A New Vision for Intelligent Communications in Office 365

A New Vision for Intelligent Communications in Office 365

Intelligent communications go beyond traditional unified communications, enabling you to complete tasks more efficiently with minimal context switching, participate in more productive meetings that cover the entire meeting lifecycle, and better manage your everyday communications overload.

Microsoft Teams is core to Microsoft’s vision for intelligent communications—bringing together conversations, meetings, files, Office apps, and third-party integrations—to provide a single hub for teamwork in Office 365. Teams is now being used by over 125,000 organizations across the world in just six months since its launch. Its strong momentum has proven that teamwork is essential to the way work gets done today.

To achieve this vision for intelligent communications, Microsoft is bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Teams, along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.

All of this is being built on a new, modern Skype infrastructure for enterprise-grade voice and video communications. The next generation, cloud-born architecture is already powering communication experiences in Teams, and is evolving rapidly. This new infrastructure will provide both speed of innovation as well as higher quality communication experiences.​

As these capabilities are built out, Teams will evolve as the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365, replacing the current Skype for Business client over time.

The future of business meetings

Combining communications, collaboration, and intelligence in this way will make new things possible across the lifecycle of a call or meeting:

  • Before a meeting, Teams will surface relevant documents and rich information about the participants to help you prepare.
  • During the meeting, the conversation can be captured, transcribed, and time-coded, with closed captioning and voice recognition for attributing remarks to specific individuals.
  • After the meeting, the cloud recording and transcript can be automatically added to the relevant channel, so conversations, documents, notes, and action items can be reviewed, indexed, and searched by the entire team.

Introducing calling features and meeting enhancements in Teams

Over the past six months, Microsoft has enhanced the communication capabilities in Teams, with new features like scheduled meetings, Outlook calendar integration, and meetings on mobile. Also, earlier this month, they began rolling out guest access—so you can use Teams to collaborate with people outside your company. In the coming months, they’ll begin adding calling features in Teams—including inbound and outbound calls to PSTN numbers, hold, call transfer, and voicemail.

Coming soon will be enhancements to Teams meetings, including audio conferencing (available in preview today)—enabling participants to join a Teams meeting by dialing a telephone number—and interoperability between Teams and Skype for Business, including universal presence, and messaging and calling interoperability.

This is just the beginning of a big wave of feature releases that will bring the core set of meetings and phone system capabilities into Teams.


Expand your collaboration with guest access in Microsoft Teams

Expand your collaboration with guest access in Microsoft Teams

Since Microsoft Teams became generally available about six months ago, more than 125,000 organizations have discovered how teamwork comes to life in Teams. Teams again is getting even better with the rollout of guest access to all Office 365 commercial and education customers. Now Office 365 users can add people from outside their company to a team, so guests can participate in chats, join meetings, collaborate on documents, and more.

Guest access has been one of the top requested features for Teams among Microsoft customers, and they’ve been working hard to get it right. Microsoft designed guest access in Teams with three principles at the forefront:

Teamwork—Teams come in all shapes and sizes, and you need to be able to easily communicate and share with others you want to work with, including people outside your organization. Anyone with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account can be added as a guest in Teams. That means anyone with one of the more than 870 million user accounts—across Microsoft commercial cloud services and third-party Azure AD integrated apps—can be added as a guest in Teams. Later, the ability for anyone with a Microsoft Account (MSA) to be added as a guest in Teams. If the guest doesn’t have an existing MSA, they will be directed to create a free account using their current corporate or consumer email address, such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com.

Security and compliance—Security is a big concern here and Microsoft customers made this known. Guest access in Teams will provide enterprise-grade security and compliance assurances. In Teams, guest accounts are added and securely managed within Azure AD through Azure AD B2B Collaboration. This enables enterprise-grade security, like conditional access policies for guest user access. Azure AD also uses adaptive machine learning algorithms and heuristics to detect anomalies and suspicious incidents, enabling mitigation or remediation actions, such as multi-factor authentication, to be triggered as appropriate. In addition, with Azure AD, IT departments have unparalleled insight into the activities of external users in their organization through detailed sign-in and access reports. Guest user content and activities are under the same compliance and auditing protection as the rest of Office 365.

