How the modern workplace made waves at this year’s Microsoft Ignite

  • Posted on November 20, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

I’m sure we ask this question every year, but was this the best Microsoft Ignite yet? From a modern workplace perspective, I think it quite possibly was. At our Avanade and Accenture booth, we saw huge excitement and plenty of buzz around modern workplace announcements, innovations, demos and client projects.

Whether you were at the conference or watching on remotely, there was so much to see and hear about. So, it’s entirely possible that you may have missed out on some of the key modern workplace headlines.

But don’t worry – I’m here to save you from having to trawl the web for a recap. Here’s my summary of everything you need to know about this year’s conference…

People power – Project Cortex
The year’s show-stealing announcement was Project Cortex. The first new Microsoft 365 service since the launch of Microsoft Teams, this latest innovation leverages AI and SharePoint to enhance knowledge management. 

Project Cortex connects documents, pages, people and terms into a knowledge graph, and automatically creates topics with associated relationships. The service securely collects content from Microsoft 365 and tags it with metadata. This helps employees to discover subject matter experts, find relevant or similar information and uncover unstructured or untagged data. 

As Project Cortex becomes more widely adopted, I’m fascinated to see how it can help organizations to extend knowledge across teams and systems, empower employees with insights across everyday apps, and intelligently manage and protect content with simpler workflows and built-in security.

Expect to hear a lot more about Project Cortex very soon… 

The intranet just became more engaging 
With its active userbase having surpassed 100 million, SharePoint Online benefited from a set of welcome new features that’ll be rolled out shortly. Among the most interesting updates were support for multilingual SharePoint sites, improved customization options for design, and a new and updated SharePoint look book.

Meanwhile, Yammer also received a welcome overhaul – with a completely refreshed user experience and an improved focus on communities. In fact, Yammer is the first app that Microsoft has used its new Fluent Framework – a new design language – to build. 

A frictionless future via the Fluid Framework
Alongside the range of new services and products, Microsoft also unveiled some exciting technology. Fluid Framework is one of the most eagerly anticipated innovations – a new way to build collaborative components that can be surfaced in any Office application (from SharePoint and Microsoft Teams through to Word and Outlook). These components can be collaborated on in real time, and combined into compound and dynamic documents. 

The clue’s in the name here – Microsoft sees the future of documents as fluid. So, a document could soon be any type of file or format – rather than being defined by the application it’s created in, like Excel, PowerPoint, or Word.

The Fluid Framework was first announced at Microsoft Build 2019, but a preview program of Fluid was made available at Ignite. Developer tools will follow shortly, and our team at the latest Microsoft DevKitchen have already enjoyed hands-on experience with the framework. 

Microsoft Productivity Score gets top marks
One of the most novel revelations was Microsoft Productivity Score – a metric that assesses workplace experience. The score provides visibility into how an organization works, and it offers insights into where you can optimize employee and technology experiences. 

Employee experience scores are calculated based on how people collaborate, as well as the organization’s remote or mobile working capability and meeting culture. Meanwhile, technology experience focuses on policies, device settings, hardware and applications.

And, with our own workplace experience research having just launched – which considers the value organizations attribute to their workplace investments – we’re particularly enthusiastic about Microsoft Productivity Score.

An exciting year ahead…
After another enjoyable, invigorating (and admittedly hectic) conference, I’ve been able to reflect on everything we heard about. I really enjoyed the five jam-packed days, with sessions in our booth, in the theater, at the breakout areas and in front of the camera. 

While the event is over, the impact from some of the announcements is only starting to become apparent. I can’t wait to see how Project Cortex, the Fluid Framework and everything else that came out of this year’s Ignite will start to influence the way we work.

I’m eager to sit down with our clients and discuss how we can harness these modern workplace innovations. And I’m excited about the impact that we’ll be able to deliver as we look to capitalize on everything unveiled at Ignite and reimagine workplace experiences.

Robert Angone Twitter Orange Icon@robert_an

Thanks for the recap, Wictor. Fluid Framework is an interesting concept. As we use Teams and upload files into the sites, we have been challenged with file naming standards and version control. It seems like the tagging functions may be able to take some of that overhead away, and leave a clear enough trail that anyone can get at the content they need. Good stuff.

December 3, 2019

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