5 Favorite Announcements from Ignite & Best of Ignite Experts MVP Panel

Microsoft Ignite Experts Panel
I’ve been trying to watch and take in as much as I can from this “Surprise” spring version of Microsoft Ignite. It used to be we’d need to digest once a year the announcements from Microsoft Ignite. Now you’ve got two big ones. I guess the good news is we get that much more transparency into what is happening in Redmond. We shouldn’t complain. The three year cycle to the 6 month cycle or is it really one month cycle… I’ll let you decide. Either way, Join me on either my Club House tomorrow morning or join me on the experts panel on Tuesday morning 9am Pacific time.

I put together my 5 Favorite Announcements from Spring 2021 Microsoft Ignite.

1. Viva Connections will be free! It hasn’t even shipped yet and Microsoft Viva Connections with all the cool feeds coming at you is going to be included in the SharePoint licensing. That’s so awesome!! I think it’s going to be very important that we get this right. Is the Intranet dead? Did Viva Connections kill it? I don’t think so. I think there’s still an important need for corporations to learn how to both communicate to users, but also to gather and engage, and also provide value and direction for getting to the tools we use everyday and those rare ones we are digging into a mega menu, targeted content and departmental solutions… absolutely. Do I think that the Viva brand is here to stay and we should all be making Viva part of our Microsoft vernacular… absolutely… this train is just leaving the station. Read the Viva Guide to Ignite for tons more details. Watch Jared Spataro’s very funny and clever session on the Hybrid workplace on demand (no signin required) Also check out Chuck’s session on Viva on employee experience it includes a cameo from Naomi where she shows off some new Teams integration with Viva Topics… it’s way more than highlighting. Viva Learning will enter public preview in April 2021.

“Starting in March, the Microsoft Teams desktop experience for Viva Connections – which provides a curated, company-branded experience including news, conversations and other resources for employees – will begin rolling out to all customers as part of their existing Microsoft 365 license.” 

On-Demand Sessions: Introducing Microsoft Viva Connections by Adam Harmetz
Viva Connections is your gateway to a modern employee experience

Microsoft Viva

2. Microsoft Teams Webinar features – As someone who has been doing a lot of events. It seems like there’s a continuous battle to convince the Marketing folks that Teams is good enough, or it’s convincing the community that there are marketing reasons we didn’t use Teams. Announced at Ignite among dozens of other amazing Teams announcements is a pile of goodness for supporting real true webinars with over 1000 attendees internal or external with powerful attendance reports, and registration pages for our webinars that are integrated. He even teased about a webinar of 20,000 attendees. (That’s my target for M365 Virtual Marathon. The call for speakers is open. We already have 100 speakers lined up, but we seriously want 500.) Even setting up this event I wish I had this feature to be able to gather registrations for our experts panel. Here’s your Guide to Ignite from the Teams Team. Teams has more than 100 new features since COVID has started. Teams “Casting” and meetings rooms features were super cool. Some fantastic vision shared by Jared Spataro. The Teams Rooms of the future are already looking super awesome. Love the speech to text in captions and avatar facial and voice recognition. You can see the new webinar features in action in the “Easy, Intuitive Webinars with Microsoft Teams: Virtual Engagement in the Age of Remote Work” with Lars Johnson, Sr. Director, Microsoft Teams Marketing; and Christina Torok, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

3. Announcing Microsoft Mesh! – AR/VR took a big leap forward. The keynote showed us what is possible when running an event in VR. AltSpaceVR hosted the keynote as well as provided an opportunity to connect with people around the globe. I really enjoyed seeing friends from Utah, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia all in what felt like a hallway. The demonstration of Pokémon GO experience built on Niantic’s planet-scale platform that has enabled millions of people to have augmented reality experiences in the real world, is planned to be enhanced with Microsoft Mesh features enabling people to be present together in shared experiences across space and time. I’m anxious to see that myself. The keynote in AltspaceVR encouraged me to commit to putting together a future event and incorporating AltspaceVR into our virtual events. (I’ve been already trying to do that, but also hoping others are convinced.)

4. Announcing Power Point Live with Teams and Presenter Mode –  Presenter mode is the latest innovation in Microsoft Teams that empowers you to customize how your video feed and content appear to the audience. Seeing the speaker can reduce the cognitive overload for your audience since they can read your non-verbal cues and stay more focused with you as their visual guide. Presenter mode is a great companion to PowerPoint Live in Teams that makes your presentation immersive and engaging. 

Power Fx A new language for low code developers to be implemented across the Power Platform. Currently used as the language to develop canvas apps in Microsoft Power Apps, Power Fx will eventually become the consistent language across the Power Platform. You can learn more about this and other Power Platform and Dynamics features announced at Ignite.
The key sessions to watch:
What’s new and what’s next for Microsoft Power Platform
Hosted by Charles Lamanna, CVP, Low Code Application Platform and Julie Strauss, Partner PM Director
Power BI and Data
Drive a data culture with Power BI: Vision, strategy, and roadmap
Hosted by Arun Ulagaratchagan, CVP, Power BI

5. Azure – I feel so far behind in the LOADS of updates to Azure. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Ignite was focused on this. I can’t not mention a few of them.

Semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search now in preview.
Azure Communication Services to be generally available, with Microsoft Teams interoperability in preview
Private Azure Marketplace now generally available
Windows Server 2022 is now available in preview
Azure Percept, AI-powered family of edge devices and services, now in preview

Yes I missed about 1000 other things including a few of your favorites I’m sure. Put them in the comments I’d love to hear them so I don’t miss them in the panel, but dive into the Book of Ignite AKA Book of Knowledge AKA Ignite Bible for more.

Join us on Tuesday March 9th at 9am Pacific 12pm Eastern with

Wow! Just wow! IGNITE 2021 has been packed with so many announcements, and roadmap updates

From Mixed Reality Pokemon adventures with Microsoft to Viva Connections being included with your Microsoft 365 licensing…   Did you catch ’em all??? No one did… believe us! As a result the best way to consume all of those updates in the shortest way possible is with a broad experts panel. Here we’ve assembled Developers, Architects, Evangelists, and IT Pros across the Microsoft 365 workloads. Bring your questions and join us for this experts panel!   This 1 hour session is an opportunity to hear from top experts, MVPs, RDs to discuss and interact with the community. Bring your questions and be ready to take ferocious notes!

Experts Lineup:
Eric Overfield, CEO of Pixelmill, MVP & MS Regional Director
Jeff Willinger, Digital Workspace Innovator, MVP
Ryan Schouten, MVP Blizzard Entertainment
Joel Oleson, Sr. Product Manager, TeamsHUB by Cyclotron & Founder Joel365, MVP & RD
Sharon Weaver, CEO Smarter Consulting, Microsoft Regional Director
Amber Bahl, CEO, TeamsHUB by Cyclotron 

 What you’ll learn:: Announcements Roadmap updates Open Q&A Expert Feedback Discussions about what’s coming next

>>Register Here<<

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