IT manageability—Guest access in Teams comes with the ability for IT to centrally manage how guests participate within their Office 365 environment, providing consistency across application experiences in Office 365. IT admins can quickly and easily view, add, or revoke a guest’s access to the host tenant.

For more information on how to enable guest access in Microsoft Teams, read this help and support article


SharePoint Communication Sites Begin to Rollout to Office 365 Customers

SharePoint communication sites are beautiful, dynamic sites that let you reach a broad internal audience, and that look great on the web, in the SharePoint mobile app, on PC and on Mac. These communication sites are now rolling out to Office 365 First Release customers, followed by full worldwide rollout to Office 365 customers in the coming months.

Create a beautiful communication site in seconds

Communication sites are perfect for internal cross-company campaigns, weekly and monthly reports or status updates, product launches, events and more. To help you jumpstart getting your message out fast, communication sites provide configurable templates for the sites and pages within. When you click Create site from the SharePoint home in Office 365, you have a choice of three initial site designs:

  • Topic—Select the Topic design when you have a lot of information to share, such as news, events and other content.
  • Showcase—Use the Showcase design to feature a product, team or event using photos or images.
  • Blank—Start with a blank site and make your design come to life quickly and easily.

Communication site designs (from left to right): Topic, Showcase and Blank.

And it is easy to tell your story. Once your new site is created, simply drag-and-drop to reorganize web parts on the page to bring your use cases and scenarios to life. News and pages allow for multi-column layouts to represent your message in a meaningful, intuitive fashion.

Share your plans and updates in engaging, interactive ways

Communication sites allow people to create and share recurring updates beyond email. When you create a page on a communication site, you can embed documents and video, and dynamically pull in real-time data from across Office 365, including documents from SharePoint, Power BI reports, Microsoft Stream videos and Yammer discussions. The resulting page is a rich and dynamic communication. And the page persists on the site, so people can refer to it easily, even as the membership of your team changes, so new members can more easily get up to speed.

The new capabilities for the rich section layouts and new web parts can be utilized on SharePoint team sites as well.

Consume, create and connect from your mobile device via the SharePoint apps

It’s easy to access, engage with and create content for communication sites from any device. The full site, pages, news, navigation, search and more are natively viewable, functional and engaging. Read a page, create a news article, engage in a Yammer conversation—all in the context of the site—from within the SharePoint mobile app experience.

You can download the SharePoint mobiles apps for iOS and Android today, and the new features will be available in the coming weeks. Learn more about the SharePoint mobile app for iOSSharePoint mobile app for Android and SharePoint app for Windows 10 Mobile.

Communication sites help further refine and enhance your message

Communication sites have additional capabilities to further refine and enhance your message.

Make your home page and sub-pages look great

  • Full-width layouts—The Hero and Image web parts can be placed in a section layout that spans the page from left to right, giving you ways to emphasize your most essential information.
  • Enhanced title region with custom header image—Visually represent your home page, news and subpages with a compelling header graphic and title. You control what portion of the image is the most important, so it looks great, and as intended, across web and mobile experiences.

Continue the discussion in context to ensure reach, retention and engagement

  • Comments on pages—Each news article and page can have its own set of comments. It is possible to use the Yammer web part for broad discussion scenarios as well as targeted responses to engage your viewers on the sole message and content on the page—all keeping within the context of the page.
  • Share news via email—When you share news via email from a communication site, it’s not just a blue link; it’s a visual, informative preview that adds context to both the email and the news article itself. Within the email, the recipient(s) will see a thumbnail, title, description and an optional message from the sender.

