Microsoft announced more than 100 new services and updates at its annual Microsoft Build conference last week. The themes of the conference included boosting developer speed with end-to-end developer toolchains, new intelligent cloud-native apps through data and AI, new collaborative apps for hybrid work, building SaaS applications with Microsoft Cloud and building mixed reality, digital twins and metaverse apps, according to a blog post from CEO Satya Nadella.
Marketers are particularly excited about innovations on Microsoft Edge, the company’s cross-platform web browser, updates to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Power Apps and Teams and Outlook updates.
Edge’s Collections Spurs Marketing Research
Microsoft Edge’s “collections” feature is an opportunity to easily collect and organize information from different websites, according to Yurii Brown, founder and part of the marketing team at Coffee Geek Lab. It’s these integrations and organization features on Edge that Brown believes marketers, especially those who do research, run social media, or write blog posts, will find indispensable.
“I do a fair bit of web content writing as part of my job, and having something like this is just so helpful,” Brown said. “I can do my research one day and just come back to it at a later time if I need to. I also have the option to export it into various files. Best of all, you can access all your collected information with a simple click of a button. No need to open a new window, webpage or app.”
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Dynamics 365 Sales and Power Apps Updates
Dynamics 365 Sales and Power Apps are the critical takeaway for marketers from Microsoft Build, helping marketers create canvas applications that streamline customer data details, according to Harriet Chan, co-founder of CocoFinder. It increases a company’s focus on the consumer and potential clients.
“Traditional code-first development struggles to scale to support growing demand, which is why many pro developers are looking for ways to blend code-first tools with low-code tools, like Power Apps, to accelerate their workflow and delivery of business apps as well as help them focus on initiatives that have most impact with code-first approaches,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI Group, for Microsoft, wrote in a Microsoft Build blog post May 25. Microsoft also released planned innovations on Dynamics 365 that affect marketing four days earlier.
Another takeaway for marketers through Build according to Chan was the Power BI dashboard implanted within Dynamic 365 Sales which allows marketers the immediate visibility to see customer needs. It allows for a centralized all-around view of clients.
“Marketers can work more efficiently to identify the opportunities and develop action plans to meet customer preferences,” Chan said. “Its improved features, functionality, and technology used can create a foundation for successful business growth. In addition, marketers have access to more resources required for expanding their innovation and outcomes. Dynamics 365 Sales also allowed us to prioritize and identify our clients’ needs, which saw the company close opportunities and satisfy our customers with the information they wanted.”
Teams Updates Boosts Collaboration for Marketing Teams
Microsoft announced updates to Microsoft Teams, the collaboration app that has more than 145 million daily active users. New meeting features will enable developers to build innovative scenarios and extend Teams meetings, such as shared stage, Together Mode extensibility and more, according to Guthrie. And the enhanced Microsoft Teams Toolkit makes coding easier by providing single-line authentication, Azure Functions integration, single-line Microsoft Graph client and more, he added.
“A great takeaway from Microsoft Build was that marketers can take advantage of improvements to Microsoft Teams,” said Vincent D’Eletto, founder and CEO of WordAgents. “Enhancements such as shared staged integration, together mode extensibility and tools for sharing content across teams can create more flexibility and functionality within a team.”
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Support for Message Extensions in Outlook
Microsoft also announced message extensions will soon be supported in Outlook. Messaging extensions allow the users to interact with the web through buttons and forms in the Microsoft Teams client. When users compose a message, they will be able to select a new menu of search-based message extensions to choose from, according to a May 25 blog post from Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft Teams general manager. For example, a user may be able to compose an email and then select a message extension that surfaces tasks from their Teams app to send to teammates.
Microsoft also announced the availability of Universal Actions for Adaptive Cards. Now, using Azure Bot Framework, developers can build and implement a single adaptive card that is synchronized across Teams and Outlook mobile and desktop clients.
“As a marketer heavily invested in digital infrastructure and tools, I was pleased to hear that Microsoft will be making big changes to Microsoft Teams and Outlook,” said Gilad Rom, founder of Huan. “The changes promise to enhance user experience and productivity. We have fully embraced the online working model and we hope that Teams will improve the way we work, learn, and collaborate across platforms. In particular, the new feature called ‘Together Mode’ aims to allow users to design our own virtual meeting rooms.”