Giving up has never been a phrase that existed in Spencer’s vocabulary. From the time he was a little boy, his parents instilled upon him and his siblings the importance of pushing through, even when things got hard. “I think our family has always been people who accept what we have, work with it, and don’t dwell on things that aren’t going as well as we’d like,” says Spencer’s mom, Sue. “That’s always been the way of this family: supporting each other.”
The spirit of determination helped Spencer grow as a high school skier and lacrosse player, and eventually become the captain for both teams.
For all three, Microsoft’s aim is to play a supporting role to help doctors and researchers find ways to improve health care using AI and machine learning.
“The health care providers are the experts,” said Prashant Gupta, Program Director in Azure Global Engineering. “We are the enabler. We are empowering these health care consortiums to build new things that will help with the last mile.”
In the Forus Health project, that “last mile” started by ensuring image quality. When members of the consortium began doing research on what was needed in the eyecare space, Forus Health was already taking the 3nethra classic to villages to scan hundreds of villagers in a day. But because the images were being captured by minimally trained technicians in areas open to sunlight, close to 20% of the images were not high quality enough to be used for diagnostic purposes.
“If you have bad images, the whole process is crude and wasteful,” Gupta said. “So we realized that before we start to understand disease markers, we have to solve the image quality problem.”
Now, an image quality algorithm immediately alerts the technician when an image needs to be retaken.
The same thought process applies to the cardiology and pathology consortiums. The goal is to see what problems exist, then find ways to use technology to help solve them.
“Once you have that larger shared goal, when you have partners coming together, it’s not just about your own efficiency and goals; it’s more about social impact,” Gupta said.
And the highest level of social impact comes through collaboration, both within the consortiums themselves and when working with organizations such as Forus Health who take that technology out into the world.
Chandrasekhar said he is eager to see what comes next.
“Even though it’s early, the impact in the next five to 10 years can be phenomenal,” he said. “I appreciated that we were seen as an equal partner by Microsoft, not just a small company. It gave us a lot of satisfaction that we are respected for what we are doing.”
Top image: Forus Health’s 3nethra classic is an eye-scanning device that can be attached to the back of a moped and transported to remote locations. Photo by Microsoft.
Leah Culler edits Microsoft’s AI for Business and Technology blog.
To help businesses stay a step ahead in the digital age, Microsoft has released new research in partnership with Dr. Michael Parke of the London Business School. Surveying 9,000 workers and business leaders across 15 European markets, the research delved into company growth, employee engagement, leadership styles and technology.
According to the findings, change is the new normal as businesses race to adapt and better compete: 92% of European leaders say their organization has recently undergone a major transformation.
And, the number-one transformation challenge in leaders’ minds is company culture.
The study revealed that getting the workplace culture component right can benefit businesses in a significant way.
Companies that were assessed as having ‘innovative cultures’ – generally defined as cultures where new ideas are embraced and supported – were twice as likely to expect double-digit growth. These businesses also seem positioned to win the war for talent: the majority of workers within these organizations (86%) plan to stay in their jobs, as opposed to 57% of those employees working in less innovative cultures.
There are three key attributes that set these innovative companies apart:
I. Tearing down silos and building bridges
Companies with the most innovative cultures have leaders who are not only tearing down silos, they’re replacing them with partnerships and transparency. These leaders are more likely to see effective collaboration as vital for business growth – whether it’s within teams, across teams, or with customers and partners.
Among leaders of highly innovative cultures:
86 percent said collaboration within their teams is very important for future business growth, compared to 70 percent in less innovative cultures.
86 percent said internal collaboration across teams is very important to growth, compared to 72 percent of leaders in less innovative businesses.
79 percent said collaborating externally with their partners is vital for growing their business, compared to just 54 percent of their counterparts in lower-innovation companies.
II. Empowering teams and creating a learning culture
The research shows that in the most innovative companies, leaders are focused on mobilizing their teams and empowering them.
In the most innovative companies, 73 percent of workers say their teams can choose how they approach the work – with only 45 percent of workers in low-innovation workplaces feeling that way. Further, approximately twice as many people in high-innovation workplaces feel empowered to make decisions without a manger’s approval, compared to employees in low-innovation companies.
Finally, nearly three in four employees say their leaders create a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes, compared to just half of the employees in lower-innovation companies.
III. Protect attention and promote flow
Workers report feeling like they waste 52% of their time each week due to things like unproductive meetings and emails, unnecessary interruptions, and time taken to track down information.
The study suggests that a combination of having the right physical environment, tech tools and a manager who supports diverse ways of working can cut this sub-optimal time in half.
However, the data from the study highlights there’s a greater opportunity than just the possibility of employers helping people be more productive. In fact, there’s also a significant opportunity to bolster employee engagement. When people are able to devote all of their attention and energy to a particular task, they are able to work in a flow state – sometimes known as ‘in the zone.’ Employees who can work in this way – at least some of the time – were three times more likely to say they were happy in their jobs
A working culture that values empowerment and autonomy appear to have an advantage in terms of people being able to work in a flow state: 72 percent of employees who report that they are able to work in flow state say their teams can choose how they approach work. In workplaces with low states of flow, only half of workers feel similarly.
In quick summary: the business leaders that will succeed tomorrow are not thinking about how they can make their workforce more productive – they are focused on helping their people be more innovative.
We’ve seen incredible growth of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform just in the past year. This momentum is driving a massive investment in people and breakthrough technologies that will empower organizations to transform in the next decade.
We have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in our business cloud that power business transformation across markets and industries and help organizations solve difficult problems.
