EP 24: Decoding Microsoft Teams: Features, Privacy, and Virtual Collaboration

Insights into Enhanced Connectivity and Secure Data Sharing

Dive into another insightful episode of Tech UNMUTED with George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar as they unravel the enhancements and innovations in Microsoft Teams. Learn about the platform's new features, the evolution of real-time analytics, and how it’s reshaping user interactions.

The conversation takes a deeper turn into data privacy within Microsoft 365, exploring who truly owns the data in the cloud era. Additionally, uncover the fascinating world of virtual data rooms, a pivotal tool for secure and confidential collaborations.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone keen on understanding the advancements in digital communication and data security. Subscribe and stay tuned for a blend of tech revelations and forward-thinking discussions!

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Transcript for this Episode:

INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

GEORGE: Welcome to the latest episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today, we're going to do a couple of quick-hit things. I want to talk about the new, new Teams, which I turned on yesterday.

SANTI: The new, new Teams. [laughs]

GEORGE: Yes, the new, new Teams. It actually says that when it popped up. That's what it says. Look at the new features of the new, new Teams is what is said in one spot. We're going to talk a little bit about privacy within Microsoft 365 and some of these tools we're using and just a brief tidbit on data rooms. Let me talk a little bit about the new, new Teams piece. There's a button where you can flip and see this new version of Teams, which is the future state version. I finally did it yesterday and I did it because I had something that wasn't working right.

I couldn't right-click and do anything in the old version. I'm like, "Hey, let me flip it over again and try it." The only downside I've seen of things I use every day is it used to have the ability for me to just mouse over like a PowerPoint or something else, and it would give me a Share button, which was really cool and convenient. That is not in the new, new Teams, but a couple of other things that flagged when I brought it up and looked at some of the additional features that were in it that thought were at least a little bit interesting.

There's the ability now to just click on a person and get to their org chart and get to some other information about them. You can do it just in a stream where somebody's sitting in a stream or any other place that you see them in Teams. You used to have to click in a couple of other places to get to that. There's also, which I thought this already existed, there's the ability that it rings now on multiple devices when you get a call. This may just be the new version that it's added to. Now, all of a sudden, I do have multiple devices ringing when I get calls.

SANTI: You're talking about a simultaneous ring where everything rings at the same time and then you pick up the call at your desired device? Okay.

GEORGE: Correct. It is ringing where I think maybe it may have buzzed before on my devices, but it's ringing on my iPad. It's ringing on my phone, which is an iPhone.

SANTI: Pretty cool.

GEORGE: Then it's ringing on the screen. The other piece that I haven't fully tested out is there's a way to dissect search a little bit. You can choose whether you want to do a global search or search in a chat or search in a channel where, previously, it brought up a bunch of different things from a search standpoint. Those are interesting. We'll keep evaluating this as we go forward.

I think I'm going to stick with it. The other thing I noticed was that it made my screen background light mode, I think I had it in dark mode previously. I saw the stuff was darker around the edges. I don't know. At first, it was a little harsh. Now, I like it. It's sort of a more lively screen for me to be looking at. Let's pivot into privacy. I don't want to call any other competitive platforms out specifically, but there's been--

SANTI: Of course not.

GEORGE: There have been a number of platforms that have been flagged. I'm sure everybody knows who they are where there's been concerns about what data was being collected and how it was used as if, "Do you really own your data or is somebody else owning the data?" I know you did a little bit of research, Santi, to look at what's going on with Microsoft relative to some of these. Do you want to hit on a couple of those, the points that you uncovered?

SANTI: Yes, for sure. It's funny how you say who owns the data. Now, in this new era we're in where everything is cloud-based, your cloud provider owns your data. [chuckles] That's the reality. I mean, when you really look at it, that's where it lives, right? Microsoft does have-- I'm going to touch on a high level. They do have a set of privacy policies regarding how they handle your data.

This is also as it relates to Teams, by the way. It's a little bit more specific to Teams. For example, content. In your meetings, your conversations, your chats, your voicemails, your shared files, and your recordings, even your transcriptions, so anything that's considered content within a traditional Microsoft Teams meeting is collected and stored, right? That makes sense because you have to be able to reach that somehow.

