Tech Summit 2017: Create a modern workplace with Microsoft 365

Microsoft Tech Summit has returned to Birmingham, opening to over 3,000 people at the NEC. The opening keynote preceded numerous sessions on Microsoft technologies, from Azure to Teams, across two days of learning. Kicking off the event was Stella Chernyak, Senior Director for Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Enterprise Audience Marketing.

The keynote started by looking at trends in the workplace - where increasingly we're seeing that companies are looking at how they can be enabling their employees to do the best work they can, and how they can proactively foster that culture.

Microsoft has demonstrated how it's working to achieve this via Modern Workplace. However, how can other companies use Microsoft 365 to create their own modern workplaces?

What is a Modern Workplace?

While every company is unique and has their own story, we do hear some common themes from our customers. Customers are demanding help in enabling everyone in their company while they go through their digital transformation.

There's also a modernisation aspect. Millennials have different expectations when it comes to work, wanting a bigger sense of purpose and the ability to be more flexible. Working at any time, at any place and on any device is the new normal. But there's work that has to be done to make this secure and easy for your users.

Company expectations of workers is also changing; Everyone is expected to be creative because it's ingenuity that makes companies stand apart. Anyone, whether they're in customer service or working as a financial representative, they should be able to work together.

As we talk about these trends, we should be thinking about potential threats to security. On one hand you want to enable flexible working, but you also have to protect your company from complex, constantly evolving threats. Nowadays you really need to have intelligence about potential breaches, and you need to have the strength and breadth to prevent them from affecting your wider systems.

Microsoft 365 is our answer to this; a complete, intelligent solution including Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, that empowers everyone to be creative and work together, securely. To accomplish this, Microsoft 365 focuses on 4 areas.

Unlock Creativity

How can we use technology like AI to make every employee in the office work together? Applications like Outlook use intelligence to help users prioritise important messages. As it learns based on your own reading patterns, it'll surface important emails in the 'focused' inbox, and less important ones in the 'other' inbox. This is a basic but important use of AI, as it allows you to be much more productive and ensure that you're not missing important emails in a deluge of other, less important emails.

Outlook can also pull important information to the top of the email. For example, if you receive a travel itinerary in an email, Outlook can read it and know what information is important enough to highlight. It's displayed in a smart card, and it'll show destinations, flight times, travel duration and more.

It's not just about being more productive though - it's about using this intelligence to keep you safe. An example is that Outlook can look at suspicious emails and flag them as dangerous, even when at first glance it might appear to be an email from someone you know. It's an extra line of defence that can prevent threats from making their way into your business.

Whether it's memes or code snippets, Teams is the perfect for fostering collaboration in the workplace. This is because you're not limited to posting text and images - you can embed things like Power BI dashboards, streaming video and working files. If you're working in a company that has offices in multiple countries, you may find yourself in a position where you want to use a PowerPoint, but it's in a language you don't understand. All you need to do is use the 'Translate Slides' option to create a copy in another language.

There are also tools that'll help if you don't have a knack for designing PowerPoint slides. For example, by adding multiple images into a slide at the same time, PowerPoint will present you with design ideas that integrate these images with your current slide, automatically picking photo size, detecting focal points and colour matching. Add on top of that support for 3D models and AR functionality, this is just the start of how it can help foster creativity within your company.

Built for Teamwork

Email and calendar with Exchange, connecting to people, content and apps with SharePoint, and using voice, video and chat with Skype and Teams. This is just a selection of the numerous tools on Microsoft 365 that promote teamwork.

Central to our teamwork strategy is Teams, a digital hub for teamwork that brings together people, meetings, documents, conversations and obligations into one campus. As of today there are over 150 integrations that you can use to customise your team's experience. It's at the centre of our investment with Office 365.

We have modern Skype infrastructure for enterprise voice, video and meetings, and Teams as a hero client for Office 365 customers. On top of that there will also be a release of Skype for Business Server in late calendar year 2018.

Stella then spoke with James Boswell, Global Director of End User Computing at Centrica, about their digital transformation and adoption of Microsoft 365.

