MVP Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part 2


MVP Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part II

Microsoft Teams has proved to be an invaluable tool, enabling businesses to communicate and collaborate more effectively and efficiently. Microsoft Teams is a vast platform and navigating its extensive list of capabilities can be challenging. Our MVP series was developed for this purpose – to help users get the most out of their Teams subscription by connecting them with the foremost experts in the field.

From optimizing your network to uncovering Teams strategies and tools to improve your workflow, this webinar series covers a range of useful topics:

Episode 1: Optimizing Your Network for Microsoft Teams
Episode 2: Empowering Collaboration with Microsoft Teams Devices
Episode 3: Developing Inclusive Communications Through Microsoft Teams
Episode 4: Supporting Neurodiversity with Microsoft Teams

In this article, we will briefly recap episodes three and four, highlighting some of the top tips from each episode. Highlights from episodes one and two can be seen in part one of our webinar series highlights .

Episode 3: Developing Inclusive Communications Through Microsoft Teams

With millions of users working daily in Microsoft Teams, companies must understand the different video-based communication and collaboration interfaces available before choosing the right format for any given situation. In episode three Daniel Glenn , M365 Apps & Services MVP, walks you through:

  • Using Live Events and Webinars
  • Breakout Rooms and when to use them
  • Using video to communicate through Microsoft Teams
  • Viva Engage and Microsoft Teams

In the clip below, Daniel when and how to use breakout rooms to increase engagement and collaboration in meetings.

Tips for Creating Inclusive Meetings

  1. Select the best type of meeting – Understand the capabilities of each meeting type and pick the interface that best matches your participant’s needs.
  2. Use breakout rooms – Large meetings can deter engagement. Breakout rooms create smaller spaces that make it easier and more comfortable for people to interact and share with the group.
  3. Turn your video on – Video shows people that you are engaged. It also allows them to understand your level of commitment while letting them engage with you more easily.
  4. Connect with Viva Engage – Use Viva Engage to connect with leadership and communities, share knowledge, and spark engagement.

Episode 4: Supporting Neurodiversity with Microsoft Teams

Global studies estimate that as much as 40% of the population lives with cognitive differences like ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. In theory, at least one person you work with has a cognitive difference. This means that they may communicate, consume, and interpret things differently.

Episode four features Megan Strant and Loryan Strant , M365 Apps & Services MVPs who share tools available on the M365 platform that support neurodiverse individuals and help them work more efficiently. In this episode, they cover:

  • Enhanced focus
  • Reading and writing
  • Leveraging audio and video tools
  • Other M365 app enhancements

In the clip below, Megan Strant and Loryan Strant discuss the Enhanced Focus tools that are available in Microsoft Teams and how they can be used to improve your workflow.

Tips for Creating Enhanced Focus

  1. Viva Insights Focus Time – Carve out time to focus and get work done. The Focus Time feature automatically schedules focus time for you, sets your status to “Focus” to alert others, mutes notifications and gives you reports to track how much focus time you honored.
  2. Teams presence and status messages – A Focus mode status is only sometimes enough to deter people from booking a meeting or messaging you. You can manually change your Teams status to let people know you are unavailable and add a status message to let them know why you can’t respond immediately and/or when you will be available again.
  3. Tuning out – Sometimes you need to tune out all the beeps that can derail your focus and reduce the noise and distractions. Learning to manage notifications for posts and chats and leaving meeting chats that you are not attending can help cut the volume. If a conversation has caught your attention and there is an action item in there, rather than becoming a part of the conversation, consider using “Create a Task” to help narrow your focus and return to it when you are ready.

Explore Each Topic On-Demand

Microsoft Teams has become an integral tool in the modern workplace, enabling seamless communication and collaboration regardless of device or location. The multitude of features in the Teams platform can be overwhelming to approach on your own. However, by leveraging the tips and strategies provided by the Microsoft MVPs who joined us for this series, you can easily get the most out of your Teams subscription while improving your workflow.

The post MVP Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part 2 appeared first on Kollective Technology .