If I want to read a transcript two days from now, I got to get it from somewhere, and it's in the cloud. That's captured. They also capture what's called "profile data." Profile data is-- Well, it's you, right? It's your profile, so like your email address, your picture, the picture that you choose. That's why your picture appears on multiple applications across the Microsoft 365 platform. Also, your phone number, right? It does capture that.

They do capture your call history. I can see how that's a must, but then they also capture some other stuff. For example, they capture your call quality data, so they're measuring the quality of your calls and capturing that. Same thing with any feedback loops. If you have feedback or some type of troubleshooting, they're going to capture that data as well. Of course, everybody does diagnostic and service data capturing.

I'm oversimplifying it, of course, because their privacy policies are pretty in-depth documents. At a high level, those are the things that Microsoft collects or captures. This is the data that's captured. What I found interesting, and I really do like this, is they will not disclose your data, except for-- There's three exceptions to that, right? One is if the customer, if we direct them to, they will, right? If we give them the green light, they will.

Number two. So long as it's aligned with their online service terms, they won't go outside of that. If you read the online service terms, those parameters are set. They will not go outside of that. The only other thing that would probably override some of this is if there's a regulatory or compliance law that requires them to do so. Those are the only three exceptions. Other than that, they're just not going to disclose your data. They're very clear about that. That's actually pretty straightforward. I always wonder, "Well, how long do they keep our data for?" I actually did some research on this. From a user perspective, if you delete data, Microsoft will keep that data, your personal data, for 30 days after you delete it.

GEORGE: Interesting.

SANTI: Yes. Let's say you delete something. Right now, you delete a file. You no longer want it. It's going to sit in a Microsoft server and it'll be deleted permanently within 30 days. They say "within 30 days." It could be less, but that's the window. Now, let's go at the company level. If a company terminates their agreement with Microsoft, any personal data that has been collected will be deleted between 90 and 180 days of the termination. That's very interesting. Let's say we decide we don't want to be a Microsoft customer anymore. We want to terminate our enterprise agreement. Our data will remain in their servers for that period of time.

GEORGE: If you think about that--

SANTI: It makes sense.

GEORGE: You may choose to come back. If you choose to come back in a period of time and the underlying data that ran your business is gone, that's challenging. It's appropriate as long as they're not using the data, right?

SANTI: Correct.

GEORGE: I do want to say we are not attorneys, right?

SANTI: No, of course not.

GEORGE: We're not legal experts, so you need to consult your own counsel on this. The broader implications of all the data that's collected, including-- We have a voice service, a calling service from Microsoft Teams. That data's now becoming a digital asset-

SANTI: Oh, yes.

GEORGE: -where calling data in the past, I think, was really tactically viewed. Even if you had call recording, call recording was typically done just to meet compliance requirements and the ability to go back and look at that data if something happened, right? Santi had a call with somebody and told them something or let's go back and see what was said. The go-forward on this is, as a digital asset, you can start to do post-analytics and potentially even live analytics, right?

SANTI: 100%, sure.

GEORGE: If Santi were a customer service agent and he's on the phone with someone, we're getting close to the ability to do real-time analytics where it could tell Santi, "Hey, we're sensing negative sentiment from the client who you're speaking to on the phone." You may adjust the tactic you use where a lot of that analytics today is either of a barge in and somebody listens to the call or you do some post-analysis on a call similar to what I just described.

To do it in real-time, it changes you as a call center agent. It changes the way you work and the way you try to change the way you interact with people. It makes you, in real-time, proactively adjusting the conversation rather than after the fact. I know I've called places where I'm annoyed about something that happened with a call center agent. I've had some great experiences where they've been able to really quickly assess it and just me, get me into a path that gets to an answer but to know upfront that the person's annoyed. A lot of times, you have outsourced reps as well whose English might not be their native language.

SANTI: Right, that's a challenge.