Dynamically pull in and display data, documents and information via web part improvements

  • Power BI and Microsoft Stream—Bring in interactive reports using the Power BI web part, and embed single videos or full channels from Microsoft Stream—the single destination within Office 365 for your cross-company video management. Both Power BI and Microsoft Stream are now generally available.
  • GIF support—When you add an Image web part into a news article or page, you can now include animated GIFs in your layout.
  • New “See all” pages—When there is more content than can be shown within the first view the Highlighted content and Site activity web parts, you can click See all to go to a full-page experience to see all the content and activity.
  • Updated News web part—Showcase your news using multiple layouts to highlight what’s important with greater flexibility. You can use the default Top story layout, view news as a list or side-by-side.

Throughout the lifecycle of your projects, launches and internal campaigns, let the SharePoint intranet help you move seamlessly from concept to final product. The powerful, dynamic SharePoint user experiences let you clearly communicate your message throughout your company.


Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Harness Collective Knowledge

Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Harness Collective Knowledge

Harness collective knowledge 

As the pace of work accelerates, it’s more important than ever to harness collective knowledge by making it easier to find information and expertise, right when it’s needed, and to encourage best practice sharing.

Find people, expertise and content faster with powerful, personalized search

There is now a more personalized search that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence from Microsoft Graph to surface more relevant and valuable results, faster. When you click in the Search box on SharePoint home in Office 365, recommendations appear instantly. You’ll see recent files, making it easy to get back to your work, as well as relevant content, sites and news.

When you’re searching for knowledge, it may be found in content such as files, sites and news. And it might also be found through your colleagues. Now, your search results will include people whose skills, interests and projects—part their Office 365 profile—are relevant to your query.

Search results activate people cards, so you can learn at a glance about a person and the content they work on. One more click activates an extended view with richly detailed information from the user’s profile. These enhancements to search will roll out over the next few months.

Find what you need faster with instant, personalized results that include files, sites, news and people.

Communities built by integrating Yammer and SharePoint encourages people to share content, knowledge and best practices across the organization, by adding a conversational layer to your intranet.

Build a community with shared content and conversation using a SharePoint communication site and Yammer.

Secure your content and manage your service

Innovation in the cloud drives tremendous business value, and it delivers new capabilities to the IT professionals who work tirelessly to support, configure, administer and secure their organizations’ content and services. 

Empower administrators with the new SharePoint admin center

The new SharePoint admin center, which will begin rolling out in the fourth quarter of 2017 empowers your admins to do more. From the homepage, you’ll notice just how much better it is, with interactive usage reports, Message Center posts and a Service Health dashboard tuned to the needs of SharePoint administrators.

The new SharePoint admin center surfaces usage, health and administrative messages. 

You’ll easily find and work with the dozens of SharePoint settings allowing  you to configure sharing, access and the service. And we know you’ll love the dynamic new Site Management page, which lets you view, filter and edit the configuration of all of your SharePoint sites—including sites connected to Office 365 Groups.

Manage all of your sites in the new SharePoint admin center.

To learn more about Yammer integration with SharePoint, read “New in Yammer: Building a More Engaged and Connected Organization” and watch Updates to Yammer: Integrating conversations into your SharePoint experiences. To learn more about SharePoint security and manageability, read “Secure your information with SharePoint and OneDrive” and watch New admin controls for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

 


Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Transform Business Process

Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Transform Business Process

Transform business process

SharePoint enables you, your team and your organization to streamline tasks, automate workflows and integrate processes seamlessly into your work—on any device and from anywhere you work.

Create custom SharePoint forms and digital experiences with PowerApps

Starting this summer, you will be able to use Microsoft PowerApps to easily create custom forms and rich digital experiences that surface right in the context of a SharePoint list or library. Users can then create, view and interact with data using your custom form or experience, rather than default SharePoint forms.

Create custom forms inside SharePoint lists and libraries with no code using PowerApps.

This is a significant milestone for both SharePoint and PowerApps, as it empowers any user to drive transformation of team and organizational processes.

Simple approval flows built in to SharePoint libraries

Microsoft continues to deepen integration of SharePoint and Microsoft Flow. New built-in approval flows let you send any document for approval with a custom message. The recipient can approve the request directly from a rich, actionable email message, so approval and feedback can be given without leaving your inbox.

Approval flows, built in to SharePoint, send a rich, actionable email message.