This fiscal year we are also heavily investing in the people that bring Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform to life — a rapidly growing global network of experts, from engineers and researchers to sales and marketing professionals. Side-by-side with our incredible partner community, the people that power innovation at Microsoft will fuel transformational experiences for our customers into the next decade.
Accelerating innovation across industries
In every industry, I hear about the struggle to transform from a reactive to proactive organization that can respond to changes in the market, customer needs, and even within their own business. When I talk to customers who have rolled out Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, the conversation shifts to the breakthrough outcomes they’ve achieved, often in very short time frames.
Customers talk about our unique ability to connect data holistically across departments and teams — with AI-powered insights to drive better outcomes. Let me share a few examples.
This year we’ve focused on a new vision for retail that unifies back office, in-store and digital experiences. One of Washington state’s founding wineries — Ste. Michelle Wine Estates — is onboarding Dynamics 365 Commerce to bridge physical and digital channels, streamline operations with cloud intelligence and continue building brand loyalty with hyper-personalized customer experiences.
When I talk to manufacturers, we often zero in on ways to bring more efficiency to the factory floor and supply chain. Again, it’s our ability to harness data from physical and digital worlds, reason over it with AI-infused insights, that opens doors to new possibilities. For example, Majans, the Australian-based snackfood company, is creating the factory of the future with the help of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Power BI and Azure IoT Hub — bringing Internet of Things (IoT) intelligence to every step in the supply chain, from quality control on the production floor to key performance indicators to track future investments. When everyone relies on a single source of truth about production, inventory and sales performance, decisions employees make drive the same outcome — all made possible on our connected business cloud.
These connected experiences extend to emerging technologies that bridge digital and physical worlds, such as our investment in mixed reality. We’re working with companies like PACCAR — manufacturer of premium trucks — to improve manufacturing productivity and employee training using Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens 2, as well as Siemens to enable technicians to service its eHighway — an electrified freight transport system — by completing service steps with hands-free efficiency using HoloLens and two-way communication and documentation in Dynamics 365 Field Service.
For many of our customers, the journey to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform started with a need for more personalized customer experiences. Our customer data platform (CDP) featuring Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, is helping Tivoli Gardens — one of the world’s longest-running amusement parks — personalize guest experiences across every touchpoint — on the website, at the hotel and in the park. Marston’s has onboarded Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Insights to unify guest data and infuse personalized experiences across its 1,500-plus pubs across the U.K.
The value of Dynamics 365 is compounded when coupled with the Power Platform. In late 2019, there are over 3 million monthly active developers on the Power Platform, from non-technical “citizen developers” to Microsoft partners developing world-class, customized apps. In the last year, we’ve seen a 700% growth in Power Apps production apps and a 300% growth in monthly active users. All of those users generate a ton of data, with more than 25 billion Power Automate steps run each day and 25 million data models hosted in the Power BI service.
The impact of the Power Platform is shared in the stories our customers share with us. TruGreen, one of the largest lawn care companies in the U.S., onboarded Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and the Microsoft Power Platform to provide more proactive and predictive services to customers, freeing employees to spend more time on higher value tasks and complex customer issue resolution. And the American Red Cross is leveraging Power Platform integration with Teams to improve disaster response times.
From the Fortune 500 companies below to the thousands of small and medium sized businesses, city and state governments, schools and colleges and nonprofit organizations — Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Cloud are driving transformative success delivering on business outcomes.
Partnering to drive customer success
We can’t talk about growth and momentum of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform without spotlighting our partner community — from ISVs to System Integrators that are the lifeblood of driving scale for our business. We launched new programs, such as the new ISV Connect Program, to help partners get Dynamics 365 and Power Apps solutions to market faster.
Want to empower the next generation of connected cloud business? Join our team!
The incredible momentum of Dynamics 365 and Power Platform means our team is growing, too. In markets around the globe, we’re looking for people who want to make a difference and take their career to the next level by helping global organizations digitally transform on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. If you’re interested in joining our rapidly growing team, we’re hiring across a wealth of disciplines, from engineering to technical sales, in markets across the globe. Visit careers.microsoft.com to explore business applications specialist career opportunities.
Today at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, we announced new Microsoft 365 innovations in six key investment areas: productivity, knowledge, workflow, security, compliance, and management. Microsoft 365 is the world’s productivity cloud, and the consistent theme across these new features is how we’re using artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver amazing new experiences that push the boundaries of productivity. From new Microsoft Teams enhancements to the first new service we’ve launched since Teams, we have a lot to share with you—so let’s get to the news.
Microsoft 365’s productivity tools use AI to help people create, collaborate, analyze, write, present, organize, and manage their work. Our innovations in core productivity are focused on two opportunities: creating entirely new experiences that take advantage of the latest innovations and breathing new life into familiar apps and experiences with powerful cloud services.
Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork. In response to requests from Teams customers, we’re pleased to announce Private channels, Multiwindow chats, meetings and calls, pinned channels, and task integration with To Do and Planner. We’re improving collaboration capabilities between Outlook and Teams, making it easy to send an email thread to a Teams channel for further discussion.
And we’re bringing the Yammer app into Teams, adding the ability for users to pin the app to the left-hand rail and making Teams the hub for both focused team collaboration and broad, open communities. We are also delivering new industry-tailored innovations and experiences including tools for Healthcare and Firstline workers. Healthcare providers can now schedule and conduct B2C virtual consultations through Teams with new Virtual Consults capabilities, and new features like SMS Sign-In and Global Sign-Out make it quick and easy for Firstline workers to securely access Teams from their mobile devices.
