Status Update: Microsoft 365 Roadmap

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Practice Lead, Digital Workplace

Updated 03/26/21

Last year, advancements in the digital workplace skyrocketed. While some have already been deployed, others are still on the horizon. The sheer number of advancements, while exciting, can also be overwhelming. That is why we have put together an update on all your favorite Microsoft 365 roadmap features.

If you would like to be updated on a specific solution or feature, please click on the links below:

The foundation of your digital workplace – SharePoint Roadmap 

While some may not be aware, SharePoint is behind most of what you do in your digital workplace, especially when it comes to digital communication and collaboration within Microsoft 365. The following features on the Microsoft 365 roadmap look to take SharePoint capabilities even further.

At long last, a true “Global Navigation” is being introduced via the new App Bar, available in both SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. 

The new App Bar on display in SharePoint
Figure 1. The new App Bar on display in SharePoint
Breaking out the currently teased facets of the new app bar
Figure 2. Breaking out the currently teased facets of the new app bar

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Brand Your Sites 

New header options provide more flexibility in applying your brand to SharePoint sites. A common complaint from site designers using SharePoint Modern was the unnecessarily large header footprint. 

The welcome addition of the Minimal header option gives communicators a more minimalistic option, particularly useful in scenarios where real estate is at a premium or where the focus should be on the content. In contrast, the Extended header now gives communicators the ability to put an artistic touch by adding an image of their own design, as well as justify their site title appropriately.  

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: The newly expanded gamut of header variations
Figure 3. The newly expanded gamut of header variations 

Status 

  • Launched

Related Links 

Leverage Organizational Templates 

The new site template picker offers quick access to both built-in and organization-specific site templates. These improvements contribute towards the larger goal of making the application of site designs more accessible to end users, while also serving as a more transparent means to showcase templates your organization may be trying to promote. After all, we have known for some time that a certain level of consistency across spaces with similar needs is helpful for end users. 

Enhancement to the template picker appears when creating a new site
Figure 4. Enhancement to the template picker appears when creating a new site 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Get the Word Out 

Many communicators have come to rely and appreciate the configurable news digest to ensure that critical announcements are not being missed. For some, however, the curation of the weekly digest is a chore that could merit from automation. In this vein, the announcement of the SharePoint Auto-News Digest promises to send an automated (and brandable) email to employees in your company about the latest news posts that they have not yet read. Using Microsoft intelligence, a selection of news posts are shared with employees through an email that comes from SharePoint.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: The new auto-digest shared via email
Figure 5. The new auto-digest shared via email 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Amplify Your Announcements 

While News articles can be manually sorted, as well as targeted to specific groups, the ability to dynamically sort news articles had so far eluded out of the box intranet implementations. For instance, to ensure a critical news post was viewed, communicators had to paint all users with the same brush and keep the article pinned to the top, even if most users had read it. 

The News Boost feature promises to offer several interesting criteria by which to ‘boost’ the importance of a specific News Page, such as hiding it from users who have viewed it and allowing them to focus on other content. This feature will help ensure we can better amplify the reach of our announcements so they get the attention they deserve without the trade off of keeping our pages static unnecessarily. 

The News Boost feature in action
Figure 6. The News Boost feature in action 

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Showcase Your Team 

Another often requested feature from communicators was the ability to showcase a cross section of an organizational chart, using live data from Active Directory. While the People web part allowed manual population of users on a page, it did not fill this need very well. The promised SharePoint Organization Chart component allows you to specify a user whose subordinates, based on reporting structure, you wish to see.   

The Organizational Chart web part
Figure 7. The Organizational Chart web part 

Status 

  • Rolling Out 

Related Links 

Access Personalized Content 

SharePoint and Microsoft 365 in general are moving towards solutions that personalize content to the end user. We saw some of this impulse incarnated in the SharePoint Landing page where a user’s Followed, Recent and Saved content are highlighted. 

The SharePoint My Feed component will allow each user to view a personalized feed of content and activity from across Microsoft 365, based on what’s likely to be most relevant to them. The feed is personal to each user: what one user sees is different from what your colleagues will see in theirs. Your feed can show your personal documents as well as additional content from others. 