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Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part 1


Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part 1

The way we work has changed forever. To adapt our old ways of working to the modern workplace, Microsoft Teams has become an integral tool to create seamless collaboration and communication experiences across locations and devices.

In our latest webinar series, Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams , Microsoft MVPs and Kollective experts explain how to get the most out of Microsoft Teams to increase communication, collaboration, and productivity. Hosted by Alistair Pugin , Microsoft Azure and M365 Apps & Services MVP, the four-episode series covers a range of topics:

Episode 1: Optimizing Your Network for Microsoft Teams
Episode 2: Empowering Collaboration with Microsoft Teams Devices
Episode 3: Developing Inclusive Communications Through Microsoft Teams
Episode 4: Supporting Neurodiversity with Microsoft Teams

In this article, we will briefly recap episodes one and two and highlight invaluable tips shared by the experts on how to optimize your workflow and efficiency within Microsoft Teams.

Episode 1: Optimizing Your Network for Microsoft Teams

Video communications are key to enabling modern work. Unprepared networks struggle to deliver high quality Microsoft Teams meetings, live events, and webinars.
In this episode, Alistair is joined by Nicolas Blank , Microsoft Azure and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and Kollective’s VP of Product, Garrett Gladden to discuss:

  • Preparing your connectivity options
  • How Teams handles audio and video calls
  • Where bottlenecks occur
  • How to analyze what your network looks like

Tips for Flawless Teams Video Communications

  1. Understand your network – Whether you are about to roll out Teams or your current user experience is not up to par, it is crucial to understand your network’s capabilities and if it is set up to deliver a quality experience through Teams.
  2. Understand what you need from Teams – Not all devices are created equal, and endpoint performance issues may cause poor user experiences. Examine the devices that are consuming Teams video on your network and understand the platform’s impact on the hardware.
  3. Utilize the tools from Microsoft – Microsoft’s Call Quality Dashboard shows you organization-wide call and meeting quality, and you can leverage Power BI to analyze that data.
  4. Know your options – Understand your access points and trace what PoP (point of presence) you are connecting through.
  5. Measure, change, then measure again – Analyze network performance, make changes, and measure again to see if there has been an improvement. Microsoft 365’s network connectivity test is an easy way to measure your network’s performance repeatedly. Be sure to compare the performance on home networks versus corporate networks versus a branch site to gain a complete picture.

Episode 2: Empowering Collaboration with Microsoft Teams Devices

Creating inclusive Teams meeting experiences when only some are physically present is a challenge for businesses offering hybrid or remote work options. Episode two focuses on the latest capabilities and features of Microsoft Teams-enabled devices to bridge the gap between the office and home.

Tom Arbuthnot , M365 Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Communications Certified Master, takes you through:

  • Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro
  • IntelliFrame
  • Hotdesking
  • And more device ecosystem updates

In the clip below, Tom emphasizes the need for businesses to budget for reasonable devices for those working from home.

“Don’t scrimp on home devices. People are spending so long at home that if you’re impacting the meeting experience, you’re impacting everybody’s productivity.” – Tom Arbuthnot

Tips to Improve Work-from-Home Teams Meeting Experiences

  1. If you are on a tight budget, invest in audio over video.
  2. Logitech 930e webcam and a decent headset (wired or Bluetooth) is a great place to start. If you are looking to upgrade, consider Logitech’s Brio 4K webcam.
  3. Pay attention to your lighting set up. If you have poor lighting, consider a ring light to improve visibility.

Microsoft Teams has unlocked many doors for the modern workplace and allowed us to quickly adapt to changes in where, how, and even why we work. Navigating the Teams ecosystem and the options available can be daunting. The Microsoft MVPs who joined us for this series are a font of knowledge in all things Team related.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we recap episodes three and four or take a deep dive into each topic by watching the episodes on-demand.

The post Webinar Series Highlights – Advancing Modern Work Through Microsoft Teams Part 1 appeared first on Kollective Technology .

