After a two-year break, a physical Ignite took place from 12 to 15 October for the first time since the pandemic. Whereby physical is only partly correct. This year’s Ignite was a hybrid event.
Hybrid in this case means that about half of the sessions were held in Seattle and the other sessions were spread across global locations such as Dubai or Berlin.
As a participant, you could therefore decide whether you wanted to attend the event on-site in Seattle, at a HUB location or from home on your computer.
What is Microsoft Ignite?
Microsoft Ignite is one of Microsoft’s three premium events. In addition to Microsoft Ignite, there is also Microsoft Inspire and Microsoft Build.
Before the pandemic in 2019, Ignite was held as an “in-person only” event, with just under 30,000 visitors making the pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any confirmed figures for this year, but I estimate that there were just under 5,000 visitors.
Before the pandemic, Microsoft Ignite was the event where Microsoft published a lot of news. Lately, the focus has been on the Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 worlds. However, there is also always news in the areas of “AI” etc..
What is also always a very important point at Microsoft Ignite is the possibility of networking. During the event or in the evening after an event day, there is a great chance to meet people from Microsoft, Microsoft MVP’s, Microsoft RD’s or also employees of various manufacturers such as Veeam, Lenovo, etc. This networking opportunity always opens up different cooperations. This networking opportunity always opens up various cooperations or a more direct line to solutions, etc.
However, the primary focus of this Ignite was once again on presenting new Microsoft products and solutions, as well as the opportunity to ask experts in a special area (spontaneously or with an appointment).
What was presented at this Ignite?
In a nutshell: (as always) a lot!
I have tried to summarize the most important points from my point of view:
INTRODUCTION TO MICROSOFT TEAMS PREMIUM
- -The new Microsoft Teams Premium add-on will be available as a preview in December. Based on the familiar, all-encompassing Teams collaboration experience, Teams Premium makes every meeting – from 1:1s and virtual appointments to town halls and webinars – more personal, smarter and more secure.
- Teams Premium brings together Teams meeting innovation into one offering, making meetings more personal:
- Meeting guides that help users choose the right meeting experience. Because the guides can be easily customised and managed by IT, users can select a guide – for example, for a client meeting, brainstorming session or helpdesk support – and the options are already set, reducing the time and thought required to get the meeting right.
- The ability to customise the meeting experience with custom logos and backgrounds for the Teams lobby, custom backgrounds at the organisation level, and custom scenes for Together mode to bring the organisation’s brand into the virtual interactions.
- Teams Premium will be smarter with:
- A smart summary , providing users with personalised highlights from Teams meetings to discover the most relevant information. Users may miss a meeting, but they won’t miss everything.
- AI-generated tasks that are automatically assigned from meetings so no action items are missed. It’s like having a virtual assistant attend every meeting.
- Intelligent playback with automatically generated chapters: makes it easier to navigate through the recording of a team meeting and helps to understand the content of a meeting.
- Personalised insights into meeting recordings that highlight important moments in the meeting, such as when a participant’s name was mentioned, a screen was shared and when people joined or left the meeting.
- Smart search makes it easy to search transcripts with personalised speaker suggestions so the user can quickly refer to a specific passage.
- Live subtitle translations provide AI-powered real-time translations for 40 spoken languages, allowing users to read live subtitles in their own language. This feature will help break down language barriers and make meetings more inclusive.
- Teams that Premium will be safer with:
- Enhanced meeting protection that makes it easier to protect confidential meetings, such as board meetings, financial discussions or discussing a secret product launch. With new meeting options such as watermarking to prevent leaks and limiting recording permissions, users get additional protections to maintain the privacy of the discussion. Microsoft 365 E5 customers who have particularly high security requirements can use Microsoft Purview Information Protection’s existing sensitivity flags to automatically apply the appropriate meeting protection options.