The all-new Microsoft Edge offers the enterprise new tab page, where you’ll have direct access to your Microsoft 365 files, sites, and intranet search, making every tab you open a portal to productivity. And with the new Microsoft Search in Bing integration, searching for information at work is as easy as searching the web. You can now access files, people, office floorplans, acronym definitions, and more company information from across your Microsoft 365 ecosystem right from the search bar.
Finally, Microsoft Edge is now available across all your devices—including Windows 10, Windows 8x, Windows 7, macOS, iOS, and Android. Your passwords and favorites will roam seamlessly across all your devices—and with native Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) sign-in, you can search for work files right from your phone.
The Office mobile app
We all want to be able to work on the go from mobile devices and we’re always looking to simplify and improve the experience. Today, we’re announcing a new mobile experience for Office that combines three of the suite’s most popular apps—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—into a single go-to app for mobile productivity. Now you no longer need to download each app separately and will have everything you need to be productive on the go. And with the new Actions pane, you can intuitively complete a variety of common on-the-go tasks, such as creating and signing PDFs and sharing files between devices.
At Build 2019, we announced Fluid Framework, a new technology and set of experiences that will make collaboration seamless by breaking down the barriers between apps. It offers three key capabilities. First, experiences powered by the Fluid Framework will support multi-person coauthoring on web and document content at industry-leading speed and scale. Second, it provides a componentized document model that allows authors to deconstruct content into collaborative building blocks, use them across applications, and combine them in a new, more flexible kind of document. Third, the Fluid Framework makes room for intelligent agents to work alongside humans to translate text, fetch content, suggest edits, perform compliance checks, and more.
Today, we are announcing a public preview of the Fluid Framework end user experience and a private preview for developers. Over time, we expect these capabilities to light up in experiences across Microsoft 365, including within chat in Teams, mail in Outlook, portals in SharePoint, notes in OneNote, and documents in Office.
We’re using AI to bring you personalized experiences in Outlook and making Cortana your personal productivity assistant. Today, we announced Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS to help you catch up and act on emails hands-free. With new natural voice and language recognition, Cortana can intelligently read out your new emails and share changes to your day. A masculine voice option is also now available with Play My Emails, further customizing your personal productivity assistant experience. We’re also announcing that Scheduler in Outlook is shipping in preview; you can use it to hand off scheduling meetings and coordinating participants to Cortana.
Beginning next month, Cortana can also help you prepare for your day by sending you a briefing email that includes a summary of your meetings, relevant documents for your day, and reminders to follow up on commitments you’ve made in email.
AI in Office
You’re busy and have a lot on your mind—and even more on your to-do list. We get it, and over the past year, we brought the magic of AI to Office to help you get more done. With innovations that include entering data into Excel with a digital pen, audio transcription in Word—which converts a new or existing audio file into a written transcription—and Presenter Coach in PowerPoint (in public preview for the web), which helps business professionals, teachers, and students become more effective presenters, we committed to enlightening Office with AI to help you be more productive.
Today our journey continues. Now Excel supports natural language queries, so users can now ask a question of their data, just like they would if they were talking to a person, and get quick answers—all without having to write a formula. Available to Office Insiders, this new natural language ability is another step towards making data insights and visualization more approachable and accessible to users with various levels of Excel experience.
We’re also making it easier for you to plan time away from work and continue to improve your work best practices. For example, MyAnalytics can help you prepare for time off by automating out of office notification setup, informing collaborators of your time away, resolving meetings you’ll miss, and more. Integrated into the Insights pane in Outlook, MyAnalytics is now able to encourage best practices like booking meetings promptly, adding an agenda, and meeting follow ups, and adding new AI-powered suggestions in Outlook that allow you to delay email delivery when working outside the recipient’s working hours.
Last week, we announced a major step toward achieving our new vision for project management with the general availability of the new Microsoft Project. The new Project offers a redesigned user experience that is simple and intuitive. Teams can quickly add new members and set up tasks, and then easily switch between grids, boards, or timeline (Gantt) charts to track progress. And because Project is part of the Microsoft 365 family, project teams can save time and do more with built-in connections to familiar apps like Teams and Office. In addition, the new service provides greater visibility into your projects and powerful tools to help you anticipate future needs. Create stunning interactive reports in Power BI, so you can visualize every aspect of each project at a glance. And get the big picture view of all your projects across your organization with visual, interactive cards.
Over the next year, we’ll release more exciting capabilities in the new Project, including resource management, budget analysis, and time and expense tracking. These powerful features will enable you to streamline more complex initiatives and help your business maximize ROI.
We’re excited to announce a brand-new investment area for Microsoft 365—knowledge. Moving your productivity infrastructure to the cloud has many benefits, including cost savings and streamlined operations. But it also unlocks new scenarios. Using AI, Microsoft 365 will now be able to identify, organize, and deliver knowledge across your organization—providing just the right information at just the right time. Productivity isn’t just about being more efficient. It’s also about aggregating and applying the collective knowledge of your organization so that together you can achieve more.
Today, we’re announcing Project Cortex, the first new service in Microsoft 365 since the launch of Teams. Project Cortex uses AI to create a knowledge network that reasons over your organization’s data and automatically organizes it into shared topics like projects and customers. It also delivers relevant knowledge to people across your organization through topic cards and topic pages in the apps they use every day.
In addition, Project Cortex enables business process efficiency by turning your content into an interactive knowledge repository—with innovations in smart content ingestion—to analyze documents and extract metadata to create sophisticated content models; machine teaching, to allow subject matter experts to teach the system how to understand semi-structured content; and knowledge retrieval, to make it easy for people to access the valuable knowledge that’s so often locked away in documents, conversations, meetings, and videos. Building on the content you already have in SharePoint, Project Cortex connects content across Microsoft 365 and external systems and enables you to manage information and streamline processes with built-in security, compliance, and workflow.
