Microsoft Ignite 2020: Empowering businesses to build resilience for today and what’s ahead

Microsoft Ignite event logo

Today, every industry is reimagining how it uses technology to transform business. We’ve seen multiple years’ worth of digital transformation happen in a matter of months because of the impact of COVID-19. We’re so inspired by the tremendous learning and experimentation taking place in all sectors of business. And what is becoming clear is that those companies and organizations that are able to adopt technology to drive their digital transformation forward are building resilience for today and for whatever may come.

As we kick off Ignite 2020, we’re also mindful of the challenges presented by COVID-19. Many organizations are struggling due to shifting priorities and needs of their customers. People are adapting to an entirely new way to work, while others are looking for safe, new ways to continue critical work amidst a global health crisis and economic uncertainty. And of course, there are many who are out of work.

Through each of these challenges though, there is hope and there is opportunity – for individuals and organizations. We see it time and again from our customers, who are adopting new technologies to chart a path forward but also building their own unique capabilities and reimagining what’s possible. Every aspect of business operation is becoming more resilient and transformed with the power of digital technology.

We have a front-row seat to the innovation and creativity of our customers, and today’s announcements bring additional tools to help them solve the challenges they’re facing now while building what’s possible in the future.

This week at Microsoft Ignite 2020, we’ll share how we’re empowering organizations and people to build this resilience with a set of new tools and services, anchored in trust, from across the Microsoft stack.

For cloud services customers:

  • With Dynamics 365 we are focused on helping organizations digitize their end-to-end business operations so they can rapidly adapt to changing market conditions. We are introducing new capabilities focused on the most critical centers for customer satisfaction, especially in today’s business climate: Customer Service and Supply Chain Management. These enhanced solutions are business-ready, yet rapidly scalable and customizable to build unique digital capabilities.
    • A new first-party voice channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, built on Azure Communication Services, will be available in private preview. By integrating voice into existing omnichannel capabilities, we are providing a seamless, end-to-end customer service experience within a single solution built on the Microsoft cloud that empowers teams to deliver consistent, connected support across all channels.
    • Two new add-ins for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to enhance visibility and enable customers to quickly respond to changing demand and supply. The new Cloud and Edge Scale Unit add-ins allow organizations to run critical warehousing and manufacturing workloads on the using Edge Azure stack devices to improve resilience and ensure operations without interruptions even when temporarily disconnected from the cloud. The new Inventory Visibility add-in enables large volume retailers and manufacturers to easily handle millions of transactions every minute and determine cross-channel inventory accurately in real time.
  • Secure, streamlined communication with customers and the workforce is crucial in this environment, and today we’re announcing Azure Communications Services, making it easy for developers to deliver enterprise-grade communication experiences across devices and platforms, using the same secure platform that powers Microsoft Teams.
  • Hybrid adoption in the enterprise is accelerating as it becomes central to enabling remote work, prioritizing IT investments and accessing the scale of cloud computing. Today, we’re sharing updates to our Azure hybrid-enabled cloud servers, services and devices, including Azure Arc-enabled servers, Azure Arc-enabled data services and Azure Stack Edge.
  • For Azure AI, we’re updating Azure Cognitive Services with new capabilities to streamline business processes, enabling organizations to stay resilient and committed to economic recovery while deploying AI responsibly. Metrics Advisor Preview is a new service that makes it easier to proactively monitor the performance of an organization’s growth engines and diagnose issues. Spatial analysis is a new feature of Computer Vision developed with strict ethical standards and guidance on how to implement responsibly, and it can be applied to help teams and organizations re-open by creating in-room layouts that support social distancing and other health-compliance measures.
  • Continuing our focus on helping enterprises create immersive and innovative experiences for customers, we’re expanding the portfolio of Azure Mixed Reality services to now include Azure Object Anchors, enabling developers to automatically detect, align and track objects in the physical world.
  • We are also announcing the commercialization of our industry leading 3D Time of Flight depth technology that powers the Azure Kinect enabling the development of commercial 3D cameras and related solutions to our technology to partners around the world, including Analog Devices and SICK AG.
  • To further scientific advancement, exploration and use of space data, we are extending the power of our global cloud to space. Today we’re announcing the preview of Azure Orbital, enabling customers to quickly analyze data captured from space through physical satellite capabilities. With access to low-latency global fiber networks and the global scale of Microsoft’s cloud services, customers can innovate quickly with large satellite datasets.
  • Running a data-driven organization is important as business realities shift, and today we’re announcing Power BI Premium per user, which creates an easy entry for organizations and individuals to create, view and collaborate securely over an organization’s most important and relevant data.

