Kevin Kieller
Kevin Kieller is a partner with enableUC, a company that helps measure, monitor and improve UC and collaboration usage and...
Read Full Bio >>

Kevin Kieller | June 18, 2018 |


Microsoft Build Foretells the Future of Teams

Microsoft Build Foretells the Future of Teams AI, mixed reality, and Microsoft Graph have implications for the future of the company's team collaboration platform, Teams.

AI, mixed reality, and Microsoft Graph have implications for the future of the company's team collaboration platform, Teams.

I attended Microsoft Build last month, and bring tales from the future.

For Build, an annual conference for software engineers and Web developers, is where Microsoft promotes its products and the tools, techniques, and directions for its third-party ecosystem that have the greatest likelihood of influencing the future. This is especially relevant in the case of Microsoft Teams, given that Teams, unlike Skype for Business, is first and foremost a collaboration solution platform.

Three focus areas from Build have implications for the future of Teams: artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality, and Microsoft Graph.

Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft seeks to help every developer become an AI developer, thereby democratizing AI. Beyond technology, Microsoft talked about the need for trusted, responsible AI products and practices. To demonstrate this commitment, Microsoft announced a $25 million AI for Accessibility program designed to leverage the power of AI to expand the capabilities of the more than one billion people around the world with disabilities.

As Microsoft is known to do, it has introduced a plethora of AI and machine learning products (all under the new Azure brand). These Microsoft AI offerings fall into three broad categories: cognitive services, custom AI, and AI tools.

Cognitive Services
Microsoft wants to deliver widely applicable, pre-trained AI services related to vision, speech, knowledge, language, and search. The mechanism to do so is entitled cognitive services. The idea is to provide all developers an easy way to incorporate intelligent algorithms that help applications, bots, and websites see, hear, speak, and understand.

With these "plug and play" AI capabilities, developers will be able to add a slew of cognitive services, including:

  • Vision -- facial recognition, object identification, optical character recognition, handwriting recognition, emotion recognition
  • Speech -- speech to text, text to speech, speaker identification, speaker verification, real-time translation
  • Knowledge -- automated FAQ creation, content personalization
  • Language -- sentiment analysis, language detection, text translation, contextual spell checking, content moderation, contextual understanding
  • Search -- text, visual, video, news search

Customizable AI
With custom AI services, organizations can experiment with and train deep learning AI models on proprietary datasets, and then deploy the developed models to the cloud and edge. With AI, Microsoft has adopted an open approach, providing deep support for its own cognitive toolkit, CNTK, as well as TensorFlow, Chainer, and other neural network frameworks.

Developers can customize and extend almost all of the pre-built cognitive service models to include domain specific identification, translation, and understanding.

AI Tools
Microsoft offers a number of AI tools targeted at both the data scientist and the developer:

  • Visual Studio Tools for AI -- an extension to Visual Studio that allows developers to access multiple deep learning frameworks, Azure Machine Learning Studio, and Azure Batch AI, and then build and deploy applications to the cloud and edge using the developed models

  • Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK) -- as mentioned above, allows the creation of deep learning models using your datasets

  • Azure Machine Learning (AML) Studio -- a Web-based, visual, drag-and-drop tool that lets you build and test predictive models without writing code. As part of the AML Studio bundle, AML Workbench assists with data wrangling, AML Experimentation service helps test and refine models, and AML Model Management service assists with version control and deployment of models locally, to the cloud, or to IoT edge devices

  • Bot Framework -- a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to build conversational bots for Teams, Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and more. Additionally, the Azure Bot Service provides an integrated environment to assist with bot development and a serverless bot service that scales with demand

What this means for Teams: Expect Microsoft to infuse AI everywhere within Teams: automatic transcription for meetings (already available), content summaries, meeting attendee identification, sentiment analysis, auto translation (partially available), voice control via Cortana (partially available), automatic action items and reminders, productivity metrics (e.g. MyAnalytics), attendee engagement analysis, meeting health statistics, and greatly improved search. And then expect third parties to leverage the available AI tools to extend the native capabilities of Teams and provide intelligent bots everywhere!

Mixed Reality

Microsoft uses the term "mixed reality" to describe a spectrum from physical reality to digital reality. This spectrum, as shown below, encompasses augmented reality (AR), provided by devices such as the HoloLens, and completely immersive virtual reality (VR), provided by devices such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

When I lead vision workshops, I often define collaboration as "two or more people working toward a shared goal that would likely be out of their reach as individuals." During a Build demo session, using the new Microsoft Remote Assist application and the HoloLens, I was able to repair machinery I had never seen before without any training -- the most direct and immediate example of collaboration I've ever experienced.

Remote Assist allows an expert in another location to see what you're seeing, point, and annotate directly in your field of view (because you're wearing a HoloLens).

The mixed reality Remote Assist preview application is free from the Microsoft Store as a Teams add-on.

A second application, Microsoft Layout, leverages VR and AR to let users design and then validate designs within a specific physical space, such as placement of a new piece of equipment in a manufacturing environment.

What this means for Teams: Teams is and will continue to be the hub and proving ground for mixed reality collaboration, even with SharePoint spaces, announced after Build, also delivering mixed reality content.

Continue to Page 2: Microsoft Graph and the Future of Teams


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.