Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s annual IT professional and developer technology conference. Because of COVID-19, Microsoft held this year’s event virtually for the first time ever. The effects of the global pandemic on our world were the central topic throughout the event as Microsoft unveiled new products, features, and solutions to address new business challenges brought on by a remote everything world.
Three key areas that were discussed at length at Ignite were:
- Increasing Collaboration with Calling, Meetings, and Devices for Microsoft Teams
- Improving business processes through automation and app development with Power Platform
- Securing data in a remote world with enhancements to Security and Compliance solutions
In this blog, we will highlight our key takeaways for each of these solution areas and provide insights into how your team can use these solutions to be more secure, productive, and engaged.
Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork within Microsoft 365. At Ignite, Microsoft announced several new and upcoming capabilities that will help your team members collaborate better and increase productivity no matter where they are working.
More Focused Meetings with Breakout Rooms
That’s right: Microsoft Teams is receiving its most-requested feature. Your meeting organizers will now be able to split up participants into smaller groups for more focused discussions and working sessions. The meeting organizer will be able to hop from room to room, as well as make announcements to all breakout rooms and bring everybody back to the main meeting. This will be perfect for teachers facilitating group projects and for large company meetings with the need for smaller brainstorming sessions. Expect Breakout Rooms in your Microsoft Teams client this October.
Breakout Rooms example via Microsoft.
Stay On-Task with Teams Meeting Recaps
Ensure your team is informed and moving forward with confidence after the meeting is over with the upcoming Meeting Recap feature. This addition will aggregate the meeting recording, transcript, chat, and shared files within the meeting Chat tab, as well as in the Outlook meeting event. This feature is expected to launch later this year.
A Simplified Teams Rooms Portfolio
Collaboration bars are video conferencing devices built specifically for smaller meeting spaces like focus rooms, huddle spaces, and conference rooms for one to five people. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the first ever collaboration bar certified for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is now simplifying their Teams devices portfolio by bringing these Android-based devices into the Teams Rooms product family. This alignment of the Windows and Android platforms means Microsoft can deliver a robust and evolving feature set across both operating systems.
Collaboration Bar example via Microsoft.
Meet Safely with Touchless Meeting Experiences
In addition to a more robust portfolio of devices, Teams Rooms devices will receive several exciting new features later this year that promote safer meeting experiences during the global pandemic with Touchless meeting experiences. These experiences will allow Teams meeting attendees to share content and collaborate using their personal PC or mobile device without every having to touch the shared device display. These experiences will include:
- Room remote, enabling users to control mute and unmute, audio volume, cameras, and exit the meeting.
- Wireless casting, allowing for in-person attendees to quickly present content from their personal devices for ad-hoc discussions.
- Cortana voice assist, enabling in-room participants to ask Cortana to join and leave a meeting, and add a phone number or participant from the address book to a meeting.
- Proximity join for Surface Hub, enabling simple, safe, touchless experiences across the Surface Hub family.
Collaborate Better with Call Queues in Teams Channels
In addition to enhancements coming soon to the Teams Calling interface, users will soon be able to collaborate even better with Teams Calling by connecting a call queue to a channel in Microsoft Teams. This will place a call queue in the sidebar of the Teams channel while allowing users to collaborate and quickly share information within the channel. This is a perfect solution for customer support desks or call centers looking to enhance their workflows. Expect these enhancements to Teams Calling later this year.
Harmonize Work and Life with New Wellbeing Features
Nearly 1/3 of remote workers say their wellbeing is being negatively impacted by the lack of separation between work and life. To help organizations and people adapt and grow, Microsoft is introducing new wellbeing and productivity features and insights into Microsoft Teams. Powered by MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics, individuals and managers will gain valuable insights with recommended actions to make it easier to improve habits and productivity.
Empower Firstline Communication with Walkie Talkie Android
The Walkie Talkie app in Microsoft Teams allows instant push-to-talk communication for team members. By the end of September, this app will be available for Android users. This innovation, which works anywhere with Wi-Fi or cellular internet connectivity, allows firstline workers to securely communicate with each other without the need to carry bulky radios.