- Teams Premium extends the familiar Teams experience to help users connect more deeply with customers by offering the following:
- Enhanced Webinars , which can be found at , help users deepen connection and engagement with internal and external audiences. In addition to the basic webinar features available in Office 365 and Microsoft 365, the enhanced webinars in Teams Premium will include a registration waitlist and manual approvals, automated reminder emails, a virtual green room for hosts and presenters, and the ability to manage what attendees see
- Advanced virtual appointments designed for business-to-consumer (B2C) engagements. In addition to the basic virtual appointments in Microsoft 365 plans (access to the virtual appointments app, the ability to join an appointment via a mobile web browser, and the ability to schedule an appointment via the Microsoft Teams calendar or Microsoft Bookings), enhanced virtual appointments in Teams Premium help users manage the entire appointment experience, including pre-appointment SMS reminders, a branded lobby experience, and post-appointment follow-up. Businesses will also get both scheduled and on-demand appointments, a simplified view of all virtual appointments to track client walk-ins and wait times, and pre-appointment chat capabilities to communicate with clients and analytics
- Teams Premium features will begin rolling out in December 2022 as part of the Teams Premium preview, with general availability of Teams Premium beginning in February 2023. Availability of new AI features, such as smart meetings, will begin in the first half of 2023.
MICROSOFT TEAMS CUSTOMERS GET ACCESS TO BUSINESS CENTRAL DATA AT NO EXTRA COST
- From November, Microsoft Teams users will be able to access Business Central data through the Collaboration app, regardless of whether they have a Dynamics 365 licence. Administrators will be able to set permission and access rules to restrict access to business data. Business Central users will be able to invite people from across the business to connect and collaborate in the workflow, regardless of where they work.
- With Business Central embedded in teams, employees can collaborate on important initiatives and projects right where they connect. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now ensure that all team members are equipped with Context IQ, which provides contextual access to the right information and insights no matter where or how they work.
AUTOMATIC CONVERSATION SUMMARY IN TEAMS-BASED COLLABORATION IN DYNAMICS 365 CUSTOMER SERVICE.
- Users can automate an AI-generated conversation summary in Dynamics 365 Customer Service when an agent is on a customer call and wants to collaborate with other team members via embedded Microsoft Teams. If the agent is not an original member of the chat, they can quickly learn the ropes by opting in to the customer’s chat history to provide insight and context to the conversations. This is particularly helpful in scenarios where a customer service agent is assigned to a case.
- This speeds up problem resolution with an automatically generated, structured conversation summary that shares context, including a summary of the customer’s problem and the outcome of the attempted resolution. The feature is in preview as part of Dynamics 365 Customer Service and is expected to be generally available in October 2022.
MESH AVATARS IN MICROSOFT TEAMS IN PRIVATE PREVIEW.
- Mesh avatars are now available for Microsoft Teams meetings in private preview. Mesh avatars offer flexibility and choice in how users can appear in a Teams meeting with a customised, animated version of themselves without turning on their camera.
- With the Avatars app in the Microsoft Teams App Store, users can design up to three unique avatars using hundreds of customisation options – from physical attributes to accessories and more.
- Once the personalised avatar is created, it can be used in a Teams meeting by selecting the option in the Effects and Avatars menu before joining the meeting. During a meeting, users can choose from a wide range of gestures to respond to topics.
- Mesh avatars are available in the standard Teams meeting experience for Private Preview customers. Organisations that want to try avatars can sign up for updates on the Teams website if they are not already part of the Teams Technical Access Program.
NEW FEATURES FOR TEAMS MEETINGS
- Several new features for Microsoft Teams Meetings increase user engagement and interactivity:
- Cameo, a PowerPoint experience that seamlessly integrates the Teams camera feed into the PowerPoint Live presentation and allows users to customise what is shown on the slides, with layout recommendations for optimal viewing. This feature is generally available.
- Excel Live allows teams to collaborate on Excel workbooks in real time, within the meeting window, on any device, including Android and iOS phones and tablets. With Sheet Views, anyone who is co-editing the workbook can sort or filter as they wish without interfering with anyone else’s view. This feature will be introduced from October and will be generally available by the end of the year.
- Together mode gives participants the feeling of being in the same room during a virtual meeting. With the latest innovations in Together mode, meeting organisers and facilitators can assign seats to meeting participants in the Together mode view (in preview) and select Together mode for all, so that all meeting participants have the same view (now generally available).
