Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

At Microsoft’s Inspire 2021 partner conference this week, Microsoft announced that it is launching a sixth “industry cloud” – a package of cloud tools and services aimed at a particular vertical. The new industry cloud is aimed at sustainability and corporate environmental efforts, something that is “top of mind for every CEO,” Alysa Taylor, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for industry, apps and data marketing, told CRN in an interview. Along with the sixth industry cloud, Microsoft has announced updates for its Viva employee experience platform, the Windows 365 “cloud PC” service and more integrations between Teams and Dynamics 365. What follows are five big updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and industry clouds announced at Inspire 2021.

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability The new Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will enter public preview later this year and come with tools to help users in all industries record, report and reduce emissions, Microsoft said. The cloud is built on Azure, Dataverse, Power Platform, Power BI and other Microsoft products. It will feature specialized third-party applications, data source and emissions data connectors, according to the company. “These industry clouds are an enabler for our ecosystem to be able to bring their vertical and micro-vertical expertise to bear,” Taylor said. “Most organisations have a very small sliver of what they can see of their emissions data because the data is so siloed and in so many different places. This is about having industry connectors, like we do in retail and financial services and all of our other industry clouds, to be able to aggregate that data so you actually can look and have a 360-degree view.” Microsoft wants to pull in data from more disparate sources – not just in the company‘s enterprise resource planning datasets, for example – and deliver insights throughout the Microsoft technology stack, she said. “This is very unique in the industry and highly differentiated from what SAP and Salesforce are doing,” she said. Taylor said that companies can, for example, use Cloud for Sustainability to create alerts when an HVAC system is likely to miss its prescribed emissions reduction target. The cloud can then assign an operations manager to make improvements. The Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability joins the previously announced clouds for financial services, nonprofits, health care, retail and manufacturing.

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Windows 365 Microsoft’s new virtual desktop offering, Windows 365, is a “cloud PC” solution, Microsoft said, since the desktop is streamed in a web browser and will be available on any device. ' The offering is not meant to replace Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop, but should be an option for a far greater number of businesses due to its simpler IT deployment and management, the company said. It provides access to a Windows desktop in a browser so it can be used on any device. Users can pick up where they left off when moving to another device with Windows 365, and the service can be deployed and managed using Microsoft Endpoint Manager in the same way as physical PCs, Microsoft said. Windows 365 will launch with Windows 10 and offer Windows 11 once the new operating system is generally available. Microsoft will be launching two editions of the service – Business, for customers with less than 300 users, and Enterprise, for larger customers. It will be generally available on August 2, and will be offered as a monthly subscription, including through Cloud Solution Provider partners.

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Teams and Dynamics 365 get new integrations Thanks to a new integration, Teams customers will now gain free access to view and edit Dynamics 365 data within the Teams app even if they don’t have a Dynamics 365 license. However, Dynamics 365 purchasers will receive advanced features and analytics, according to Microsoft. Dynamics 365 users can view and work on customer records from within a Teams chat or channel, Microsoft said. They can add Teams meetings when creating appointments, gaining customer information to review during a call, and users can save call notes automatically to Dynamics 365 records. Automatic notifications will alert users to when changes happen, and administrators can configure permissions and access rules to control which users access customer data, according to Microsoft.

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Other Teams updates Independent software vendors (ISVs) will gain the ability to sell apps within Teams this summer, Microsoft disclosed at Inspire. Teams administrators can buy and install third-party apps from the Teams admin center with a credit card or invoice. Microsoft also announced that commercial marketplace fees are reduced from 20 percent to 3 percent for all transactions. In addition, ISVs will be given the capability to set different prices for customers and cloud solution provider partners, allowing ISVs to provide CSP partners with margin, Microsoft said. “CSP partners can also add a price markup when reselling to customers outside of the commercial marketplace,” the company said in a blog post. “This new flexibility is intended to create stronger connections among partners and incentivize ISVs to share margin with resellers.”

Inspire 2021: Updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and Industry Clouds

Viva updates The Microsoft Viva employee experience platform will become generally available in the fall with integrations from 21 vendors, including ServiceNow, Qualtrics and Workday, Microsoft announced. Viva Connections APIs will be generally available “later this year,” Microsoft said. The APIs will “make it easy for partners to integrate with the Viva Connections dashboard, enhancing the discoverability and engagement of their tools directly within the Viva experience.” Viva Learning APIs will enter preview later this year, offering the ability to pull in content from learning providers – as well as due dates and assigned content from learning management systems for use in Teams, Office.com, SharePoint and Microsoft Search in Bing, according to Microsoft.

At Microsoft’s Inspire 2021 partner conference this week, Microsoft announced that it is launching a sixth “industry cloud” – a package of cloud tools and services aimed at a particular vertical.

The new industry cloud is aimed at sustainability and corporate environmental efforts, something that is “top of mind for every CEO,” Alysa Taylor, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for industry, apps and data marketing, told CRN in an interview.

Along with the sixth industry cloud, Microsoft has announced updates for its Viva employee experience platform, the Windows 365 “cloud PC” service and more integrations between Teams and Dynamics 365.

What follows are five big updates in Microsoft 365, Teams and industry clouds announced at Inspire 2021.

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