Samsung and Microsoft launch a smart “walkie talkie” for the workplace


Don Sharpe
by Don Sharpe
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Building facade displaying Microsoft logo

Samsung and Microsoft have jointly developed a walkie-talkie smartphone functionality to enhance on-the-job communication among firstline workers. Employees will be able to access the feature via the Teams mobile app, which integrates with the newly introduced Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro.

The smartphone has a button a worker can push to initiate a chat with a colleague. The receiver on the other end can still participate in the conversation via the Teams app even when they don’t have a device with the push-to-talk functionality.

This new push-to-talk experience enables clear, instant, and secure voice communication over the cloud, turning employee- or company-owned smartphones and tablets into a walkie-talkie — Emma Williams, Microsoft corporate vice president of modern workplace verticals. 

Why push-to-talk is something of a catalyst in a growing market

Microsoft introduced Teams in 2017 to enable employees to communicate more effectively and work more efficiently while collaborating on various workflows and tasks. The platform has been on a steady growth trajectory since.

In July 2019, Microsoft announced that Teams had 13 million daily active users. The figure had grown to about 20 million in November, the same year, according to the company.

By incorporating the walkie-talkie feature into Teams, Microsoft expects to enable more firstline workers to collaborate more efficiently. That’s an attractive proposition to organizations seeking to enhance workplace collaboration and communication, including across different geographical locations.

The capability eliminates the need for employees to carry a walkie talkie and a smartphone at the same time. It lowers costs for IT, and it’s even desirable to companies that have a bring-your-own-device policy (BYOD).  

A competitive edge over Slack

Teams’ main competitor is Slack, which said it had 12 million active daily users by October last year. There’s no doubt that the walkie-talkie capability gives Teams a competitive advantage over its rival.

Teams is available on Office 365, which has about 200 million enterprise users per month, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Perhaps the walkie-talkie feature is just one of the many more Samsung-Microsoft integrations commercial users may expect to leverage soon.

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