For information workers and those working to build low-code solutions:

  • We’re announcing new Microsoft 365 capabilities meant to equip organizations and teams with the tools they need to be resilient and thrive in the new world of work. A few of my favorites are:
    • Microsoft Teams features that make meetings better, including new Together mode scenes and custom layouts that make presented content more dynamic and engaging, for example, by bringing the presenter’s video feed into the foreground of the shared content screen.
    • Enhancements to Microsoft Teams Rooms and devices that support health and safety as some people return to their worksites, such as Touchless meeting experiences, like the Room remote app, Teams casting, and voice assistance with Microsoft Cortana, so that employees can meet safety guidelines without compromising the power of collaboration.
    • New personal well-being insights and features in Teams, including a virtual commute that provides structure to long workdays from home, and integration with apps like Headspace that make it easier to de-stress and find focus through meditation before, during or after busy work days.
    • As organizations face uncertainty and change, insights from Workplace Analytics within Teams will give managers and leaders an EKG for organizational resilience by surfacing insights that help them understand if employees are at risk of burnout, or if employees are able to maintain strong connections with colleagues and customers.
    • Additional security and compliance features in Teams help you to protect your data, mitigate risk, and address compliance.
    • Enhancements to Power Platform in Teams that make it easy for anyone to create and use no-code apps, bots and automated workflows that solve business challenges, as well as access data insights using Power BI, all within Teams.
    • New management capabilities in Microsoft Endpoint Manager make it easier to secure and manage your devices across platforms from one place.
    • With the addition of three more categories, Productivity Score provides visibility into how your organization works, insights to identify where you can make improvements, and actions you can take to update skills and systems so everyone can do their best work.
    • And new enterprise content management solutions with SharePoint Syntex make it easier to find and work with content across your organization. SharePoint Syntex is the first product stemming from Project Cortex to be made generally available, using advanced AI to deliver content understanding and process automation.
  • We’re also excited to share news on devices. The HoloLens 2 will be available in additional markets and we’ll start shipping Surface Hub 2S 85” to commercial customers in January 2021.

For developers:

  • The last several months have shown us that professional developers are often tasked with quickly creating business solutions to help organizations adjust in an unprecedented environment. In support of this reality, we’re announcing low code updates in Power Platform and Azure for professional developers to create custom apps, bots and workflows quickly with Azure APIM and GitHub integration. We’re announcing the preview of Power Automate Desktop, which provides a desktop automation option for citizen developers and business users.

For security professionals:

  • Security, compliance and identity continue to be priorities for our customers in these times of transition. As companies shift to hybrid work, the need to onboard users remotely, and the reality of growing security threats, mean that IT and security professionals continue to be the heroes of their organizations. We’re pleased to share updates in this area for both Azure and Microsoft 365, including changes to Microsoft Defender, our comprehensive extended detection and response offerings, enhanced protections for containers and IoT, Compliance Manager to help customers address increasing regulations, a new decentralized identity pilot and new connectors and APIs to help you to protect identities, apps and services across your cloud environments, even outside of Microsoft.

For industries:

  • Lastly, there’s no question that healthcare is one of the industries experiencing the accelerated transformation we see today. If you’ve had a virtual doctor’s appointment, you’ve experienced it firsthand. Today, we’re announcing that at the end of October, we’ll make our first industry-specific cloud, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, generally available. The comprehensive cloud enables healthcare customers and partners to deliver better experiences, insights and care to people worldwide. Within its solutions, we’re also doing more to support telehealth workflows and reduce administrative complexity. With the new Microsoft Teams EHR connector, now in private preview and available through the Epic App Orchard, clinicians can now launch virtual patient visits or provider consults in Teams directly from their electronic health record (EHR) system. This streamlines user experiences, charting, and IT manageability. We’ve focused on Epic first, and support for other EHR systems is coming soon.

Be sure to check out all the highlights on our Microsoft Ignite site – including key segments from Microsoft executives – and other session content available virtually.

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