Microsoft Inspire is over for another year. We hand back the keys of Las Vegas to the Poker hustlers, Sinatra tribute acts and Tiger-straddling Magicians and return to our familiar stomping grounds of partitioned desks and musky meeting rooms.

So what can we take away from this year’s event? Microsoft have given us plenty to choose from. I have highlighted some of the announcements made at Inspire below.

Updates to Microsoft 365
Microsoft used Inspire to announce further enhancements to their Microsoft 365 platform. As well as the free version of Teams (which I have touched upon in my previous articles) Microsoft 365 now offers Whiteboard as part of Windows 10. This allows users to collaborate on work documents, exchange notes and share ideas on the same page.

Microsoft 365 is also rolling out a preview of a new Workplace Analytics solution which uses collaboration insights from the Microsoft Graph, to help teams run efficient meetings, create time for focused work, and respect work/life boundaries. Organizations can use aggregate data in Workplace Analytics to identify opportunities for improving collaboration, then share insights and suggest habits to specific teams using MyAnalytics.

Capabilities are also being introduced that enable anyone to view live events in real-time or on-demand, across devices with Microsoft 365 through Yammer. Events can be viewed in real-time or on-demand, with high-definition video and interactive discussion. These new capabilities leverage deep integration of Yammer, Stream, Microsoft Teams, and the rest of Office 365.

New IoT Capabilities
Continuing the momentum of customer innovation, Microsoft announced new capabilities and programs that empower customers to create enterprise-grade IoT solutions.
Azure IoT Central’s new features and support for partners to manage and extend IoT solutions: Azure IoT Central brings the simplicity of SaaS for IoT with no cloud expertise required.

Azure IoT Central now supports Azure CSP subscriptions, allowing cloud solution provider (CSP) partners to easily provision and manage Azure IoT Central applications. Azure IoT Central analytics Power BI template enables customers to see IoT data in Power BI, such as how many measurements have been sent, which devices are most active, etc. With this window into real-time insights and historical data, customers and partners can analyze the long-term trends to inform business actions.

With the new connector in Microsoft Flow, customers can build workflows that are triggered when an alert is fired, such as issuing a ticket to inspect manufacturing equipment with Connected Field Service, using a simple drag-and-drop motion from hundreds of other systems in the library of published connectors.

Support for IoT data export. Customers can now continually export data from IoT Central to Azure Storage and consume it in Power BI for advanced visualizations and analytics, or Azure Machine Learning to gain deeper insights.

Additional Updates
Other subjects of note which were discussed at Inspire include privacy, which was highlighted by President and CLO of Microsoft, Brad Smith. In a keynote, Smith spoke about Microsoft’s commitment to improving privacy and security for customers, while also mentioning the ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

Ron Markezich, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 spoke about the Modern Workplace refresh and how to get the most out of the transition to Microsoft 365, especially with the upcoming end of support cycle for Windows 7 and Office 2010.

Once again, Inspire does exactly as its title suggests. It inspires. No doubt customers and partners in the upcoming weeks will be thinking of how to push on and turn their existing workplace into the Modern Workplace. Transforming how they work and what they use to work.

I am keen to see how Microsoft support their customers in making these changes and how they develop the ideas they have announced at Inspire. It’s always good to see Microsoft constantly looking to improve and enhance their product stack and maintain such a high level of granularity in their solutions.

Inspire 2019 is another year away, to be held in another wonderful city and will welcome even more customers and partners alike. Until then, Microsoft appear to have everything in hand and I look forward to seeing what plans they have in store.


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