The ability for an organization to have real-time communications with their customer-facing employees is critical for operational success. While email and text messages can be used to get more information out to workers who may be on a factory floor or dealing with customers at the front of the store, voice communications are still the best method for quick exchanges of work-related info and other details while that frontline worker is on the job. Microsoft has steadily been previewing and rolling out their new Teams Walkie Talkie mode to customers across the Android and iOS platforms.
Teams Walkie Talkie Development and Rollout Plan
Microsoft announced their Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie mode in January 2020 as one of its Teams enhancements for frontline workers. Microsoft’s Emma Williams, corporate vice president for modern workplace transformation, said that the Teams Walkie Talkie mode being directly incorporated into Microsoft Teams meant those frontline workers no longer had to carry multiple devices and it would therefore contribute to a reduction in IT costs.
Teams Walkie Talkie mode has been launched for Android devices and is available to Microsoft 365 Government (GCC) customers. This option for Microsoft Teams on iOS is in preview and is rolling out with an expected general availability in the October 2021 timeframe. In addition to those platforms, Microsoft is currently developing this capability for Teams phones hardware, which is expected to begin a preview and a subsequent rollout soon.
Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie Mode Deployment and Operations
Since Teams Walkie Talkie mode is available in the Microsoft Teams app on smart phones running Android and iOS, a reliable network connection is necessary.
"With Teams Walkie Talkie, it is network-dependent," said Steve Goodman, principal technology strategist at Content+Cloud and editor of AllAbout365.com. "In some scenarios such as manufacturing or retail, connectivity isn't always available in the situations you might want it to work quickly, such as getting hold of someone out back or someone who isn't static."
He says either a reliable public cellular network for the device must be available or a solid wi-fi connectivity. Otherwise, there will be limitations in deploying this feature. In those cases a more reliable option would be two-way radios.
Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie Mode Licensing and Management
The Walkie Talkie app for Microsoft Teams is included with all paid Teams licenses under commercial subscriptions for Microsoft and Office 365. For those Microsoft 365 customers looking to implement this across their organizations once it is available on their platforms, a Microsoft 365 tenant administrator must enable it.
IT Administrators can manage which users have access to Teams Walkie Talkie mode in their tenant utilizing App Policies. Otherwise, once the app is made available in Teams, any individual user can access the app from within the Microsoft Teams app on their compatible mobile device.