Posted on May 25, 2023 by Fusion Connect
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SANTI:Hey folks, it's Santi with Tech UNMUTED, and guess what? We are in Vegas at the Microsoft Conference. This episode is going to be all about snippets and sound bites of the next three days. Keep you up to speed as to what Microsoft is doing, so stay tuned. We got more and more content to come.
This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.
[VIDEO OF ATTENDEES READY TO ENTER THE CONFERENCE]
So I got some cliff notes from the keynote opening keynote today. By the way, we are up to 300 million monthly active users on Microsoft Teams. 300 million! So that number just keeps growing, but it’s not just the active users that keeps going, Microsoft is reporting that 100,000 apps are now available within teams, 100,000 apps, which is crazy.
Obviously, the big, big, big announcement here is Copilot, they call this being responsible AI, right? Copilot is going to be embedded, if you would, in the entire Microsoft 365 suite. What I just saw now at the end of the keynote is that it's also going to be part of the SharePoint offering. So even designing your SharePoint sites from now on are going to be even faster and better with Copilot. So more to come on that.
Something that really stood out and it's something that we've talked about on previous podcasts and now it's happening. There is something called Business Chat. Business Chat uses what's called a “loop workspace” … “loop workspace”. So imagine this, you're going to have a workspace. You're going to have colleagues in that workspace. And one of the team members in that workspace is going to be Copilot. And so now Copilot will be active, engaging with the other team members, just like you would in any workspace today, except that now you can ask Copilot to help you with one thing, and it's all live. Offerings. So your colleague can say “Actually let me have Copilot make a slight change to that.” And so that's happening, right now.
There's also a new term called grounding. Grounding is taking all this AI capability and grounding it right, that's what they call response responsible AI, grounding it in your content. So unlike ChatGPT, which is like endless knowledge basis, it's taking that language large language model AI and grounding it so that it is and grounded in your data, your content across your organization, which is great.
One thing that's coming to Teams, and this is a big one. So apparently, if you have multiple tenants or multiple accounts and teams, ok, you can now seamlessly work in one pane with multiple accounts. So for example, let's say that you have Company A and Company B or tenant A and tenant B and you're logged into Teams. You receive an IM, right, from a colleague on another account. You don't have to switch accounts, you can reply right within the account you're in. Or if you have an invite, right, a meeting request or a meeting to join on another Teams tenant, you can do it from the one you're currently logged into, so you have to switch between them, everything is seamless.
With premium, which is the Teams premium license, there's a new feature called “Follow a meeting”. Let's say you're double booked, that never happens, right? You’re never double booked. Let's say you're double booked and you have three meetings scheduled at the same time slot. So you join one of them but you follow the other two. Well, guess what? Copilot will now do a recap for you of the meetings that you weren't able to attend. Not only that, it lets the meeting organizer know, hey, you know you will be following the meeting and getting a recap at the end of the meeting, so that's a big one.
A term that I learned today, which I never thought about, we all talked about the Avatars and how there's some business cases for Avatars, and one of them was well, you know, my camera doesn't work. Or maybe it's different time zones and I'm not camera ready. Today I heard something called “video fatigue” and I can relate to that. Just like it says, you said you're fatigued, right? Being on video for a long time and now your Avatar can kind of step in and help with that.
The final thing I'm going to close with is SharePoint. SharePoint is going to have a major, major, major, major uplift in features including Copilot. It's going to have a new brand center, so you can now have a brand center built into your SharePoint so you can kind of dictate what that needs to look like across your entire site. You can bring your own fonts, so if your company has a very specific or customized font, you can bring that into SharePoint. And of course, the entire Copilot feature, where now Copilot can help you design your web pages within SharePoint. Not only can Copilot help you design your websites within SharePoint, but you can do this with a Team and you can have co-authoring taking place in the design work of SharePoint.
Anyway, it's 5 minutes of quick snippets and highlights of what happened during the keynote. This is day one, we are just getting started so I'll be bringing you some more content as the next few days progress.
[VIDEO OF MICROSOFT 365 CONFERENCE EXHIBITOR FLOOR]
So we're almost wrapping up day one of the M365 conference here in Vegas and if I can summarize it so far, here's what I can summarize it as.
Microsoft sees two mega trends, one we've known about for a while, which is the migration to the cloud. They consider that to still be a mega trend which is happening more and more.
And the second mega trend of course is artificial intelligence, which we've been touting in the previous episodes.
So two mega trends by Microsoft, those are the ones that they're really focused on right now.
Copilot is honestly the central focus of the entire conference.
What we don't know yet, is we don't know if Copilot is going to be an additional charge. It sounds like it may be. We also don't know when the general availability date is going to be for the different elements of Microsoft 365. So it's still very early. We're going to have to just stay tuned for those types of details.
I was surprised that they didn't actually have that for the conference because that's usually the question, right? The question is usually how does it work? How do I access it and how much is it? How does it work? - was addressed. How do I access it? - it was kind of addressed in some cases and how much is it? - was not addressed. And so that's a quick synopsis of day one. More to come.
[VIDEO OF ATTENDEES EATING LUNCH]
Alright, I got my notes from the keynote of Day 2, so here's a quick recap.
