Microsoft Inspire highlights
Microsoft Inspire kicked off with announcements about how Microsoft’s modern workplace will be moving forwards. Microsoft are watching where the workers and consumers are taking them. Habits and work behaviours created and championed because of the global pandemic are apparent in the future of modern workplace. They aren’t going away.
Microsoft will be moving from Digital Transformation, to 5 Digital Imperatives. These are the new focal points for the ongoing 12 months and beyond:
- Running Windows Server and SQL Server on Microsoft Azure can save customers up to 80% of the cost if run on a third party Cloud Platform
- Empower Fusion Teams through Digital and App innovation
- The Power Platform has transformed in 2022 and now celebrates over 20 million active monthly users. Power Platform will continue to be integrated into Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365. Power Platform is a suite of low or no code tools designed to simplify business processes, create chatbots, apps and even websites.
- Apply Data + AI to business processes
- Using the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, business processes aren’t only being written by people, but by data driven AI models to improve our work/life balance and promote safer and healthier lives. With Microsoft Graph, Microsoft security has been invested in further with new offerings.
- Collaborative Business Process
- Connecting people, places and processes. Microsoft Teams, Mesh for Teams and Microsoft Viva are brand new spaces to foster opportunities and ideas. Collaboration has become a focal point, with the employee experience capable of driving better working habits.
- Prioritise Security
- Identity and Access through Microsoft Entra
- Compliance and Privacy via Microsoft Purview and Microsoft Priva
- Security with Microsoft Defender
Microsoft Teams Updates
A Microsoft keynote wouldn’t be the same without new products and features. First off, Microsoft Teams. Today, Microsoft are celebrating over 270 million monthly active users, accelerated by the hybrid working world. Over the last 12 months, Microsoft has added more than 450 new features to Microsoft Teams. PowerPoint Live, Microsoft Loop and accessible participant audio and video with Mesh for Teams coming soon.
This year at Inspire, Microsoft announced several new Teams features. Starting off with Excel Live, allowing users to collaborate on the same excel document via Teams in real time. Users can also filter data and customise views without disrupting the workflow of other people viewing the worksheet. Excel Live was announced to be available for public preview by the end of August 2022.
Inspire 2022 also saw some enhancements to chat features such as Video Clip which now allows users to deliver messages in a more personal way by clicking record, send, and having the ability to view short video clips through Teams chats, giving users a more immersive working experience.
Microsoft also announced the Collaborative Annotations feature in Microsoft Whiteboard app as “now generally available”. The collaborative annotations feature enabling people to “draw, type and react” to shared content in real-time using the rich toolset from the Microsoft Whiteboard.
To top off the Teams updates, Microsoft announced that Teams Connect Shared Channels are now generally available. At Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Teams Connect “an identity security effort.” Teams Connect Shared Channels now adds a new "shared channel" option in Microsoft Teams, in addition to the already "standard" and "private" channels. Shared-channel use avoids any awkward tenant switching giving Teams guest users a more seamless experience.
It’s no surprise Microsoft Viva received some airtime. Microsoft Viva has grown into a new offering, based off wellbeing and role-based productivity tools. Microsoft Viva Suite includes user licensing for Learning, Insights, Topics, Connections, Goals and Engage. The beginning of role-based experience tools starts with Viva Sales.
Microsoft Viva Goals is the successor to a Microsoft acquisition – Ally.io. Viva Goals is a goal-setting and key objectives management tool to align your teams to organisational priorities, to help drive strategic results. Goals can be tracked and organised within a single dashboard, directly in Microsoft Teams. Imagine Microsoft To-Do and Planner rolled into one, with easy to read insights for individuals, managers and leaders. Microsoft Viva has always been around improving the employee experience, whether through wellbeing or providing clear transparency on strategic business outcomes. Microsoft Goals is the next step in breaking down siloed working, helping us better support one another. Viva Goals is generally available from 1st August 2022.
Microsoft Viva Engage is a brand new offering announced at Inspire. Embedded into Microsoft Teams and off the back of investment in Teams and Yammer, Viva Engage is a community driven corporate social network. Hybrid working is here to stay. Finding personal networks in the workplace isn’t the same and that has changed our sense of belonging. Now, there is a place for co-workers to share thoughts, expertise, passions and ideas. Whilst looking like a typical social media page, Viva Engage encourages new conversations to foster personal communities, whether work or non-work related. Softcat has a community of gamers and this platform will supercharge conversations and better connect us with others around the organisation.
