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Modern productivity–Office news at Ignite

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Today’s post was written by Julia White, general manager for the Office Marketing team.

Today, at our first-ever Ignite Conference in Chicago, we announced new capabilities and solutions from across the company, all of which help IT Pros fuel innovation and transformation within their organizations. I was thrilled to join corporate vice president of Skype engineering Gurdeep Singh Pall on stage during today’s keynote to showcase the innovation we’re delivering across Office to empower IT Pros.

For Office, our focus is on reinventing productivity for people and organizations. All of the new and coming Office capabilities we showed today at Ignite extend from our belief that productivity is at the heart of business success. But, how we work, where we work, with whom we work is changing rapidly and the technology must enable this modern workplace. Successful organizations have moved from static hierarchies of people and the way communication flows between them, to dynamic networks of open sharing; from individual productivity to collective value co-creation; from work being where you go to being what you do. And, for organizations, it is also about attracting and retaining the best, new talent. Today, workplace technology is a key factor as the Millennial generation become the majority of the workforce.

For Microsoft and IT Pros together, this is our collective opportunity, and it couldn’t be a more exciting time! The cloud makes it possible to delight users, and at a lower cost than ever before. It’s now possible to deliver on the technology expectations driven by consumer experiences. Before we jump into more about Office 365, I want to also highlight that this week at Ignite, we will showcase Skype for Business Server 2015, Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016 in-depth for the first time. Across these new releases, you will see new user experiences, compliance and protection updates, impressive scale and performance improvements, and great support for hybrid deployment models that combine on-premises and Office 365. We know many customers rely deeply on our servers and we are absolutely committed to delivering a great wave of on-premises technology.

Now, let’s break down what the workplace experience means.

Teams

Where work used to be a solitary pursuit, it’s now a communal one. People still work individually on their own devices, in their own space, often on their own time, but teams are increasingly central to how work gets done. Today we showed capabilities that enable teams to work more effectively together, with the foundation of new Office 365 Groups. The ability to quickly bring people together to solve a business problem must be simple, lightweight, user-managed, while letting team members work the way they want to, which is exactly how we built Office 365 Groups. It is the ubiquitous team element that allows members to email, meet, take notes, create content, video, IM, tweet—and ensure all the team members always have all the context. We showed a preview of the Office 365 Groups “hub” in Office Delve and group conversation in Outlook 2016, and this is just the beginning.

Human Mobility

Today, work is what we do, not where we go. Our charter is to ensure people can be productive wherever they are, using whatever device they have. We know that 80 percent of time spent on phones and tablets is within native applications, which is why we have invested so deeply to create fantastic native apps for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Skype, OneDrive, Yammer and more—across all devices and platforms. The new Office universal applications for Windows 10 are another great step on this journey. And, with 100 million Office for iOS and Android downloads, and 500 million Skype for Android downloads, we know we’re on the right track!

Meetings

Today, meetings are as often ad-hoc as they are pre-scheduled, and there are very few meetings where everyone is in the room—most meetings include one or more virtual attendees. We know that 55 percent of communication is body language, so audio-only meetings just don’t cut it. Virtual attendees cannot be treated like second-class citizens!  Moving forward, every meeting scheduled in Office 365 will automatically be a Skype for Business meeting, so users don’t have to do anything additional to make every meeting a video meeting.  And, with 830 million meetings scheduled with Office 365 each month, that just made a lot of meetings a lot more productive!  But, video meetings need to be as simple and seamless as walking into a conference room and sitting down. With the roll-out of the new Skype for Business experience, we are seeing this happen. It’s easy to get a meeting up and running in a few clicks, and video just works, particularly with the great hardware integration across the Surface Hub, Skype Room Systems, and with our partners including Crestron, Polycom and Smart. Today, we also announced Skype for Business broadcast meetings letting you broadcast meetings up to 10,000 people real-time, and supporting dynamic playback.  But, we’re not stopping there! Today, we also showed how Hololens takes meetings from 2-D video to 3-D holograms with a mind-blowing look into how companies are using this technology.

Content co-creation

With the Office 2016 Public Preview release today, you will see how Office has shifted from “me-centric” to “we-centric” work. All Office content is default saved to and shared from OneDrive; content is created and edited with real-time co-authoring coming to Word 2016 desktop, and email attachments are a thing of the past with Outlook’s new attachments that are simply shared from the cloud. I encourage you to get into the Office 2016 Preview and try it out for yourself.  More details on Office 2016 can be found here.

I’m also excited to announce that Sway—which has been in consumer preview since October—will roll out to Office 365 business and education subscribers later this month! Sway, the newest member of the Office family, provides a dynamic, interactive canvas for sharing your ideas—with only a few clicks to get to gorgeous. We’ve seen amazing uses for Sway in the consumer preview and we’re thrilled that you can now Sway at work, too. You can find out more about Sway in Office 365 in this blog post.

Intelligence

The number of Internet-connected devices will double next year and we will grow from 4.4ZB of data created in 2013 to 44ZB of data created in 2020. And, remember, a ZB is 1 billion petabytes. Getting insight from this data isn’t just like finding the needle in the haystack—it’s like finding a needle in the universe! Technology must help us close the gap between this information and the insights we need.

Before this crush of information, it used to be about making apps user-friendly—which was the solution—easier navigation, customizable menus to help users get work done. Today, experiences must be inherently intelligent to empower productiveness.

This is the genesis of the Office Graph, an intelligent fabric that applies machine learning to map the relationships and signals between people, content and interactions that occur across Office 365. Using the Office Graph, Clutter in Outlook removes low priority email based on the individual’s past behavior. And Delve uses the Office Graph to deliver personalized views of the people and content that are most relevant to each individual. Today, we showed an early preview of a new organization view in Delve, which provides an interactive dashboard for teams and individuals to identify key trends across employee engagement, team connections and even views like work life balance. Stay tuned to for more to come on this in 2015.

Information Protection

Of course, none of the amazing productivity experiences matter if your business information isn’t secure. We want Office 365 to be the most trusted cloud service, and we know that we can never stop in this pursuit. To this end, we recently announced important steps forward related to the transparency and control of information residing within Office 365. This includes file-level encryption for all content and email in Office 365, which is the foundation from which we can take the next step of “customer controlled keys” technology that we are planning for release 2016. We also announced the Customer Lockbox capability, which provides unprecedented customer control of data access within Office 365.

What’s next

All of these experiences are either possible today in Office 365, or will be released in 2015. Ultimately, the goal of Office 365 is to help IT drive business impact and delight users. A decade ago, rolling out experiences like this would require significant integration work, custom coding, new hardware and storage purchases, and taking on more legacy project debt. Now, IT gets the keys to the car, without having to build each piece of the car. IT can make the technology optimized for each individual business needs, engage with users on making the productivity tools most effective and drive new insights for the organization—because IT Pros know their business the best. It is incredibly exciting to work hand in hand with our IT partners and see how much is possible.

Office is at the forefront of this evolving, modern workplace as we continue to deliver innovative experiences that rethink the entire notion of what it means to be productive. Stay on top of everything we’re talking about this week at Ignite through the Ignite site. And, as always, stay tuned to the Office blog for updates across everything in Office 365.

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