New technology is changing our everyday life and as consumers we have very high expectations, no surprise. Our work-related life cannot lag behind; hence, we now witness a new culture of work emerging. This is being driven by globalization, competitiveness, and certainly technology trends around cloud solutions, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and mobility. All these things are disrupting industries and changing the way work is getting done both for employees and employers.
Here are some things that are shaping the modern workplace.
Employers used to turn to digital transition in order to reduce costs, whether for maintaining mail servers or to update endpoints. But today there is a shift happening -- rather than trying to save money, business owners are investing in new technologies that will develop their company. These tools can be aimed to improve business processes or gain competitive advantage, to grow revenue or increase employees' productivity.
Just to start our tour, let's look at PowerBI. Your business is probably generating shedloads of data and it is not always easy to make sense of it. PowerBI will help you out with that. Its core capabilities -- data visualization and data modeling -- are powered with AI to create reports that are easy to grasp, comprehend, and take proper actions. Generally, business users slice and dice a report inside PowerBI, uncovering hidden trends, and AI is reasoning over the data trying to automate finding insights. You can even ask questions and PowerBI will answer them analyzing huge sets of data, and even predicting questions that might be of interest to you.
Employers' expectations from employees are changing too -- there is a
shift away from routine tasks to a way of operating that requires all
employees to think critically and to be creative. Everyone is being
asked to be a problem-solver and to work as a team member.
The right of being creative doesn't just belong to designers and the like. Creativity now embraces everyone no matter what "creation work" they might be doing, whether it is delivering a sales presentation or doing a financial analysis. If you think creativity and ingenuity are out of your depth, artificial intelligence will help you to unlock them. Whereas in the past you could rely only on yourself, in the modern workplace, you are empowered by AI and can create high-impact content, automate routine tasks, search and discover across people and information, and surface key insights from data with much less effort.
If you wonder how this magic happens, let's take a look.
PowerPoint Designer extracts your intent, uses intelligence to match it with the templates it has in the cloud, and creates options of slides you can pick from to get an awesome presentation. To learn more about creating professional slide layouts, see here.
Excel can also offer ideas on how to improve your spreadsheet, but what will really save you time is that now you don't have to copy/paste between Excel and other data sources anymore. Your spreadsheet can connect to external or internal data sources to make the entire data set a rich entity.
For example, if you type in company names under a "Stock" sign, AI will identify that these are all stocks and will convert each of these stocks into a rich entity. Clicking on the card will show you stock price (for Microsoft in the example above) and a whole bunch of other metadata, which would take you hours to get from the Internet or from other data sources.
If you want to see the stock price, just type in "price" and Excel hydrates all the rows in the spreadsheet with price values. You can add high and low prices and play with numbers.
Nowadays, most of you have probably worked in environments with traditional technology tools, legacy productivity solutions where collaborating means sending file attachments back and forth over email, always trying to figure out who owns the latest version of the file -- not very efficient for today's working world, is it? Employees cannot be pinned to the office chair anymore. To make your workplace mobile, you can use some of these tips:
With all your files stored in the cloud, you can access them from any place or device. You can even share files with people outside of your organization, without requiring a Microsoft account.
If you want your users to work from any device, including unmanaged and therefore untrusted ones (not included in your company's MDM/ mobile device management system), you can do this via your browser. With in-session control in the browser, your users can access any SaaS apps, but data stays in the browser and remains secure. They can watch the content, but it cannot be synchronized with the unmanaged device; it can be opened only in Word Online, keeping the data in the browser; print and copy/paste options are also disabled. It is a perfect balance -- your data is secure, and your users are creating and achieving more wherever on the planet they may find themselves, with the only condition being Internet access.
If Internet connection is not available, you can still work with your files, if you synchronize OneDrive with the mobile device you are planning to use when offline. So, during your business trip, you can easily work even on the plane and as soon as you get Internet connection, all your changes will be synced to your cloud storage.
If you don't want to feel out of the loop when you are away from the office, you can use SharePoint to access all your company's information and stay up to date on what is going on with your company.
Cloud technologies really give you freedom. No matter what device you are working on, your apps, your content, your files, your preferences, your account configurations will roam with you no matter where you are so you can get your work done anywhere at any time.
Another big trend is that employees are increasingly spending time on things that aren't really driving business impact. So, companies need to empower their employees with the tools to automate some routine tasks and focus on important things, adding more strategic value.
As Outlook is at the core of communication and collaboration, it is complemented by AI in many ways. For example, with Focused inbox, AI learns from your behavior and flags the emails you should pay attention to first. In the Summary card, AI interprets the content of the email, pulls the relevant information up top in a summary view, and helps the user to act fast. This option is available for flights, package delivery, restaurant reservations, etc.
Scheduling and booking time with teammates can be a pain for all of us. With the Cortana scheduling service, all you have to do is write an email to a person you want to meet with and CC Cortana. Then Cortana checks the calendars and sends you back an email with the meeting scheduled, saving a lot of time and effort.
@mention people to involve them into work straight away
Nobody wants to be sent from pillar to post looking for a necessary file. Imagine that you received an email with a request for information that you don't have, but you know who can provide it. To save time for you and your colleagues, just insert "@" and pick the email address from the drop-down list. Done -- now one more thing is off your to-do list. When you are mentioned by your co-worker, you get a notification to remind you to take action. You can use mention in Teams, Yammer, Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint to draw someone's attention to a comment in a file you are collaborating on. It's a super-fast and super-efficient way to communicate with colleagues. It takes the lag time out of the collaboration process, helping you be more efficient.
So, Outlook and AI do a great job keeping you on the go, and you can automate almost any time-consuming task or process across different applications with Flow. A couple of examples: you can get notifications when your boss or a certain customer sends you an email; your team instantly knows when a certain file is updated; email attachments (or any other data) can be automatically collected and download to OneDrive; new customers' email addresses can be automatically collected and added to a MailChimp list, and so much more!
With teamwork there is an expectation of an outcome; there is a sense of accountability to really make progress together, and that is the nature of teamwork. Teams and projects come in different sizes and shapes and require purpose-built tools to essentially tackle certain tasks in certain scenarios.
Teams brings together conversations, meetings, files, applications -- all onto a single canvas. It is customizable, making it easy to gather information and streamline tasks right within your workflow with over a 150 different apps, bots, services (like Kayak, Trello, Adobe, Microsoft services, of course, and many others). You can also build and customize integrations to connect existing line of business apps that you have, directly into Teams (with Microsoft open developer platform).
Within Teams you may have all the content and apps you need to be effective, like your files, notebook, even PowerBI dashboard. You don't have to worry about questions like, "Where can I access this information?" or, "Where did you get this number?" because everybody has the same information and content, and team members can spend more time on insights or next steps.
In Teams you can participate in virtual meetings and coauthor documents in real-time. After the meeting, all the chats and conversations will be available for you in Teams. If you by chance missed the meeting, you can watch its video recording and look through its transcript in the Stream -- it's like your corporate YouTube.
There is a new culture of work emerging that is defining this notion of a new modern workplace, which combines the best of both worlds -- human potential stands out and shines, and your workplace can travel with your inspiration, accompanied with the powerful AI assistant that unlocks creativity and automates your routine tasks. This journey to the new work culture is really exciting, so get on board!