The new Yammer
Yammer has been completely redesigned, with dozens of new capabilities that empower people to connect, build communities, and share knowledge across the organization. The new Yammer delivers a beautiful, intelligent experience across devices and introduces new integrations with Teams, SharePoint, and Outlook. You can now use Yammer to broadcast live and on-demand events with a streamlined production option that uses webcams and desktop sharing. And you can also share video shorts directly from the Yammer mobile app. In addition, we’ve now centralized e-Discovery, data governance, and Yammer administration in the Microsoft 365 admin center.
Today, we announced new innovations for Microsoft Search to enhance productivity; empower greater discovery of information, insights, and people; develop search driven applications; and extend the benefits of Microsoft Search to content outside of Microsoft 365. We recognize search works best when it brings together information from across your organization. Now with over 100 new Microsoft Search connectors from Microsoft and our partners, you can consolidate information from disparate system into a single search experience in Microsoft 365.
In addition, you can use our new Graph APIs to develop custom applications on top of Microsoft Search to tailor search to your organizations’ needs. We’re also bringing more powerful search experiences to Microsoft 365, including advanced people search using attributes and skills, video search, acronym search, and semantic search.
Video is an increasingly powerful medium for capturing and sharing knowledge and learning. Microsoft Stream applies AI to unlock the content in video—including meeting recordings—with automatic transcription. AI also powers the new voice enhance feature, allowing you to focus on the spoken word by reducing background noise. And now people can create short videos from mobile devices and share in Yammer, Teams, and PowerApps, mainstreaming video as the new content type for communications and learning.
Workplace Analytics is making it even easier to gain knowledge about the way people work and its impact on business and organizational outcomes. Business leaders will get at-a-glance insights to quickly understand and improve meeting culture, manager practices, organizational networks, and customer relationships. Industry benchmarks help contextualize common patterns that influence productivity, such as focus time and the ability to unplug outside of working hours. We also enriched the analyst toolset. AI-driven process analysis uses key words like “quarterly business review” to shed light on time and resources invested in specific business activities, enabling improvement over time.
Workflow innovations empower you to streamline and improve business processes with little or no code. This approach not only saves time and money, it also ensures process automation is done by the people who are closest to the way things actually work.
Power Platform integration with Teams
With Power Platform, users can automate routine tasks, create custom apps, and easily engage with data. Power Platform integration with Teams makes these tools more discoverable and accessible to users and unlocks a conversational approach to streamlining productivity scenarios—from managing approvals directly in chat to pinning a custom app where a team needs it.
Today, we announced new features to enhance these capabilities. Power Apps creators can now publish their apps as Teams apps, and users will be able to pin those apps to their left rail in Teams. We’re also adding new Power Automate triggers and actions, allowing users to streamline the completion of common team and personal tasks, such as setting custom message actions and sending notifications. And coming soon, rich Power BI previews in Teams chat and an enhanced Power BI tab will allow users to see all their data in Teams and effortlessly discuss data, to speed data-driven decision making.
Office Scripts simplifies clunky processes and automates repetitive tasks so you can work less while doing more. Today, we introduced scripting in Excel, a new process automation feature that allows you to record your actions inside a workbook and save it to a script. The saved script can then be integrated with Power Automate and scheduled to run automatically or integrate with a larger flow. Office Scripts will be available as a public preview by the end of the year.
New AI-powered features make it easy for you to secure your organization’s valuable assets while empowering employees to collaborate freely.
Any customer with any Azure AD plan, including a free plan, can now use the Microsoft Authenticator app for secure, passwordless access to both Microsoft and non-Microsoft apps. Passwords continue to be the weakest link in cybersecurity. With Azure AD and Microsoft Authenticator, enterprises can go passwordless for a great user experience and lower support costs while also implementing two-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA) for greater security. Deploying MFA reduces the risk of phishing and other identity-based attacks by 99.9 percent and is the best thing you can do to improve your security. Customers with more than 150 seats can also now contact Microsoft to set up the capability via FastTrack.
New value in Azure AD
Azure AD Cloud Provisioning now makes it easier to move identities to the cloud by eliminating the need for an on-premises sync server though a lightweight on-premises agent. This enables provisioning from multiple, disconnected on-premises Active Directory (AD) forests and harnesses the power of the cloud to tackle common directory challenges like sync complexity and data transformation logic. This capability addresses one of the top needs for large enterprise customers that manage complex organizations or mergers and acquisitions and enables greater availability and decreases implementation and operation costs.
Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
Microsoft Defender ATP endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities are now available in preview for Mac OS devices. We’ll be adding support for Linux servers next. This is part of our commitment to extending multi-platform coverage in our threat protection solutions. Our customers depend on Microsoft for world-class endpoint protection and EDR capabilities for Windows, and most large organizations manage a complex mix of technology platforms, including several operating systems. They need coverage for the full breadth of their environment. This ongoing investment gives them the breadth of coverage they need, with a single unified view for administrators and security operations professionals, enabling enterprise-wide investigation and response to security incidents.
Application Guard for Office
Now available in private preview, Application Guard for Office provides hardware-level and container-based protection against potentially malicious Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. It utilizes Microsoft Defender ATP to establish whether a document is either malicious or trusted.
Simplify and automate risk management with new innovations that use AI as a force multiplier to keep you one step ahead of the increasingly complex compliance requirements and ever-evolving insider threats.
