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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why Microsoft Teams Should Include Support for SharePoint Managed Metadata and Taxonomy

Microsoft Teams is a new Office 365 group chat application with strong integration to other Office applications.    Teams allows Channels to form around a project/topic and for members to contribute to channels via chat.  Office documents - not just Word - can be brought into Teams and edited by the team members within the application, including integrations with One Drive, SharePoint, and Delve.

With all of these integrations, Microsoft Teams is missing a big opportunity by not integrating managed metadata and taxonomy support.  Tagging, again, is a critical way to describe the aboutness, or subject, of a channel, team, or piece of content.

Integration of metadata into Microsoft Teams simply makes sense holistically for Office 365 - without it, things get a little incongruous.

In SharePoint, a library can be created and custom managed metadata columns can be setup in those libraries (or to content types).  The same library can be added as a tab in Microsoft Teams. In Teams, the metadata is nowhere to be found.   Not only is this a missed opportunity to add value to users, but it also creates a hole in the content management process. Content added in SharePoint can be tagged. There are several interfaces to do the tagging and, in fact, these capabilities have recently been expanded with the SharePoint Document Library New Experience.  One Drive also supports Managed Metadata columns and content added there can be tagged with terms from the term store. In contrast, content added to the library within Microsoft Teams can not be tagged at all.  The same capability to tag content should exist regardless of where content is created or uploaded!

No Managed Metadata Column In Microsoft Teams

Teams has a search interface, but the only filter options are "Team Name", "File Type", and "Modified By".  Adding metadata to the mix would be a natural - and extremely useful - filter for users.

Teams would strongly benefit from the ability of users to set up Channels named with (or tagged by) Managed Metadata terms. This could help automatically populate channels with content already tagged with the same term in SharePoint.

Meetings could be tagged by topic.  Chat conversations could have hashtags which could optionally be populated with suggested tags.  

Any Teams content (Channels/Team Names/Meetings/Chats) could potentially be shown in a side-bar in SharePoint when somebody was looking at content tagged accordingly in SharePoint.  

As a note, this post focused on tagging, findability, and integration with SharePoint; if Microsoft were to integrate Managed Metadata and taxonomy support into Delve and the Office Graph,(As I argue for in a previous article), the integration of taxonomy and managed metadata into Teams would generate significant additional signals which Delve could use to suggest content and relationships.

Office 365 is an ecosystem of valuable productivity and collaboration applications.  Microsoft should be leveraging Managed Metadata as a common thread woven throughout, including in Microsoft Teams.