Welcome to December! We have all been waiting for this update as November has been another month with a lot of great features that will help you get the most out of Microsoft Teams. Let's jump right in!
AI-based noise suppression
The real-time AI noise suppression feature automatically removes unwelcome background noise during your meetings. The AI-based noise suppression analyses your audio feed filtering out the noise and retaining only the speech signal. You can also control how much noise suppression you want, including a high setting to suppress more background noise.
New Together mode scene selection
Together mode reimagines meeting experiences to help participants feel closer together even when you are apart. Microsoft have introduced new Together mode scene selections to transport your team to a variet of settings. Choose a scene to set the tone and create a unique experience for your meeting, whether it be a smaller conference room meeting, or an all-hands meeting held in an outdoor amphitheater.
Polls in Teams Meetings
Polls in Teams meetings is a seamless experience powered by Forms that helps you conduct more engaging and productive meetings. As a meeting organiser or presenter, you can prepare, launch, and evaluate polls before, during, and after meetings, respectively. Your attendees can easily view and respond to the polls in the pop-up bubble or chat pane. To enable this feature as the meeting organiser or presenter, simply add the Forms app as a tab in your Teams meeting. Learn more.
Full screen support in new meetings experience
Full screen mode is back. With full screen mode on Windows the meeting window fills up the whole screen, removing all other screen elements, including the title bar on the top and task bar on the bottom. On Mac OS, full screen mode maximises the meeting window and the title bar is hidden. This helps you to reduce distractions and focus your attention.
Start an instant meeting from your mobile device
You'll now find the familiar Meet Now icon on the calendar tab and in the Teams channel helping you connect with your team instantly. Once you start your meeting, you can use any messaging app on your mobile device to share the invite or add participants directly to the meeting, and anyone in the Teams channel can join without an invite.
Updated layout for meetings on iOS
Microsoft have improved the Teams experience on iOS devices with a new presentation mode, the ability to see more participants, and the ability to see shared content and a spotlighted participant concurrently.
While you're on a call with another person (or a group), you might want to add another expert to participate in the call. Similarly, you may receive an incoming call that makes sense to connect with one you're already on. Call Merge gives end users the capability to merge their Teams VoIP and PSTN active 1-1 calls into another 1-1 call or another group call. You can merge your calls, simply by choosing the "..." (more actions) button from the call controls and select "merge calls".
Survivable Branch Appliance
To support the most critical conversations in the event of an outage, the new Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA) allows you to place and receive PSTN calls even in the event of a WAN outage. This SBA is now available to certified Session Border Controller (SBC) vendors, allowing SBCs to link with the Teams client in the event the client cannot reach the Microsoft Calling network.
Ericsson Session Border Controller certification
Ericsson has completed the Session Border Controller (SBC) certification process, which ensures that their SBC supports Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams, joining the list of certified SBCs. This rigorous certification process includes intense 3rd part testing and validation in production and pre-production Direct Routing environments. Direct Routing permits customers to connect their own carriers and infrastructure with Phone System to enable Teams Calling.
Microsoft Teams displays
Microsoft Teams displays is a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices that features an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana. These devices seamlessly integrate with your PC, providing easy access to Teams chat, meetings, calling, calendar, and files. With natural language, users can ask Cortana to join and present in meetings, dictate replies to a Teams chat, and more.
USB phone by Yealink: MP50
The plug and play format of the newly available MP50 by Yealink offers a new way to experience calling features in Teams, allowing you to connect a phone to your PC and start engaging in full phone functionality instantly. The MP50 provides a cost-effective option, giving you a traditional handset experience with a dedicated Teams button, for quick meeting and calling join, as well as USB and Bluetooth connection for both mobile and PC.
Yealink A20 is an integrated, Android-based Microsoft Teams Room designed for small meeting rooms and huddle spaces. The A20 delivers premium audio and video experiences through a 20-megapixel 133-degree horizontal field of view lens, 8 MEMS microphone array and built-in speaker. The A20 is easy to deploy and brings Teams Rooms features like wireless content sharing and whiteboarding, to small meeting spaces.
