Microsoft, the technology solutions provider, says it has entered the global market with a new technology meant to enable businesses, specifically small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), to grow and gain competitive advantages. The company says the new product, which is the first-ever stand-alone offering of Microsoft Teams, is called Teams Essentials and will enable SMBs to serve their customers in a couple of key ways.

Teams Essentials, the company says, will enable SMBs to easily host longer, professional meetings with colleagues, customers, and partners and take productivity to the next level with tools like calendar integration, group chat, and extended meeting limits up to 30 hours and 300 attendees at once. It added that the new product will also enable businesses to stay organised and save time by connecting existing tools in one place with powerful collaboration capabilities and an increased 10GB of cloud storage.

“We all know the shift to remote and hybrid work has presented ample challenges for companies of all sizes, but the unique challenges that small businesses face require unique solutions, and Microsoft is well-positioned to provide its SMB customers with the best possible tools to succeed,” Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, explained in a statement in Lagos recently.

Spataro confirmed that “the new Microsoft Teams Essentials is built for small businesses,” noting, “while the past 20 months have been challenging for all organisations, I don’t know any that has been hit harder than small businesses.” According to him, the small businesses have had to adapt nearly every aspect of how they operate and work with customers, often without access to critical tools and technologies. “The world isn’t going back to the old way of working, so small businesses need solutions that are designed specifically for their unique needs to thrive in this new normal,” he said.

Spataro explained that Microsoft Teams Essential brings together features small businesses need to serve customers, including unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing, and calendaring, adding that it’s the most affordable all-in-one solution in the market today.

“With Teams Essentials, small businesses from restaurants to retailers to professional services can easily meet, collaborate, communicate, and serve customers in new ways, he said, citing Bristol Dental Specialists, a United Kingdom-based practice that began using Teams last year. From virtual consultations to collaboration with colleagues, the Bristol team delivers faster, friendlier, and more cost-effective patient care with Teams” Spataro explained.

Rebecca Metcalfe, Senior Treatment Coordinator at Bristol Dental Specialists, noted that communication was so important, “and with Teams, we’re working together better than ever to provide patients with a standard of care that sets us apart.” The need for affordable communications tools isn’t limited to traditional for-profit small businesses. Non-profits, religious organizations, schools, and community groups also struggle to connect and collaborate effectively. These organizations and small businesses need to get up and running fast, and Teams Essentials makes it possible with no IT expertise necessary.

Teams Essentials enables those with and without a Teams account to participate easily and effectively. While the free version of Microsoft Teams is still available, Teams Essentials offers extended limits like longer meetings and more storage. Expansive meeting limits and easy-to-use features let businesses host professional meetings and according to Spataro, working closely with customers and partners can be a challenge for any business without the right communication tools.

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