Review of Microsoft Ignite the Tour, London 2019



Review of Microsoft Ignite The Tour, London 2019

Tuesday and Wednesday this week (26 & 27 Feb, 2019), over two beautifully sunny days, saw Microsoft Ignite on Tour come to London ExCeL. The main Microsoft Ignite is an annual conference for developers and IT professionals, and it’s then been on tour all around the world, bringing the best practices on the future of cloud development, data and business intelligence.

My days were spent in sessions covering a range of subjects: from end-to-end implementation of an Azure DevOps pipeline, through going passwordless in as many scenarios as possible (using Windows Hello to integrate to your systems), to a great session on rendering data in Power BI.

72% of staff will be working, at least in part, remotely by 2020 - and 80% of employee time is spent collaborating

The Power BI session was particularly interesting because it talked about not just graphing your data, but how to show the story you’re trying to tell with the data. What’s the difference? Just search for Bad or Misleading graphs and take a look at some real-world examples. The easier you can make it for people to understand what you’re trying to show, the shorter the meeting needs to be.

Microsoft Teams

Here though, I’ll concentrate on one of the key themes of the conference: “Optimising teamwork in your organisation”, centred around Microsoft Teams.

There were some interesting stats provided on why collaboration is so crucial: 5 generations now work potentially together in the workforce, 72% of staff will be working, at least in part, remotely by 2020 – and 80% of employee time is spent collaborating. Teams was also billed as the fastest growing business app in Microsoft’s history, with a reported 87 Fortune 100 companies using Teams.

These sessions on Teams interested me, because within Curo Talent we’ve adopted Teams as our collaboration tool over the past few months, replacing Skype for Business for all internal calls and chat. There are still some features to be released, some of which will help us work even better.

Screen sharing will be possible in a private chat without a call at the same time, allowing quick resolution of issues (in their words, without being distracted by talking). Inline translation within Teams conversations will allow global communication to be that bit more seamless (or confusing, depending on the quality of the translation). They are increasing collaboration across Office 365 applications: SharePoint pages and lists will be rendered directly in a Channel tab, looking the same as it does on SharePoint itself.

Some of the great current features within Teams were also highlighted. For instance, background blur is incredibly useful for those moments working from home when you shouldn’t be disturbed. Remember that BBC reporter who was made an Internet sensation by his children coming into the room in 2017? See the YouTube video on how background blur can help.

As another example, if you record a meeting it is uploaded to Stream and can be auto-captioned and transcribed – in limited languages automatically at the moment, but more is coming. This allows you to catch up on a meeting and search the text for any actions you were given. Again, the transcription has its flaws at the moment, but is improving with every bit of AI text analysis.

Governance, policy and privacy settings

One of the most useful sessions I attended was a hands-on lab walkthrough of the governance, policy and privacy settings within Teams. There are 4 Teams admin roles, breaking down the privileges so that not all support staff have to be global admins, and there are some incredibly useful features. If you’re a Teams admin, or soon to be one, it’s worth getting familiar now with the Office 365 Teams admin section, the Azure AD admin section, and the Azure Security and compliance section.

For example, an admin can set a blocked words list so people can’t create Teams with misleading or inappropriate names. They can assign individual policies based on the AD to dynamically control Teams membership or ability to use Teams features such as Teams creation or inviting external guests to meetings. They can see a call analytics/call quality dashboard to analyse and eradicate any issues with the video conferencing functionality.

A good place to learn more about how to get a successful Teams adoption across your organisation is Microsoft’s site, successwithteams.com. There are videos and documentation to help admins get to grips with their tasks and plan their rollout, as well as end-user videos to get them excited to be using Teams well.

A great couple of days, covering a vast range of content. There are some recorded sessions from Microsoft Ignite available in the tech community site. Perhaps take an hour today, and browse some of the content.

Annie Andrews

Author: Annie Andrews

Annie started her career in Microsoft training and consultancy, covering both programming and systems engineering. From here, she was a technical lead with many other technologies during her later positions at Lloyds Banking Group, where she held the role of Chief Subject Matter Expert. Now, Annie has returned to her mothership technology of Microsoft, as Head of Technology at Curo Talent.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

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