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Expert Intel

Microsoft Ignite – November 2023 Roundup

Published: November 22, 2023
Updated: May 29, 2024
Expert: Alex Eley
Role: Technical Director
Specialises in: Microsoft Technology
What you will learn:
In this roundup, I’ll delve into the latest and greatest updates from Ignite 2023, to help you navigate the ever-growing Microsoft product eco-system.
From SharePoint Premium's content management prowess to Copilot's AI innovations, the future certainly is full of possibility...

Microsoft Ignite – Our November 2023 Roundup

Microsoft Ignite, the annual conference for developers and IT professionals, provides valuable insights into the world of Microsoft’s services and solutions, spanning from Copilot and Microsoft 365 to Azure and Sentinel. This year, Microsoft Ignite had a significant focus on AI, and over the course of 3 days featured more than 100 announcements and 600 sessions.

The updates unveiled at Ignite have the potential to transform the way businesses operate. In this roundup, I’ll delve into the latest and greatest updates, to help you navigate the ever-growing Microsoft product eco-system, and hopefully guide you towards those with the biggest impact.

First up, my favourite…

Microsoft Ignite - Sharepoint Premium

SharePoint stands as the world’s most expansive cloud-based content management platform. It serves as the driving force behind the entire Microsoft 365 suite, including OneDrive, Teams, Syntex, Viva, Loop, Stream, and the latest addition, Copilot for Microsoft 365. Moreover, SharePoint content serves as a central foundation for shaping future Copilot experiences. In my opinion, SharePoint is more than just content sharing, it empowers organisations to tap into their collective knowledge, facilitating informed decision-making and fostering employee growth.

According to Microsoft, more than two billion documents daily are shared in Microsoft 365 – so it needs to be organised and managed with robust processes, security and compliance. As the opportunities with AI and Copilot make content even more valuable to the growth of your organisation and your employees, this means a comprehensive and innovative content management solution is more valuable than ever.

In the words of Microsoft: SharePoint Premium delivers new ways to engage with your most critical content, managing and protecting it through its lifecycle. It also helps you maximize content value with security and structure – and prepare it for Copilot for Microsoft 365, the next-generation AI assistant that is transforming productivity.

Okay great, but what exactly is included in the new SharePoint Premium?

  • Content Experiences: Microsoft are extending the power of Office collaboration to a new integrated file viewer. With support for over 400 types of file, users will be able to add ink, comments, mentions, tasks and more to any supported file type. To some, this is a simple addition, I personally this is a gamechanger.
  • Content Processing and Governance: As an integral component of Microsoft Syntex, Microsoft has incorporated artificial intelligence to categorise, label, and safeguard existing documents. It also guarantees the creation of new documents using automated templates, thus enabling the generation of content on a large scale. Augmenting content with both security measures and a structured format is a great way to streamline workflows, but crucially it’s extremely important prior to introducing AI across your business.
  • Content Management Within M365: In addition to content experiences and processing, Microsoft have also extended management capabilities within Microsoft 365 Archive. This integration lets you manage storage costs while keeping information architecture update. You can extend SharePoint Premium policies for out-of-date content to move older sites to Microsoft 365 archive storage.

I predict SharePoint Premium is going to be a popular edition to the Microsoft eco-system, boasting a versatile file viewer, AI-driven content processing, and seamless integration with services like Microsoft 365 Archive.

So, when can we start using this?

The good news is we can start using SharePoint Premium today.

However, services available now under the Syntex brand will be moving to SharePoint Premium in 2024. From what I understand, SharePoint Premium will include two licensing models:

Content processing services, such as document processing, eSignature, PII detection, autofill columns, content assembly, translation and image processing will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis to most Microsoft 365 plans.

New capabilities such as Business Documents app, Documents Hub, and the enhanced file viewer, as well as “SAM” will be available as seat licensed services you can add to Microsoft 365 plans, with pricing to be announced at GA in 2024.

Talking of the future… It’s time to talk Copilot.

Microsoft Ignite - Copilot

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared the “age of copilots” is upon us. As such, it was unsurprising that last week Microsoft announced the unveiling of a significant expansion of the Copilot eco-system.

Amidst a staggering array of over 100 fresh updates to the Copilot technology stack, allow me to introduce my top three personal favourites.

Microsoft’s rival to Google Cloud’s Duet AI, Copilot for Azure emerges as a chat-driven assistant tailored exclusively for cloud enthusiasts. This game-changing tool aims to empower cloud customers like never before. You can:

  • Generate tailored insights for your workloads, with an AI assistant that knows your entire cloud environment.
  • Explore new cloud functionalities by asking Copilot questions to discover and utilise the full functionality of Azure services.
  • Operate seamlessly across a variety of resources and workloads with AI orchestration and analysis.

