6.1 min to readDigital WorkplaceCloud ServicesPublisher Advisory ServicesThought Leadership

Microsoft Ignite - Top 4 takeaways

John FariaProduct Manager – Unified Communications

Last week at Microsoft Ignite, tens of thousands of IT professionals gathered either online or in person at various global hubs, as Microsoft unveiled over 100 new announcements. As a product manager working in Unified Communications I've been tuning into what's new around Microsoft Teams and the Modern Workplace. The theme for the conference was "More with Less". Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO and Chairman, spoke about how Microsoft wants to empower customers to be able to accomplish more goals while spending less money. When it comes to the hybrid workplace Microsoft's stated digital imperative is to 're-energize your workforce in the office, at home, and everywhere in between.'

Takeaways on what’s coming to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams usage is skyrocketing globally with a purported 270 million active users, which goes to show how Teams has transformed the workplace. Microsoft told us they have introduced more than 450 new capabilities in the last year and they're not slowing down. There are lots of nice new features coming including UX improvements to Teams Channels and Chat. I particularly liked the Excel Live feature that lets every participant in a meeting live-edit an Excel file within Teams. So over the coming year we'll start to see more of these features appear seamlessly in our daily use of Teams as we've come to expect. But what about the big changes? What announcements were that we should pay attention to? Here are a few highlights that I thought were interesting:

Teams Premium

Teams Premium is a new upgraded license for Microsoft Teams meetings due for general availability in February 2023. It's a set of advanced features around meetings. Pricing is still to be announced, but Microsoft say that the list price is likely to be around 10 USD per user per month on tip of whatever you pay today for Microsoft Teams. Here are the standout features:

  • Meeting Guides that allows you to book specific types of meetings that may be pre-configured by your IT team. For example, a brainstorming meeting or a helpdesk call. IT will be able to create different meeting profiles tailored to the needs of the business, including security settings.
  • Intelligent Recap is a new AI feature that will give you a summary of the meeting as well as suggested meeting actions. It will automatically create chapters and insights for meeting recordings such as when your name was mentioned or when a screen was shared. Think of it as a kind of virtual assistant that can point out the highlights of the meeting if you missed it and want to catch up quickly.
  • Live Translation will be part of Teams Premium, giving you the option for your live meeting transcription to be translated into one of 40 languages in real time. So you can present in one language and your attendees can read what you're saying in their native language. That's potentially a very exciting feature if it really works.
  • With Advanced Meeting Protection you will be able to secure confidential meetings. With options like watermarking to prevent data leaks and limiting who can record, you get additional protections to keep the discussion private. And for Microsoft 365 E5 customers with the most advanced security requirements, you can leverage your existing Microsoft Purview Information Protection sensitivity labels to apply relevant meeting options automatically.
  • Advanced Virtual Appointments is aimed squarely at organizations that book virtual meetings with their clients. For example health care or financial advisor appointments. Clients don't need a Teams app to join, appointments can be branded and send out reminders to invitees. Appointments can be easily scheduled with an integrated calendar, and there are rich analytics that give you key insights into participation and attendance metrics.
  • Advanced Webinars builds on existing Teams features to deliver an even better event experience, including an improved registration experience, automated reminders, and customised presenter features with more curator features. This could be a significant game changer in the virtual event space as Microsoft looks to catch up with the competition.

Microsoft reveals new Teams features:

Microsoft reveals new Teams features

Microsoft Places

According to Microsoft, 66% of employees want more in-person time with colleagues but one of the challenges for employees is that when they decide to go into the office, they’re not sure who else is going to be in that day. Microsoft Places is a new offering intended to help businesses get the most out of their office space. It gives employees the ability to book a meeting space in the office and pick the most appropriate meeting room for their needs. It gives people insights as to who else is planning to come in that day and it looks like it will have options for booking desks. The other interesting feature is the analytics - you'll be able to get data and insights into which parts of the office are being used and which are not. This could give companies the data they need to reduce some of their office space and save costs. This new proposition is very timely because in 2023 a big theme for most organizations will be a rethink of the office space; how to balance the needs of the hybrid worker with maintaining an organization's working culture, and keeping control of real estate costs.

Mesh for Teams

Microsoft has been talking about the Metaverse for some time, leading the way in mixed reality experiences with products like HoloLens. Now we see Mesh for Teams, which allows Teams users to represent themselves virtually with an avatar. You will soon be able to join Teams meetings with your own personalized avatar instead of turning on your camera. No more presentations to a room full of still photographs of the attendees -now you'll be presenting to a room full of moving, talking cartoon representations. The Ignite session that focused on this topic was a subject of much debate among the participants. Those of us who are from Generation X were perhaps a little skeptical of this new feature, and whether it might be a barrier to that human connection that so many of us need when working remotely. But Microsoft does their homework when it comes to research and it's clear that for the younger millennials and Generation Z workers, avatars are a perfectly natural way to interact with other human beings. Expect this to become an interesting topic of debate in your organization when this feature becomes more widely available.

Cisco Devices for Teams

A big announcement was that Cisco will be launching Microsoft Teams devices in 2023. We all know that Cisco has a longstanding rivalry with Microsoft so it's great to see these two tech giants working together for the greater good in the hybrid workplace. This is great for customers, giving them even more choice of device, especially for customers who already buy their equipment from Cisco.

2023 here we come!

It's safe to say that Microsoft Ignite this year was packed with new technology and far too many features and products to mention in one blog post. Microsoft doesn't sit still and continues to innovate, with the future of working very much at the centre of their thinking. 2023 looks set to being a transformative year for how and where we work and communicate, how to keep our employees energized while ensuring their wellbeing and figuring out what our relationship with the Office could and should be. Talk to SoftwareOne if you'd like help with your strategy for the digital workplace.


Boost your digital workplace with Microsoft Teams

Ready to take your hybrid workforce to the next level with Microsoft Teams as part of your unified communications strategy? Learn more about how the SoftwareOne team can help your organization collaborate like never before.

Boost your digital workplace with Microsoft Teams

Ready to take your hybrid workforce to the next level with Microsoft Teams as part of your unified communications strategy? Learn more about how the SoftwareOne team can help your organization collaborate like never before.


John Faria
Product Manager – Unified Communications