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Webinar Recap: Employee Connectivity in Healthcare and Beyond


Webinar Recap: Employee Connectivity in Healthcare and Beyond

During our recent webinar Employee Connectivity in Healthcare and Beyond: Scaling Live Events to a Hybrid Workforce , a panel of experts from Microsoft, Kollective, and Children’s Mercy Hospital, had a roundtable discussion about how the pandemic and now hybrid work has transformed communications and collaboration. They reviewed the challenges faced by communications teams and network administrators when connecting a hybrid workplace with live events and covered strategies to build more inclusive communications. Learn how Kollective and Microsoft are working together to provide Healthcare companies with innovative solutions that address the needs of the modern workplace.


  • Host – Carson Heady – Microsoft, Director, Health Solutions – U.S. Health & Life Sciences
  • Matt Sims – Microsoft, Senior Customer Success Manager, Modern Communications – U.S. Health and Life Sciences
  • PJ Hartzell – Multi-media Content Producer at Children’s Mercy Hospital
  • Garrett Gladden – Kollective, V.P. of Product
  • Neal Lauther – Kollective, V.P. Global Technical Solutions

The Evolving Modern Workplace

The modern workplace has been reimagined. Hybrid and flexible work models have brought video to the forefront, making it the primary medium that businesses use to communicate and collaborate. Video’s growth in the enterprise has been significant. In July 2022 alone, Kollective delivered Teams Live Events to over 1.7 million viewers – a 15x increase in one year!
Microsoft Teams Growth

New Challenges

Since the pandemic, businesses have been confronted with new challenges when using live events to connect their distributed workforce. Neal Lauther, V.P. Global Technical Solutions at Kollective, identified three areas where they occur:

Running Events – Equipping yourself with the right tools is key to running successful live events.  Event producers and network administrators need to be laser focused on their objectives and properly prepared for events, regardless of their size. A few of the questions that need to be addressed before running an event include: Where are presenters connecting from? What kind of equipment do they have? What kind of content are they presenting? Are they familiar with the technology so they can run the event? These are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed prior to an event.

Delivering Events – Live events are now a preferred medium businesses use to deliver critical messaging. If an event fails and the messages don’t land, that is a problem for leadership and employees. Understanding where viewers are connecting from, if they are connecting remotely through a VPN, and if your network has the capacity to deliver content to those accessing it from the office, are a few of the considerations that need to be considered before running a live event.

Analyzing Events – Robust live event analytics are key to understanding how well an event performed. Having the data to prove whether employees were engaged, whether the event reached all necessary parties, and whether the quality was high, helps teams understand if there are issues that need to be addressed to ensure a better run during the next event.

Modern Collaboration Tools

To tackle these new communications challenges, modern tools are needed. Matt Sims, Senior Customer Success Manager, Modern Communications – U.S. Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft, described how Teams Live Events address these issues:

  • An advanced yet familiar producer experience to manage content and speakers
  • Scalability to support up to 10,000 attendees with options to support up to 100,000 view-only participants with the help of an ECDN
  • Support for asynchronous collaboration and consumption with VoD via Yammer and Stream
  • Built-in event analytics and the ability to integrate with an ECDN like Kollective for expanded insights to understand how people are connecting, where they are connecting from, and the quality of their experience

“The very clear design intent with Teams Live Events is to commoditize the toolkit for content creation, delivery and then consumption.”
– Matt Sims – Microsoft, Senior Customer Success Manager, Modern Communications – U.S. Health and Life Sciences

Emerging Content Delivery Challenges

The increased use of live events and hybrid work has led to delivery challenges and creative network solutions that have risen in response.

Network Complexity

In the modern hospital, there is a vast array of devices connecting to networks delivering critical and sensitive information. Oftentimes, sophisticated networks like these present hurdles when trying to deliver live events. There are numerous concerns to consider to understand how network complexity may impact deliverability:

  • Wireless networks – their design can be complex like tunneled or bridge connections
  • Devices can connect but where does that traffic go? Does it connect to a data center?
  • Users connecting from their workstation – is it wired or wireless, what kind of device are they using, and how is traffic being routed?
  • Remote users – are they using a company device or their own, are they secure, can they directly access cloud services, or do they need a VPN?

