Enterprise users can now chat with others outside of their organization using the Microsoft Teams app. Microsoft said that Teams’ users can chat with anyone with a Microsoft personal account and their chat thread will show alongside other chats without having to switch tenants, which means they won’t have to switch from enterprise to personal accounts to chat or see the thread.
Users can invite Teams users outside their organization using their email address or phone number and start a one-to-one chat or a group chat, the company said. This would encourage enterprise users to use the chat feature within Teams to communicate with customers, business partners or even friends or family members who also use Teams. Users can send and receive rich messages, GIFs and media files.
Microsoft has been trying to make Teams a more holistic platform that allows users to communicate not just with their peers at work but also with family and friends. To encourage its usage for personal communication, last year, Microsoft had added personal features in Teams, allowing users to call, chat and make plans. The option to let enterprise users chat with users outside their organization is an extension of that feature.
Anyone with a Teams account, can start an outbound chat using controls in the admin center. In accounts controlled by organisations, IT admins will get to decide the access level they want to give to a user for an external access.
According to Microsoft, if a Teams’ user wants to chat with someone who is not using it already, an email or a text message will be sent to them with the invitation to join the conversation using a personal account. All they will have to do is register and sign into the personal account. Most instant messaging companies use a similar mechanism to encourage users to invite their friends to try out their apps.
The only caveat with invite in Teams is that one can send a message to an external user up to 10 times. If the message is not accepted, the sender will be blocked from sending additional messages to the same person.
Anyone who doesn’t want to receive messages from outsiders can also block messages or leave a group chat anytime they want. This would give them control over who they want to chat with and for how long.
Microsoft Teams has emerged as one of the top video calling tools, especially for enterprise users after the pandemic. In January 2022, Microsoft said Teams monthly active user base surpassed 270 million, while its adoption among frontline workers increased 2x year-on-year (YoY).