Insider Risk Management
A staggering 53 percent of organizations have experienced an insider attack in the last 12 months. The effort required to identify these risks and violations is not trivial, and it requires effective collaboration across security, human resources (HR), and legal—as well as a balanced approach across privacy and risk management. Today, we announced Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365 to help organizations quickly identify and remediate insider threats, risks, and code of conduct policy violations across Office, Windows, Azure and third-party apps such as HR systems. Insider Risk Management leverages the Microsoft Graph and other services to intelligently correlate multiple signals to identify hidden patterns and potential risks, and provide real-time insight into file activity, communications sentiment, and abnormal user behaviors. Insider Risk Management includes a set of configurable playbooks tailored specifically for risks—such as digital IP theft and confidentiality breach—to help you effectively identify threats and take action. We also designed for privacy, so display names for risky users can be anonymized by default at early stages of investigation.
It’s more important than ever to have the knowledge and tools you need to work across compliance and risk management teams to effectively assess and monitor risks. To help you implement more effective data protection controls, we’re announcing the public preview of Microsoft Compliance Score, which enables you to simplify and automate risk assessments. With Microsoft Compliance Score, you can now continuously assess and monitor data protection controls, get clear guidance on how to improve the score, and leverage the built-in control mapping to scale your compliance efforts across regulations and standards.
Even if you’re not an expert in complex regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or ISO 27001, you can still quickly learn the actions needed for compliance and contribute towards progress. We also introduced new assessments for California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and for other GDPR-style regulations. Compliance Score is available now in public preview for all Microsoft 365 enterprise plans in the Microsoft 365 compliance center.
With new management innovations, Microsoft 365 puts the cloud and AI to work to help you set-up, secure, monitor, and manage all your devices.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager
Microsoft Endpoint Manager is an integrated solution to centrally and securely manage all the endpoints in your technology estate. Bringing together Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager functionality and data—plus new intelligent actions and analytics—Endpoint Manager delivers seamless, end-to-end management for Windows, Android and Apple devices, apps, and policies without the complexity of a migration or disruption to productivity. Look for Microsoft Endpoint Manager features and experiences to appear in the product over the coming months. And, to help ensure that all our customers are able to take advantage of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, we’re making Intune available to our existing SCCM customers for Windows PC management. Starting December 1, 2019, you can co-manage these devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and start using cloud-powered features like Autopilot and Desktop Analytics.
Microsoft Productivity Score
Microsoft Productivity Score focuses on two areas: the Employee experience and the Technology experience. Both provide visibility into how your organization works, insights to identify where you can enable improved experiences, and actions you can take to update skills and systems—so everyone can do their best work.
The Employee experience shows you how Microsoft 365 is helping to create a productive and engaged workforce. By quantifying how people are collaborating on content, working from anywhere, developing a meeting culture, and communicating with each other, you can see the different ways that work gets done. Meanwhile, the Technology experience provides insights by assessing policies, device settings, and hardware and application performance within the organizational environment and recommends actions in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Managed Meeting Rooms
Productive meetings are essential to success in the modern workplace. Coupled with the rise in remote collaboration, business leaders increasingly associate more effective meetings with having the right meeting room technology and environment. Today, we’re announcing a private preview of Managed Meeting Rooms from Microsoft, a new offer for managing meeting rooms. This cloud-based IT management and security monitoring service ensures that Teams meeting rooms are secured, up to date, and proactively monitored for a great in-room experience. To date, we’ve been working with more than 100 customers to manage more than 1,500 meeting rooms. Now, a private preview is opening this experience to more of you! If you’re interested in participating, let us know.
You told us you want to improve your security posture by scoping admin permissions to only those needed to do their jobs. In fact, this is one of our top customer requests. We’re announcing new admin roles in Azure AD and the Microsoft 365 admin center to help you reduce the number of Global admins in your organization. For example, the Global reader role lets an admin view information across Microsoft 365, but does not allow the admin to change any settings or data. Now you can assign the Global reader role to admins in your organization to support reporting, planning, audits, and investigations, without having to grant a higher level of privileges than is necessary. The Global reader role can also be combined with other administrative roles (for example, Exchange admin) to more granularly control and scope the assignment of admin privileges in your organization.
You also told us that you want guidance from Microsoft for improving security and increasing admin efficiency. The Onboarding Hub, in the Microsoft 365 admin center’s setup area, includes new experiences to help you discover, learn about, and use features across Microsoft 365, including Azure AD and other admin portals such as the Security and Compliance Center. We provide intelligent recommendations—based on your current configuration and admin activities—to help you improve your security posture, maintain compliance with data regulations, keep apps up to date, and reduce costs.
New recommendations in the Microsoft 365 admin center (admin.microsoft.com).
Using the Global reader role to access the Onboarding Hub is a powerful and safe way to perform planning and auditing activities for Microsoft 365, as a Global reader can view and assess the recommendations, learn about implementation steps and user impact, and see current administrative assignments without making any tenant or configuration changes.
Office 365 Groups
Office 365 Groups is the membership service that powers collaboration and drives teamwork across Microsoft 365. It’s a core underpinning of more than 20 applications, including Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, Yammer, Microsoft Stream, and more. We’re pleased to announce a number of improvements to the Groups admin experience with new lifecycle management and compliance capabilities, including the ability to quickly create teams for a group, browse and restore deleted groups, edit the group email alias, and use sensitivity labels. You can also enable self-service group creation and management, which empowers users to create teams and Yammer channels that are controlled with guardrails and policies set by IT.
Send us your feedback
Every innovation we make with Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, is designed to help you and your organization unlock new forms of productivity to achieve more. We’re excited to share these new features with you, and look forward to your feedback and insights.
With Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, we’re using the power of the cloud to help people and organizations achieve more. Last year, we shared our new vision for work management designed specifically to help teams collaborate on projects more efficiently and achieve more together. Today, we’re announcing a major step toward achieving this vision with the general availability of the new Microsoft Project along with a new subscription plan!
Collaborating in teams and projects has become an integral part of our work experience. Businesses increasingly rely on project teams to advance strategic initiatives, drive change, and solve tough problems. But keeping projects on track isn’t easy, especially when teams are working on multiple workstreams to achieve aggressive goals on tight deadlines.
The new Project is designed to be both simple and powerful, so anyone can get started quickly and take control of any project right away.
A fresh new experience
Project offers a redesigned user experience that is simple and intuitive. Teams can quickly add new members and set up tasks, and then easily switch between grids, boards, or timeline (Gantt) charts to track progress. And because Project is part of the Microsoft 365 family, project teams can save time and do more with built-in connections to familiar apps like Microsoft Teams and Office.
Collaboration made easy
Designed to do much more than just track progress, Project works with Teams to support collaboration and make it easy to manage all aspects of a team project, including file sharing, chats, meetings, and much more. Team members in scattered locations can even edit tasks simultaneously, so they can get more done together, no matter where they are. To help teams stay on track, Project offers an automated scheduling engine based on effort, duration, and resources.
Project with Teams.
Coauthoring in Project.
Insights at your fingertips
The new Project provides greater visibility into your projects and powerful tools to help you anticipate future needs. Create stunning interactive dashboards in Power BI, so you can visualize every aspect of each project at a glance. Get the big picture view of all your projects across your organization with the visual, interactive Roadmap feature.
Project data in a Power BI dashboard.
Built on the Microsoft Power Platform, Project enables you to quickly connect to the apps and services you already use, and to create custom desktop and mobile experiences to meet the specific needs of every project team. Easy to use tools make it simple to create automated workflow processes that streamlines compliance and increases efficiency. Do all this and more with the confidence that comes with knowing you are building on the powerful security and compliance capabilities of Azure—the world’s most trusted enterprise cloud.
Introducing a new Microsoft Project plan for all users
As part of this launch, we’re also excited to announce a new subscription plan: Project Plan 1.
Project Plan 1 is for teams that need the essential capabilities of managing task-oriented projects like assigning tasks and dependencies and scheduling and tracking project work using lists, boards, and timelines. At just $10 per user per month, this subscription is an ideal way to get started with Project.
Project Plan 1 joins our current subscription offerings, Project Online Professional and Project Online Premium, now renamed to Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 respectively. Customers using Project Online can continue to do so with confidence knowing that we’re committed to your success no matter which Project service you choose.
The rollout of the new Project began in mid-October. If you already have a Project subscription plan, you should receive a notification inviting you to try the new Project experience. If you don’t have a Project subscription yet, we invite you to either learn more or try out Project Plan 1 today!*
Looking forward, we will release more exciting capabilities in the new Project, including resource management, budget analysis, and time and expense tracking. These powerful features will enable you to streamline more complex initiatives and help your business maximize ROI.
As we continue to innovate with the new Project, we rely on customers, like you, to help shape the direction of future releases. You can reach us via the Feedback button in the new Project UserVoice or through your Microsoft representative, to share your feedback and ideas on how Project meets your needs today and into the future.
Q. How does new Project compare to Microsoft Planner?
A. Planner remains the starting point for individuals and teams to collaborate on tasks. Many teams find that they need more power—like tracking task dependencies and scheduling—and the new Project is the right step up for them. Planner and the new Project have a similar look and feel, so that teams can move between both tools easily.
Q. Can I continue to use Project desktop app?
A. Absolutely, you can continue to rely on the full power of the Project desktop app.
Q. Does Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 include Project Plan 1 capabilities?
A. Yes, both Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 will include the Project Plan 1 capabilities.
*Plan 1 is available for purchase starting October 29, 2019 in the U.S. and select international markets. It will be available for purchase starting mid-November in other international markets (except for France and South Korea).
The X019 celebration will continue live from London on Friday and Saturday with online programming
This week, we’ll be kicking off X019, our global celebration
of all things Xbox, with a special episode of Inside Xbox live from London on Thursday,
November 14, at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT. We’re incredibly
excited to be in London this week with our local community and those joining us
online from around the world. We resurrected our X0 event last year because
bringing everyone together to celebrate our shared love of games is very important
for us and, more importantly, our community.
Inside Xbox will be jam-packed with news for all gamers, including 12 games from Xbox Game Studios. Yes, that includes brand new game reveals, plus big news for Xbox Game Pass, Project xCloud and much more. Inside Xbox will welcome representatives to our stage from Rare, Obsidian, Ninja Theory, inXile, Mojang, and Xbox Publishing to name a few. Fans will also get to see what our friends at Respawn Entertainment, Annapurna Interactive, Devolver Digital, and other studios are working on. We can’t spoil the surprises just yet, but we can’t wait to show all our fans what we have in store.
The X019 celebration will continue live from London on
Friday and Saturday with online programming (including panels, Let’s Play
sessions, and much more) that celebrates and expands upon the announcements
from Thursday’s episode of Inside Xbox.
Empowering organizations everywhere to gain insight from all their data sources and deliver personalized customer engagement
There is a fundamental change occurring across industries and organizations: Data now comes from everywhere and everything. As customers have access to more content, purchasing channels, and brand options than before, the touchpoints become exponential—every website visit, use of a product, and interaction with a customer service representative creates an observation or generates data. But this data is often siloed across multiple systems and organizational departments, making it difficult to gain a single source of truth.
