The annual Microsoft Ignite event offers developers and IT professionals a first look at some of the most significant upcoming updates and the benefits they will bring to users.
Following a year of widespread remote working, Microsoft Teams has become one of Microsoft’s fastest growing services, and understandably, it was a key topic of discussion at last month’s Ignite conference.
During the event, Microsoft announced a variety of new capabilities designed to help people connect, collaborate and build solutions, allowing Teams to become a suitable long-term facilitator of remote working.
Covering a range of key areas, many of the proposed updates were in direct response to customer feedback. In this blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at the features announced for meetings, calling, chat and collaboration and Microsoft 365 integrations
Throughout the pandemic, one of the biggest appeals of Microsoft Teams has been its meetings capabilities, allowing workers to communicate with one another, despite being in different locations due to lockdown restrictions.
Understanding this requirement for sophisticated meetings experiences, Microsoft recently revealed a range of exciting features, including new together mode scenes. Helping participants feel closer together, businesses can use the new scenes to move their teams into different meeting settings, whether it’s an auditorium or coffee shop.
Meanwhile, custom layouts have been introduced to create a more dynamic content viewing experience, enabling presenters to customise how content is shared during a meeting. For example, presentation slides can be transposed onto the host’s video feed when they are talking through the information.
Later this month, breakout rooms will also go live, allowing organisers to split participants into smaller groups for brainstorming purposes. As the host, you can hop between groups or make announcements to all of them at once.
Like meetings, the lockdown period and lack of face-to-face interactions, has led to an increased demand for a quick and easy calling experience.
Whilst the existing Teams calling experience was acceptable and sufficient, Microsoft felt the need to update the calling interface in a bid to streamline the entire process.
Now, the improved view shows contacts, voicemail and calling history in one single window, making it easier for users to initiate or return calls quickly, without having to manually trawl through records or search for specific contacts.
Another important feature introduced this month is collaborative calling, which enables customers to connect a call queue to a channel in Teams. Users can collaborate and share information in the channel while taking calls in the queue, which is ideal for scenarios such as an IT help desk.
Chat and collaboration
With chat and collaboration two key features of Teams, it’s no surprise that Microsoft revealed a host of chat-related improvements during the Ignite event.
One such update is the addition of Teams templates, which allows businesses to create their teams quickly and effectively by choosing from a list of common businesses scenarios, such as event management or crisis response. These templates are also industry-specific and come with pre-defined channels, apps and guidance, so that users can get down to business straight away.
Also revealed during the Ignite conference was a new and improved info pane, that would provide an at-a-glance summary of active members, important posts and other relevant information, which is ideal for new members joining the group.
Finally, users can now enjoy an enhanced search experience, with AI-powered results, ensuring people have access to the most relevant information.
Microsoft 365 integrations
Later this month, wellbeing features and productivity insights will be available in Microsoft Teams, allowing businesses to access personalised insights with recommended actions to improve their performance and happiness.
Powered by MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics, this feature will help individuals change their existing habits, with new personal wellbeing experiences helping users add structure to their remote workday. Next year, Headspace guided meditations will also be made available, enabling users to unwind after work.
Another significant update worth mentioning is the new SharePoint home site that will feature inside the Teams service, giving employees a gateway to their organisation’s intranet, with customisable branding and multi-level navigation.
Microsoft has also confirmed that later this year they will be allowing businesses to change the app name and icon to match their own branding, which can then be pinned to the app bar for easy access.
Remote working made easier…
Microsoft Ignite has once again proved to be an extremely important date in the calendar, as it gives users an early look at some of the most significant Teams updates, amongst other improvements.
Whilst 2020 has been a challenging year for many organisations, it’s clear to see that Microsoft are doing all they can to enhance the remote working experience, making it easier for employees to collaborate, despite being in different locations.
Although the pandemic is far from over, with no clear indication as to when things will return to normal, update cycles like these allow businesses to continue operating smoothly, during a period of uncertainty.
If your business still hasn’t unlocked the true potential of Microsoft Teams, then contact our in-house team and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.
If you’re already an Enterprise Agreement customer, then you can experience audio conferencing for free as part of Microsoft’s new limited time promotion: https://bit.ly/30EfGiD.