The My Feed web part displaying personalized content
Figure 8. The My Feed web part displaying personalized content 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Organize Your Content 

The new Section Groups allow content-dense spaces to collapse their content into tabs or accordions – making these pages more user-friendly for content consumption. Microsoft have cleverly integrated this into the section management interface. 

Using section groups in SharePoint
Figure 9. Using section groups in SharePoint

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Customize your Lists 

While the launch of Microsoft Lists was exciting for many, it did not necessarily mean any major leaps in functionality from existing SharePoint lists. However we are already seeing ways that lists are offering more layers for the site owner to tailor experiences to their needs.

In this vein, Microsoft recently expanded abilities beyond column and view formatting to now allow more customization of the list form itself, without needing to use PowerApps. This now permits users to customize the form’s Header, Body and Footer with custom JSON formatting. As a more accessible way to modify forms, this is a welcome addition. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Apply custom JSON to your list forms without PowerApps
Figure 10. Apply custom JSON to your list forms without PowerApps 

Status 

  • In Development  

Related Links 

The recent addition of comments to lists is a welcome one. By allowing collaboration on list items to happen outside the list metadata itself, we now have the ability to have conversations about list content, rather than within it. While comment editing and other expected features like @mentions are not yet available, this remains a step in the right direction. 

Built in commenting on List items
Figure 11. Built-in commenting on List items 

Status 

  • Launched

Related Links 

Gain Useful Insights 

A recent innovating to the modern SharePoint analytics was the addition of aggregated Hub analytics, particularly useful for portals architected using this model. Pushing this further, new and improved analytics will allow content creators to view page-level analytics to hone in on insights specific to their individual high priority announcements. In addition, authors will also begin receiving an automated digest once a week with recommendations for actions to boost readership. 

Page-level analytics being viewed in SharePoint
Figure 12. Page-level analytics being viewed in SharePoint 

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Microsoft Intranet Whitepaper

The solution everyone is talking about – Microsoft Teams Roadmap

Microsoft Teams has been all the rage for the last couple years and it only keeps getting better. While 2020 was a great year for the solution, 2021 looks to bring polish and refinement to the core feature set. 

Have Better Meetings 

If the Covid pandemic has highlighted one thing, its the importance of ensuring that remote meetings are engaging and productive. The new Dynamic View gives viewers more control over how they see shared content and participants in the meeting. 

Meanwhile, Custom Layouts will allow presenters to customize how content shows up during the meeting, such as transposing themselves over the content. 

Enhancements like Dynamic View and Custom Layouts will make meetings more focused and engaging
Figure 13. Enhancements like Dynamic View and Custom Layouts will make meetings more focused and engaging 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Breakout Rooms will allow meeting organizers to split up meeting participants into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions. Presenters can choose to hop between breakout rooms, make announcements to all breakout rooms, and/or close the breakout rooms to bring everybody back into the central meeting. 

Breakout rooms will allow organizers to have sidebar conversations with a subset of participants
Figure 14. Breakout rooms will allow organizers to have sidebar conversations with a subset of participants 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Meeting recaps help teams stay on track and keep work moving forward after a meeting for both participants and those unable to attend a meeting. The recap will automatically include the meeting recording, transcript, chat, and files shared in the meeting. The recap will also be available in the meeting event in your Outlook calendar. 

Meeting recaps will centralize information about a meeting, making it easier for people to catch up
Figure 15. Meeting recaps will centralize information about a meeting, making it easier for people to catch up 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts will provide a better means to follow along with what is being said, as well as catch up more quickly afterward. Chat bubbles offer a way for people to participate in the discussion without having to jump in verbally. 

With improved speech recognition comes speaker attribution as well the ability to share a non-verbal emotional response
Figure 16. With improved speech recognition comes speaker attribution as well the ability to share a non-verbal emotional response 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Poll your Participants 

A smart decision from Microsoft was the move to better leverage the infrastructure and capabilities of the Forms product to enhance virtual meeting experiences. Whether you are running a large-scale training session, leading your monthly all hands, or teaching in a remote classroom, polls in Teams meetings enables meeting presenters to get real time feedback and turn attendees into active participants. 

