Introduction to the Microsoft Modern Workplace
Modern Workplace Definition
Modern Workplace is a suite of Microsoft Office 365 cloud solutions that enables end-users to work remotely, and safely and easily access their company’s data from multiple devices without compromising the security of said data. Components include: Microsoft 365 Apps, Windows 11 and an array of modern workplace security/compliance solutions in Defender, Endpoint Manager and Information Protection.
What is the Modern Workplace?
Microsoft Modern Workplace Tools
What is Microsoft Modern Workplace? What is included in Microsoft’s Modern Workplace? The Microsoft Modern Workplace suite offers a host of tools that benefit modern teams. Microsoft Modern Workplace solutions include:
- Microsoft Office 365 workplace modernization tools
- Microsoft Business Voice – a cloud-based telephony solution in Microsoft Teams that offers phone system capabilities like call park, call forwarding, auto attendants, call queues, audio conferencing, and calling plans.
- Enterprise Mobility + Security – a mobility management and security platform that helps foster a secure modern workplace and empower employees – includes Microsoft InTune, Endpoint Configuration Manager, Defender for Cloud Apps, Defender for Identity, Secure Score, Advanced Threat Analytics; and Azure Active Directory and Information Protection.
- Azure Active Directory – key features include: independent, on-cloud self-service passwords; conditional access policies powered by cloud-based authentication protocols; access to multiple applications from a single account sign-on; and the ability to assess if an access attempt is a cybersecurity threat.
- Microsoft Teams – a communication platform that offers workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration.
- One Drive – a cloud storage solution that offers anywhere access, back-up and protection, and sharing and collaboration capabilities.
- Exchange – a collaborative, cloud-accessible email and calendaring server
- Microsoft Power Automate – software that helps automate workflows and sends automatic reminders for past-due tasks.
- Power BI – an interactive data visualization software product that helps businesses transform disparate data sources into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive business insights.
- SharePoint – a web-based collaborative platform that organizations can use to build websites, and as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device.
- Windows 10 Virtual Desktop – a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud, giving employees secure, centralized, easy, and cost-effective access to multi-session virtual desktops.
Modern Workplace Architecture
Modern workplace culture has evolved dramatically in the last few years, introducing completely new business models, highly complex security challenges, and fully distributed teams. There is more emphasis than ever on employee satisfaction, and the ability of modern digital tools to support modern workplace collaboration and connectivity among team members is key to better engagement and productivity. A modern workplace environment should be composed of smart operating systems, mission-critical enterprise-grade security tools, and seamlessly integrated workplace productivity apps.
Microsoft’s Modern Workplace architecture is powered by Office 365 and consists of five core components: Collaborative Tools, Unified Endpoint Management, Modern IT, Power Platform, and Artificial Intelligence:
- Collaborative Tools – Office 365’s collaborative tools enable team members to easily have conversations in real-time, and share information, files, and notes all in a centralized location. Microsoft Teams can be accessed from anywhere and from any device. Features like direct mentions and conversation filters help cut through the noise; “Tabs” and “Plans” highlight and keep track of progress for specific projects; instantly initiate video chats with “Meet” and record meetings; and save, share, and co-author files with other team members in real-time.
- Unified Endpoint Management – Unified endpoint management software provides a single management interface. Some features include: smart infrastructure that keeps customers’ organizations protected from threats in the modern digital workplace; a seamless deployment experience that streamlines the onboarding process; access to the latest endpoint management software functionality; and proactive insights that can help users reduce costs.
- Modern IT – Features of Modern IT include: multiple device connectivity; business and user ownership; cloud-managed and SaaS apps; automation and self-service capabilities; proactive approach; built-in compliance; and an integrated administration experience.
- Microsoft Azure Power Platform – A line of business intelligence, app development, and app connectivity software – Microsoft Power Platform fundamentals include:
- Power BI – software for visualizing data with different kinds of charts
- Power Apps – graphical software for writing low-code custom business apps
- Power Automate, a toolkit for implementing business workflow products
- Power Automate Desktop – robotic process automation software for automating graphical user interfaces
- Power Virtual Agents – software for writing chatbots
- AI and IoT – Azure SQL Edge, a real-time data engine, optimized for IoT workloads and backed by the security and performance of the same engine that powers SQL Server and Azure SQL, provides real-time data security and intelligence. Built-in Artificial Intelligence, time series, and data streaming facilitate real-time analytics and simultaneous event-processing whether online or off.
What is Modern Workplace Transformation?
The primary focus of Microsoft’s Modern Workplace Transformation team is to take Microsoft’s many valuable assets, which have been traditionally used by the information sector, and tailor them to the needs of vertical industries and first line workers. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of frontline workers, as well as the role Microsoft could play in helping frontline workers solve their challenges with the use of analytics and insights.
The crux of Modern Workplace technology involves the merging and coordination of Microsoft’s systems of engagement (e.g. Teams, email, SMS) with systems of record (e.g. Dynamics 365 and Azure) into an effective workflow for each particular industry (e.g. healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, government, and other vertical industries. This involves the use of the Microsoft Dataverse data system in which emails, chats, meetings, transcripts, etc. reside, and in which MWT team members can use Artificial Intelligence to look for trends and help accelerate and advance objectives.
