Microsoft Teams as a “Single Pane of Glass”

Microsoft Teams is the newest aspect to Office 365 and is gaining traction. We’ve been using it for a while now and we are really liking it. Naturally, it’s a hub for teamwork and provides built-in tools and functionality for storage and collaboration. Unfortunately, most of that functionality is limited to content that resides in O365. Which is a bummer, because people have content everywhere. You ask, “But doesn’t Microsoft Teams provide the capability to ‘ add cloud storage ?’” Yes, it does, and we’ll get to that shortly. Don’t forget about content that exists outside of the supported cloud platforms. What about content stored locally on-premises, in a homegrown application, or in a legacy solution? It’s unfortunate; there’s no way to access that content in Teams.

Or… is there?

Let’s focus on the Files aspect of Teams. Referring to what you asked above, yes, Microsoft Teams does allow the capability to ‘add cloud storage’ to the Files library. Great! But, what does that really do for you? Let’s say your organization leverages O365 and Box. You have externally shared content in Box and would like to add it to your Teams site, alleviating the pain from having to go into Box to edit. So, you use the “Add cloud storage” feature and wahoo! Your Box content now appears to be in Teams and everyone has one place to work with the Box content!

Nope. Sorry. We wish it was that easy.

Here’s what really happens… First, even though somebody has Box to add cloud storage to your Teams site, you may or may not have access to it. If you don’t have access to it, well, that’s just rude. Regardless, when trying to access the content, you will be prompted to log in to Box.

Step 1: You will need to have a Box login as well as permissions to the content you’re looking to edit. Second, assuming you have login and access, you need to find the content. You can search content in Microsoft Teams with the native search functionality, however, that does not search the content in Box. To work on the content you are looking for, you need to know exactly where the content is located. This is time-consuming and may be frustrating depending on how many nested folders you are dealing with. We’ve seen many taxonomies out there, and sometimes it may just be quicker to find Waldo than it is to drill down the rabbit hole to find your content.

Step 2: You finally stumble across the document you were looking to edit.

Step 3: You click on the file to open. If you happen to do this, though, you’ll soon find out you just screwed up. Clicking on the file only allows you to view the Box content in Teams. Pause for a second. Take a moment and read that again. That right there is the biggest pain leveraging the Teams’ ‘add cloud storage’ functionality to integrate Box or any other supported cloud content!  Unless the content is natively stored in the Teams site, you can only VIEW content.

After realizing this, you frantically look for a feature that enables you to edit. Ha! Nothing. Without any other option, you are forced to click the back or close button. Doing this takes you back to the root Files screen. Now you are enraged and want to throw something as you just spent 5 minutes, possibly longer, looking for your file. After performing the breathing exercises your therapist taught you, you compose yourself and restart the sequence.

Step 4: This time you DO NOT click on the file. You click the ellipses to the right and select the option to ‘Open in Box.’ Wait. Hold on. What? That’s right. This takes to you to…

Step 5: You’ll be taken out of Teams and into a browser where you must log in to Box… again. This truly defeats the purpose of going to Teams to work with content in Box. Now that you are in native Box…

Step 6: You can finally make your edits.

Did you just read all that? That was a fun journey. In case you got bored, we’ve put this in picture form:

Now that you understand this mess, let’s address how to fix this problem and get to the reason why we really like using Teams… Introducing SkySync, yes that’s us, an enterprise content integration and orchestration platform that enables cross-platform bi-directional synchronization.

Huh? What does that mean?

Exactly what it says:

No matter where content is located (in the cloud or on-premises), SkySync can synchronize the content. In the scenario we’re addressing with Box, as well as with any of the other scenarios mentioned in the beginning of the post (content on-premises, other cloud repositories, legacy ECM solutions, etc.), you can synchronize all your content into Teams. No matter if you’re in the native repository or in Teams, all changes, additions, and deletions can be configured to be synchronized. Doing so enables all the native functionality in Teams to be accessible to any of the content that is synchronized.

Not getting it? Let’s replay the Box scenario but now leveraging the capability to bi-directionally synchronize content between Teams and Box.

Previously, the Box connection in Teams acted as a clear door with no handle. Remember?  Well, now the game has changed. Since the content is now synchronized into the Teams site, you can leverage the search and edit functionality, natively.

What took 6 steps previously, can now be accomplished in 2…

Step 1: Search for your file.

Step 2: Edit that file.

All changes will get synchronized back to Box. This functionality can be applied to content anywhere. No matter where content exists, it can be synchronized into Teams leveraging SkySync, or any other bi-directional synchronization application.

I know, you don’t get it unless you see it.  Here’s the revamped visual:

“We need one place to manage all our content.” When you hear this request, your initial thought used to be a full-migration. Not anymore! The concept of a bi-directional synchronization has blown your mind… Now you can see how Microsoft Teams can function as a single pane of glass, enabling users to collaborate content in one place – no matter where the content originated.

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