As Centrica is an energy and services company, digital transformation is key to the business. They needed to have the right data available to them at the right time, use Power BI to make smarter business decisions, and use Office 365 to make sure people can collaborate together. They needed to make sure they had the right tools to do their jobs.

This was the start of a massive Microsoft 365 transformation. They launched a SharePoint for 52,000 internal users around the world as a corporate intranet, moved everyone onto Skype and stored their documents in the cloud.

How are they moving so fast? Their board wanted to adopt the latest digital technology to have an advantage. They did this with great support from Microsoft and their suppliers. They also made sure the business itself was changing, making sure they had buy-in across the company, from HR to customer services, to ensure that it would be a smooth transition.

Some interesting trends have emerged this year thanks to that. People are now working from home because they have the right technology to do so. They have a 'Make a great idea count' program that allows anyone in the company to provide feedback to anything regarding the business, with 5,000 active users and massive productivity gains. Offices all around the world are using Yammer to chat with people on the other side of the world, something that hadn't been practical before.

But how do they manage keeping on top of the evergreen features of Office 365? Their team has changed, hiring a head of customer experience to make sure they're keeping on top of the tech, plus two full time digital evangelists ensuring that people on all levels know how to use the technology. They're creating a network of digital champions.

Integrated for Simplicity

The aim of Microsoft 365 is to make things a lot simper. Minimise TCO access deployment, management and servicing, have a broad support for PC, Mac, iOS and Android platforms, and more. Make it easier for your users.

One such technology that really changes this experience is Windows AutoPilot, a collection of technologies used to set up and pre-configure new devices, getting them ready for productive use. From the IT pros' perspective, the only interaction required from the end user is to connect to a network and to verify their credentials. Everything past that is automated.

The initial set-up of a device is something we're all familiar with. Windows AutoPilot makes sure that the end user only has to enter the bare minimum of information to get up and running. It recognises when the new device is connecting to a corporate network, asking for your password and downloading security policies for software like Windows Defender, BitLocker and Windows Hello. What used to take hours of set up is now incredibly quick.

There's also Upgrade Readiness, which provides powerful insights and recommendations about the computers, applications, and drivers in your organisation. You can view the video below for more information on how this works.

With Co-management, you can choose whether your policies are managed on premises in the configuration manager, or in the cloud on Intune. There's also an option to have a mix of both, so you can make sure you're making life easier for your end users.

Intelligent Security

We build security in all layers of Microsoft 365. We get information about billions of threats on products like Azure, Windows and Exchange, and we're constantly monitoring for new threats.

One of the challenges we have is getting users to classify and protect their documents. To make this easier, we can set up a rule to make particular words flag documents as confidential. For example, if we were to indicate that 'mark 8' is a classified phrase, and we then used it in a document, Word would now know that the document is confidential and will set usage rights accordingly. This prevents documents containing sensitive information from being passed to people that shouldn't see them.

Similar rules can be used to prevent vendors from downloading copies of documents that contain particular sensitive information. These documents could be read in the browser but not downloadable, depending on your organisation's own policies.

A common issue when it comes to making improvements to security is how you convince your higher ups to make important changes. This is tricky if you're the most technical person and need a way to show what you mean. The easiest way to do this is with a number.

We can now give security scores, which look at six areas in particular and scores them out of 100, providing recommendations for each of them should further action be required. With a score of 401 out of 600, it shows people who aren't as tech savvy that there are things that need to be improved.

Preparing for GDPR

Because of GDPR, there's an increased concern over data protection and privacy. We're working closely with both regulators and customers to make sure our products and services are within these regulations.

We want to help you focus on your core business while efficiently preparing for the GDPR. Microsoft 365 will be ready for May 25 this year when GDPR takes effect in Europe. We're committed to supporting and working closely with you to help accelerate your GDPR compliance.

For more information on how Microsoft can help you get GDPR ready, check out Alex Bennett's blog.

By focusing on these four areas you can get the boost you need for your digital transformation. We're seeing companies from many industries evolving and innovating with Microsoft 365, and we're excited to see what you can do too. The modern workplace is here.

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