All the new features of Microsoft Teams announced at Ignite 2021: Mesh, Cameo, Speaker Coach...
Group work is easier at a distance
The health crisis and subsequent periods of lockdown prompted companies to implement telework on a large scale. For many employees, this generalisation of teleworking had a positive impact: improved concentration, time and productivity savings, increased motivation... There was nevertheless a big unknown: the management of collaborative teleworking. Constrained by the situation, companies had to develop new collaborative models. Even if it meant discovering that this method of project management actually had many advantages.
Remote group work helps to keep teams together by requiring them to maintain a high level of communication and sharing. Information is transmitted in real time, and documents are accessible to all employees through document sharing platforms.
In addition, the use of collaborative platforms and applications makes it possible to get straight to the point and avoid unnecessary meetings and unwanted e-mails. Thanks to digital tools, the decisions made by employees are entirely quality-oriented, not just practical.
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These digital applications and tools guarantee the best possible continuity of company activities, even when employees work remotely. In addition, the time saved on commuting makes projects run more smoothly and quickly.
Improving the user experience in meetings
The widespread use of hybrid work has led Teams to introduce a number of innovations to the collaborative tools for these new uses. One of these innovations is the possibility of inserting the Teams camera stream into a Powerpoint presentation. The goal? To make presentations as effective online as in person. In concrete terms, users can now configure how and where they appear via the new Cameo function, a name borrowed from cinematic vocabulary(cameo refers to the sudden appearance of a famous person in the theatre or cinema).
This feature allows the presenter of a PowerPoint presentation to insert their Teams camera feed in the most appropriate place, depending on the layout of their slides. With this feature, employees no longer have to feel compelled to go to the office when they have a presentation, as they can now do it anywhere. By making the presenter of the meeting visible, Cameo helps to engage participants and maintain eye contact.
Another new feature is the arrival of the Speaker Coach in Teams, a virtual trainer who uses artificial intelligence to provide employees with personalised best practices in the implementation of remote work. It supports them in their daily work, whether it is a question of organising their time, respecting speaking time during meetings, or finding the best way to address their audience.
Finally, the new RSVP function in Outlook allows employees to notify their presence (physical or remote) at a meeting, and to indicate the time slots during which they are available.
All these features are adapted to new uses and make collaborative work much easier, especially when it is done remotely.
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Artificial intelligence for productivity
In addition, new features have been integrated into the Team Rooms, including the use of smart cameras to facilitate the monitoring of meetings and the recognition of different participants.
Another major change is that Teams' live captioning and meeting transcription features are now available in 27 new languages. Previously, the AI-based live captioning and transcription features were only available to English-speaking users. The application has extended this capability to new languages, including French, German and Japanese. Teams can now detect content and subtitles in real time in a meeting. The subtitles include speaker attribution, allowing all collaborators to see not only what is being said, but also who is saying it.
If supported by change management efforts, this update should help to increase productivity and engagement in meetings.
Mesh allows remote meeting participants to interact via personalised avatars in immersive spaces.
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Hybrid work in the metaverse with Mesh
The transformation of uses and working methods is not just a cultural revolution. The shift to hybrid working is also accompanied by new security and flexibility issues, with an acceleration of multi-cloud storage solutions in particular. It is also accompanied by new technological tools, which have the potential to revolutionise the way we work and, above all, collaborate.
This is the case of the metaverse, which can be defined as a set of interconnected virtual spaces in which users share immersive experiences in real time (e.g. through avatars). This new technological dimension is made possible by the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and mixed reality.
The enterprise metaverse is reflected in the arrival of Mesh in Teams. This is a new feature that allows remote meeting participants to interact via personalised avatars in immersive spaces. This feature can be accessed from any device and does not require any special equipment. Through mixed reality, people who are physically distant can participate in shared collaborative experiences, thus maintaining a sense of physical presence - despite the distance - and thus strengthening team cohesion.
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Things to remember
📌The combination of face-to-face and remote working has disrupted traditional structures at the same time as employee usage;
📌This new way of working has nevertheless shown its multiple advantages. Starting with the facilitation of group work, the strengthening of communication practices and the greater efficiency of employees in the performance of their tasks;
📌Artificial intelligence has also improved the daily life of employees who work remotely. We have seen this with the new features of the Teams application, such as Loop, Cameo for remote presentations, or Mesh.
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