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Microsoft Ignite 2020: Introducing new Teams updates thatll enhance remote collaborations 

Recently, the Microsoft Ignite 2020 Event showcased new updates to the tech giants app ecosystem. This digital event exhibited a series of innovative solutions that were focussed on remote collaboration.  Whilst there were a myriad of features introduced, we wanted to highlight  Microsoft Teams and AI (Artificial Intelligence).  

There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has accelerated our journey to remote working and Microsoft Teams has become the app of choice for many from file-sharing and collaboration to one-on-one or group meetings Microsoft Teams does it all. But whats different this time? 

As you know, at Mintivo, were huge fans of Microsoft Teams, particularly because it offers secure, efficient communication and great integration with the Microsoft ecosystem. Were excited to see how the new features roll out and perform in the world of remote working (some of which are available in some countries already!) 

Here are some of our favourite announcements: 

Together Mode enhancements, Breakout Rooms and Dynamic View 

Lets applaud Microsoft for setting their Teams collaboration app apart from its competitors with the AI segmentation enhancements introduced with the new Together Mode feature. Together Mode will allow you to switch the background scene to either a conference room, coffee shop or auditorium. The AI tech will also permit repositioning participants regardless of their proximity to their cameras. A nifty feature that’ll be useful for those who do not have office setups in their home.  

Together Mode is currently in development and general availability worldwide will roll out from December 2020. 

Among other visual changes is Dynamic View, which makes it easier to customise layouts and how the content displays for participants during the meeting. The same AI segmentation tech used for Together Mode is implemented in Dynamic View. This allows the presenter to hold the audiences attention through hand gestures and facial cues much like a face-to face presentation i.e. the viewer will be able to see the presenters PowerPoint slide and their video transposed in the foreground without losing the essence or formality of the presentation. 

Dynamic View is currently in development and will roll out for Windows Desktop worldwide from October 2020. 

Microsoft had announced the launch of Breakout Rooms earlier this year and will roll it out this month. You might recall that weve already done this at Mintivo, we call it our Bored Room [link to Bored room article]. The goal with the Breakout Room is to split participants up into smaller groups for brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions. Much like the new Breakout Rooms, our Bored Room was intended to bring our team together in a space that mirrors an office-based staff room, while still allowing teams to hop between meetings and engage with one another in other virtual rooms. 

Breakout Rooms are currently in development and will roll out worldwide from October 2020. 

25,000 members per team
Even though Teams already allows up to 10,000 members per site, this number will increase to 25,000 members this year. In addition to this update, Teams will support up to 1,000 participants per meeting and up to 20,000 participants for larger meetings in a view-only experience with live captions. 

Team expansion will roll out worldwide from December 2020. 

Meeting recap, live captions and transcriptions
Ever get lost or confused about who’s speaking or what they’re saying because of poor audio quality during a Teams meeting? Now you don’t need to worry about that. Microsoft will be including real-time captions that appear while someone is speaking – this refers to the presenter and participants and will be transcribed into a downloadable document in your chat column after your meeting. So, if you missed anything, you can easily catch up afterwards.  

It gets even better. If you are unable to attend a meeting. Microsoft Teams will have meeting recaps that will include a recording, transcript, chat and shared files (saved to One Drive).   

Live caption and transcription features will roll out from October 2020, while Meeting Recap will be available worldwide from December 2020. 

Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie
Yes, you read that correctly, Teams will be incorporating a first-of-its-kind Walkie Talkie feature within the app for Android devices. Its function is as straightforward as the name. Android users will be able to participate in Teams meetings in secure walkie talkie style using their personal or company devices to share voice communications via mobile network or Wi-Fi. Could this stop those awkward moments when we accidentally talk over colleagues?  

For those organisations that use them, could this new feature eliminate the need for physical walkie talkies or third-party applications and save costs? 

The general availability for the Walkie Talkie feature for Microsoft Android will roll out from September 2020. 

 

Virtual commutes and meditation breaks 

Finding the perfect work/life balance has been challenging when adapting to remote working. Microsofts solution to help with this is to encourage employees and employers to participate in scheduled daily virtual commutes and meditation to allow for breaks in between day-to-day work tasks and encounters. The Virtual Commute is meant to replace the physical daily commute to and from the office by allocating a specific time to get ready for work and preparing to leave the virtual workplace. The idea is to help you mentally prepare for the day ahead or to switch off after the workday has finished. 

According to research, regular work breaks help employees to maintain a healthy mental balance. In collaboration with Headspace, Microsoft will introduce a series of meditation exercises to help employees manage their breakaways from work. This could be a short meditation session to help them focus before a presentation or simply take a short tea break.  

The wellbeing and productivity insights for managers and leaders will start rolling out from December 2020, while additional features will become available from March 2021. 

 

We’re excited to explore the use of AI segmentation technology and improved collaboration opportunities created by Microsoft. Teams has already been an excellent platform for collaboration and they’ve taken it a step further with the wellbeing and productivity features. These upgrades will help employers and employees to successfully adapt to the new working environment we find ourselves in.  

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