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News On Microsoft Azure and Office 365

Microsoft Announces the New Office 365 F1 Products:

New Office 365 F1 products are being released to replace the K plans.  The premise is for Office 365 F1 to be used by customers firstline employee such as customer service reps, factory workers, retail employees and even medical staff.  These are the type of employees who use Kiosks or are not typical Knowledge Workers that require full access to the suite of Microsoft products.

The offer includes a new Microsoft 365 F1 that includes Office 365 F1 along with Windows 10 updates and the new StaffHub application.  StaffHub allows Firstline workers to manage their work days with schedule management and connect applications via a web browser or mobile device.

MetrixData360 suggests that clients look at the F1 when creating profiles for their Microsoft EA Agreement.

Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are combining:

Microsoft will slowly discontinue Skype for Business and will be replaced by Microsoft Teams.  No timeframe has been provided.  Microsoft Teams will include inbound and outbound calls and will have many features such as hold, call transfer, voicemail and an audio conferencing which will allow people to join a Teams meeting from any phone.  Microsoft still plans to release an updated version of Skype for customers who want VoIP.

For large Enterprises MetrixData360 suggests that you talk with your Microsoft Account team sooner rather than later to understand the impact of this change.  The Skype Client is going to be replaced by Teams which may have application compatibility or deployment challenges.

Microsoft Dynamics is adding AI Enhancements:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is getting more creative with more Al enhancements and modular apps that will be available later this year.  An example of this is Dynamics 365 for Talent which integrate data from Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn to help candidates and track applicants for open positions.  This will provide increased insight into hiring and improve the overall hiring process.

Although many of our Enterprise customers currently do not use Dynamics, some LinkedIn features and Business Intelligence features that are embedded in Dynamics are being considered by some of our clients.  LinkedIn Training, through their acquisition of Lynda.com is another area of interest.  There is no solution to add this to your Enterprise Agreement, but we do see this as being an area where companies push Microsoft for change.

Chatbots coming to Microsoft Soon:

Chatbots are new in Microsoft products and are designed to augment existing customer support and sales processes with intelligent assistant technology.  These virtual agents can integrate with third party chat apps such as Facebook, Messenger, Kik, Microsoft Teams, Skype and Slack.

More Integration with LinkedIn:

It was announced that LinkedIn Graph is integrating with Microsoft Graph for better integrated data insights with a fully configurable integration.

Both Chatbots and Graph are not applications that we hear many of our Enterprise Customers inquiring about.  Both have powerful application in business and are something that we expect to see more interest in over the next 12 to 18 months.

Microsoft Bing being added to Office 365:

Microsoft announced a new service called Bing for Business for Microsoft 365.  This will allow you to perform internal company search.  It uses a native search tool and it drives personalized search results on company data, documents, people sites, locations and public web search results.  This is designed to save time and increase internal productivity.

MetrixData360 has wondered for quite some time when Microsoft would start to integrate more of Bing into their core product offerings.  Google is still the leader here and you must know Microsoft is chomping at the bit to do a better job.

Microsoft continues to Enhance Security:

Microsoft 365 will be adding better Advanced Threat Protection features such as increased anti-phishing capabilities, and expanded protection to SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Teams. This is to avoid vulnerability and increased threat protection for secure hybrid cloud workloads.

Many of our most recent Enterprise Agreements have included security components.  Microsoft obviously is working hard to push customer to the full Microsoft 365 suite.  MetrixData360 however is still advising customers to create profiles and purchase what is required versus falling into the Microsoft bundle trap.

Azure was obviously a big focus:

Azure Stacks was the big announcement from the Azure team.  Azure Stack basically allows you to bring the Azure Cloud into your own datacenter.  There were other updates announced such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure CosmosDB and Azure Functions.  The Azure CosmosDB database service and server-less Azure Functions will allow developers to write a few lines of code that will tie into Internet of Things, perform database changes and much more.

Azure is being adopted by more companies every day.  If you are not utilizing it, it is likely a matter of when not if.  MetrixData360 highly recommends fully understanding how Azure pricing works before moving to the Azure Cloud.

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