New tools unveiled for collaboration between Teams and Microsoft 365

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At Ignite 2021, beyond flagship features like Loop and Context IQ, Microsoft announced service enhancements in its Microsoft 365 product families. A new JavaScript API in Microsoft Excel allows developers to create custom data types, and Microsoft Forms Collection, which allows customers to manage an archive of forms, is now available to everyone. There is also an improved presentation recording experience in Microsoft PowerPoint and Smart Alerts, an Outlook feature that allows developers to validate content before a user sends an email or an appointment.

Millions of employees have switched to remote or hybrid work – permanently or temporarily – during the pandemic. In this context, organizations have increased their investments in project management software to support collaboration in the absence of physical workspaces. The global social software and workplace collaboration market is expected to grow from around $ 2.7 billion in 2018 to $ 4.8 billion by 2023, almost double in size. according to at Gartner.

Teams

On the team side, Teams Connect – Microsoft’s answer to Slack Connect, which also allows users to chat with people outside their organization in shared channels – will be previewed from early 2022 to allow users to (1) schedule a shared channel meeting, (2 ) use Microsoft applications and (3) share each channel with up to 50 unlimited teams and organizations. With the inter-tenant access settings in Azure AD, administrators will be able to configure specific privacy relationships for external collaboration with different corporate organizations.

Available by the end of 2021, Chat with Teams personal account users – a new feature – “will extend collaboration support by allowing Teams users to chat with team members outside of their network. working with a Teams personal account, ”says Microsoft. With Enhanced Chat with Teams, customers will be able to invite any Teams user to a chat using an email address or phone number.

Hopefully, the improved chat with teams will avoid suffering the same fate as the extended Slack Connect in its infancy. In March, Slack rolled back a feature that allowed anyone in the world with a paid Slack account to send a direct message request to other Slack users, even if they didn’t have a paid Slack account. paying account. While Connect direct messages were enabled, inviting users could include a message of up to 560 characters to recipients, which Slack emailed to them. Users who received abusive and threatening messages couldn’t easily block specific senders because Slack sent the notifications from a generalized inbox.

For its part, Microsoft says that the Chat with Teams experience “will remain in security and compliance policies. [and] limits of [organizations.]”

Team rooms

In 2019, Skype Room Systems, Microsoft’s multi-vendor conference room control solution, was renamed Microsoft Teams rooms with capabilities to simplify face-to-face meetings. New features include the extension of direct guest login to BlueJeans and GoToMeeting (scheduled for first half of 2022), which allows Teams users to join meetings hosted on other meeting platforms from a Teams room. . By 2022, Teams Rooms customers will be able to manage Surface Hubs from the Teams admin center with other Teams devices, as well as use compatible Teams panels to check in to a room, view occupancy scans. and configure the room to be free if no one is checked. after a while.

Applications and team chat

In other Teams news, new partner apps, including Atlassian’s Jira Cloud and SAP Sales & Service Core, will enable Teams users to engage “more collaboratively” through chat, channels and meetings . Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications using Teams components can integrate features like chat connectivity in Dynamics 365 and Power Apps, while Azure Communications Services Teams interoperability, which can be used to build applications that interact with Teams, will be available soon. .

According to Microsoft, several enhancements to the Teams admin center make it easier to navigate and simplify IT management. Now admins can search for any function and use the redesigned Teams app store – launched later this month – as well as an app discovery tool to view apps by category, see additional details on apps and get a simplified ability for users to request apps.

Other IT management features now in preview include a new dashboard with customizable views of device usage metrics with information, troubleshooting tips, suggested actions, proactive alerts, and the ability to download and upload. share reports. A new workspace view provides data for all devices in a specific physical location because all teams are displayed in a particular building. And priority account notification allows IT administrators to specify priority users, so they can monitor experiences with device alerts and post-call quality metrics.

For users, there are new features such as “chat with self” (which allows them to send a message to each other) and a “chat density” feature which allows users to customize the number of chat messages they want. see on screen. Its new compact mode contains 50% more messages on the screen compared to before. Elsewhere, Teams now offers more than 800 3D emojis and the ability to delay message delivery until a specific time, as well as a new search results user interface. Upgrades will roll out by early 2022.

Webinars and Events

Along with other Teams updates, features focused on webinars and events, including the Virtual Green Room (previewing in early 2022), which allows organizers and presenters to socialize, monitor chat and Q&A, manage attendee settings and share content before the event begins. Virtual green room arrives alongside improved controls to manage what attendees see at an event (available by the end of the year) and a set of question-and-answer functions (previewing this month) that enable organizers and presenters mark the best answers, filter the answers, moderate, reject questions and pin messages, such as a welcome message.

The co-organizer (usually available by the end of the year) allows an event organizer to assign up to ten different co-organizers, who have the same abilities and permissions as the organizer. As for the isolated audio stream (previewing this month), it allows producers to create an audio mix from the isolated streams of each individual.

In a related development, the event and hospitality management platform, Cvent is now integrated with Teams, allowing customers to use it to manage the event lifecycle, including registration and the management of the agenda.

API and more

The latest JavaScript API for Microsoft Office, generally available in Microsoft Excel later this month, gives developers the ability to create their own custom data types, including images, entities, and formatted numeric values. Users will be able to create their own add-ins and extend existing ones to capitalize on data types, resulting in what Microsoft calls “a more integrated experience in Excel.”

The aforementioned forms collection, which also debuts today, allows customers to create and maintain an online archive for their forms and quizzes in Microsoft Forms without leaving the site. As for smart alerts (preview), they can be used with event-based add-in extensions to perform logic while users complete tasks in Outlook, like creating or replying to emails.

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