Inform and engage employees

An intranet lets you communicate to people—keeping them informed of news and information. And it enables you to communicate with people—to engage employees and foster open conversation. It is this engagement that is fundamental to driving digital transformation and culture change.

Reach a broad audience with SharePoint communication sites

As the next step toward ushering in the next generation of intranets, Microsoft announced SharePoint communication sites—coming this summer. A communication site is a beautiful, dynamic site that lets you reach a broad audience to keep the organization informed and engaged. Communication sites look great on the web, on a PC or Mac, on mobile browsers and in the SharePoint app.

Easily create beautiful intranet sites to reach a broad audience across your organization.

While your team site lets you share within your group as you’re working, a communication site lets your group share broadly and communicate its message across the organization. News published on a communication site surfaces on SharePoint home in Office 365 and on SharePoint mobile to all users who have access to the site.

Communication sites can be created in seconds. You can configure the default web parts on your site’s pages to tell your story. You can customize page layout with new multi-column sections and drag-and-drop authoring with a range of richly functional web parts, including an image gallery, interactive Bing maps, videos from a Microsoft Stream channel, and a new events web part. Add the Yammer web part to solicit feedback and foster conversation, right in the context of a communication site.

To learn more about communication sites, read “Reach your audience via SharePoint communication sites in Office 365” and watch An overview of SharePoint communication sites. To learn more about business processes, read “Reinventing business processes in SharePoint” and watch Zero code business process apps in SharePoint with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.


Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Share with Confidence

Accelerate Your Digital Transformation: Share with Confidence

SharePoint and OneDrive in Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and organizations to share with confidence, transform business process, inform and engage the organization, and harness collective knowledge. The features we will talk about in this series will help you to drive these outcomes make it easier than ever for you to accelerate your digital transformation.

Share with confidence

OneDrive lets you share files securely with anyone—inside or outside your organization. Its deep Office integration, which powers rich co-authoring, allows you to collaborate on these shared files with others in real time. And it lets you access all your Office 365 files, including your individual work files and files shared with you by individuals, teams and the organization—regardless of whether you’re on a PC, Mac, an iOS or Android device or a Windows phone.

See all your files in File Explorer with OneDrive Files On-Demand

OneDrive Files On-Demand enables you to work with all your files in Office 365—both work and personal, across OneDrive and SharePoint—right from File Explorer, without having to download them and use storage space on your device.

Work with all your files in Office 365 from File Explorer with Files On-Demand.

Share files directly from File Explorer on Windows and Finder on Mac

Share Office 365 files directly from File Explorer on PC and Finder on Mac. The sharing experience has been simplified, so you can share a file or folder with specific people or send a link that enables anyone who needs access, inside or outside your organization. In addition, you can now control how long a link provides access, and you can easily view and modify the permissions you have granted. The new sharing experience is the same, whether you share on the web, in Explorer on Windows 10 and Windows 7, or in Finder on Mac.

Share files and folders with colleagues inside and outside your organization directly from File Explorer on Windows 10 and Windows 7.

 

 Share files and folders with colleagues inside and outside your organization directly from Finder on Mac.

Connect SharePoint team sites with other Office 365 content and services

Over the last year, Microsoft has modernized SharePoint team sites and connected them with Office 365 Groups. Allowing you to further unify collaboration experiences in Office 365, including:

  • The ability to connect existing SharePoint team sites to Office 365 Groups, so you can augment existing sites with shared conversations, calendar and Planner.
  • Support for adding SharePoint pages as tabs in Microsoft Teamsso you can add a tab with a news article or your team site’s homepage, for example. This builds upon the existing ability to add tabs for SharePoint document libraries in Teams.

Add a SharePoint page to a Teams channel.

To learn more about these and other announcements for OneDrive, read “New sharing features for OneDrive and SharePoint” and watch OneDrive for Business updates: simplified sharing and files on demand. For more info on SharePoint team sites, read “Personalize team sites in Office 365 and amplify your work using Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups” and watch New personalized, focused experiences across your SharePoint team sites.


