As remote working continues to be the norm and people across all industries place greater reliance on the Microsoft Teams ecosystem, collaboration analytics is becoming vital.
Within our own business, even though as a tech company we were already set up for homeworking when the pandemic hit, we soon realised we lost visibility of our customer interactions and collaboration across our global teams. Overnight, we saw the profile of our communication with our customers and our co-workers change from traditional phone systems and chat to Microsoft Teams calling, video, meetings, chat and Teams.
Being already a provider of analytics and recording solutions, we saw an opportunity to extend our capabilities to deliver essential insights within the Microsoft Teams ecosystem. Furthermore, we saw the same requirement arise across our traditional partners who sell voice-based services, who came to us asking for a solution. The synergies inspired us to rapidly develop this exciting extension to our analytics portfolio and deliver this essential business tool to the market.
What it does
Analytics 365 provides insights into collaboration for improved business performance. Leaders can manage teams more effectively and promote improvements in communications between the right people, groups, and customers.
The intuitive dashboards display collaboration trends, participation, activity and sentiment as well as quality issues that may affect both internal and external interactions. Analysis of customer engagement activity and trends promotes efficiency in communications, directly resulting in an enhanced customer experience.
Staff wellbeing is a major priority in current times. Analytics 365 helps to understand how business changes have impacted mental health, team performance and employee satisfaction. Extended hours and extreme collaboration trend comparisons help to both identify warning signs and to drive positive habits, good time management and effective working.
How I built it
Leveraging our experience in Microsoft Azure and using the Microsoft Graph API, Tollring has developed a native app within Microsoft Teams. The app provides actionable insights based on the raw graph data and adds value through trend analyses and comparisons over time.
We have created intuitive dashboards, with a simple UI and in-built KPIs to select the insights that are critical to the subscriber. Multiple dashboards can be saved from within Microsoft Teams and securely shared with co-workers.
Our data protection and privacy policies are tightly coupled with Microsoft 365 Admin permissions along with user consent settings and subscription activation.
Challenges I ran into
It was a steep learning curve for the development team to get accustomed to the technology stack required to build the Microsoft Teams app. The Microsoft Teams app development ecosystem is at an early phase, resulting in progressive updates to the dependent libraries like FluentUI from Microsoft. It was upgraded regularly and was causing unexpected results in our application. This meant the team had to track updates and re-test our work, making the development process challenging. However, dealing with issues like these is an expected part of app development, and developer community support plays a very important role in negating such issues. As the Microsoft Teams app development ecosystem is so new, there is currently only a small community, making it harder to find solutions for issues. Microsoft was a great help in this regard and their direct support was invaluable. Another huge challenge was to design application permissions in a way that were easy to manage no matter the size of business customer. We overcame this challenge by aligning our app permissions with Microsoft 365 admin permissions, to make set up as easy as possible. Building an appropriate pricing strategy, again with simplicity at its heart and suitable for any size of business, was the final challenge to overcome prior to launch.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Seeing any working product is always a proud moment for a developer. Working on this app allowed us to apply our years of experience in providing analytics for the unified communications industry to the Microsoft Teams ecosystem. With the prevalence of collaboration and Microsoft Teams in all walks of life today, be it traditional business, schools or social groups, it is very exciting to be able to positively impact such a wide audience with our technology. Delivering such a rich set of analytics within a seamless user experience, marrying various technologies to do so brings a massive sense of achievement, and doing this so rapidly made the process extra special.
What I learned
- Developing the Microsoft Teams app introduced us to many new technologies and frameworks, pushing us to develop our skills into a completely new set of development domains.
- Alongside these newly added frameworks it also enhanced our understanding of the Microsoft ecosystem and its product offerings. To name a few, FluentUI, Graph API, Active Directory, Identity. We learned how these services connect with each other and how to make the best use of them.
- We gained a solid understanding of how Microsoft Teams fits into the current working environment, what it currently offers and what more it can bring in the future to enhance business productivity and the wellbeing of employees all over the world.
What's next for Analytics 365