Poly Sync 20 USB/Bluetooth smart speakerphone now certified for Microsoft Teams
Poly Sync 20 is a portable personal speakerphone certified for Microsoft Teams that delivers great audio for your meetings as well as music. Combined with up to 20 hours of talk time, the ability to charge your smartphone and IP64 dust and water resistance, it's a great companion for hybrid workers.
New features rolling out to Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub
The latest app for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android, version 184.108.40.2060102101, is now available through the Teams Admin Center. New features have also begun rolling out to Surface Hub! Features enabled through this update include:
Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android
Keep important information easily accessible and top of mind with Microsoft Teams. You can pin any message in a channel, and it appears in the channel information pane for all members of the channel to see.
More options to use polls, surveys & checklists in Teams
Easily gather information or keep track of things in chat and channels with new app templates for polls, surveys, and checklists in Teams. Once installed and configured by the Teams administrators, these messaging extensions provide a simple and intuitive experience for users across all platforms without the need to use 3rd party apps.
Quickly create and send polls to gather input to make decisions.
Easily create surveys to gather feedback to improve your processes.
Collaborate with your team and keep things on track by creating a shared checklist
Set presence status duration
Let others know when you are available in Teams by managing your presence status. Users can now change their presence status for a specific period. Learn more.
Android On-Demand Chat Translation
Inline message translation gives all your team members a voice and facilitates global collaboration. With a simple click, people who speak different languages can fluidly communicate with one another by translating posts in channels and chat.
Build solutions with Power Apps in Teams
The new Power Apps for Teams is now generally available. It allows you to build and deploy custom apps without leaving Teams. With the simple, embedded graphical app studio, it has never been easier to build low code apps for Teams. You can also harness immediate value from built in templates like the Great Ideas or Inspections apps, which can be deployed in one click and customised easily. The new Power Apps app for Teams can be backed by a new relational datastore - Dataverse for Teams.
New Power Automate App for Teams
The new Power Automate app for Teams is now generally available. The new app makes it easier than ever to automate workflows within teams. With the simplified flow designer, you can easily build flows by selecting from a number of templates and simply selecting your options from drop down menus. Also, the home screen of the new app improves your visibility into your flows and let's manage your flows for Teams from there.
Power Virtual Agents (PVA) for Teams
Power Virtual Agents (PVA) for Teams is now generally available. Since announcing the PVA preview at Ignite 2020 users have found chat bots useful as well as easy to create and Microsoft have seen thousands of bots created in the past few weeks. Microsoft are now also providing additional features including native authentication, where bots can be designed to provide information to users based upon their identity. You can now also easily make your bot available to your teammates and have admin approval to make it available for the whole organisation.
Teams apps for meetings now generally available
Teams apps for meetings are now generally available with nearly 20 new apps in the Teams app store, such as Asana, HireVue, Monday.com, Slido, and Teamflect, as well as familiar Microsoft apps such as Forms. Learn more. If you're a developer, learn more about creating Teams apps for meetings.
Support for Single Sign-On (SSO) for Bots
Microsoft has announced that Single Sign-On (SSO) for bots is now available. SSO authentication in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) minimizes the number of times users need to enter their login credentials by silently refreshing the authentication token. If users agree to use your app, they will not have to consent again on another device and will be signed in automatically.
Device management automatic alerting in Teams Admin Center
Device management automatic alerting provides more efficiency in identifying devices issues by triggering notifications that can be turned into an immediate correction action.
Insights across classes and spotlight student activity
New capabilities in Insights helps you as an educator to understand engagement and progress of students over time and across your classes. Now, educators can see high-level trends across classes, like inactive students, active students per day, missed online classes and missed assignments.And within a class, new spotlight cards show trending student behaviors an educator may want to take action on.
Shift schedule assistance
Shifts schedule assistance will alert managers if conflicts occur anywhere in the schedule and they will receive conflict warnings when approving schedule change requests. This alerting saves managers time, makes shift scheduling more efficient and reduces inaccuracies that lead to employees not turning up for their shift.
