Microsoft Build Foretells the Future of Teams: Page 2 of 2

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Microsoft Graph

It's a strange name. "Graph" conjures images of high school parabolas and equations in the form y=ax2+bx+c. And yet Microsoft Graph, according to the website, is "... the API for Microsoft 365, securely connecting you to Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security."

Simply put, Graph allows you programmatic access to Office 365 functions and data.

Via the Microsoft Graph, you can:

  • Securely access contact, meeting, email, and document information to determine who, when, how, and what is trending within your organization
  • Implement processes that automatically react to changes in documents or meetings, for instance converting finalized documents into multiple formats in order to improve accessibility
  • Automate complex workflows such as for onboarding or exiting employees

What this means for Teams: Microsoft Graph is an evolving super-API that spans and connects all of Office 365 functionality. At present, a limited number of Teams functions are available via Graph; however, if Microsoft is able to deliver on its stated direction, the Graph framework will further solidify Teams as its primary collaboration and workflow development platform.

The Future of Teams

Taken together, the Build announcements position Teams as the key, strategic end-user application and development platform for Microsoft (because Teams is both). New functionality, such as speech to text, real-time language translation, sentiment analysis, linguistic analysis, visual speaker identification, and mixed reality meeting extensions, along with productivity analytics, intelligent automated assistants responding to speech inputs, and proactive efficiency recommendations, will be delivered first to Teams -- and possibly never to the now-deprecated Skype for Business application.

Further, the developer capabilities already enabled, and soon to be enhanced, within Teams will likely foster a robust third-party ecosystem offering industry- and role-specific add-ins and add-ons for Teams that leverage the Azure bot framework, adaptive cards, and public and enterprise-specific Teams application stores. (At this writing, 180 application extensions were available in the public Teams store.)

At Build, Raanah Amjadi, marketing manager for Teams, demonstrated how Microsoft envisions meetings in the near future:

  • AI powering Cortana speech recognition and understanding
  • Graph helping determine team membership, availability, room location, and availability, and allowing meeting scheduling
  • AI powering facial recognition, speech to text transcription, and contextual language understanding
  • Graph to find relevant content and incorporate into other documents
  • Mixed reality to share spatial data with other meeting participants using HoloLens

At Build, Microsoft made it clear that Teams is designed to interconnect and enable all of these capabilities. The challenge for larger organizations now becomes understanding if, when, and how they should transition to Teams; while the ultimate destination offers potential reward, the path is littered with pitfalls and obstacles.

My team and I help organizations predict and plan for the future then deliver exceptional results in the present. We'd like to help you succeed with Skype or Teams, or both. If you have specific questions related to Microsoft Build or Microsoft Teams please comment below, send me a tweet @kkieller or message me on LinkedIn. I'm very good at responding.