2019 Predictions for the Tech Industry, the Digital Workplace and Office 365

In looking at overall technology trends in Digital Workspace and Office 365 from last year moving into 2019, a few predictions bubbled up for me: 

GDPR Fines and Consequences

With the full enforcement around GDPR both fines and consequences of non-compliance will start to arise. Google was slapped with a fine of €50 million (almost US$57 million) by France’s data protection watchdog CNIL. Those that have not truly embraced GDPR should go back and develop their best practices. This fine has been placed on one of our behemoth’s in the industry, but I predict that fines will trickle down as this year moves along. 

Announcements Around Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

I don’t know what these will be but Julia White, CVP Microsoft Azure alluded to “something is coming” around Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge, compute everywhere and how Cloud can AI help move those forward. (As heard in my podcast with her on my Mavens Do It Better Podcast). Intelligent Cloud and Edge influence how we use Microsoft 365 in the Digital Workplace. I predict that Microsoft Build and Microsoft Ignite will have some surprise and delight moments in store around these platforms. 

The Tech Industry’s Comprehensive Embrace of Diversity and Inclusion in Technical Discussions

Many industry events have been hosting Women in Tech lunches and diversity panels over the years, and with many of the movements, memos and our current political landscape – technology companies are both looking at their Diversity & Tech programs and programming. Discussions around how we use products like Microsoft Teams to organize, plan and champion these types of programs inside of businesses, in communities like User Groups and SharePoint Saturdays and with smaller more intimate groups are buzzing. Last year we launched a comprehensive Diversity and Tech program at Microsoft Ignite that had over 38 sessions, a pre-day, empower lunches and discussions of Office 365 applications, parenting in tech, toxic work environments, building diverse workforces and burnout. My prediction for this year is the blending of these conversations inside our technical sessions so that they become part of the DNA when we build products, teams, community and each other. To follow happenings around Diversity and Tech get involved with the Microsoft Tech Community and follow ITPro Diversity & Tech Community Manager and Product Marketing Manager, Shona Chee.  

Accessibility Mapping to Microsoft Teams and all Office 365 Applications

Continued forward motion in accessibility and I believe we will see more of this in the hardware space in Office 365, specifically in and around Microsoft Teams. The introduction of Teams as a platform that combines workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments will continue to push headset manufactures for example to up their game in the meetings arena. Transcripts, closed captioning, (already in many Microsoft products) and compatibility will become a standard operating procedure for those innovating in both software and hardware usability and design. Office Accessibility Center for more information. Follow Chief Accessibility Office, Jenny Lay-Flurrie for more info. 

The Shift to Windows 10 with the End of Life of Windows 7

As we move closer to the end of life of Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, there will be more interest in Microsoft 365 and looking at the SKU for Intune policy management as well as Azure Information Protection. Moving to a Modern Desktop and making ready for this end of life I predict will increase the overall adoption of the platforms. 

More Azure Local Regions to Open

In 2019 we will see many new local regions for Azure come online, specifically in both Europe and Africa, allowing for more new customers who want to stay local.  

Self-Service Learning Will Increase

With more companies adopting a larger set of Office 365 applications and the changes that are happening on the Office 365 roadmap at lightning speed, companies are looking for ways to put information, training and help content directly into the hands of their users. Microsoft is working on this with a new Service Adoption Specialist Certification that has recently been announced by Karuana Gatimu, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Teams. Many vendors in the space who have built a product to enhance Microsoft efforts, bringing just in time or in-context learning to end users and for support teams to leverage for those front line questions of “how-do I?” will continue to be in the mix. I predict there will be more and more discussions, blog posts and guidance on the topic of adoption and training so IT purchasers can see their users get more out of their investments on a daily basis.  

The Adoption of Microsoft Teams and Multi-Tenant Management

With the announcement of the free version of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft continues to add value and spark interest across all business shapes and sizes. The ability to bring and leverage almost all Office 365 apps as a “tab” inside Teams channels has helped with this push. My hopeful prediction is that the ability to switch between Teams tenants becomes more fluid. As a person who has four tenants that I have to manage and then the myriad of Teams Channels that I need to pay attention to, I have found that I sometimes miss things and I would like to stay in Teams and not revert to Outlook.  And I love the mobile app and am looking for even more functionality that is in parody with the desktop application. To uplevel any feature that you are looking to come to fruition in Office 365, please go vote on it in User Voice, where customer feedback goes directly to Microsoft Engineering teams.  

SharePoint Syncing

I am again hoping and predicting that there will be more OneDrive/SharePoint/Microsoft Teams syncing for on-demand usage. As more people are using their phones and tablet form factors more mobile functionality to strike more parody with the desktop I believe will be coming. 

The End of OneNote 2016

I know that the product will be supported on mainstream until October 13, 2020, and extended support until October 14, 2025, and anyone who switched to Windows 10 and already has 2016 will not be affected. BUT, some of my favorite features – video recording, adding tasks to notes and local storage are not supported. However, I’m willing to see what is in store and hope that my favorite Microsoft product, (yes I said it) will have the majority of its functionality migrated. Again, anything you love and want to see stay, let Windows Engineering know in Feedback Hub.  

Some of these predictions are hopeful, and others are what I believe will come to pass, the rate of change in the Modern Workplace and Office 365 is one thing that is certain and will continue throughout 2019 and beyond.

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