Adepteq use Teams ourselves and have successfully planned, deployed, trained on and are supporting Microsoft Teams with many of our clients.
Microsoft Teams can help people and organisations stay productive in hybrid work environments, and Microsoft Power Platform provides low-code custom development tools. the powerful Teams + Power Platform integration allows anyone to create the tools they need to get work done and bring them into their digital workspace. We are excited to share some new ways that it is becoming easier to build, deploy, and manage these custom solutions so you can be more productive!
A new Power Automate app is coming later this year, will make it easier than ever to build automated workflows. The new app will include a robust set of easy-to-use templates for some of the most common automation scenarios for Teams. A simple building experience will allow users to build these flows with drop-down menus and pre-populated dynamic text. Users will also have the ability to start building flows from scratch or edit flows that they've already built.
Nearly every industry and every business department needs to manage approvals in some form, so Microsoft have announced that Teams users will soon be able to easily create, manage, share, and act on approvals directly in Teams. Users can start an approval from a chat, channel conversation, or from the Approvals app in Teams. These easy approvals are powered by Power Automate and will become generally available in October.
Coming later this year, Microsoft will have integrations with Adobe Sign and DocuSign, to get legal consent or approval of electronic documents from people inside or outside the organisation. Additionally, approval flows from across the organisation can be integrated in Teams with over 350 systems using Power Automate, including ServiceNow, Dynamics, and GitHub.
Microsoft have announced that the Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents apps for Teams, powered by CDS Project Oakdale, have entered public preview allowing Teams users to build custom apps and AI-powered bots right inside Teams, then easily deploy them to their teams.
The new embedded Power Apps studio allows users to create custom apps with a simple drag and drop approach to add app elements, and these apps can be connected to existing CDS Project Oakdale data tables or new data tables that can be created right inside the studio. These apps can be used on desktop or mobile devices, so everyone can be more productive, wherever they are working.
Microsoft have also built several Power Apps solutions for common use cases like equipment asset inspections and employee ideas, and made them available in the Power Apps app as well as the Teams app store, so anyone can open and use them right away. Since these solutions are build on Power Platform, they are also highly customisable and can be edited to meet an organisation's specific needs.
It is important to keep in mind that Power Apps can also help professional developers accelerate their app development process. To that end, Microsoft have announced that professional developers will soon be able to build Power Platform connectors with Azure API Management and Azure Functions to any Microsoft hosted third-party, legacy, or line-of-business apps. Apps built with Power Apps that utilise these new connectors can then be deployed to users in Teams at no additional cost. These capabilities will be available for preview in October 2020.
The new Power Virtual Agents app for Teams provides a low-code authoring experience to create custom chat-bots. Bots can be built simply by adding questions for the bot to ask, and messages for the bot to send back to the user. While these bots can be simple to build, they remain very powerful. New features such as the abilities for bots to recognise which user they are chatting with can provide a personalised user experience. For example, an employee who queries a bot about company HR policies could be provides with policies that are specific to their region or country.
An enhanced Power BI app, available in public preview later this year, will make it easy to discover data and quickly create visualisations from Excel datasets within Teams. The app also provides users with quick access to their frequently used reports, example reports from the Power BI community, and commonly used organisational datasets. The app also allows users to send a report that they're reviewing to a chat or channel quickly, even maintaining the filtering and slicing of the report so it is easy to start a discussion with data. Also coming later this year is the ability to search for Power BI content through the search bar. These new features in the Power BI app provide a centralised place for users to collaborate on data and more effectively and make decisions based on real-time insights.
These innovations will make it easier for anyone with an idea to build a solution. To get started, open the Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, Power Automate, and Power BI apps in Teams. Check out the Microsoft Teams + Power Platform Virtual Hub to learn more about this Power Platform integration and the innovations discussed here, including CDS Project Oakdale. The following information sessions also provide an overview of the integration, as well as details on how to start building custom solutions.