Poll your Participants in Microsoft Teams | Microsoft 365 Roadmap
Figure 17. Polling participants in Microsoft Teams

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Consolidate Approvals 

Approvals in Microsoft Teams will consolidate approvals from across Microsoft 365 to ensure everyone has a single place to view, action, or request approvals. This has long been a much needed piece to centralize and elevate the visibility of outstanding tasks and Teams is the natural place for this. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Centralized Approvals in Teams
Figure 18. Centralized Approvals in Teams 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Meeting Recordings 

Until recently, Microsoft Teams recordings were stored in Microsoft Stream. Going forward, Teams Meeting recordings will be stored in SharePoint or OneDrive – meaning ”Stream” is now less of a storage container and more of a rich media player for use across apps. This shift made sense given the fact that it was still impossible to share Stream videos externally. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Sharing a meeting recording
Figure 19. Sharing a meeting recording 

Status 

  • Launched

Related Links 

Hit the ground running on your digital workplace journey – Microsoft Viva Roadmap 

Microsoft Viva is a collection of tools that are designed to help employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and information discovery by providing a shorter bridge to the ideal digital workplace.  

Microsoft Viva All Tools
Figure 20. Microsoft Viva Tools 

Related Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZeU0Fi-IqY

Microsoft Viva Connections 

Viva Connections will make its way to Teams (on desktop) this month. You will have the ability to change the app’s icon and match your company brand out-of-the-box. It will facilitate the consumption of your top sites in Teams and connect employees to the rest of the intranet using the same global navigation as the SharePoint app bar.  

Microsoft Viva Connections
Figure 21. Microsoft Viva Connections 

Status

  • In Development 

Related Links

Microsoft Viva Topics – General Availability 

This tool will facilitate providing the right information to the right individual in your organization, powered by AI. The app also makes it easy to divide content into the appropriate buckets and allow AI to take it from there. The artificial intelligence will organize and prioritize content accordingly over time.  

Microsoft Viva Topics
Figure 22. Microsoft Viva Topics

Status

  • Launched 

Related Links

Microsoft Viva Learning 

Employee training and knowledge building has will be greatly facilitated and consolidated into Microsoft Viva Learning. Pull LinkedIn Learning and/or Pluralsight courses, to name a couple, into one location and provide a catered learning experience that spans across multiple learning platforms.  

Microsoft Viva Learning
Figure 23. Microsoft Viva Learning

Status

  • In Development 

Related Links

Microsoft Viva Insights 

Gain deeper insight into how effective your digital workplace is and, more importantly, its employee’s wellbeing. 

New data is finding that remote work is leading to more stress and mental fatigue from video meetings, isolation and a feeling of always being “on.” An intriguing and extremely timely partnership announced by Microsoft at Ignite was that with Headspace, the popular guided meditation app. 

Microsoft Viva Insights
Figure 24. Microsoft Viva Insights

With the added stress of working during a pandemic, personal wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance has been harder than ever to manage. The introduction of Microsoft Viva Insights, presently on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, like scheduled breaks, virtual commute, guided meditation and emotional check-ins help employees to be more aware of their emotional wellbeing and receive proactive reminders to take time to recharge and reconnect. 

In parallel with these employee-focused tools, management will also have better options to track their the patterns within their team and be equipped with the data to make changes. Insights will roll into multi-faceted dashboards revealing behaviors that may be putting their team at risk.

Status

  • In Development 

Related Links

Engaging your broader circle – Yammer Roadmap

An integral part of the overall Microsoft 365 roadmap, Yammer has proven itself a worthy counterpart to Teams and SharePoint. With a full solution refresh not long behind us with the July launch of the “new Yammer,” it was exciting to see the pace of innovation in this platform had not slowed with a slew of exciting announcements officially added to the Microsoft 365 roadmap at Ignite 2020.

Live Events 

Microsoft 365 live events bring live video streaming to a new level, going beyond what was previously possible with Skype Meeting Broadcast. While the ability to host live events in Microsoft Teams is possible, Teams was not always the right fit for a company “all hands” or town hall meeting for the entire corporation.

Making this same functionality available in Yammer meant that we could use this feature in the medium that makes the most sense based on our audience. In addition, producers of a live event in Yammer can moderate comments, questions, and answers posted on a live event page before getting published to everyone. 

