Top 10 Microsoft Teams Announcements at Ignite 2020

This week at Microsoft Ignite there were many announcements about new functionality coming to Microsoft Teams (too many to even count). In the new normal people will often spend a large majority of their days using Microsoft Teams, doing video meetings, checking Teams channels and even collaborating on documents whilst chatting with their colleagues. It’s an exciting time for Teams and it’s a big focus area for development by Microsoft to help users and organisations in the new normal.

In this blog I will attempt to pick my top 10 announcements in order of most significant and then provide summaries of the announcements and what I’m most looking forward to from a collaboration perspective.

1. SharePoint home site app in Teams

(Currently in development – estimated March 2021)

The new app will match the brand for the user’s organisation and can be pinned to the app bar in Teams, providing quick access to search, and a personalised view of news and important sites. Complementing this will be the new SharePoint app bar (coming 2021) that will provide a consistent navigation on the left-hand side of every site and will also be available in the home site app in Teams.

I’m most excited about this announcement and eagerly awaiting this release in March 2021. Frequently both Teams and SharePoint have often been seen by end users like two different planets (information repositories) and there has been very little done in terms of integration to show your SharePoint home site in Teams. The home site app will appear on the left-hand side navigation in Teams and enable users to quickly flick between their Teams, Chats, Calls and SharePoint home site all from the Teams application.

Teams templates

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

2. Project Oakdale – Low Code Data Platform for Microsoft Teams

(Currently in development – but has been made available for public preview in most M365 tenants now)

Project Oakdale delivers a built-in, low-code data platform in Microsoft Teams for the Power Platform provided from the new Power Apps app in Teams. It provides relational data storage (Common Data Service), rich data types, enterprise-grade governance, and one-click solution deployment. Normally these features would involve purchasing expensive premium licences for the Power Platform, but now these features can be used without any additional licensing. Power users can then build low-code and no-code apps, flows, and chatbots for and within Teams. The important point to note is that each Team can have one Project Oakdale environment (taking advantage of the advanced features of Project Oakdale). All data, apps and flows created with the Power Apps app inside the Team are stored in that Team’s Project Oakdale database and cannot be accessed from anywhere else i.e. another Team or a standalone Power App.

I feel this is a very big announcement – quite often having to purchase premium Power Platform licenses has been a handbrake for power users to use the Common Data Service (CDS) for advanced apps or to create chat bots. The Project Oakdale environment’s common data service does not exactly match the Common Data Service that you would have in a premium environment. There are some limitations i.e. one environment only, max size 2 GB, auditing etc., but for the most part it is great that users can use the Common Data Service and other premium features. If needed at a later date the Team’s Project Oakdale environment could also be converted to a premium environment to take advantage of the full premium licensed features.

This is currently in public preview in most M365 tenants, I’m looking forward to seeing which Power Apps can be created in Teams taking advantage of the Common Data Service. I predict this will bring a whole new wave of Teams specific apps automating lots of existing and slow business processes.

Low Code Data Platform for Microsoft Teams

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

3. Breakout rooms

(Currently in development – estimated release October 2020)

Coming in October, breakout rooms will allow meeting organisers to split up meeting participants into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions. Presenters can choose to hop between breakout rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and/or close the breakout rooms that will bring everybody back into the main meeting.

In these current times and the heavy use of Teams for meetings this is will be very welcomed. It will be great for workshops to split off into groups from the meeting and then work together before joining back to the meeting.

Teams Breakout rooms

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

4. Wellbeing and productivity insights in Teams

(Coming to Microsoft Teams starting in October)

Wellbeing features and productivity insights – powered by MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics – are coming to Microsoft Teams starting in October. Individuals, managers, and business leaders will get personalised insights with recommended actions to make changing habits and improving productivity and wellbeing easier. Additionally, new personal wellbeing experiences will also be available.

Often after a day of Teams’ meetings I can often feel more exhausted than I would doing the same thing face-to-face and as we’re all mostly home-based I often find the lines blurred between work starting and ending. These look to be some great initiatives from Microsoft to improve wellbeing and productivity. I especially like the idea of a virtual commute to add structure to the remote working day and remind you to start to wind down your day and use your commute time to relax, assign tasks for tomorrow etc.

5. Meeting recap

(Currently in development – estimated release December 2020)

Meeting recaps help teams stay on track and keep work moving forward after a meeting for both participants and for those who were unable to attend a meeting. Coming this year, a recap with the meeting recording, transcript, chat, shared files and more will be automatically shared in the meeting Chat tab and viewable in the Details tab for each meeting. The recap will also be available in the meeting event in your Outlook calendar.