We live and breathe Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 and we love it. Whether you want to ask us a few questions about Power Automate, arrange training with one of our experts, or discuss an automation project you are considering, you are welcome to get in contact with us today. It doesn’t cost anything to talk to us, and we are always happy to help.
We are available on 0800 6444 365 or you can send us a message via our contact page.
Recently we had a customer ask us to automate the creation of structured folders with Power Automate for new projects and to also generate and assign a project number. When a user creates a new folder for the project, the folder should automatically be renamed to "UKXXXX - Folder Name". For example, if the user creates a new folder named "Important Project" then it should be renamed to "UK1234 - Important Project". Then a set of subfolders should be created within it, as shown below.
When first looking at the requirements it seems relatively simple, but I soon realised that there was a complication that I had not considered. There is no action in Power Automate to rename a folder.
Before creating the Flow, I created a document library to store the project documents and a list to store the next project number.
I called the document library "Live Projects". No metadata columns are required but I can add these in the future if needed to assist with searching.
I called the List "Next LP Number", it is very simple and only contains one item. The item has an ID of 1. It is probably a good idea to apply some permissions on the list to ensure that nobody can delete the item. The list has a number column to store the next project number. Just add the first item with the number of the first project. As below.
The first step of the Flow is to add the trigger. In this case I used "When a file is created (properties only)". This is because I want the Flow to be triggered when a new folder is created.
Then I created some variable that I will use in the Flow.
'Current Name' is initialised with the path of the folder that has triggered the Flow. This is relative to the site address.
Next the Flow needs to check that the item that was created is a folder and that the folder is at the root of the document library. This bit is important because without the check, each folder in the set that is created later will cause the Flow to trigger again and again and again... I discovered this to my cost, and I will not make the same mistake again.
Checking that the item is a folder is simple. Checking that the new folder has been created at the root of the document library is more complex.
I used indexOf(variable('Current Name'), '/') is equal to lastIndexOf(variables('Current Name'), '/') to check that there is only the one '/' in the string variable 'Current Name. This works well for me, but I am sure there are other methods.
If the result of the condition is False, then the Flow does nothing and exits. If the result is True, then the Flow continues to the next step.
First get the next project number from the list we created earlier.
Now the variable 'job' has been set to the project number, so we have enough information to create the new name for the folder.
The variable 'New Name' is now set correctly, so the project number can be incremented ready to be saved back to the list for next time.
We can now rename the new folder, but there is no action available to do this, so we need to use "Send an HTTP request" as shown here.
Now we can save the next project number back to the list. This is done by updating list item 1 with the variable 'Job'.
All that remains now is to create the set of folders using the "Create new folder" action for each of the required folders. Repeat the action as many times as needed.
That is the end of the Flow, but as usual there is more that can be added. For example, a notification could be sent out to project managers and a set of tasks created to manage the project.
Power Automate is an incredibly powerful application that offers a variety of ready made templates to help you get started.
Read our recent post on the retirement of SharePoint 2010 Workflows here.
There is no standard handbook for reopening a business during a global pandemic. Each organisation faces the daunting task of minimising risk in conference rooms, factory floors, storefronts, and more to ensure the safety of every employee and customer.
Last month at Microsoft Inspire, the new Power Platform return to the workplace solution was introduced to help customers safely prepare for the return to physical workplaces. Designed for fast deployment and customisation, the end-to-end components provide location readiness and safety tools for facility managers, self-service health and safety tools for employees, and case management tools for health and safety leaders.
Organisations across industries and around the world have had to rapidly adapt their existing processes and operations while continuing to innovate, streamline to save costs, and service their customer's needs. Many organisations closed physical locations, shops, schools, and factories per government guidelines. Now, as some organisations begin returning to the workplace, it will be a phased process with employee and organisational safety at its core.
The process will be different for everyone and will require organisations to be agile and proactive, with fast feedback loops of learning, advancing, and retreating. as a result, organisations will need to maximise resources by quickly making data-driven decisions when it matter most to maintain safe work environments. By adapting business workflows and processes to changing needs, organisations can save time and money by reducing risk and streamlining their workplace reopening process.
