Microsoft Ignite 2018 – Day 3

I manged to keep the walking to a minimum today, only 6km, I’m just glad most of the sessions I wanted to see were in the same area!

Flow

Flow is getting lots of attention as well this year, as well it should. Several sessions were showing some very simple but ingenius ways to automate repetitive and time consuming tasks. I learnt some handy tips such as using variables to format information before they’re used and how to correctly use parallel tasks. One of the demos used Forms, SharePoint Lists, and Shared Calendars with ZERO code, and created an events management system that nofies various people at intervals. The future of Flow in Office 365 is going to be a very bright one.

If you’ve never heard of Flow, you are really missing out, visit flow.microsoft.com to learn more.

Skype for Business Server 2019

A few long-awaited new features announced for Skype for Business Server 2019 – check out Tom Arbuthnot’s blog post here for more detail, but the advancements being developed for Skype for Business Server 2019 really show that ‘hybrid’ is the default state in Microsoft’s mind. For example, with Skype for Business 2019 and Exchange Server 2019 there will be NO option for voicemail, without an Office 365 tenant and hybrid configuration.

A brave new world is upon us.

Burnout

A very insightful, moving, and personal story from Sonia Cuff about the symptoms and impact of her ‘burnout’. The talk also touched on how to identify symptoms in yourself and others, and what can be done to get back to normal.

Operational Governance for Microsoft Teams

I won’t go over the details, because you can watch the session for yourself. But Dux Raymond Sy is an incredibly engaging speaker (infact he also ran a session on ‘How to be a rock-star public speaker’ – well worth a watch if you’re thining about speaking at user groups, or even if you have an internal presentation coming up).

The topic of governance isn’t the most exciting topic, but Dux walked everybody through some of the fundamental concepts around Office 365 Groups that underpin Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Outlook etc.

I encourage you to watch all of Dux’s sessions – available via MyIgnite website.

Microsoft Teams

Another day of new Teams news, and more detail around announcements in previous days.

First Line Workers

One of the many hot topics was the First Line Worker experience in Microsoft Teams, essentially StaffHub is being retired and functionality is being moved to Microsoft Teams, and the best part is that no additional licences are required.

Image Annotation

A really cool feature that lets you take a photo from within Microsoft Teams (first of all you can select if you’re taking a photo of document, whiteboard, business card, or normal photo – and Teams will automaticlaly crop and adjust perspective for you), then you can add annotations directly on to the photo before sending. One of the fictional scenarios of First Line Workers showed an airline, using the Teams application to submit a report of faulty equipment, the user took a photo of a broken cart, drew a circle around the exact area that was faulty, and then uploaded it into an automated process to raise a support ticket.

Graph Communications API

Well, just wow. I’ve seen several incredible demos this week showing the power of the new Graph Communicaitons API – which are a set of functionality that allows your application to control and automate audio and video within Microsoft Teams. This lays the foundation for Contact Centres software companies such as Landis and Enghouse to provide native contact centres built to integrate directly with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.

Enghouse Interactive showed a demo using Graph Communications API, where a caller rings a booking service line, as the caller requsts information for booking a trip to a certain destination, a bot which was in the call was analysing the speech and automatically posted an Adaptive Card with relevent contextual information to the agent in real-time. This example also contained an ‘offer’ that was available to the caller, with the click of a button, the solution conferenced in a supervisor to authorise the deal. It was a really slick demo overall, some areas that were highlighted as ‘work in progress’ – such as the requirement to answer the call, and then admit from the lobby (remember these have been in beta for a short while, and only just announced as public preview this week at Ignite).

being able to control the call flow, routing, selection, and to tap into the media channels to be processed by Microsoft Cognative Services allows for some futuristic AI scenarios such as real-time monitoring for sentiment anlysis – and alert supervisors or managers while a call is happening without the agent having to lose focus on the situation at hand. Or the scenario above, to augment the experiance by automatically surfacing contextual data to the agent to use as they see fit.

I, for one, welcome our new bot overlords, and will be happy to work for them as long as my frail human body allows me to.

Adaptive Cards

I mentioned above that a bot posted an ‘Adaptive Card’ to the agent of a contact centre. An adaptive card is a way to show rich content, with customisable layouts, call to action buttons, and other inputs in a way that can be supported across platforms and on different devices. Microsoft have developed this as an open framework for anybody to impliment.

For example, a ‘Flight information’ adaptive card could be defined once, and will be displayed consistant with the user interface of the target platform such as iPhone, Cortana, Microsoft Teams, or directly in an email in Outlook.

It’s a welcome addition to how bots and other solutions are able to interact with users when the traditional application interface, or web page that we used to interact with is sudenly reduced to a single ‘text box’ allowing for simple question and answer converstional approach to interaction, wether that’s a chat bot via Teams, or a popup on a website, on a mobile screen, or even via voice on a call. (Yes, Adaptive Cards support ‘voice prompts’ too).

Bye

There’s so much more happening that I’m not able to do justice here, please browse MyIgnite and start watching any of the recorded sessions that interest you. It’s a wealth of incredibly valuable information and insight from experienced people who are here presenting for just one purpose, and that is to share their knowledge.

Thanks for reading…

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