With such an overload of information and choices available, organizations must demonstrate they both understand and value their customers. To this end, we’ve been working to bring customer experiences to the forefront of the business conversation with a new set of intelligent applications with our modern, unified, intelligent, and adaptable business applications. Today, I’d like to dig into our vision and strategy for Microsoft’s customer data platform—a critically important investment from Microsoft. Specifically, how it is helping organizations overcome data silos and leverage artificial intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take meaningful actions for their business.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights: Microsoft’s customer data platform
Historically, the customer interaction with a brand ended the moment they completed the purchase and walked out the door—limiting an organization’s understanding of why or how its customers are using its products and services. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enables organizations to gain the most comprehensive view of their customers by unifying data across diverse sources—be it transactional, behavioral, or observational data—as well as uniquely enriching profiles with market insights and real-time product usage.
From data analysts to marketing, sales, and service professionals, every employee in an organization can leverage AI-driven insights. These include churn risk, customer LTV, and recommended next best action, to power business processes across the customer journey that help boost personalization and build richer relationships.
The Microsoft CDP enables breakthrough experiences for customers while maintaining the strictest compliance and security standards so that all customer data is securely managed and adheres to GDPR regulations. Built on a hyper-scale Microsoft Azure platform, the application allows organizations to run powerful analytical capabilities using Microsoft AI and Azure-based machine learning models. Customer Insights can easily extend and customize with the Microsoft Power Platform for even richer data processing and customizations. Customers can benefit from the Microsoft partner ecosystem for development of custom applications and solutions to fit specific industry or business needs.
Let’s look at a few organizations using our CDP to deliver business outcomes and rich customer experiences:
Empowering organizations worldwide
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works tirelessly in over 190 countries and territories to save the lives of millions of children. As private donors and volunteers are increasingly hard to find and retain, UNICEF Netherlands found that personally engaging supporters increased their overall commitment to the organization. Key details on donors, such as their contact information, philanthropic interests, and donation history, were housed in disparate data silos, making it difficult to gain a unified view of the donor base and personalize interactions at scale. To solve this problem, the team adopted Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to quickly and easily combine data from multiple sources, analyze the data to derive insights, and activate the insights via marketing and communication channels. Customer Insights’ out-of-the-box interoperability with Dynamics 365 Marketing helps the team create and optimize marketing campaigns on-the-fly, enabling UNICEF to better develop a customer lifetime value model, which will help it identify and optimize engagement with high-impact donors. Learn more in the UNICEF video below.
American Electric Power (AEP)—a competitive retail energy solutions company serving more than 400,000 residential, small-business, and commercial customers nationwide—is using Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to deliver efficient and sustainable energy solutions to customers. Previously, AEP faced cumbersome manual processes that required lots of analysis and input to piece together various customer information for a holistic view of its customer, which was both timely and costly. With a cloud-first approach, using Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, AEP can now easily migrate large data sets across various systems of record into a single, unified customer profile. As a result, AEP can better understand its customer needs, identify gaps in product offerings, and ensure both front and back-end operations are focused and efficient to deliver quality, tailored experiences to its customers. Learn more in the AEP video below.
Thus far, we’ve seen great momentum and impact resulting from the customer data platform and how businesses are evolving customer engagement and experiences. Looking ahead, we will continue to innovate on the platform and plan to deliver more opportunities and features in the coming months.
For an industry that started 12,000 years ago, there is a lot of unpredictability and imprecision in agriculture. To be predictable and precise, we need to align our actions with insights gathered from data. Last week at Microsoft Ignite, we launched the preview of Azure FarmBeats, a purpose-built, industry-specific solution accelerator built on top of Azure to enable actionable insights from data.
With AgriTechnica 2019 starting today, more than 450,000 attendees from 130 countries are gathering to experience innovations in the global agriculture industry. We wanted to take this opportunity to share more details about Azure FarmBeats.
Azure FarmBeats is a business-to-business offering available in Azure Marketplace. It enables aggregation of agriculture datasets across providers and generation of actionable insights by building artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) models based on fused datasets. So, agribusinesses can focus on their core value-add rather than the undifferentiated heavy lifting of data engineering.
Figure 1: Overview of Azure FarmBeats
With the preview of Azure FarmBeats you can:
Assess farm health using vegetation index and water index based on satellite imagery.
Get recommendations on how many sensors to use and where to place them.
Track farm conditions by visualizing ground data collected by sensors from various vendors.
Scout farms using drone imagery from various vendors.
Get soil moisture maps based on the fusion of satellite and sensor data.
Gain actionable insights by building AI or ML models on top of fused datasets.
Build or augment your digital agriculture solution by providing farm health advisories.
As an example, here is how a farm populated with data appears in Azure FarmBeats:
Figure 2: Boundary, sensor locations, and sensor readings for a farm
For a real-world example of how it works, take a look at our partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In a pilot, USDA is using Azure FarmBeats to collect data from multiple sources, such as sensors, drones, and satellites, and feeding it into cloud-based AI models to get a detailed picture of conditions on the farm.
Azure FarmBeats includes the following components:
Datahub: An API layer thatenables aggregation, normalization, and contextualization of various agriculture datasets across providers. You can leverage the following data providers:
Datahub is designed as an API platform and we are working with many more providers – sensor, satellite, drone, weather, farm equipment – to integrate with FarmBeats, so you have more choice while building your solution.
Accelerator: A sample solution, built on top of Datahub, that jumpstarts your user interface (UI) and model development. This web application leverages APIs to demonstrate visualization of ingested sensor data as charts and visualization of model output as maps. For example, you can use this to quickly create a farm and easily get a vegetation index map or a sensor placement map for that farm.
