Microsoft Inspire was a little different this year. While we couldn’t all be together in-person at Microsoft’s major yearly partner event, that didn’t stop them from putting on a fantastic show. To me, the common theme heard throughout this year’s event was about collaboration while remote, which resonates with ClickDimensions’ own Social Distancing Means Digital Everything.

Let’s take a look at the key takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2020. While they aren’t CRM-specific, like the name of this column suggests, there are still plenty of updates of interest to Dynamics 365 users.

The Major News

Microsoft loves to keep us on our toes with new products and rebranding of existing offerings, and this year was no different. Microsoft introduced Dataflex and Dataflex Pro to its product lineup. What exactly is Dataflex? Dataflex is an out-of-the-box relational database that now comes included with all standard Microsoft Teams licenses. Bundling Dataflex with the Teams platform means that Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents can now be built directly within the Teams interface. This move shows us that Microsoft intends on expanding the reach of its no code/low code platform to even more users. This will further help businesses that continue to work remotely to stay connected to and collaborate with colleagues and clients alike.

This is also huge news for those who have been building applications on top of things like SharePoint. Previously, many app makers shied away from the Common Data Service (now rebranded to Dataflex Pro) because of licensing costs and concerns about how complex it could be to implement and deploy. Now with Dataflex being bundled with every Teams license, this is no longer a concern. Dataflex also means that applications built on the smaller, local database are now truly scalable with an easy transition to its bigger brother – Dataflex Pro. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Power Platform family.

Emphasis on Collaboration

As the world continues to evolve with the COVID-19 crisis and digital becomes the new normal, Microsoft is developing its Teams platform to help colleagues and clients stay connected. Remote meeting fatigue has truly set in. To help combat this, Microsoft is introducing Together Mode – a new way of video conferencing that places all participants in a group-like setting.

I believe this will add an extra level of interest to meetings and will foster a better sense of being together than the Brady Bunch squares we all currently experience on video calls.

Microsoft has also introduced transcription functionality that will certainly be a time saver for many. When a recorded Teams meeting concludes, the organizer will be provided with the video recording of the meeting and a full transcript of the conversations that occurred. This is not only wonderful from an accessibility perspective, but also for productivity as it will cut down on the time it would take for an individual to send out meeting notes. This is especially helpful considering that we are spending more time than ever before in Teams calls.

Working from home comes with challenges, especially for those of us who share our home with others. From a roommate vacuuming to your vocal cat demanding to be fed, background noise is now a common occurrence. Teams now comes with a real-time background noise suppressor to help maintain your colleagues’ sanity while your dog is barking at the mailman.

These are just some of my favorite points from this year’s Microsoft Inspire. I strongly encourage you to explore all the wonderful new additions coming to Teams here.

Final Thoughts

We are all adapting and adjusting every day to our new normal. This year’s Inspire conference has shown us that Microsoft is committed to evolving with the changing landscape and that technology means more to us now than ever. These new products and features will help us collaborate and keep our businesses moving. After all, we’re in this together.