These challenges need to be understood and addressed before running live events. Many organizations are modernizing their network topology to embrace cloud services and allow users to connect from any location.

Security Standards

Matt Sims has found that security comes into every conversation he has with customers. To address these concerns, Microsoft Teams has security built-in from the ground layer. Taking a Zero Trust approach to security, Microsoft uses an identity-based security model with Azure Active Directory. This lends itself well to hybrid work, ensuring that one’s data and device are secure no matter where or how they connect. Explore Security and Microsoft Teams to understand how Teams follows security best practices and procedures.

SASE Environments

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is an emerging way of modernizing networks to support the hybrid workplace. Neal Lauther explained that the old way of setting up corporate networks does not consider the needs of modern workplace (e.g. addressing network complexity and security postures). Security is front and center with SASE and it meets high-security needs in a manner that is easy to turn on. It also provides networking policy and governance to cover the multiple ways hybrid and remote workers access content.
Kollective SASE

Kollective ECDN, as part of a SASE environment, delivers in the face of these network challenges by adapting to where the user is whether that is a VPN or a cluster location.

“Flawless live events, clear messages delivered, no impact to other critical services. That’s the goal.”
– Neal Lauther – Kollective, V.P. Global Technical Solutions

Inclusive Communications

Ensuring that every employee has equal access to high-quality live video is one of the primary concerns in the hybrid office. Whether employees are viewing a live event from the office, home, or a coffee shop, the event’s success depends on whether each attendee experienced a flawless, uninterrupted stream.

Reaching Every Employee

PJ Hartzell knows that reaching every employee in a hospital setting with live events has never been more important. At Children’s Mercy Hospital, the production team works with internal communications to execute a plan for upcoming events to ensure high in-person attendance for the event. For those unable to attend the event in-person, the production team immediately uploads the video to Microsoft Stream and notifies the organization that the event is available to view on-demand. Offering synchronous and asynchronous communications ensures that messaging gets to those who need it when and where they can access it.

Return to Office & Hybrid Work Planning

The modern workplace is continuously flexing to meet the needs of employees and businesses alike. To support companies shifting to hybrid work, Microsoft’s Work Lab has developed a series of guides called How to Hybrid that focus on the non-technological considerations of the return to office and hybrid work planning.

“We’re still working through all of these new challenges which are pretty exciting because it feels like we’re reengineering what we want work to be like for this new era.” – Matt Sims – Microsoft, Senior Customer Success Manager, Modern Communications – U.S. Health and Life Sciences

Collaborating With Stakeholders

Leadership is utilizing live events due to the simplicity and effectiveness of getting a message to land across a large group. Neal Lauther has noticed, “The ease has created the need.” Events are so easy to set up when the right systems are in place that they are shortening in duration and increasing in frequency.”

Children’s Mercy Hospital has seen a strong adoption of live events for one-to-many communications from the highest levels. Their CEO began a series during the pandemic called Live Connects to present information from high-level meetings to a broader audience to keep leadership in touch with the workforce.


Scaling Live Events Checklist – Download this checklist to develop an effective and measurable plan to scale live events to a hybrid workforce.

Microsoft Live Events Assistance Program – A free service offered to Enterprise customers that provides basic training as well as technical and non-technical consideration of how to run successful Teams Live Events

Microsoft Workshops – Microsoft Teams training to help employees connect in a hybrid workplace.

Kollective Free Trial – Start a 30-day free trial of Kollective ECDN in just six clicks to begin scaling Teams Live Events.

The post Webinar Recap: Employee Connectivity in Healthcare and Beyond appeared first on Kollective Technology .

To view our Partner blog, click here

Network Volatility in the Modern Workplace


Network Volatility in the Modern Workplace

Enterprise communications and IT teams that previously had success delivering events to fully remote audiences during the pandemic are facing challenges as employees return to the office. In flexible work models, employees do not come to the office as frequently as they did before pandemic. However, when they do come, it is often en masse and unpredictable, creating peak demand problems for networks. Network volatility like this is becoming a common phenomenon that enterprises across all verticals are experiencing.

