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Microsoft Intends to Eliminate Workers' Digital Debt

Microsoft's Nicole Herskowitz, vice president of Microsoft Teams and Platform, framed the beginning of her Tuesday morning keynote at Enterprise Connect 2024 by identifying two themes: the new normal and the AI reinvention. Those two themes – one acknowledges that the average knowledge worker's workplace expectations will not reset to pre-2020 norms, while the other acknowledges the transformation of the communications and collaboration tech stack as generative AI took off last year – shaped her entire address and culminated in an abundance of announcement around new features and updates in Teams.

Herskowitz identified a new workplace productivity problem – the work people do simply managing the flow of information that floods their inbox, swirls through their Teams channels, and swamps meeting attendees. She said, “Employees spend two full days a week doing email and attending meetings. We call this phenomenon ‘digital debt.’”

To address digital debt and free up more time for people to do their jobs, not manage the information they’ll need to begin to do their jobs, Microsoft announced the following features around its workspace platform.

Intelligent Call Recap Is Coming

Anyone who’s followed news about Microsoft Copilot since its announcement at Enterprise Connect 2023 knows that Microsoft Copilot's meeting recaps have been a feature from its inception. That feature is now coming to individual calls made from the Calls app within Teams. Intelligent Call Recap will work on both VoIP and PSTN calls, and summaries will be generated only if transcription was enabled on the call. These summaries will include AI-generated notes and any action items that Copilot can perceive from the conversation.

The perk of this feature: Not having to scrabble to take notes while talking to someone – a boon if taking calls while commuting or taking a walk. This feature will be available in the first half of 2024 for both Teams Premium and Copilot for Microsoft 365 users.

Collaborative Notes Are Here

While Copilot's ability to help users brainstorm or create a meeting agenda is old hat to the assistant’s users, human users retain the ability to expand upon those workflow items, or modify them: as of today, anyone invited to a meeting can create and share meeting notes and agendas both before and after the meeting.

Copilot’s Will Be Boosting Users’ Chat Game

Later this spring, the generative AI assistant will offer the Copilot Compose feature – after typing a few keywords like “ask for feedback” or some other call to action in Teams Chat or Channel, Copilot will write a text – and users have controls to adjust tone (enthusiastic, matter-of-fact) and length, or a request to add contextual jokes or task assignments. Users will also be able to set up ad-hoc meetings in what had been a group chat, so you can switch from all those Copilot-prompted messages to real-time call and video meetings.

And Copilot will soon be able to access both chat and meeting transcript content when you ask a question after a meeting – for example if you were to ask the assistant, "What action items are everyone following up on after this meeting?" Copilot will look at both the meeting transcript and the chat where someone helpfully added a few more to-dos to someone’s list. (This feature will require a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license.)


Other Teams-related items Microsoft announced today:

  • To help reduce the flood of information to an actionable and personally relevant trickle, Teams is adding a Discover feed in Channels. The personalized surfaces the most relevant content in channels based on the colleagues users work with or the topics they might be interested in. This feature is available now.
  • People in a Teams room can use their Windows or Android mobile devices to scan a QR code using their mobile devices, then enter the meeting via the Teams mobile companion mode. The QR code is found on the Teams Room home screen. That feature is coming in the first half of 2024.
  • On April 1, Microsoft will update its service level agreement for Teams Phone to 99.999% uptime. As Microsoft put it in the announcement post: “The financially-backed service level agreement covers Microsoft Teams Calling Plans, Teams Phone, and PSTN Audio Conferencing. If a user’s ability to initiate a PSTN call, dial into an audio conference via the PSTN, or process calls with call queues or auto attendant fall below 99.999% in a given month, Microsoft calculates the total downtime and payout service credit based on length of incident (in minutes) multiplied by the number of users potentially impacted by the incident.”
  • For more on the new capabilities in Microsoft Teams, check out Microsoft's "What's New?" Enterprise Connect 2024 announcement post.