1TB Site Collections: The New Standard for SharePoint Online

1TB Site Collections: The New Standard for SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online now holds 1TB site collections, allowing your teams to store more content in a single location. Now you can spend more time sharing your personal work content. 1TB will let you establish large team document centers that teams can use – and keep using over time – without needing to introduce unwarranted information architecture complexities.

All your site collections – private and public, managed from the SharePoint Online admin center – can now have up to 1TB of storage allocation. You simply assign the desired amount to the selected site collection. The same holds true for users’ OneDrive for Business that start with a default of 25GB/user allocation. Your SharePoint Online admin can now allocate more storage, up to 1TB, to users in the following increments: 50GB, 100GB, 250GB, 500GB, and 1024GB.

The new storage quota increases limits for OneDrive for Business. Manage allocations in the SharePoint Online admin center.

Infinite tenant storage scale

SharePoint Online has seen explosive growth: a 485 percent growth in user access and a 500 percent year over year growth in customer content storage, since April 2013. In the simplest terms, this means customers are leveraging Office 365 more than ever before, both in their OneDrive for Business usage and in collaboration and portal sites.

Office 365 and SharePoint Online have architected the storage design to enable infinite storage scale – for current storage needs and unlimited future potential. Users get a default 25GB of OneDrive for Business storage, + 50GB of email storage, + 5GB for each site mailbox you create, + your total available tenant storage, which for every Office 365 business customer starts at 10GB + 500MB  times the number of users1. If you and your company have growing storage needs across your various work streams and content types, you’ll find Office 365 offers ample headroom–on day one. And if you need more storage, you can now purchase unlimited additional storage right from within your SharePoint Online admin center at a cost per gigabyte (GB) per month.

You can click the Buy Storage button from within the SharePoint Online admin center to buy additional storage.

Whether you are getting started with SharePoint Online for team collaboration, OneDrive for Business, or your company intranet– know that Microsoft’s cloud is ready for you today, tomorrow, and ultimately for the long-term growth and prosperity of your business. At 6th Street Consulting our SharePoint solutions help you to get more out of each and every work day. Integrated features across applications save time and allow you to focus on efforts that add value and profitability. Set yourself apart and grow your business by sharpening your competitive edge with 6SC.


The Mobile, Intelligent Intranet

The Mobile, Intelligent Intranet

For fifteen years, hundreds of millions of customers around the world have relied on SharePoint to build rich intranets that connect people, content and processes across collaborative team sites, departmental and organizational portals and custom business applications. The most important part of a team or organization is its people. It’s not only what you know, it’s who you know. People cards, now in SharePoint document libraries and OneDrive—surface details about the people you work with and the content they work on, so you can connect with expertise and discover new resources.

People cards bring profile information, organizational relationships and content from your colleagues right into the context of your work in SharePoint or in OneDrive for Business.

An Office 365 group defines a team of people and gives them access to shared content and to the collaborative resources of the group—such as a calendar, a OneNote notebook, a Plan to manage tasks, and conversations powered by Outlook or Yammer.

Teams also need to stay on the same page, and today the SharePoint home page provides team news—modern pages to keep your team up to date and in the know. SharePoint pages have rich support for multimedia and tight integration with Yammer, can be extended with custom web parts, and are mobile by default. Team news articles are featured at the top of the team site home page. And the SharePoint mobile app’s News tab pulls together news from all your team sites and groups.

The team site home page in the browser and in the SharePoint mobile app features team news, so your team can stay informed about what’s new and what’s important.

                               

News articles offer a great reading experience in SharePoint mobile. Multimedia and embedded files can now be included and it’s all mobile by default. The News tab, now on iOS, aggregates news from across your team sites for a holistic look at what’s going on across your teams.

You can collect, manage or collaborate on data with SharePoint like never before. You’ll find the modern experience makes it easy in the browser and in the SharePoint mobile app. But the powerful capabilities you need are still there. People experiences, team news and powerful integration across SharePoint means now its all about who you can discover and what they know is what matters.