What is Network Volatility?

Network volatility occurs when there is a shifting number of concurrent streams running across a corporate network. In the hybrid work model, the number of employees working in an office on a given day is in constant flux. On low-demand days when fewer people are on-site, networks may perform well enough to deliver video to employees without trouble. However, on high-demand days when in-person attendance is greater, networks not equipped with an ECDN are pushed beyond their limits. When this occurs, live events fail and business-critical cloud applications crash, leaving leadership and employees frustrated.

Network Volatility Case Study

To better illustrate network volatility in the hybrid world, we’ll explore typical Teams Live Event consumption for a Fortune 500 Kollective customer during July 2022. This company has a strong global presence, with offices spread throughout EMEA, APAC, and the Americas.

The graph below presents the day-to-day variance of Teams Live Event viewership for one office in the Americas. For most days in July, fewer than one hundred employees consumed live video on-site. However, on six separate days in July, several hundred employees streamed live events from the office, including one day in which on-site viewership nearly crested three thousand. If this office had not been equipped with Kollective’s ECDN, their network would have faced complications on each day when on-site viewership topped one hundred and would have suffered a complete failure when it nearly exceeded three thousand.

Network Volatility in the Americas

Our next example within this company takes us halfway around the world to an office in APAC. For most days in July, several hundred-person live events were streamed on-site. There were nine days where on-site viewership surpassed five hundred, including two days where it topped eight hundred and one thousand three hundred, respectively. Notice that while the average in-person attendance and the days of highest attendance vary between this office and the one in the Americas, both offices experience highly varied on-site video consumption and a high level of network volatility over a short timeframe.

Network Volatility in APAC

Network Volatility is Inevitable in the Modern Workplace

In hybrid work models, network volatility is unavoidable – it’s not a question of if, but when. For businesses with a lower baseline of in-person attendees, it’s easy for leaders to develop false faith in their network’s ability to successfully deliver live video. Take the three offices in the graph below as an example. For four days during the week, a relatively low number of employees stream video at each office. However, each office also experiences one day in which in-person viewership spikes well above their day-to-day norm.

This phenomenon represents the reality that businesses are confronted with in the modern workplace. While these offices may have been able to successfully deliver video without an ECDN on the days when fewer streams were consumed in-office, their networks would have collapsed on the days when consumption spiked. With an ECDN, however, this is not a problem. ECDNs are not only a cost-effective and secure solution, but one that businesses can rapidly deploy across the enterprise to ensure that when their network experiences volatility, they can still depend on it to reliably deliver video to all employees.

Network volatility in multiple offices over one week

Small Offices are Not Immune

In the examples above, we explored network volatility in large offices. While network spikes in large offices may seem more significant, volatility in small offices can be equally problematic. In the graph below, one of this company’s smaller offices in EMEA experiences two days in July when in-person viewership crests one hundred and six days above fifty. These spikes are not as dramatic as the ones we presented above but can have a similar impact on an office of this size. Whether an office is large or small, its infrastructure is very rarely built to natively supply the bandwidth required to deliver concurrent video to all potential on-site employees during company wide live events. A cost-effective solution like an ECDN can alleviate bandwidth issues for offices of all sizes.

Small office teams live events in EMEA

No Matter How Volatile the Network, Kollective Delivers

These examples are not unique – offices throughout this organization and others experience network volatility on a regular basis. Without Kollective’s ECDN, the network would have failed to deliver live events on the days when on-site viewership spiked. It’s also important to note that this is not a company that has fully returned to the office, but one that is embracing the flexibility of hybrid work.

Network volatility is an unavoidable reality in the modern workplace. It can create frustration and roadblocks for organizations which can easily be avoided by putting an ECDN in place. ECDNs ensure that as people return to the office, the network is empowered and able to successfully deliver live video to all employees, regardless of their location. Ease the transition to hybrid work and provide your business with the confidence that your network will always work.

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Video Consumption Continues to Rise. Is Your Network Prepared?


Video Consumption Continues to Rise. Is Your Network Prepared?

