Every year, Microsoft hosts thousands of smart people at their Build developer conference. At Build 2018, Microsoft plans to showcase where developers can leverage advances in the cloud, artificial intelligence, and security to make innovative new computing experiences—which in turn often trickle into areas that help businesses more productive. With Build 2018 less than a month away, it is the perfect opportunity to make some predictions about what we could potentially see at the conference in May 7-9 in Seattle.
Team Collaboration Takes Center Stage
Amaxra is a Microsoft cloud solutions provider that has deployed Office 365 for both small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises. So, we've seen how quickly Microsoft adds new features and functionality for Office 365 customers. In observing the important role that cloud-based unified communications (UC) plays in Office 365 productivity, we believe a major shift towards integrated UC into productivity apps is coming. Look at the evolution of the Microsoft Lync secure instant messaging client in Office 365: Just in the past few years, Lync added more robust voice and video collaboration features (and became Skype for Business) and is now turning into Microsoft Teams. The point of Microsoft Teams is to provide UC and collaboration capabilities that some companies currently have using Slack. However, the tight integration between Microsoft Office and Teams will be a key decision point for companies already invested in the Microsoft cloud ecosystem. Expect some exciting announcements about UC, Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 integration at Build 2018 because it is becoming the cornerstone for delivering integrated team collaboration experiences.
More Automation and Integration Is Coming
Cloud-based automation platforms such as IFTTT and Microsoft Flow will make integrating with team collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams easier than ever. As more UC systems are replaced by team collaboration platforms, automation will be key. We believe that Build 2018 will offer ways for more customers use low-code solutions to connect and automate disparate business processes. A good example of automating a business process is when you and a couple of remote colleagues are working on a file shared in the cloud. Until recently, your options for knowing when the remote collaborators made changes were to either:
- Log into in OneDrive For Business and obsessively check your shared document every five minutes for changes, or
- Hire a software developer to spend a week programming a customized script that obsessively checks your OneDrive for Business for you then send you an email if it finds changes to the document
However, cloud-based automation platforms such as Microsoft Flow enable integrated collaboration with drag-and-drop simplicity in a business. We have experience with IFTTT but feel Microsoft Flow does an amazing job integrating and automating business tasks related to voice/video, chat, online collaboration, and even third-party apps and services. But drag-and-drop is getting a bit dated and thanks to the rise of personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, voice experiences are hotter than ever. At Build 2018, we predict a wide range of new Microsoft Flow partners and templates to automate enterprise business tasks using your voice with the help of the Cortana artificial intelligence app built into Windows 10 and available for both Apple and Google mobile platforms.
Customer Service Goes Social
You probably ordered something from Amazon in the past couple of weeks. Most people like Amazon because of their great customer service, but when was the last time you actually called Amazon customer service? While 2018 probably won't be the year that companies remove all of their telephones, this could be the year voice communications measurably declines as the preferred means for customers to contact customer service. That means progressive-minded SMBs (and some enterprises) could integrate their online social media channels with team collaboration platforms to consolidate tweets with instant messages and even phone conversations with support teams.
It also makes business sense to integrate team collaboration with social because it reduces friction between front-office customer relationship management (CRM) and ticketing applications with back-office systems. Unhappy customer tweeting about your service? You can get on top of the issue quickly and
resolve it with contextual data when your social media is integrated with your UC and CRM systems. We see Microsoft as uniquely positioned to offer
both SMBs and global enterprises with a solution via Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and Microsoft Teams.
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