The Power Platform return to the workplace pre-built solution is a comprehensive, end-to-end set of modules that help organisations plan, coordinate, and manage the return to the workplace with confidence, helping to ensure the health and safety of employees. The solution is easily customisable, with fast deployment, and built on a secure and compliant platform. Together, the modules provide an end-to-end experience for executive leaders, facility managers, employees, managers, as well as health and safety leaders:
Location Readiness: Allows facility managers and task force leaders to determine the readiness of their facilities and efficiently manage their safe reopening by making informed decisions using critical factors like COVID-19 infection rates and safety supply availability.
Employee Health and Safety Management: empowers your workforce with self-service tools that help them work safely, confidently, and productively, including a mobile app that lets them check in to work remotely and self-screen before entering facilities.
Workplace Care Management: gives health and safety leaders the tools to actively manage COVID-19 cases, identify hot spots for safety improvement, and import data from third party systems to determine exposure.
Location Management (coming soon): gives facility managers the tools they need to keep locations open safely, helping to maintain a safe environment with tools for monitoring occupancy, health supplies, safety procedures, and other facility-related best practices.
CBRE, the worldwide leader in commercial real estate services, serves clients by combining local market insight, broad services, specialised expertise and premier tools and resources. To help organisations reopen safely, CBRE is integrating the Power Platform return to the workplace solutions with Host, its powerful hospitality platform that connects the employee to the enrivonments, amenities, and communities that matter the most.
The return to the workplace solution provides an opportunity for Microsoft partners to help and support customers with customisations and deployment. It offers a foundation that partners can integrate and extend to meet unique customer requirements, with the solution available at no additional cost. Microsoft partners can also leverage a set of FY21 offers to help accelerate customer adoption. This includes funding for pre-sales activities that provide customers with insights on the solution value and demonstrate real-world business impact.
Whether you are reopening a store, a factory, an office, or a school, the Power Platform return to the workplace solution helps accelerate workplace readiness. Give people the confidence to meet in person, as needed, with this pre-built solution designed to protect teams and streamline the entire process of reopening the workplace.
This solution is a sample and may be used with Microsoft Power Apps for dissemination of information only. This solution is not intended or made avaialble for use as a medical device, clinical support, diagnostic tool, or other technology intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease or other conditions, and no license or right is granted by Microsoft to use this app for such purposes. This solution is not designed or intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or judgement and should not be used as such. Customer bears the sole risk and responsibility for any use of this app. Microsoft does not warrant that the app or any materials provided in connection therewith will be sufficient for any medical purposes or meet the health or medical requirements of any person.
We live and breath Microsoft 365 and we love it.
Whether you want to just ask questions about PowerAutomate, PowerBI or PowerApps , arrange training with one of our experts, or discuss anything Microsoft 365 related, you are welcome to get in contact with us today. It doesn’t cost anything to talk to us, and we are always happy to help.
We are available on 0800 6444 365 or you can send us a message via our contact page.
Phil Cave - Technical Director Adepteq
Working with dates has never been simple, just look at the issues surrounding the 'Millennium Bug'. There is always the time and date format to consider and then there are time zones. ISO 8601 does help by standardising the date to YYY-MM-DD, so that 2nd of March 2020 becomes 2020-03-02 no matter where you are located. Then there is the time portion, but I think i'll leave that alone for today.
Last week Microsoft announced that they will be turning off SharePoint 2010 workflows in SharePoint Online. This step will cause many organisations a huge amount of effort to identify and rectify where 2010 workflows are being used and then recreating them.
There is little point in recreating these workflows using SharePoint 2013 workflow as these are nowhere near as powerful or future proof as the Flows that can be created using Power Automate.
Power Automate also has the advantage that it is not locked into SharePoint but can work with data from over 300 other systems using the available connectors. New connected are being added all the time.
One of the things that we do at Adepteq is offer annual support contracts for SharePoint Online and also for the entire Office 365 suite. These contracts are stored in our helpdesk system which we created in SharePoint and have been using for many years now. I think we first created it on SharePoint 2010.