A yammer live event with real-time conversation
Figure 25. A yammer live event with real-time conversation 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Also, there are several improvements to this feature already in development on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Enhanced Communication on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Similar to news pages in SharePoint Online, but previously missing in Yammer, was the ability for designated communicators to post on behalf of others (such as leadership). With this in place, communicators can now get the word out on behalf of the organization. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Delegated posting (on behalf) in Yammer
Figure 26. Delegated posting in Yammer 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Many communicators have appreciated the flexibility of using the News Digest option in SharePoint Online, and with the proposed priority announcements in Yammer, users can now flag important announcements that should generate an email notification. This is particularly powerful for roles working in the field and typically away from their desk.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Priority announcements in Yammer can generate an email notification
Figure 27. Priority announcements in Yammer can generate an email notification 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Again, in the attempt to reach feature parity with other announcements being made for SharePoint Online – like the news boost – Yammer communicators will now have the ability to feature conversations. This new ability should improve visibility, engagement and add emphasis and longevity to news and campaigns. Featuring a conversation will also increase its prominence in the Yammer discovery feed, for people outside the community. 

Featured conversations ensure an announcement retains its prominence
Figure 28. Featured conversations ensure an announcement retains its prominence 

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Improved Insights on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

With investments in community-level insights for Yammer, both admins and communicators can track activity and measure engagement with their content.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Community level insights in Yammer
Figure 29. Community level insights in Yammer

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Not only do we see improved insights for community insights, but this also extends down to the conversation level as well as for Q+As – an excellent feature for crowdsourcing answers to questions. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Conversation insights in Yammer
Figure 30. Conversation insights in Yammer 
Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Q+A insights in Yammer
Figure 31. Q+A insights in Yammer 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Leverage your Knowledge 

Yammer’s Q+A feature has proven itself a great way to leverage internal expertise and make it easier for others to find the right answer to a given question. The additional ability to upvote answers within a slick interface will allow people to upvote responses that they find useful and appropriate, effectively democratizing solutions and ideas. The top voted answers will rise to the top of the thread, not unlike the functionality in many online forums. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Voting for the best answers in Yammer
Figure 32. Voting for the best answers in Yammer

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

The ability to leverage this feature even if a conversation was not initially generated as a question is a welcome one, allowing posts to be converted to a question after the fact. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Change a post to a question in Yammer
Figure 33. Change a post to a question in Yammer 

Finally, we are seeing continued investment in Topics in parallel with work being done in Project Cortex. Not only will topics be available in Yammer, but users can also stay on top of community discussions with a list of trending topics that include a count of how many times each has been used. Users can select a topic to filter the conversations in the community to those tagged with the chosen topic. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: The integration of Topics with Yammer
Figure 34. The integration of Topics with Yammer 

Status 

  • Rolling Out 

Related Links 

Microsoft 365 is a formidable platform that many organizations rely on for their array of digital workplace solutions. Microsoft looks to facilitate the user experience with some exciting news for Search, that will solve a current workaround that is needed for an optimal Microsoft Search experience. One of the many ways Microsoft 365 saves your organization time and money

Custom Search Experiences on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

The new Modern Search project recently moved to a new architecture in its latest version in PnP, v4. This collection of webparts will allow you to create a more tailored search experience for specific content within SharePoint. Used in parallel with the ability to modify Search Result Page URLs via PowerShell, this can offer a powerful toolset to explore while we wait for the promised greater customization of the search experience. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: A customized Search Results page using Modern Search web parts
Figure 35. A customized Search Results page using Modern Search web parts 

Status 

  • Preview 

Related Links 

Search for People and Skills 

When viewing search results for people, it is now possible to configure the People Card with additional useful properties. You can add any of the following attributes to be displayed from AAD:  

  • UserPrincipalName  
  • Fax  
  • StreetAddress  
  • PostalCode  
  • StateOrProvince  
  • Alias  

You can also add up to 15 additional custom attributes from AD or AAD, but for now, these properties are not searchable. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Surfacing additional properties for People Cards like “Cost Center”
Figure 36. Surfacing additional properties for People Cards like “Cost Center” 

Status 

  • Beta 

Related Links 

People centric search will make it more intuitive to scope and refine searches for people. This welcome change will make it easier for users unfamiliar with Microsoft Search to find their colleagues and harness their organization’s collective knowledge. 

