At the centre of almost every digital transformation journey sits the tech giant that is Microsoft, offering us a chance to take advantage of AI, automation, and mixed reality to streamline business processes, enhance collaboration, improve customer experiences, and re-energise the hybrid workforce. Sticking to the theme of doing more with less, the tech giant presented its mission to empower customers to become more efficient and productive by maximising existing IT investments and modernising workloads to the cloud.
In light of all that has happened to and around us from the overwhelming global impacts of the pandemic and climate change to political and economic uncertainty, Microsoft showcases its spirit of adaptability and transformation to deliver new and improved ways of working at this year’s Microsoft Ignite conference 2022.
Welcoming more than 200,000 people virtually and over 7,500 people from satellite locations globally, the main event took place live from the Seattle Convention Center (Seattle, Washington, USA) on October 12 – 14th. With the theme of doing more with less, the tech giant presented its mission to empower customers to become more efficient and productive by maximising existing IT investments.
Spearheaded by its end-to-end Microsoft Cloud platform, numerous updates to Azure Cognitive Services were announced alongside the benefits of migrating and modernising workloads to the cloud.
The list below illustrates the top themes covered within the Microsoft Ignite conference:
Sean Bailey, our Lead Developer from Ntegra Digital shares his main takeaways from this year’s Microsoft Ignite conference:
“It was great to once again see Microsoft's updates across their entire platform at Microsoft Ignite. The intelligence enhancements really demonstrated how they can support your day-to-day workflow and engage employees with some key updates in Teams and Outlook, such as Intelligent Recap. The integration of OpenAI's Codex has excited me the most. Having seen the capabilities within GitHub Copilot, users will soon be able to create low-code Power Automate workflows by simply describing what they want the flow to do in natural language. It will be interesting to see this move to low-code and no-code as it will both speed up the developer workflow, but also invite the wider business to create solutions.”
While the conference addressed many innovation changes and challenges every organisation is facing today, the following updates stood out to the Ntegra Digital Team the most:
With a goal to make teamwork easier, more flexible, and inclusive Microsoft introduced the Teams Premium product with various fully customisable add-ons. Meeting guides will enable users to tailor experiences to suit different meeting themes such as client calls, support desk calls or brainstorming sessions. The meeting guide settings are designed for IT members to easily modify and manage, ensuring that company best practices and policies are upheld. This includes the ability to integrate company branding into meetings with custom logos and backgrounds for the Teams lobby and custom scenes for Together mode. The new Teams Premium features will be rolled out in December 2022 as a part of Teams Premium preview, with general availability of Teams Premium in February 2023.
This extension to the virtual meeting experience is said to be more personalised, intelligent, and secure through an ‘intelligent recap’ feature which includes the following:
Microsoft presented impressive upgrades to its Power Platform with aims to accelerate automation using natural language and AI. Users will be able to work more efficiently by being able to describe what they want to automate, and watch the AI powered by OpenAI’s Codex -the technology behind Github Copilot- translate and build the workflow within seconds, removing the manual effort of searching or guesswork. Users will also be able to now create a cloud flow in the same manner: describe the flow, select the connectors, and finalise the automation. In addition, users can also generate expressions specific to data reshaping when creating cloud flows. This feature is now in preview.
Another Microsoft Teams add-on made available in private preview is Mesh Avatars. By downloading the Avatar app, anyone using Teams will have the flexible option to create three unique avatars by selecting the “Effects and Avatars” menu before joining a meeting. Users can choose from a wide range of gestures that convey live reactions to topics. This feature will be ideal for those who wish to stay off camera but want to offer a personalised, animated version of themselves. This will be done using the hundreds of customisation options from physical attributes to accessories and many more aspects. Interested organisations who are not already a part of the Teams Technical Access Programme can sign up for updates on the Teams website to learn more about the Mesh Avatar feature.
Microsoft announced their partnership with Meta to enable users to join Teams meetings with a Meta avatar. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index data reveals that 50% of Gen Z and millennials envision working from the metaverse in the next 2 years. This helps explain Microsoft’s decision to move into the Metaverse and offer its users the ability to join Teams meetings from Meta’s Horizon workrooms. This integration of Meta mesh demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to supporting more inclusivity for remote workers around the world.
The three-day hybrid event covered many more cutting-edge technologies and updates of which we have barely scratched the surface. However, we can say with certainty that this year’s Microsoft Ignite did not fail to ignite the curiosity and excitement of all the IT professionals who attended or had been keeping up with the conference online. As for 2023, organisations can look forward to a year of serious transformation and much needed opportunities for innovation. And at the centre of almost every digital transformation journey sits the tech giant that is Microsoft, offering us a chance to take advantage of AI, automation, and mixed reality to streamline business processes, enhance collaboration, improve customer experiences, and re-energise the hybrid workforce.
For more information on all the updates check out Microsoft’s Book of News!