Productivity cloud feature announcements highlights from MS Ignite 2019

This blog lists some Ignite announcements highlights and adds some considerations in context of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, Yammer and Power Platform as a part of productivity cloud. All of these components can be considered as the key building elements of modern workplace and “the world’s productivity cloud” like Microsoft is now branding the Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 
The world's productivity cloud

Remember all Ignite 2019 keynotes and already kept sessions can be viewed through the event main site https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ignite

Microsoft Teams announcements

All Teams announcements: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams-Blog/What-s-New-in-Microsoft-Teams-Ignite-2019/ba-p/937025

Private channels

Private channels was by far the most awaited new feature for the Microsoft Teams and its starts to rollout as we speak. Basically it allows to restrict visibility of channel and it’s discussions, tabs and files for the subset of team members, owners or guest users to engage more private collaboration.

If we consider a team which has guest users from other organization for example this could be extremely handy feature to get all collaboration and files inside same team. Likewise it works in case where internal team like HR want’s to collaborate internally and publish information for whole company within same team. Private channels may actually significantly lower the amount of required teams in organization overall since there is no need to create separate teams anymore and in that perpective make the governance easier.

However there are some considerations. How private channels works is whole different story compared to “normal” channels. When creating a private channel, in the background the whole SharePoint site collection is actually created per private channel to manage user permission and host files effectively. This means if single team is consisting of 6 normal channels and 2 private channels for example it requires actually 3 SharePoint site collections to host this single team on backgound. There are also some restrictions and differences with functionalities compared to normal channels discussed here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/MicrosoftTeams/private-channels.

Second consideration for private channels is that there is even bigger need to make sure end users and both team owners and members knows how to act correctly in different usage scenarios. It’s extremely important that they on required level understands the difference between private channel and separate team and which is more efficient way to work on case exact. So update your playbooks in this area and think how your organization should instruct the usage!

And by the way it seems private channel related site collections are currently not visible in SharePoint admin center at all.

Multiwindow capabilities

Multiwindow capability was by far the second most wanted feature for Microsoft Teams. Well its finally here or more closely it will be in early next year. What this basically means is that you can popout teams meetings and/or chats to separate windows to make usage easier in case you have many ongoing activities at same time. Huge usability improvement since this has been a real issue i would say.

SharePoint Online

All SharePoint announcements: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-SharePoint-Blog/The-intelligent-intranet-powered-by-Microsoft-365-Microsoft/ba-p/975037

Audience Targeting for Navigation

Audience targeting for modern news and content pages is currently rollling out worlwide. It allows you to target news and content pages for Office 365 Groups or Active directory groups through news or search highlights webpart and is extremely handy feature to create more personalized (news) content for hub sites or new SharePoint Home Site.

It’s quite natural to get targeting feature for navigation also to get more complete implementation for targeting as a whole. Release is expected on December.

Multilingual page publishing for Modern SharePoint

In modern SharePoint creating multilingual implementations required previously creation of separate communication site structures and hub sites for each of languages. Through multilingual approach content editors can start producing content with various languages to same communication site for news or content pages. This feature allows to create multilingual Intranet to single communication site / hub site structure with sime considerations. When user enters to page with multilingual content available the users’ preferred language version is presented automatically. Release is expected on December.

Power Platform

All Powerplatform announcements: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2019/11/04/announcing-rpa-enhanced-security-no-code-virtual-agents-and-more-for-microsoft-power-platform/

Flow is now called Power Automate

First thing is that Flow got renamed as Power Automate. According Microsoft this naming is better aligned with Power Platform but this may require a bit time to get used to it.

Availability of UI Flows

There is now option available to interact with other applications UI through Power Automate. You can record actions for desktop or web browser applications you are using as Power Automate steps. Let’s take and example: Your organization is using an old software as business critical system and it constantly requires manual work to get things done. Since Power Automate doesn’t have connector for your custom software and it’s too expensive to develop REST api for the old software the working solution is to automate actual user actions in UI level.

This is actually a really good feature and bring Power Automate to different league what becomes to usablity and compliteness of vision in this area. Now Power Automate can really be a single automation platform in many companies.

We must remember these features are now in preview state and there are some restrictions what can be done. However this is a good start.

New Yammer

Full Yammer announcement: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Yammer-Blog/The-New-Yammer/ba-p/976855

New Yammer is coming during year 2020. Please notice you can participate private preview starting on december through this link https://aka.ms/TheNewYammer. There are a lot of improvements. The UI is completely rewritten to match current standards. They are renaming Yammer groups as communities and what’s the best there will be new Yammer teams app available also. Still previous thinking is valid: Yammer is definitely meant for outer loop messaging and sharing knowledge within organization while  Teams is a inner loop tool to enable day to day collaboration. I would say Yammer is targeted for bigger customer but may work well in smaller companies also if organization type especially supports it.

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