Microsoft Viva Sales is now the first role-based productivity tool in the Viva family. Viva Sales is designed to help sellers as their own virtual deal assistant. Microsoft AI supports sellers by taking on the manual process of CRM data entry so insights can be readily available at the right time. Viva Sales is integrated with the rest of Microsoft 365. Microsoft AI searches conversations in Microsoft Teams and documents across Microsoft 365 to autonomously update a sellers’ CRM tool. This is a smarter approach and enables organisations to build a better picture of their customers so we can support businesses and individuals. Upsell opportunities or value driven motions can be recommended for customers as highlights from calls and chat can now be found entered into your CRM tool. And this doesn’t just mean Dynamics 365!
Stay tuned for a Microsoft Viva Blog from Softcat.
Digital Contact Centre
Microsoft are excited to announce a new program coming to Microsoft called Digital Contact Centre Platform, to evolve contact centres and transform customer experience. This modern digital contact centre equips the service teams with tools to engage customers which are powered by a variety of Microsoft products, however most importantly the newest member Nuance, which you would have already read about above. The platform uses AI and Microsoft’s Context IQ feature to anticipate customer requests and predict intent, according to Microsoft, with a high level of customer protection. This brings a new level of AI to organisations as more than 85% of fortune 100 companies rely on Nuance Innovation in their contact centres.
It wouldn’t be a Microsoft Inspire blog without a section dedicated to security. To put the importance of this topic into perspective the average cost of a data breach has grown to $4.2m per incident, as a result of this customers need to ensure they’re deploying a comprehensive security solution across their organisation. This year Microsoft announced some exciting new products joining their security stack called Microsoft Entra, the home for Azure Active directory with two new products: Permissions Management: a permissions across multicloud infrastructure with a cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM) solution and Verified ID: where you can create, issue and verify identity credentials to enable more secure interactions. From a high level overview the content can be summarised with the following:
- Microsoft Defender: the defender family ranges across a variety of products such as; Defender for Business, Endpoint, Cloud Apps, Office, and Identity.
- Microsoft Sentinel: a cloud native security information and event management (SIEM) solution
Identity and Access Management:
- Azure Active Directory
- Permissions Management
- Verified ID
Microsoft Endpoint Manager:
- Centralised management of device and endpoints
Compliance and Privacy Management:
- Prevent sharing of sensitive data
- Classify information and enforce policies
- Utilise intelligence and automation
Safeguard personal data
Discover personal data automatically
Whilst these products are broken down into the following categories they all work together as one solution, where over 785,000 organisations are using this security solution. A great quote to highlight from Microsoft Inspire is “it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you’re going to get targeted… it’s when”, emphasising the importance of security for all organisations.
Microsoft Inspire had some exciting Azure updates for 2022-2023. To kickstart the Azure updates they announced firstly that they will be launching ten new datacentre regions in ten markets which will span over four continents. These will come into play over the course of the year. Microsoft already have more datacentre regions than any other cloud provider so adding these ten will deliver faster access to services and further help address data residency needs.
It’s also apparent that sustainability is core part of the approach, followed by the commitment to reusing over 90% of cloud computing hardware by 2025 – may that be servers finding a second home in schools or reclaimed memory cards to be used in electronic toys.
The next announcement is about Azure confidential computing capabilities which now include the ability to encrypt data whilst it’s in use without having to change your application. This is going to make it easier to work with customers within regulated industries. This update comes as no surprise, this has been an area that businesses have struggled with in the past.
Within the Azure confidential computing sits new confidential virtual machines, which will be based on 3rd gen AMD EPYC processors with SEV-SNP and Azure confidential ledger. This allows customers to have more confidence that their data is protected throughout the entire lifecycle. Again, making it easier to work with customers in protected industries.
Microsoft then went on to announce Azure Arc. Azure Arc allows you to to build apps with Azure services that can run on premise, on Edge and in multi cloud environments. Adding to this they announced Azure for operators, this brings computing and 5G edge together helping deliver next generation private wireless solutions.
Azure Orbital was announced allowing for Earth observations for precision farming, global communications for remote connectivity, and satellite fleet operations for sending commands to orbit in real time.
Following on from the Azure Orbital announcement Microsoft announced their new Azure space partner community, this is designed to help partners scale their space solutions on Azure. Creating opportunities for partners to transform entire industries with more than 95% of Fortune 500 trust Azure for their most mission critical workloads.
Microsoft took the opportunity at Inspire 2022 to highlight the growth for the needs of developers, highlighting that the growth is at 114% for developers in tech, with Azure DevOps leading the way and fast becoming the favourite and default way to deploy code to production.
Azure DevOps partnered with Visual Studio, GITHUB power platform creates the most complete platform and trusted cloud to help developers go from idea to code, code to cloud and cloud to the world.
Microsoft were excited to talk about AI highlighting that within Azure they have built the most powerful AI supercomputer and it has been used on state of the art AI models. They are building models as platforms in Azure so that you can apply these advances to any use case, including some of the biggest challenges we face as a society today.