Now in its 25th year, Microsoft Ignite is one of the world’s most anticipated technology trade shows. Held in Orlando, Florida, the event brings together nearly 30,000 corporate decision makers, IT implementers, big data professionals and developers, to showcase the latest enterprise technologies and to help plan for IT’s role in the future of work.
This year, the focus was heavily on collaboration, with Microsoft and its partners all keen to showcase how their products can meet changing workplace expectations through networking, video, unified communications and a new generation of collaborative tech.
With this focus in mind, here are the top three enterprise collaboration trends that I saw at this year’s Microsoft Ignite:
- Mixed reality is coming down to earth: As with so many technology tradeshows, this year’s Microsoft Ignite saw heavy focus placed on the role of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR). At the center of this buzz was Microsoft HoloLens, the company’s long discussed ‘mixed reality’ headset. While HoloLens itself has been available since 2016, the interesting development at this year’s show was the change in focus towards its potential for workplace collaboration.
Where traditionally AR and VR have been used as gimmicks, this year’s Ignite saw Microsoft push for day-to-day applications of these technologies in the workplace. Through growing integration with workplace software suite Dynamics 365, Microsoft is finally bringing mixed reality down to earth and making it a functional part of the office collaboration toolset.
- Everything is becoming unified: It’s no secret that Microsoft is looking to unify more and more of its platforms and software packages under a single, seamless interface. With today’s businesses adopting greater flexible and remote working, it’s more important than ever for enterprises to ensure that their staff aren’t working in silos. What better way to achieve this than by providing a seamless and simplified collaborative office suite?
That’s exactly that Microsoft announced at this year’s show, enhancing the Microsoft Teams unified collaboration platform, further streamlining its Office productivity suite and adding a unified search function so that employees across the world can rapidly find data across their organizations’ networks.
Unification was also front and center for many of the other partners and tech companies showcasing products at the show. Desktop Central announced major advances to its unified endpoint management system, while Kollective launched new integrated support for Microsoft 365, helping scale networks to create a more seamless, unified communications experience for enterprises.
- Businesses need to prepare for Windows as a Service (WaaS): Another major announcement from this year’s show was Microsoft’s continued move to an ‘as a service’ update model. Already pushing ‘desktop as-a-service’ through the new Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) platform, Ignite 2018 made it clear that static enterprise IT systems are a thing of the past.
From a collaboration perspective, this means greater access to the latest tools and features and fewer employees working across disjointed and non-compatible systems. Unfortunately this will only be possible if employees install these updates as soon as they come through.
According to research from Kollective however, as many as 27% of employees wait at least a month before installing new updates. If businesses are going to embrace the benefits of Windows as a Service, they will first need to overcome this issue, creating a more unified network infrastructure to help IT teams distribute and install updates without having to wait for their employees to hit ‘download’.