Inspire 2018: Delivering Intelligent Communications

Ross MacKenzie
Tags: Microsoft 365 Microsoft Inspire Microsoft Teams

How smaller and mid-sized businesses can meet the demands of the modern workplace

Monday afternoon (16 July) at Inspire 2018 - the Microsoft partner event in Las Vegas - saw Cobweb MD Michael Frisby a panellist for the session, delivering on Microsoft's vision for intelligent communications.

Below we summarise the discussion points, and include the video which was shown during the session, in which Michael Frisby talks about Cobweb and Microsoft 365.

Organisations today are facing a host of societal, cultural and technological movements that are changing the modern workplace.

Consider these facts:

  • 80 percent of employees’ time is spent in group collaboration
  • There are up to five generations now in the workplace, learning how to work together
  • Half of the modern workforce works remotely, at least some of the time
  • Globally, we own or use an average of four devices per person

Smaller and midsized businesses have just as urgent collaboration and communication needs as larger enterprises, and they too are dealing with a changing workforce, higher expectations of technology and more flexible working practices.

Plus, economic uncertainty often sees small firms more focused on their business than their IT – unless there are specific challenges they need to address, such as security or GDPR.

Intelligent Communications

In response to these challenges, Microsoft’s vision for Intelligent Communications goes beyond traditional communications to make sure we, as users, have connected, insightful and proactive collaborative experiences in the workplace.

The backbone of Intelligent Communications is Microsoft 365, a complete secure solution bringing together everything that is needed for the modern workplace: Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

Within Microsoft 365, Teams is a powerful hub for teamwork that brings together chat, meetings, calling, files, and apps into one shared workspace.

Skype for Business integration is complete

The big news from Microsoft at Inspire 2018 in Las Vegas is that its vision to bring Intelligent Communications into Teams via the integration of Skype of Business is now complete.

Microsoft has now delivered 90 features since first making the announcement back in September 2017, including:

  • Guest access for external users
  • Direct routing for phone system
  • Cloud recording
  • Room systems
  • Live events

“We didn’t just want to get to parity with Skype for Business and Office 365; we continued to push for what is possible,” said Lori Wright, product marketing manager for Microsoft at Inspire 2018, adding there are several additional features expected by the end of the year, including:

  • Inline message translation
  • Cloud recording transcription
  • Background blur
  • Mobile sharing

In addition, for customers that haven’t yet moved to the cloud, Microsoft’s Skype for Business Server 2019 will be going into preview with new features and improvements. General availability is expected by the end of the year.

Moving to Teams

There is a real and immediate opportunity for small and midsized businesses to benefit from smarter, more proactive collaboration and cost-effective collaboration in the workplace with Teams.

Cobweb can help you make the transition, offering you transparency, empowerment, enablement and support.

“We’ve got 10,000 SMB customers on our hosted solutions, in our datacentres and we’re in the middle of a three-year journey to move those customers to Office 365,” said Frisby.

“We have a customer success team that is focused on what the customer needs to achieve with their business, supporting them on their journey, and developing a whole series of professional services to help customers on that transition.”

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