Our contract renewal reminders are managed using a long running SharePoint 2010 workflow. Unfortunately, this workflow will stop working in November, so I will have to rewrite it soon.
It is a simple workflow that uses the out of the box action "Find Interval Between Dates" to check how many days are remaining until the end of the contract. If there are 30 days remaining an email is sent to our sales team with a copy to the support team. We can then send a proposal for a new contract to the customer.
Extract from current 2010 workflow
I shall recreate this functionality using Power Automate. This new Flow will run every night at 1am to check the number of days remaining. If there are 30 days remaining, then a notification will be sent to our sales team so that they can create the new proposal.
Power Automate could be used to create the proposal automatically and send it directly to the customer, but that is for a future blog post.
First create a new Flow using "Scheduled - From Blank"
We need the Flow to run once every day. Here I chose 3am as the start time but you can start at any time that is convenient, it just depends on when you want the email reminder to be delivered.
Next we need to add a step to get the list items from the contracts lists. You will then need to specify the site address and the list name.
You need to remember that by default 'get items' will only return the first 100 items, which is not good if you have more than 100 contracts. To return more than 100 items you will need to go into settings and enable pagination and then set the threshold to a suitable value. In the example below I have used 5000.
let's initialise a variable to store the number of days remaining for the contract.
Now add an 'Apply to Each' step that we will use to enumerate each list item.
We now need to calculate how many days are remaining for each contract so that we can send a reminder email when only 30 days remain.
This is more complicated than it is in the 2010 workflow because there is no 'Find Interval Between Dates' action in Power Automate. So instead we have to do the calculation using the Ticks function. This returns the number of nanoseconds since 1st January 1601. We need to get the difference in nanoseconds between now and the contract start date, then convert that into the number of days. Finally, take that number away from 365 to give the days remaining until the end of the current contract.
To convert nanoseconds to days we just have to divide by 864000000000.
This is all done using the expression 365-(div(sub(ticks(formatDateTime(utcNow(),'yyy-MM-dd')),ticks(item()?['ContractStartDate'])),864000000000)) Just remember to replace 'ContractStartDate' with the name of the column that contains your date.
Now the variable 'daysLeft' contains the number of days remaining for the current contract, we can use a simple condition to check the value and take action. In my example below, if there are 30 days remaining an email reminder is sent. If not, then no action is taken.
This Flow can now easily be developed further to create a task to the sales team and to follow up if the task is not completed. If the customer decides to renew the contract then the account team could be notified to raise an invoice...
Read our recent post on the retirement of SharePoint 2010 Workflows here.
Power Automate is an easy and powerful tool that has allowed us to save time and money, boost productivity, streamline every day tasks and share data faster. In a digital world that is always connected and always working, businesses that use Power Automate are not looking back.
It is never too late to get started.
These day's there's a cloud service for everything. Power Automate is a user friendly way to connect all of your favourite apps and automate the tasks that you find too time consuming. With the option to create your own multi-step workflow or start from one of the many templates, it's simple to automate what you want.
Why waste time constantly checking emails when you can get a text message whenever an important contact emails you? Automating means you can use your time to work on other things, like setting up a flow that manages your Twitter. Has somebody mentioned your company in a Tweet? Let Power Automate take care of it with a flow that follows them, sends a nice reply, adds them to a spreadsheet that gets emailed to you for approval and then adds their contact to Dynamics 365.
You can connect to over 100 services and choose from hundreds of pre-made templates, tweak them, or create your own.
Power Automate is part of the Microsoft Power Platform, alongside Power Apps and Power BI. We use Power Automate everyday in our SharePoint development projects. Often in combination with Power Apps to digitise your paper forms and processes.
We live and breath Microsoft 365 and we love it. Whether you want to just ask us a few questions about Power Automate, arrange training with one of our experts, or discuss an automation project you are considering you are welcome to get in contact with us today. It doesn't cost anything to talk to us, and we are always happy to help.
We are available on 0800 6444 365 or you can send us a message via our contact page.