GEORGE: The ability to analyze that data as the conversation is taking place and flag to the rep, "Hey, we're picking up negative sentiment from the client you're talking to on the phone." Again, that turns that data into an asset where, again, it was just a thing before, right?

SANTI: Yes, and you've given some pretty elaborate examples, but let's keep it simple. The data that Microsoft is collecting, notice that the first bullet point was around a meeting, a Microsoft Teams meeting. What's being collected? Your call, your presentation, your notes, your video, any files you shared, so that call is 100% a digital asset now because you have everything. Even AI-generated notes are part of this call now.

Your video is there, your captures, your conversations, the questions that were asked. This is no longer just a phone call. If companies start to understand that, which is part of the value of Microsoft Teams, and see this as this is not just a phone call or just another meeting, every time I have one, I have a slew of digital assets that I can now work with, I can analyze, I can search. It's phenomenal when you really stop and think about it from how far we've come, right?

GEORGE: The other thing that I've heard a couple of times recently with some conversations with sales and our engineering teams when we sell our voice services in the Teams and, in some cases, they're going from a traditional voice service that probably just went to a desk phone, now that it's embedded in Teams, what we're seeing is more use. Those lines are being more used more and there's a couple of pieces to that, right? One, compliance-wise, I don't know where that phone call was going before. Was it on a cell phone? Was it somewhere else? It probably was still happening but in a different mechanism. The second piece is, now, you've got it integrated in, right?

SANTI: Of course.

GEORGE: Now, you have more analytics potentially on it. Again, you could do sentiment measure and you've got a more clean view of compliance because, now, you have more data that you're capturing and more of the phone calls. There's a lot of good outcomes from doing that, but let me transition to the last point here. We don't have a lot of expertise on this one, but we'll-- I say "we." We'll let Santi dig into it a little bit.

SANTI: It's a very interesting topic.

GEORGE: What we've seen is we've looked into some of the broader things around privacy and compliance and data recording and that kind of stuff. One of the things we saw pop up is virtual data rooms, which is a bunch of different ways to approach it. At a high level, this is the ability to isolate a group of people with what is typically confidential information. It could be mergers and acquisitions kind of transaction. It could be a bunch of other things, but why don't you talk a minute or two about what you've learned in the last couple of days looking at this?

SANTI: Yes. First of all, virtual data room is an aftermarket term. It's not a Microsoft term. They don't have a specific product or platform called virtual data room. Some folks out there have figured out how to turn this into some type of a service and that's the term that's being used. The best way that I can describe this, my son's in the military, so he talks about how to share top-secret information. You need to have what's called a SCIF, which is basically a physical room that's secured and isolated so you can have these discussions.

This is almost like a virtual SCIF, right? You accomplish this using multiple elements of the Microsoft 365 environment but at a very high level because I'm not a professional at this. First of all, SharePoint is key, and so you have to stand up an isolated or standalone SharePoint collective site that you're going to use for this specific purpose. You will have to grant external access and permissions to folks who are not in your organization because that's the key about this room is that you can have both internal and external people collaborating.

The second element would be Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is nothing more than a front-end really for SharePoint. What's behind Microsoft Teams is basically SharePoint. You would have a team created with a channel and only the folks who need to be there and who have access to these files and documents would collaborate on that. Again, both internal and external folks, right?

Then, finally, to take it even further as far as security goes, Microsoft has what's called Purview. Basically, Purview is granular-level security and policies for your data. It's used a lot of times to meet regulatory stuff. Bottom line is something like a virtual data room, those use cases where very, very, very sensitive information needs to be shared, board meetings, intellectual property, mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, that kind of stuff. That's how you would do that. Obviously, there's more to it. I'm oversimplifying it, but that's what's involved.

Yes, it's a real thing. I think it's a great concept. Virtual data room is basically a very top-secret virtual room, where you can have collaboration going on with very sensitive information. Anyway, folks, this does bring our podcast to an end. Remember, take this time right now to subscribe. This way, you can stay on top of any future episodes so you don't miss anything. We may have a special guest. You never know. You have to tune in to find out. Until next time, remember this, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.

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Produced by: Fusion Connect

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Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

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