At the moment a lot of people find themselves  being invited to many more Teams’ meetings and often cannot attend all of them. It will be great to revisit meetings that you were unable to attend or get a recap of what happened in the meeting you did attend.

meeting recap Teams

6. New Search results experience

(Currently in development – estimated later this year)

A new search experience in Teams, powered by Microsoft Search and available later this year, will make finding messages, people, answers, and files faster and more intuitive. This redesigned search results page provides better context and faster results, with AI-powered relevance based on the people and content you engage with most in Teams and other Microsoft 365 services.

Filters are also easier to access so people can find what they are looking for based on the date, person, file type etc.

As Teams is becoming the de-facto Meta operating system for users working days and more and more communications are being brought to Teams from other apps it is critical that search is more powerful. I’m looking forward to a much improved search experience in Teams as search often feels cumbersome and slow in Teams at present.

Search in Teams

7. Approvals app in Microsoft Teams

(Generally available in October 2020)

Approvals will become generally available in October enabling user to easily create, manage, share, and act on approvals directly from Teams. Approval flows can start from a chat, channel conversation, or from the Approvals app.

This looks interesting with the ability to easily create approvals on files from Teams and manage your approvals in Apps. There will also be integration with any Power Automate approval tasks assigned to you and Microsoft is also launching integrations with Adobe Sign and DocuSign later this year to be able to use e-signatures in Teams.

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

8. New Together Mode Scenes and Custom Layouts

(Available later this year)

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to use Teams Together Mode during Teams meetings, which helps participants feel closer together even when they are apart. It does this by selecting just the user from their webcam feed and then placing them in an auditorium setting. You can see everyone without the distractions of what’s going on in the background of their camera feed and it’s as if you are in the same room.

There is currently only one scene available but it has been announced that there are some new together mode scenes coming i.e. conference room, coffee shop, boardroom, outdoor auditorium which will help set the tone and create the experience for your meeting.

There are also some new custom layouts available to allow for a more dynamic content viewing experience and enable presenters to customise how content shows up for participants during a meeting. For example, when a presenter is showing a PowerPoint slide, participants will be able to see the presenter’s video feed transposed onto the foreground of the slide they’re showing.

I’m looking forward to these releases especially the new custom layouts and PowerPoint integration.  There looks to be some great integration with PowerPoint when presenting a slide show full screen with dual monitors using presenter view. On your second monitor you will be able to see the camera feeds of the people in the meeting along with your PowerPoint speaker notes, whereas before the camera feeds would have been in hidden in the Teams app on your computer.

Together-Mode-in-Teams

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

customise how content shows up in Teams

Source: Twitter @thatmattwade

9. Power BI App in Teams

(Available in Public Preview soon)

There will also be a new Power BI app in Teams which will enable users to quickly discover, search and discuss data without ever leaving Teams. Available to add on the left-hand navigation of Teams you can now view all of your organisational insights and reporting without leaving the Teams application. There will also be greater integration with search in Teams to quickly find reports and dashboards in Power BI and then open with the Power BI app.

This will be great for organisations who use Power BI extensively and again will mean users don’t have to frequently leave Teams to access organisational insights. With this and the SharePoint home app in Teams everything seems to be heading for closer integration with Teams.

Power BI App in Teams

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

10. Teams templates

(Currently in development – estimated release October 2020)

With templates in Teams, users will be able to create effective Teams faster and more easily than ever. Users can choose from common business scenarios e.g. Event management / Crisis response and industry specific templates like a hospital ward or bank branch. Each template comes with predefined channels, apps and guidance.

Admins can create custom templates for their organisation, helping to standardise Teams structures, reveal relevant apps, and scale best practises.

Templates can be created from scratch or using an existing template / Team structure as a starting point.

It’s good to see Teams’ Templates coming and it’s a step in the right direction for the Teams Provisioning story from Microsoft. It looks like it will be able to clone channels, tabs and apps but unfortunately it isn’t able to clone the app configuration i.e. it would not clone a Planner Plan and buckets.

Like I said previously, this is step in the right direction from Microsoft and would possibly be useful if you had very basic requirements. There is still a great advantage in using one of the existing third party Teams Provisioning tools to add further configuration options, have approval or even developing a custom teams provisioning solution.

Teams templates

Source: Microsoft Tech Community

Summary

So, there you have it, my pick of the top 10 Microsoft Teams announcements at Ignite 2020. Teams is definitely a big area of focus for Microsoft and there were many more announcements on new Teams functionality. It’s definitely an exciting time with all these releases and the focus is firmly on helping people work better in the new normal of remote working and many using Teams most of their working day.

Click here if your organisation requires any assistance with a Microsoft Teams deployment, configuration or governance, we are happy to help.