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Microsoft Teams and 'The New Normal'

By Ali-Mohsin


About the Author

Ali Mohsin

Partner Transformation Director at Wavenet, Ali has 20 years of experience working within the ICT Channel and being an integral part of many large-scale digital transformation projects over the years. Ali’s passion for staying ahead of technological advancements in this ever-changing marketplace has always allowed him to gain the status of a reliable telecoms professional for the partner channel. Ali’s core skills and capabilities include a comprehensive knowledge of complex Data Networks, VPLS/MPLS, SDWAN, CCaaS, IoT and Unified Communications. Ali’s extensive service to the sector and passion for digital equality has led him to join the Digital Board for West Midlands Combined Authority and become a member of the steering committee for 5G rollout in the West Midlands.



Telecoms and ICT as an industry are going through a period of incredible uncertainty and undergoing a tremendous phase of diversification. COVID19 has affected a vast number of lives, livelihoods and businesses all over the world.

Redundancies, furlough, business shut-downs and downsizing has been a common theme across all industry sectors. Industries such as hospitality, leisure, travel, entertainment, automotive, health and fitness, airlines and high street retailers have all been directly affected by an extended period of shutdowns throughout the National Lockdowns.

Subsequently, their respective supplier eco-systems have also been affected the same way, if not worse, without any exceptions. Household names such as John Lewis, Debenhams, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and the likes have had to shut their doors forever across hundreds of stores.

Resilience is the Key to Growth

Where several industries and thousands of businesses have been hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic, the Telecoms and ICT industry has yet again proven its resilience and gone through a phase of exponential growth in the area of Unified Communications. Phenomenon such as Remote Working, Video Meetings and Working from Home became the new normal for the majority of the UK workforce.

This emerging trend of ‘Home Working’ was widely adopted by most businesses and created a huge demand for UC solutions that had the ability to offer flexibility for remote working and offered tools to manage efficiency and productivity across all workforces. As a vendor, Microsoft emerged as a clear winner with its Microsoft Teams Collaboration suite over the course of last the 12 to 18 months.

According to Microsoft’s own figures, since the launch of Microsoft Teams in March 2017, the growth figures over the last 12 to 18 months, simply outdo the previous years. A quick look at the user growth for Microsoft Teams certainly supports the above theory;


Microsoft Teams Users




2 million


8 million

*2019 (start of COVID 19)

20 million

Q2 2020

75 million

Q4 2020

115 million

Source: Microsoft
*In September 2019, first UK COVID19 case discovered in Europe

The above figures depict an incredible uptake in Microsoft Teams since the start of the pandemic and the trend continues to follow the same trajectory. According to Microsoft’s own forecast, the number of users using Microsoft Teams by the end of Q4 2021 will be over 200 million.

If we study this growth with the monetary lens and assess the revenue trajectory over the same period, the numbers seem eye-watering;  


Revenue of Microsoft Teams




$0.01 billion


$0.02 billion

*2019 (start of COVID 19)

$0.08 billion

Q2 2020

$3.01 billion

Q4 2020

$6.30 billion


Source: Microsoft

For an organisation to grow its revenue at this rate through only 1 product set is not only remarkable but also unparalleled. This hasn’t been all good news for just Microsoft alone, in fact, this significant uptake of MS Teams has resulted in growth for its entire ecosystem, from Distributors to its extensive CSP community. According to a study conducted and published by Microsoft in March 2021, the number of organisations using MS Teams in the UK alone, grew from 50,000 in 2019 to 900,000 in 2020 and expected to grow at the same rate by the end of 2021.

In August 2018, Microsoft announced that it had enabled external calling on Microsoft Teams and disclosed its vision to turn Teams into a primary client for intelligent communications by unleashing its UC capabilities. Microsoft didn’t just enable calling on Teams and scooped up the whole pie, instead it enabled ‘Direct Routing’ functionality for its VoIP-centric partners, who had the capabilities of turning up SBC’s and configuring their own SIP breakouts, without having to rely on ‘Call Plans’ through Microsoft.

Subsequently, customers were now left with two choices, either taking the full external calling functionality, together with the M365 Licensing (E1, E3, E5 etc.) and the ‘Call Plans’ directly through Microsoft or taking the licenses through Microsoft but utilising the SIP breakout through Microsoft Direct Routing partners.

Now the question arises, why would one want to take a replacement of ‘Call Plans’ through a Direct Routing partner?

There are a number of reasons why one would choose to source the Call Plan element of the solution through a Direct Routing Partner of Microsoft. Ironically, some of the direct routing partners are able to offer features and functionally, far beyond what Microsoft is able to offer today.

It is no secret that Microsoft, from its inception, is a Software as a Service (SaaS) business and it maintains that it doesn’t wish to enter an entirely alien territory of Hosted VOIP and compete with well established global vendors of this sphere. Therefore, some of the Direct Routing vendors have gone through a phase of exponential growth as a direct result of this surge in uptake of Microsoft Teams, throughout the pandemic.

At the end of Q3 2020, Microsoft has confirmed that less than 5% of its Teams users are using Teams for external calling and still utilising alternative telephony platforms. This can only mean that the size of the opportunity for Direct Routing Partners is truly immense in this area. Due to the configuration complexity around Microsoft tenant and the lack of feature-set, we’ve seen a significant rise in alternative solutions in the marketplace where Direct Routing vendors have been able to offer an enhanced feature-set, with user-friendly portals. For customers who require a true like for like functionality to their existing Hosted VOIP solutions or On-Prem PBX, Microsoft certainly doesn’t cut the mustard for them to be able to make the move to Teams.

In the UK alone, some of the ‘Direct Routing Partners’, have been incredibly successful as they were able to offer a single user-friendly portal and features such as;

  • Visual Routing Manager
  • Global Porting
  • Ring Groups, Call Queues
  • Skilled Based Routing
  • International Dialling
  • Wallboards, Dashboards, Analytics, Reporting
  • Power BI API
  • MiFID II compliant call recording
  • Ease of Billing
  • OMNI Channel Contact Centre Capabilities and the list goes on…


For Teams users and CSPs who sell Microsoft Teams alike, there hasn’t been a better era of being involved in the market evaluation of Unified Communications Solutions. ‘The New Normal’ certainly brings a positive outlook to the future of our industry and the opportunity it brings to all stakeholders from customers to vendors and everybody else involved.

Tags: Hosted & PBX Telephony, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, TeamsLink, Article, Ali Mohsin

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