While this preview is the culmination of years of research work and working closely with more than a dozen agriculture majors, it is just the beginning. It would not have been possible without the early feedback and validation from these organizations, and we take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude.
Azure FarmBeats is offered at no additional charge and you pay only for the Azure resources you use. You can get started by installing it from Azure Marketplace in Azure Portal. In addition, you can:
With Azure FarmBeats preview, we are pioneering a cloud platform to empower every person and every organization in agriculture to achieve more, by harnessing the power of IoT, cloud, and AI. We are delighted to have you with us on this global transformational journey and look forward to your feedback on the preview.
A cytopathologist at SRL Diagnostics’ Central Reference Laboratory in Mumbai, screens a Pap smear sample for the screening of cervical cancer under his microscope. His trained eyes work with an apparent effortlessness. However, there is an unspoken urgency in his actions as he strives to complete the set of samples for the day. Along with his team of five members, he screens about 200 slides for cervical cancer every day, apart from another 100 slides for diagnosing other types of cancers.
SRL Diagnostics, the largest diagnostics laboratory company in India, has been witnessing an increase in the demand for cervical cancer screening.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer among women worldwide. India accounts for 16% of the global burden of the disease. Unlike breast cancer, which is more prevalent in urban India, cervical cancer is frequent in the rural regions of the country where literacy and awareness of the fatal disease is low. Effective screening and early detection are the key measures to reduce its incidence.
“The proportion of cytopathologists in India is very low with respect to the number of patients. At SRL Diagnostics, we receive more than 100,000 Pap smear samples every year and there are only a few trained cytopathologists who are supposed to examine such slides. What’s more, nearly 98% of these samples are normal and it’s only the remaining 2% that requires further intervention. We were looking for ways to ensure our cytopathologists were able to find those 2% abnormal samples faster,” says Dr. Arnab Roy, Technical Lead – New Initiatives & Knowledge Management, SRL Diagnostics.
In September 2018, SRL Diagnostics partnered with Microsoft to create an AI Network for Pathology to ease the burden of cytopathologists and histopathologists. The idea was to co-create an AI-powered API that would do the first-level check and offload normal slides to help cytopathologists spend more time on what matters most – slides that show signs of abnormality.
“SRL Diagnostics has always been committed to championing innovation in the field of clinical diagnostics in India and has led the industry by embracing change as early adopters of many in vitro diagnostics technologies. Our partnership with Microsoft to co-create solutions having the potential to generate both social and business value, is another first-of-its-kind effort in the Indian diagnostics industry,” says Arindam Haldar, CEO, SRL Diagnostics.
“We looked at various elements of histopathology and homed in on the early detection of cervical cancer because it is a leading killer disease for women and cervical smear based screening, which is the gold standard, is patchy in implementation across the planet. We thought it was a good opportunity to apply AI and automation to drive efficiency and save lives,” says Prashant Gupta, Program Director, Microsoft Azure Global Engineering.
Building the cervical cancer image detection API
Developing the Cervical Cancer Image Detection API required the AI algorithm to assess smear tile images (region of interest) as a trained cytopathologist would examine them. To enable this, cytopathologists studied digitally scanned versions of Whole Slide Imaging (WSI) slides manually and marked their observations, which were used as training data for the AI model.
Initially, SRL Diagnostics appointed one cytopathologist to annotate the image slides. Each WSI comprises as many as 1,800 tile images and it was difficult for a single individual to interpret a large quantity of image tiles from each slide in ways that can be consumed by the AI algorithm. And, then, there was the challenge of subjectivity too.
“Different cytopathologists examine different elements in a smear slide in a unique manner even if the overall diagnosis is the same. This is the subjectivity element in the whole process, which many a time is linked to the experience of the expert,” reveals Dr. Roy.
“We wanted to create an AI algorithm that could identify areas that everybody was looking at and create a consensus on the areas assessed,” adds Manish Gupta, Principal Applied Researcher, Microsoft Azure Global Engineering, who worked closely with the team at SRL Diagnostics to develop the Cervical Cancer Image Detection API.
The project was then expanded to include five cytopathologists across multiple labs and different locations. Their efforts resulted in the annotation of thousands of tile images of cervical smear, each comprising about 300-400 cells. The issue of subjectivity was addressed by creating discordant and concordant notes on each sample image. The images for which annotations were found to be discordant – that is if they were viewed differently by three team members – were sent to senior cytopathologists for final analysis.
The collaboration has already started showing results with the first API for screening cervical cancer ready for internal preview at SRL Diagnostics.
As part of the new workflow, the large digital WSI scans from Device Image Scanners are uploaded to Azure where the Cervical Cancer Image Detection API runs. The AI-powered Cervical Cancer Image Detection API can quickly screen liquid-based cytology slide images for detection of cervical cancer in the early stages and return insights to pathologists in labs.
The AI model can now differentiate between normal and abnormal smear slides with accuracy and is currently under validation in labs. It can also classify smear slides based on the seven-subtypes of cervical cytopathological scale. The classification includes interpretations ranging between normal and the pre-cancerous to cancerous stages. The purported use of the model lies in assisting cytopathologists to review fewer areas, 20 as of now, on a whole slide liquid-based cytology image and validate the positive cases thus bringing in greater efficiency and speeding up the initial screening process.
“The API has the potential of increasing the productivity of a cytopathology section by about four times. In a future scenario of automated slide preparation with assistance from AI, cytopathologists can do a job in two hours what would earlier take about eight hours!” exclaims Dr. Roy.