Microsoft is preparing an update for Teams that offers a glimpse of the company’s long-term plans for its now ubiquitous collaborative platform.
According to a new entry In the company’s product roadmap, Microsoft is preparing to expand its Suggested Replies feature (available through the Microsoft Teams mobile app) to cover a wider range of languages.
In addition to English, the feature will now support 19 new languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Chinese.
The update is still in development, but should roll out to all users in the coming week.
Microsoft Teams and the next era of work
Since the pandemic began, Microsoft Teams has become a central part of many people’s remote work experiences. The latest data suggests that the platform is now frequented by no less than 270 million users every month.
However, the transition to a remote control or hybrid work the arrangement was more favorable to some than to others. In some cases, people struggle to communicate effectively over digital channels, often finding their messages misinterpreted or misinterpreting the messages of others themselves.
This problem will only be compounded by the internationalization of the workforce as companies break free from the geographic restrictions imposed by traditional office culture.
To help overcome these communication barriers and improve productivity, Microsoft rolled out the proposed responses feature earlier this year. The assistance system “uses AI to create short replies based on the context of the previous message”.
This trend is echoed elsewhere in recent updates for Google productsGmail and Docs receiving new features that efficiently manage content composition on behalf of the user.
With advances in the sophistication of natural language processing models like GPT-3 (created by a company that Microsoft has invested in), systems of this type will only better understand the most efficient or appropriate response in a given situation.
And we are only at the beginning; the logical conclusion of this trajectory is a system in which responses are triggered automatically, without manual user approval. While there is likely to be a setback and there are a number of obvious risks inherent in such a system, the benefits in terms of productivity and clarity of communication are clear.
Generally speaking, whatever the pitfalls, the workplace collaboration movement is heading towards a system in which fewer and fewer of our words are truly our own.