Subtle changes to Microsoft Search makes finding people more intuitive
Figure 37. Subtle changes to Microsoft Search makes finding people more intuitive 

A common problem for many organizations was keeping skills and competencies up to date in a user’s profile. Microsoft is looking to tackle the challenge of finding skills and expertise by using machine learning to help proactively suggest expertise based on self-attestation and content understanding.  

A users profile with recommended skills proactively suggested by the system
Figure 38. A users profile with recommended skills proactively suggested by the system 

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Searching more Naturally 

While Search has made significant leaps, it needs to become more flexible to respond to users of varying expertise. Helping people search more naturally by recognizing user-friendly search queries is a clear step in this direction. In doing so, we hope to reduce the time and effort involved in reformulating queries, applying filters, and scrolling through results – enhancing the user’s overall experience. 

Some examples:  

  • “PMs I met with recently”  
  • “Who is Ying’s skip level?”  
  • “Who knows about Typography”  
  • “Files Kathy shared with me last week” 
  • “Engineering in London available now” 
  • What is <acronym> 
Showcasing more natural search queries with Microsoft Search
Figure 39. Showcasing more natural search queries with Microsoft Search

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

A new search vertical for conversations will consolidate results from Teams, Yammer, and Outlook conversation results in SharePoint and Office.com. 

A new search vertical for Conversations will simplify searching for message-based content
Figure 40. A new search vertical for Conversations will simplify searching for message-based content 

Status 

  • Not Yet Available 

Related Links 

Microsoft 365 is planning to roll out AI-enriched image search, making it much easier to locate the right image for the task at hand. Coupled with the ability to create Organizational Asset libraries for key corporate imagery, this should help with a common organizational pain point of locating existing image assets. 

AI-enriched image search in action
Figure 41. AI-enriched image search in action 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Optimize Search with Feedback 

While Microsoft Search has been rolling out some exciting features to its “Answers” arsenal, including Bookmarks, Locations, Acronyms, Q+A and even Floor Plans, there remained a communication gap between end users using the system and search administrators attempting to optimize. The new feedback feature in Microsoft Search will allow employees to securely provide feedback to administrators, as they use the system. This will allow administrators better real-time visibility into the quality of search results, harness suggested answers, and ultimately be much more collaborative in the lifecycle of search in the organization. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Closing the feedback loop in Search
Figure 42. Closing the feedback loop in Search 

Status 

  • In Development 

Related Links 

Connecting everything with AI powered automation – SharePoint Syntex Roadmap

Businesses have been waiting for solutions like Syntex for years due to its ability to save your company countless dollars and time through automating repetitive tasks. We are thrilled at all the additions to the Microsoft 365 roadmap surrounding it. Also, we are proud to be Microsoft Content Services Partners.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6En1OT_n2lEqISuW8UGFPBtzpv0qwqKV

Document Understanding  

Using document understanding models based on Language Understanding technology from Azure Cognitive Services, SharePoint Syntex can use models to read content and perform “entity extraction.” It applies metadata, invokes workflows, and applies compliance labels to enforce record management policies—all with no code. 

Enhancements in document understanding will be invaluable in capturing important metadata
Figure 43. Enhancements in document understanding will be invaluable in capturing important metadata 

Extracted metadata can be automatically applied to content in SharePoint libraries, making these files immediately more searchable, actionable and useful. 

Automatically-applied metadata in SharePoint Online with Syntex
Figure 44. Automatically-applied metadata in SharePoint Online with Syntex

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

Forms Processing 

SharePoint Syntex includes a powerful form processing engine based on AI Builder that lets you automatically recognize and extract common values from semi-structured or structured documents, such as dates, figures, names, or addresses. These models are built with no code and only require a small number of documents to ”teach” the system to generate reliable results. 

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Update: Using form processing to extract business data without human intervention
Figure 45. Using form processing to extract business data without human intervention 

Status 

  • Launched 

Related Links 

An exciting year for the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and Digital Workplaces 

There is a lot in store for Microsoft 365 this year, and we will be releasing more content than ever before. We hope that you find value in what we have to share in the coming months.   

If you are looking for someone to help you solve your current digital workplace dilemmas, our team of seasoned experts is always here to provide the assistance you need.   

We promise you will love the way we work. Together.  

Microsoft Intranet Whitepaper

 

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