As Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference takes place, three overarching themes will permeate the news—security, artificial intelligence (AI) and data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing—company officials shared last week in a pre-show briefing. And regardless of the relationship to any of these primary areas of focus, officials assured that Microsoft will have plenty to say around enterprise communications and collaboration technologies for the modern workforce.
Much of this will relate to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft announced general availability of two AI-powered video meeting features in Teams: Background blur and meeting recording (each introduced earlier this year at Enterprise Connect). For background blur, Microsoft applies facial detection to blur a user’s background during video meetings, for settings where sensitive information may be on a whiteboard on the back wall, for example. With meeting recording, attendees can play back recorded content at any time with captions and a searchable, time-coded transcript, shared Ron Markezich, CVP, Microsoft 365 Commercial, in a company blog post.
As Microsoft has oft-stated in the last year, Teams will be the center of the user’s work experience, regardless of role or industry. Toward that end, today it’s introducing new capabilities tailored to industry-specific and role-based workflows, Markezich said.
“Firstline” workers—those individuals who are first in line to engage with customers, represent a company’s brand, and see products and services in action, according to Microsoft—are one role-based target. As an example, Markezich pointed to schedule management tools, due in October, that will let managers create and share schedules in Teams. On the flip side, the tools will let employees do things like swap shifts, request time off, and see who else is working.
And in vertical industry-specific offerings, Microsoft revealed the private preview of a patient care coordination tool for healthcare—evidence, Markezich said, of Teams’ feasibility for secure workflows in regulated industries. The solution integrates with electronic health records systems and takes advantage of two new secure messaging features—image annotation and priority messaging. While these secure messaging features are rolling out to all Teams customers, they have particular relevance in healthcare, Markezich said. “Now, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians can coordinate patient care while staying HIPAA-compliant and avoid the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps,” he wrote.