledge workers. These new features provide a way to include workers that are sometimes left out of these kinds of collaboration tools. The new features also help Microsoft compete with a number of startups that trying to attack the same problem.

These include Crew, a startup that scored a $35 million Series C round just last month and has raised almost $60 million, and Zinc, which also takes aim at the deskless worker, and has raised $16 million, according to Crunchbase.

Whether Microsoft can appeal to both the knowledge worker and the first-line variety in the same tool remains to be seen, but these updates are clearly an effort to take on this space.

Nov
07
2017
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Proofpoint acquires Cloudmark for $110M in cybersecurity consolidation play

 As malicious groups continue to become more sophisticated in their hacking techniques, cybersecurity efforts are attempting to expand in their reach, and that is leading to some consolidation in the field. Today, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint — which provides SaaS products to protect businesses’ email, social media and other services — announced that it would pay $110 million… Read More

Oct
24
2017
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LinkedIn boosts its messaging with smart replies, pre-written, AI based interactions

 LinkedIn — the Microsoft-owned platform for those who want to network with professional contacts and advance their own careers — has been in the middle of a long-term makeover of its social tools, as it looks to drive more usage. Today comes the latest chapter in that story: the site is unveiling a new smart reply feature in its messaging app, which gives users prompts with… Read More

Jun
28
2017
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Intercom lands former Intuit exec Karen Peacock as its new COO

Karen Peacock, COO at Intercom Intercom, a business messaging tool that enables companies to communicate directly with customers in an online context, announced today that it has hired former Intuit SVP Karen Peacock as company COO.
She joined the company May 30th, but they are making the news public for the first time today.
Peacock comes with an impressive resume that starts with a BA from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. Read More

Mar
09
2017
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Google goes after Slack and splits Hangouts into Chat and Meet

Google’s messaging strategy can be confusing, but if there’s one thing that’s clear after today’s Cloud Next keynote, it’s that the company is doubling down on the idea that Hangouts is its enterprise product and Allo/Duo are its consumer communications apps. Read More

Feb
24
2017
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Communication platform Layer raises $15M and acquires interactive messaging startup Cola

IMG_9233 Layer, the messaging platform that won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield back in 2013, is making two big announcement today: It’s raised $15 million in Series B funding, and it’s acquiring another startup, Cola. Layer makes it easy for businesses to add messaging capabilities to their iOS, Android and web products — customers include Trunk Club, Staples and Udacity. In… Read More

Feb
01
2017
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The enterprise is the next logical step for Slack

Faces on discs depicting a man as leader of a marketing or social scheme in the centre Slack took a big step in its evolution as a startup yesterday when it launched Slack Enterprise Grid, the enterprise version of its popular messaging platform.
For Slack to continue its growth trajectory, it had to move on from being a tool for discrete teams to one that could deal with substantially more users, and provide some security and governance as it connected to other departments… Read More

Dec
14
2016
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Symphony, the messaging app backed by Wall St, is raising at a $1B+ valuation

Photo: Getty Images/Nerida McMurray Photography/DigitalVision Symphony, a secure messaging service backed and used by 14 of the biggest banks on Wall Street, is raising up to $200 million in a new round of funding with a pre-money valuation over $1 billion, TechCrunch has learned. The funding will come from existing investors, along with a new backer, the government of Singapore via its investment arm (which includes Temasek and GIC). Symphony has… Read More

Dec
13
2016
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Salesforce LiveMessage brings messaging to Service Cloud

Salesforce Service Cloud Live Messaging interface As more and more people use SMS and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger to interact with friends, it’s only logical that they want to interact with business that way too — and today Salesforce launched LiveMessage, a tool that helps customer service reps manage messaging traffic just like any customer interactions in Service Cloud. For starters, it supports SMS/MMS and… Read More

Dec
10
2016
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Software is due for a bundling event

Overhead shot of a small group of people, wearing monochromatic colors, pulling at ropes from opposing directions We are approaching a new phase of enterprise software, where every niche of Software-as-a-Service has been filled and cloud companies are being consolidated into larger companies. Markets have a tendency to cycle from bundling to unbundling, and software is due for a bundling event. Read More

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