The focus was Power Platform. Power Platform is where all the applications that start with the word “power” fall under. So for example Power Automate or power apps or power virtual agents or power BI. Power platform is all about no-code and low-code. What they're trying to do, of course, is they're trying to make programming an easy task for people who don't have a programming background. In other words, create automation and some workflows without needing to hire a programmer to do so. It is using now large scale AI models, so that's a big one. There was a statement they made. They say that this is about people working side by side with AI and there's a stat here that says that they're looking at 40 to 45% productivity gains using Copilot and so Copilot is going to be that AI assistant, if you would, built into all these power platforms. So Copilot is now expanding into the Power Platform.
Yesterday we heard about Copilot and Microsoft 365 with all the office apps. Well, now it's expanding into the Power Platform. What does that mean? That means that if I need to write a workflow and I need to automate a workflow, I basically tell Copilot what I need, it creates the framework and then I just fill in the missing data to get the flow finished. So that's a big one. So Copilot will be in Power Automate. I'm looking forward to that. What they find is by using Copilot to create these workflows, they've been able to reduce the error rate by 70%, and that's a big number. I know because I do workflows through trial and error and so if I had a Copilot with me to help me, I probably would get these things done quicker and more accurately. So basically there's a new feature. Basically when you go in there, there's a button that says, “describe it to design it”. That's what it's called, and that's how you create a new workflow and automation using Copilot.
And so, now here's what’s really cool. So they we know that they know they bought in ChatGPT into the Power Platform. We know that because the virtual power agent now has ChatGPT capabilities, we created one. We created a new member of the marketing team called “Mark Eting”. And guess what? He is a power virtual agent that's using the ChatGPT engine to read our website and our SharePoint site to give us outputs for frequently asked marketing questions. And so, we know that that's there. But what they're doing is they're adding additional functionality, like for example, we created an AI model that goes on, does market research and pulls a bunch of links. Well, now we can go to that AI model, add a brand new step, and that step could be that ChatGPT takes the output and gives us a summary. And so you know how well ChatGPT is at creating summaries of large amounts of text, you can now pull that functionality into your automation and so that's great.
Gartner is predicting that by 2025, 70% of apps built will be built with low code platforms like this. So that's a big number and currently there's about 1,000 data connectors that exist. Now, I struggle with that because believe it or not, and maybe by the time this podcast airs, maybe it is there, but there's a couple of things I've been trying to do through LinkedIn, connecting into LinkedIn, and I can't find a prefabricated or pre-packaged connector for LinkedIn within the Microsoft Suite, but they have now what's called creating a custom connector, so they give you the groundwork so that you can kind of build a custom connector, maybe into LinkedIn for example so looking forward to that hopefully when I get back into the office.
So this entire session was really focused on the Power Automate platform and believe or not at the very end of the session there was a huge, huge, huge discussion and focus around the Power Platform and AI in Teams. So as we all know, and Microsoft recognizes that Teams is a major hub for everyday workflow. In other words, that's where we spend, between Teams and Outlook, we're spending most of our days in those two applications. So what they're trying to do, they're trying to make it possible to bring in all these dashboards, all this data, all these workflows, all these custom apps into Teams, so you never have to leave Teams, and so your’re in Teams already, so you might as well just execute whatever you need to execute within Teams. And so and we've seen that and so we're just going to see a lot more of that.
So, that is a quick five minute recap of the keynote for day two, we are halfway, almost halfway through this three-day conference, so stay tuned for more.
[VIDEO OF MICROSOFT 365 CONFERENCE EXHIBITOR FLOOR]
OK, it's day three and we are wrapping up. So here's the three things to takeaway from the Microsoft 365 conference.
The first one is Copilot. Microsoft is betting their entire near-term future on Copilot. That's the artificial intelligence that we've built across the Microsoft 365 suite of products and also the Power Platform as well. So that's number one.
Number two is the Power Platform itself. So Power Platform which includes everything from Power Automate to Power apps to Power Virtual Agents, there's anything that starts with the word “power” is pretty much part of the Power Platform. The takeaway here is if you are an information worker or a business leader and you are not trying to learn how to leverage Power Platform, you will be left behind because that is where all the automation and all the AI and all that, all the extra capabilities are going to exist and is meant to be low-code, so that means that you don't necessarily need to be a coder or have a degree in computer science to pull this off, so we need to look at that seriously.
Number three, and this is the last one. They're very focused on making all this available in Teams. The question was asked yesterday “how many of you still schedule a meeting in Outlook?” I raised my hand. So Microsoft is very focused on having their customers spend all, if not most, of their time inside of Teams. Teams is geared to be the hub for the entire workflow during the day and so they want Teams to be the place to go to, to access everything else, including all the stuff I just mentioned above. And so that is focus, that is a wrap.
We are just going to finish up today with more of the same kind of reiterating some things, but that is the takeaways from this Microsoft 365 event and Vegas.
Until next time, stay connected.
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Produced by: Fusion Connect
Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.
Get show notes, transcripts, and other details at www.fusionconnect.com/techUNMUTED. Tech UNMUTED is a production of Fusion Connect, LLC.