Walkie Talkie Android example via Microsoft.
Power Platform allows organizations to analyze data, automate solutions, and build code-free apps and bots to enhance business processes. At Ignite, Microsoft announced new features and integrations that further aid individuals in overcoming complex workplace challenges and reaching desired business outcomes.
Accelerate App Development with Seamless Integrations
In order to further assist developers in transforming their businesses, Power Apps and Microsoft Azure API Management will seamlessly work together, allowing developers to scale Power Apps solutions with custom connectors hosted in Azure. By using Azure API-backed connectors, apps will now take significantly less time to create and publish. This feature will be available for preview in October.
Enrich the Meeting Experience with Apps in Teams Meetings
Developers will soon have the ability to enable custom meeting experiences in Microsoft Teams. With new Teams meeting extensions, meeting organizers will be able to access apps from AppSource and the Teams store and add them to a meeting. This feature will move to general availability in October and will have more than 20 extensions available from partners such as PagerDuty, Range, and HireVue.
Apps in Meetings example via Microsoft.
Gain Valuable Insights within Microsoft Teams with New Power BI App
Power BI allows anybody – employees, managers, students, teachers – to easily find, visualize, and collaborate with data. The new Power BI app for Teams allows users to interact with this data directly within Microsoft Teams. This allows team members to share a project’s status and goals more easily at a glance.
In addition to challenges with team collaboration and business processes, organizations are facing new obstacles with digital security. Securing personal networks and devices, accommodating the increase of remote VPN workers, and an increase in sophisticated phishing attacks are just a few of the challenges that Microsoft is addressing with new security features and solutions.
A Safe, Seamless User Experience with Azure Active Directory Single Sign-On
It is paramount that efforts to increase security create minimal impact to user experience and productivity. One of the best ways that organizations can keep their users protected and connected is by enabling single sign-on (SSO). With Azure Active Directory (AD), you will soon be able to secure and provide seamless user access to applications of all types, including custom apps and Software as a Service apps. This will be available for public preview in October.
Identify Gaps in your Security Policy
Conditional Access is the feature within Azure AD that allows Security Admins to enforce controls on the access to apps in your environment, based on specific conditions and managed from a central location. With upcoming Conditional Access insights, you can understand the impact of Conditional Access policies in your business over time. With these insights, you can stay better protected by identifying gaps in your policies and receiving actionable recommendations to help improve your Conditional Access policies.
Conditional Access Insights example via Microsoft.
Securely Collaborate with Customers within Microsoft Teams
The need to collaboration with customers and external partners within a Microsoft Team is increasingly more common. With upcoming Customer Key Support for Microsoft Teams, customers will be able to add a layer of encryption using their own keys for Teams. Customer Keys provide an additional layer of encryption for Microsoft Teams (on top of the encryption for Teams data that exists inherently within the platform), providing the assurance that your internal and customer data is secure from data leaks and attacks.
Protect from Phishing Threats with Updated Microsoft Defender
In 2019, Microsoft rebranded Windows Defender as Microsoft Defender. At Microsoft Ignite, they announced that they will be unifying more products under the Defender brand. Two key changes include Microsoft Threat Protection’s change to Microsoft 365 Defender and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection’s change to Microsoft Defender for Office 365. Beyond a simple name change, new features will become available, including the ability to create advanced protections for priority email accounts. This will allow your security administrators to further secure your high priority accounts and data.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager Updates
Microsoft Endpoint Manager is Microsoft’s unified platform for managing and securing devices in an enterprise environment. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft announced several new features for the service, including macOS and iPad support, the ability to manage Windows Virtual Desktop endpoints using third-party virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, and new “Microsoft Tunnel” support, allowing mobile devices to connect to an organization’s network for remote access to apps and resources.
At Apex Digital Solutions, we are Modern Workplace experts. Our Ready for Microsoft 365 service offering will empower your organization be more secure, productive, and engaged with Microsoft solutions. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started with driving successful change in your organization.