MICROSOFT INTRODUCES NEW APP – MICROSOFT PLACES
- Microsoft Places is a new workplace app designed to optimise spaces for hybrid working. As business decision-makers consider redesigning physical workplaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments, technology is needed to bridge the gap between two historically different worlds – face-to-face and remote work. Microsoft Places will use intelligence to optimise where work takes place in hybrid work environments: It connects virtual and physical spaces to increase connectivity, engagement and productivity, while providing a holistic view of hybrid work that is missing today.
The Microsoft Places app, soon to be previewed, will enable this:
- A dashboard view of the days team or collaboration network members will be in the office.
- A presence that shows the physical location of people (in the office, at another location or mobile).
- The ability to see workstations booked by other users, so that someone can book a workstation nearby.
- Insights and guidance on commuting and bridging time, and the ability to automatically schedule travel times.
- Wayfinding and navigation assistance within the office building.
- A modernised conference room booking and technology that enables everyone to be a first-class participant.
- Insights and guidance on moods related to hybrid policies so managers can implement best practices.
- Insights and guidance on space utilisation so managers can future-proof their spaces and flex their real estate portfolio.
MICROSOFT UPDATES OUTLOOK WITH NEW TOOLS FOR HYBRID WORKING
- Outlook is adding new features to help people stay connected and organised in hybrid work environments.
- With the new Work Times and Locations feature, users can organise their week so their teammates know when they will be available and where they will be working so they can better schedule meetings. If there is a sudden change during the day, users have the option to change their location for that day via Microsoft Teams, Outlook Desktop or Teams Mobile without affecting the rest of the week.
- Meeting Recap, now available in Outlook, allows employees to find information about a meeting and access the recording directly from the calendar event.
- To accommodate people in different time zones and to respect employees’ free time and holidays, Outlook and Teams are adding the ability to schedule a message to be sent at a later time. Outlook will add message response to the email platform, allowing employees to acknowledge and respond to business emails in the same way they respond to messages in Teams or on social platforms.
- With the editor using Context IQ, emails can show relevant people and files in Outlook on the web. By simply using @Mentions, the editor with Context IQ displays relevant people and files based on the context entered in an email. Context IQ is a new feature from Microsoft that intelligently connects people to the information they need, where and when they need it. It works in the background to connect content across different Microsoft 365 apps.
- These features will be generally available by the end of the year.
MICROSOFT LOOP APP IN PRIVATE PREVIEW
- The Microsoft Loop app, which is in private preview, will help teams think, plan and create together. Customers can use the Loop app to work collaboratively on projects. The Loop app provides workspaces, pages and components that sync across Microsoft 365. Microsoft will work with customers in private previews to incorporate their feedback into further development of the app.
These are just some of the announcements that were unveiled at this year’s Ignite. The full list can now be viewed directly at Microsoft. The so-called “Book of news” is available under the following link:
Microsoft Ignite – Between the lines
As already mentioned in the introduction, Microsoft Ignite can be viewed from different levels. On the one hand, there are the various sessions, networking, expert talks, etc. On the other hand, there is always a personal touch. On the other hand, there is always a personal touch. This is about the experiences around Ignite. Arrival, stay, activities between the sessions, etc.
I arrived in Seattle two days before the Microsoft Ignite and was able to use the time before the event to visit Microsoft at the main location in Redomond and have some meetings with the product teams. I can’t write anything about the content here, as these meetings were under NDA. However, it is very impressive how big the Microsoft campus in Redmond is.
Before the pandemic, about 60,000 employees spent their working day on this campus. One day is probably not enough if you want to explore the whole campus on foot.
I decided to put together a short video. In this video I document my week from Switzerland to Seattle and back.
Here is the corresponding link to this video:
Now I am back home in Switzerland. As always, I’m looking forward to travelling to such Microsoft events and meeting the community in person. Especially now after the pandemic and the resulting longer break.
When I look at and evaluate this year’s Ignite as a “standalone” event, I can definitely give this event good marks.
However, when I look at the overall context of Ignite, compared to previous years, this edition was rather mediocre.
I hope that Microsoft has now finally understood that people want to meet again and that the next edition will be held again in the usual setting.
However, I think the hybrid approach is good. On the one hand, this allows Microsoft to increase its reach, and on the other hand, it allows people who don’t have the opportunity to travel to the US to participate.