Microsoft: 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day

A remote work trend report shows the staggering new use of Microsoft Teams and other products since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Microsoft Teams: A cheat sheet

Microsoft is seeing unprecedented use now that much of the world has been forced to move significant parts of everyday life online due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new remote work trend report on meetings from Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, is loaded with staggering statistics showing the global shift to digital tools for work and school.
 
Spataro said the company has analyzed trillions of anonymized signals from meetings, emails and chats in Microsoft 365, LinkedIn and Bing to create the Microsoft Graph, which it calls "one of the largest graphs of human interactions at work in the world."
 
The data shows how usage differs based on a variety of factors like region and industry, illustrating just how much life has changed since COVID-19 forced millions to spend significantly more time at home. 
 
"This idea is reflected in the sheer number of meetings happening in Microsoft Teams each day. We've seen a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day [on March 31], a 200% increase from 900 million on March 16. And as students and teachers turn to Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education," Spataro wrote. 

SEE: Microsoft Teams: The right collaboration platform for your organization? (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

According to its research, Microsoft found that total video calls in Teams grew by over 1,000% in the month of March and people were turning on video two times more than ever before. 

But the use of video wasn't necessarily global. Figures varied widely based on region, country, internet speed and streaming quality. People in countries like India and South Africa only used video in 22% and 36% of meetings, respectively, while users in Singapore took advantage of video only 26% of the time. Users in France and Japan used video less than 40% of the time as well.

"As we looked at countries with the most active Teams users, we saw people in Norway and the Netherlands turn on video most, with about 60% of calls including video. People in Australia use video in meetings 57% of the time, Italy 53%, Chile 52%, Switzerland 51%, and Spain 49%," Spataro wrote. 

"Meanwhile people in the U.K., Canada, and Sweden use video 47% of the time and people in Mexico and the U.S. use it 41% and 38%, respectively."

Microsoft is also seeing huge increases in the number of live events and streamed meeting recordings, with five times more streaming videos in teams per week through the month of March.

The increases aren't limited to just laptops and desktops. Spataro said that from early February to March 31, there has been a 300% growth in the number of Microsoft Teams users accessing the platform through smartphones or tablets. 

There has been significant press around Microsoft's battles with Zoom and Google over supremacy in the education field, as dozens of schools around the world ditch one platform for the other because of a variety of concerns. 

"Some of our largest usage increases have been from customers in industries most impacted by the outbreak. With 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education, we've seen large increases in usage of Teams on mobile devices from customers in Higher Education and Primary and Secondary Education (K-12). We've also seen a notable increase from customers in Government-related industries," Spataro wrote.

"When you consider this from a capacity perspective, it's not just about the number of new users, but the amount they are using it each week—what we refer to as engagement. Engagement in Teams on mobile devices has increased exponentially in several regions most impacted by the crisis including Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France."

Even places like China that are slowly having people return to physical workplaces are still using Microsoft Teams two times more than they did before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world. 

The report notes that Microsoft is constantly adding new features to programs to make things a bit easier for the deluge of new users, including fun custom backgrounds, the popular "raise hand" tool, participant reports and a coming addition to the platform called "real-time noise suppression," which will use artificial intelligence to help limit annoying background noises.

In addition to statistics on usage, the study includes a number of real-world examples that illustrate the impact Microsoft's suite of tools is having on efforts to keep life moving during the coronavirus crisis. 

Gunnar Tande, CIO and senior vice president of technology and strategy with the affordable housing nonprofit Mercy Housing, said Microsoft Teams allowed the organization's 1,600 employees to keep in contact with 45,000 vulnerable residents. Similarly, Tim Schaal, information technology director for the Salvation Army United States Western Territory, said the platform helped the group continue housing the homeless and feeding the hungry.

"Microsoft Teams allowed us to continue providing critical assistance in cities and towns, big and small, throughout the thirteen western states," Schaal told Microsoft. 

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