In a nutshell, Copilot for Azure is an AI companion that simplifies how you design, operate, optimise, and troubleshoot apps and infrastructure from cloud to edge.

Unfortunately, Copilot for Azure is not yet publicly available, but is in preview – so hopefully you won’t be waiting for much longer…

As a service driven company, we can definitely appreciate this one…

Copilot for Service has been designed to elevate customer service to new heights. It harnesses AI insights to answer frequently asked questions from customer service support agents.

Utilising generative AI, this new solution draws information from a plethora of sources. In the words of Microsoft, they say Copilot for Service is a solution ‘Without costly development time or rip and replace efforts, where organisations can simply point to their data—such as public websites, SharePoint, knowledgebase articles, and offline files—and in a few minutes unlock generative AI-powered conversations across all of their data’

Potentially the ultimate sales companion – it’s the all-knowing, all-seeing customer service agent for your organisation. Copilot for Service will be available in public preview in early December.

Copilot for Service also extends with Microsoft Copilot Studio. According to Microsoft, ‘Copilot Studio is where creativity and AI converge’ – and as an organisation that understands technology certainly isn’t the same for everyone, I have a big appreciation for this one…

Copilot for Studio empowers users to craft bespoke AI companions to suit their unique requirements – think chatbots for expense management…

Organisations will have the flexibility to craft customised conversations for scenarios that demand precise responses, such as those related to compliance or regulatory matters.

Good news for existing Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscribers – Copilot for Studio is already available in public preview.

Microsoft Ignite - Azure

Ok, why am I talking about hardware?

Mainly because Microsoft’s new hardware will serve as the driving force behind Microsoft’s AI services, including Copilot and Azure OpenAI Service. And for those operating in the world of IT, there’s nothing better than quick access to your technology.

Azure Cobalt

Azure Cobalt is the first CPU designed by Microsoft, specifically for the Microsoft cloud. Ultimately Microsoft is looking to free itself from GPU dependency with two custom-designed, in-house and data centre-bound AI chips: the Azure Maia 100 AI Accelerator and the Azure Cobalt 100 CPU.

Azure Maia

The Microsoft Azure Maia AI Accelerator, has been developed with artificial intelligence (AI) tasks and generative AI in mind. The Microsoft Azure Cobalt CPU, is an Arm-based processor tailored to run general purpose compute workloads on the Microsoft Cloud.

The Azure Maia chips represent ‘a last puzzle piece for Microsoft to deliver infrastructure systems’ – which include everything from silicon choices, software and servers to racks and cooling systems – that have been designed from top to bottom and can be optimised with internal and customer workloads in mind.

According to Microsoft, both Maia 100 and Cobalt 100 are scheduled for deployment in Azure data centres in 2024.

Microsoft Ignite - Teams

As much as I love talking about hardware, there’s a time and a place… So, to close this off I want to look at some of the slightly more entertaining updates – new additions to Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams’ latest addition, the “decorate your background” feature, could spell the end of fretting over a cluttered home office. During video calls, this feature analyses your surroundings, neatly tidying up any disarray and even introducing plants or decor elements to enhance your background.

Furthermore, Microsoft has unveiled an AI-powered noise reduction feature for Teams, adept at diminishing repetitive background noises and other voices during meetings.

The voice isolation feature is currently in the process of rolling out and is scheduled for general availability in early 2024. Meanwhile, the “decorate your background” feature will make its debut early next year exclusively for Teams Premium users.

Microsoft Teams is poised for a 3D transformation with the introduction of a VR meetings experience set to launch in January 2024. While this offers a novel means of interacting with colleagues, Microsoft is providing a glimpse into the future by hinting at Copilot, its generative AI system, taking charge of requests for crafting VR meeting spaces and objects.

Although the exact release date remains uncertain, it’s evident that the integration of generative AI into VR is on the horizon.

Microsoft Ignite 2023 has unleashed a wave of game-changing updates, potentially set to revolutionise the technology landscape. From SharePoint Premium’s content management prowess to Copilot’s AI innovations, the future certainly is full of possibility.

I’ve only just touched the surface with my favourite updates from Ignite 2023, so for those that want to continue exploring, you can start with the Keynote below, or watch a selection of sessions here.

Want to know more about how we can support and secure your business with Microsoft technologies? Why not get in touch and speak with our experts today.

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