With 270 million monthly active users , usage of Microsoft Teams and its live video capabilities has risen dramatically in the past two years. While return to office movements have made in-person meetings more frequent, the prevalence of hybrid working has continued to propel the growth of live video as companies seek better ways to connect their dispersed teams. As 74% of U.S. businesses currently have or are planning permanent hybrid options, video will remain a central part of the modern workplace and pivotal to the digital experience of all employees. The ongoing boom in virtual communications makes it more important than ever to ensure enterprise networks can meet the increase in demand for digital collaboration tools.

Teams and Live Video Usage Continues to Climb

How many Teams meetings do you have on your calendar right now? Chances are it is significantly greater than the number of meetings you had two years ago. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2022 found that Teams users have experienced a 252% increase in weekly meeting time and a 153% increase in the number of weekly meetings since February of 2020.

Kollective’s usage statistics for live video mirror Microsoft’s findings. Between Q2 and Q4 of 2020, live events delivered by Kollective increased by 187%. During that same timeframe in 2021, growth continued at a similar rate with a 170% increase in live video and a 92% increase in Teams Live Events.

Over the past two years, Kollective observed that the rise in live video usage is global – a trend that can be seen across all regions:

  • Americas – 130% increase (2.1x growth)
  • EMEA – 156% increase (2.6x growth)
  • APAC – 264% increase (3.6x growth)

Live Video Enables the Hybrid Office

The return to office has been reimagined and hybrid work models are being widely adopted to meet the needs of both businesses and employees. A July 2022 study by McKinsey found that 58% of U.S. workers currently have the option to work remotely or on-site. The prevalence of flexible working has placed more pressure on businesses to facilitate effective communications between employees at different physical locations. Whether it is day-to-day team meetings or large-scale corporate communications, live video has become integral to connecting employees and fostering collaboration and communication in the modern workplace.

Hybrid Networks at Risk

While Teams and live video offer businesses the opportunity to enable hybrid work, its success depends on the quality of each user’s experience. As a bandwidth-intensive medium, video can overtax unprepared networks and cause excessive buffering, jittery streams, or event failures. During larger events like All-Hands, viewers in locations with insufficient bandwidth may not experience the same event quality as those working remotely. These poor experiences lower engagement, reduce productivity and derail communication efforts.

Exacerbating this problem is a phenomenon known as network volatility. Network volatility is caused by the ever-shifting number of concurrent streams running across corporate networks. In a hybrid scenario, the number of people working in the office on a given day is in constant flux. While networks may perform well on days with low employee attendance, high-demand days push the limits of a network’s capacity and cause live event failures and business-critical cloud applications to perform poorly or, in the worst-case scenario, total network failure. However, even a relatively small number of employees streaming live video in an office can cause problems for networks that are not equipped with an ECDN.

ECDNs Prevent Network Failures

Adding an enterprise content delivery network (ECDN) to your technology infrastructure is a simple and cost-effective way to optimize networks for live video. An ECDN reduces the bandwidth needed to deliver high-quality video, allowing you to securely scale communications across the enterprise.

As flexible workplaces often bring added network complexities, not all ECDNs can meet the needs of the hybrid office. Kollective’s ECDN, Edge Accelerator, offers the complete coverage necessary to meet the needs of modern networks. With three content delivery methods built under the same architecture, Kollective offers the flexibility to handle even the most complex network environments and ensures that every employee receives flawless video.

Preparing for a return to the office, Michelin, the world’s largest tire manufacturer, added Kollective to optimize their network for Teams video distribution. Since implementing Kollective in 2021, they have run over 1,300 Teams Live Events reaching over 50,000 people globally with a total bandwidth savings of 60% in every region. Their employees rely on high-quality video communications with no impact on their network.

As the numbers show, Microsoft Teams and Teams Live Events are being utilized on a massive scale to connect people and organizations across the globe. The hybrid office’s dependence on video will continue to fuel that growth, putting unprepared networks at risk. Investing in an ECDN like Kollective’s Edge Accelerator will ensure your network can support your hybrid workforce and deliver a flawless digital experience to all employees.

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