Microsoft 365 Updates: November Ignite Special

Hot off the press from Ignite 2021, we covered what the top five takeaways were in our Microsoft Ignite 2021 summary blog. There was plenty to digest with hybrid experiences, people and personalisation all stealing the show, so this month’s Microsoft 365 updates blog is an Ignite special as we dive deeper into the updates you can expect to see soon.

1. Viva gets a fifth module

What’s new:

Microsoft is adding to the Viva family with the acquisition of Ally.io. The new Viva module will focus on giving everyone in the organisation visibility and clarity into the entire work process, connecting everyday work to the company’s strategic objectives. The shift to hybrid has made it more challenging to keep every leader, team and individual aligned and moving to the same rhythm. The new module helps to bridge the gap between overarching strategic goals and day to day deliverables.

Why is this important?

The OKR category is a fast-growing and emerging space. Ally.io is leading the way as one of the most loved tools on the market. Customers find the Ally.io experience flexible, easy to use with quick time-to-value.

When is this coming?

Early 2022.

2. Unlock teamwork with collaborative apps

What’s new:

Collaborative apps are a new generation of applications with collaboration at the core. Designed and optimised for the flexibility of hybrid work inside Teams, they bring the relevant processes, data, and people together to accomplish more.

Why is this important:

New collaborative apps from partners including Atlassian, SAP, and ServiceNow enable customers to engage with these apps across chat, channels, and meetings right from within the Teams platform. This builds on the focus of meeting employees where they are, in one holistic app.

You can find all of these apps in the brand new app store featuring an optimised landing page, the app store will now make customised recommendations and highlight apps based on your preferences.

When is this coming?

Coming soon.

3. Microsoft Loop redefines boundaries of collaboration

What’s new:

Microsoft Loop is a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications—enabling teams to think, plan, and create together.

Microsoft Loop has three elements:

– Loop components

– Loop page

– Loop workspaces

Why is this important:

Microsoft are calling Loop components: atomic units of productivity! The objective is to help teams collaborate and complete work right within chats, meetings, emails, documents, and more. Components like voting tables and status trackers allow teams to seamlessly communicate in one space.

When is this coming?

Rolling out in preview across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and OneNote in the coming months, with more Microsoft Loop functionality to follow.

4. Context IQ

What’s new:

Context IQ turns insights into action, harnessing the power of Microsoft Graph to glean insights about your work throughout the day, then predicting, seeking, and suggesting information you need, right when you need it—at the point of action.

Why is this important:

Context IQ takes Microsoft Editor to the next level, helping with things like suggesting a relevant file or document, finding available calendar times with collaborators, suggesting colleagues to tag in emails, or suggesting related Loop components for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales opportunity records.

When is this coming?

2022

5. Teams Connect

What’s new:

Microsoft Teams Connect removes barriers and makes it easier and more secure to collaborate with anyone. Share a channel with individuals and teams across multiple organisations, schedule a meeting, collaborate in real-time on apps, and share channels with up to 50 teams and as many organisations as you need.

Why is this important:

Currently the way to connect with external organisations is through switching Teams tenants which is a little clunky and can often lead to missed communication. With the advent of Teams Connect you’ll be able to bring your external teams right into your work space.

When is this coming?

Available in public preview in the first quarter of 2022.

6. Teams Webinar updates

What’s new:

Teams Webinar is getting some extra features including a Virtual Green Room to help organisers and presenters confer in private whilst monitoring chat, Q&As attendee settings etc.

Why is this important:

Teams Webinar is fast outstripping Teams Live Events in features and ease of use. Its popularity has questioned the role of Live Events in the organisation and reduced the use cases to very niche highly produced events.

When is this coming?

Early 2022.

7. Microsoft Mesh in Teams

What’s new:

The mixed reality metaverse, Microsoft Mesh is coming to Teams. It starts to introduce a new generation of two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) meetings. Personalised avatars give you control to customise your avatar and use AI to imitate movements and gestures that enable you to bring your physical presence into the conversation, even when your camera is off.

Why is this important:

Organisations will also be able to create immersive spaces that resemble physical spaces such as conference rooms, design centres, and networking lounges to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster serendipitous water-cooler connections.

When is this coming?

Throughout 2022.

8. Search conversations in Office and SharePoint

What’s new:

Microsoft Search is adding the capability to find relevant Microsoft Teams, and Outlook conversations when searching in SharePoint and Office.com.

Why is this important:

Users will now be able to search for Teams and Outlook messages from their favourite workplace search endpoints (SharePoint and Office.com). Results will be limited to conversations that they were part of and conversations that took place in groups and teams that they have access to. These search results will surface in a separate ‘Conversations’ vertical.

When is this coming?

Early December and to be fully completed in early February.

9. Chat with personal accounts on Teams

What’s new:

Chat with Teams will extend collaboration support by enabling Teams users to chat with team members outside their work network with a Teams personal account. Customers will be able to invite any Teams user to chat using an email address or phone number, and remain within the security and compliance policies of their organisation.

Why is this important:

With this update Teams users in your organisation will be able to start a 1:1 or a group chat with Teams users who are using their personal accounts and vice-versa. IT Admins will have the option to enable/disable this at a tenant and individual user level.

When is this coming?

2022.

10. Viva Insights manager updates

What’s new:

Viva Insights is releasing expanded insights for managers and team leads. Viva Insights features for managers and team leads will be available to users with a Microsoft Viva Insights license. These new insights expand the value of Viva Insights to managers and team leads who have at least one direct report.

Why is this important:

The four main updates hitting this month are:

  1. Viva Insights team homepage: Team leads get insights on their relationships with team members that can help boost team productivity, wellbeing, and engagement.
  2. My team tab updates: The update consolidates all manager insights into a single canvas.
  3. Manager briefing card: For eligible users, a “Catch up with Your Team” card will begin to appear in the daily briefing email from Microsoft Viva.
  4. Manager digest email: The monthly digest email from Microsoft Viva, which currently helps users to reflect on their work patterns across focus, wellbeing, network, and collaboration.

When is this coming?

2022.

We release a monthly Microsoft 365 updates blog at the end of each month. Read last month’s blog here.

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