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Microsoft Opens Teams to Developers, Betterworks' Funding, Otter Transcribes Zoom & More News

May 28, 2021 Digital Workplace
Stephanie Vaughn Freelance Writer
By Stephanie Vaughn

In a push to get more app developers building for Teams, Microsoft is opening up its APIs, Teams Store and tools to what it calls collaborative apps.

Last year, Microsoft first let developers build third-party apps into Teams, but the company went a step further with its latest announcement at Build 2021. Moving forward, developers will be able to:

  • Build apps that plug into the Teams meeting canvas.
  • Build apps that use in-app purchases or subscriptions.
  • Develop external apps that get access to Teams’ real-time video and audio streams.

“If you can build web apps, you can build extensions into Teams chats, channels, and meetings,” said Jeff Teper, head of Microsoft 365 collaboration, in an interview with The Verge. “You can build once, run, deploy anywhere.”

Any apps built for Teams will work across Windows, Mac, the web, iOS, Android and even Linux. Microsoft is also enabling developers with greater integration into Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

Zoom Announces New Product for Large Meetings and Conferences

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. announced its latest feature known as Zoom Events will be available this summer. Zoom Events will combine the features of Zoom meetings, chat and video webinars into one platform for large event organizers.

Zoom Events can be used by large businesses to manage and host internal events like all-hands meetings and sales summits and external events like user conferences. As part of the launch, OnZoom, the company's platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs to host and monetize events such as fitness and cooking classes and theatrical presentations, will be rebranded and folded into Zoom Events.

The Zoom Events platform includes:

  • The ability to build an event hub to manage and share events.
  • Customizable ticketing and registration.
  • Customer control of access and billing from one portal.
  • Host capabilities for a variety of events, including free or paid, one-time or series.
  • Integrated networking to bring attendees together.
  • Tracking statistics like attendance, registration and revenue.
  • The ability to keep events private or post to Zoom’s public directory.

“We know that people are looking for flexibility in how they attend events in the future," said Oded Gal, chief product officer at Zoom in a press statement. "This is another way we’re helping customers scale to meet consumer demands and the evolving virtual and hybrid landscape.”

Otter.ai's Assistant Will Take Notes in Zoom Meetings

Otter.ai, a Los Altos, Calif.-based speech-to-text application technology company, launched a new tool called Otter Assistant, that automatically joins Zoom meetings and takes notes.

"You can send your Otter Assistant to meetings on your behalf, so you can focus on what's relevant without worrying about missing anything," Otter.ai CEO Sam Liang said in a statement.

Otter Assistant can be set to automatically join Zoom meetings via Microsoft Outlook or Google calendars. Users can also send the assistant to a live, unscheduled meeting by providing it with the meeting link. Otter Assistant appears in meetings as a participant and alerts attendees in the chat that it will transcribe what is being said.

The assistant also shares the notes with meeting attendees, who can highlight and comment on items during the session. After the meeting, the person who initiated the assistant can share the transcript with attendees and other team members, allowing them to edit the text and add images.

The Otter Assistant is available to customers with an Otter Business subscription, which costs $20 per month.

Unum Launches Digital Platform to Support Employee Mental Health

Unum Behavioral Health, a digital communication and education platform from Chattanooga, Tenn.-based workplace benefits provider Unum, is now available to employers to help promote and support employee mental health.

According to Unum research, half of workers struggle with mental health issues, while 57% said they missed work last year because they felt mentally unwell. Unum’s digital platform delivers employer-tailored communication and educational programs to help reduce the stigma of mental health, boost awareness and increase engagement with support programs.

“Before the pandemic, mental health issues were becoming more prevalent and our employer clients told us they were concerned,” said Unum Chief Operating Officer Mike Simonds in a statement. “The last 14 months have put a spotlight on the issue – we have seen a significant increase in the number of disability claims related to behavioral health and we believe there is a need for a holistic approach.”

Unum is collaborating with McLean Hospital, which specializes in psychiatric care, research and education, and Meru Health, an online mental healthcare provider, on the platform, currently available in the U.S.

Survey: Companies Rapidly Bringing the Future of Work to Life

Aon, the London-based professional services firm, released the results of a new global human resources pulse survey focused on the steps companies are taking to bring the future of work to life. The survey was conducted in April 2021, with a total of 1,451 human resources leaders and professionals responding globally.

“The disruptions of the past 18 months accelerated workplace transformation like nothing else in recent memory,” said Michel Burke, CEO of Aon’s human capital business in a press release statement. “This dynamic presents leaders with an incredible opportunity to align their business and people strategies to drive growth and optimize investments.”

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 73% of companies have dates in mind to return workers to the office, with 43% expecting that to happen in Q3 2021.
  • Flexible and hybrid options are on the rise, with 39% expecting workers to spend 2-3 days in the office and 13% planning to give employees full choice.
  • While only 5% are making vaccines mandatory, 33% are offering incentives and 56% are educating employees about vaccines.
  • Future-of-work strategies and inclusion and diversity efforts are tightly linked, with 85% saying they have a clear definition of future of work and 96% saying diversity and inclusion is a primary issue in that definition.
  • 39% of employers have adjusted or plan to adjust pay based on location.

Betterworks Nets $61 Million Funding Round

Betterworks, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of strategy execution software for enterprise companies, has announced an additional $61 million from current investors. To date, Betterworks has raised a total of $126 million.

Betterworks, a specialist in objectives and key results (OKR) software, will use the new funds for product development in AI and analytics, additional integrations and strategic partnerships, as well as expanded market capabilities. Customers using the company's performance management software include Air Canada, Colgate-Palmolive, Best Western, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Hulu, Kroger and Intuit.

The latest funding round continues the company's growth, building on the February 2020 acquisition of Hyphen, an employee listening and engagement platform, now called Betterworks Engage.

“Our software and services have helped clients deliver significant improvements in agility thanks to better aligned goals and execution," said Betterworks CEO Doug Dennerline in the press release statement. "We can show our customers a measurable increase in productivity, while integrating with their existing infrastructure for a seamless transition and broad adoption. These added funds will provide us the talent and tools to fuel our growth.”

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