Modern Workplace Trends
According to a 2021 report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, there are three major modern workplace trends that were significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic: an increase in remote work, increase in e-commerce, and adoption of process automation and AI:
- Remote work: While pandemic lockdowns are no longer in effect, virtual meetings and remote work are still being embraced by companies everywhere. For many workers, working from home is now an absolute necessity, with many unwilling to give up the time freed up with a lack of commute and the comfort of a home office. While some work is still more effective in-person, such as negotiations, critical business decisions, brainstorming sessions, providing sensitive feedback, and onboarding new employees, 25 to 30% of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home effectively between three and five days a week. This will result in a reduction in office space and associated costs, and an influx of people moving out of cities and into suburbs.
- E-commerce: E-commerce has grown two to five times faster than before the pandemic in terms of total revenue. Other virtual transactions like telemedicine, online banking, and streaming services also experienced a boom. This shift has significantly accelerated growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs. Year-over-year growth of e-commerce as share of total retail shares increased to 20% in the US, 24% in the UK, and 27% in China in 2020. While these numbers may not continue to climb since economies have reopened, virtual practices still continue to be well above levels seen before the pandemic.
- Automation and AI: COVID-19 also accelerated the deployment of process automation and AI in spaces like warehouses, grocery stores, call centers, manufacturing plants, and other jobs involving mainly routine tasks to reduce workplace density and meet increases in demand. Work spaces with the highest levels of human interaction are likely to see the greatest acceleration in adoption of automation and AI.
How Has New Technology Affected the Modern Workplace?
The latest technologies have reshaped the modern working environment, leading to an increase in employee performance, productivity, and happiness with more streamlined processes, greater mobility, increased connectivity, better collaboration, increased automation of routine tasks, heightened levels of security, better cost management, greater exposure to large new audiences on online marketplaces, and overall enhanced business organization.
What is Employee Experience Management?
“Employee experience” refers to an employee’s perception of the touchpoints they experience at their workplace. Employee Experience Management (EEM) refers to the process of deliberately influencing each touchpoint a worker experiences at an organization with the ultimate goal of improving the organization’s overall operations and retention. Touchpoints include such elements as firms, supervisors, coworkers, customers, and environment. Effective management of the employee experience should lead to improved performance, greater engagement, increased overall income, and overall improved customer satisfaction.
What does an employee experience manager do? Some key indicators that managers should understand about the employee experience include: Is the workplace environment one where employees feel included and heard? Is corporate social responsibility and diversity in the modern workplace being prioritized? Are there appealing compensation and benefit packages on offer? What kind of feedback are employees giving regarding different managers and their managing skills/styles? How can different managers and employees be best segmented based on their department and work types?
Employee Experience Management Platforms
An EEM platform provides an intuitive, centralized location where employees can provide continuous feedback regarding their experience. This platform organizes and stores this data, which can be analyzed to provide insights to organization leaders into which course of action will best impact engagement, productivity, and innovation. EEM platforms help organization leaders continuously listen to their employees, and help them keep track of each stage of the employee experience, which includes the candidate experience, onboarding, employee engagement, course evaluations, technology experience, and even exit feedback.
What is the Microsoft Power Platform?
The Microsoft Power Platform tools are a line of business intelligence, app development, and app connectivity software. Microsoft Power Platform services put the power to quickly and easily create end-to-end solutions in the hands of non-professional and professional developers alike. Below, find a brief Microsoft Power Platform overview:
- Power Apps – provides a rapid low code development environment for building custom apps for business needs
- Power Automate – lets users create automated workflows between applications and services
- Power Automate Desktop – robotic process automation software for automating graphical user interfaces
- Power BI – a business analytics service that delivers insights for analyzing data
- Power Virtual Agents – enables anyone to create powerful chatbots using a guided, no-code graphical interface, without the need for data scientists or developers
An essential component of the power platform is security. Microsoft Power Platform Security include capabilities such as: data governance, authenticating to Power Platform services, connecting and authenticating to data sources, secure data storage, and file-level encryption.
A Microsoft Power Platform solution architect can help stakeholders and focus on solutions that affect the organization’s broad business and technical needs. Not sure who to trust with your organization’s needs? Seek out a developer who has completed a course in PL-900 Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals or some other variety of Modern Workplace certification.
Microsoft Power Platform Benefits
The Microsoft Power Platform architecture increases organizations’ agility by empowering them to build the solutions that meet their ever-changing needs in hours or days, as opposed to weeks or months. These solutions usually help improve things like value drivers, such as performance improvement, direct or indirect cost savings, risk mitigation or business transformation.
Microsoft Power Platform use cases and challenges include: helps organizations address emerging challenges such as: a growing need to scale development efficiently and keep up with ever-changing needs; a growing need to be able to quickly build solutions based on rapidly changing business strategies; increased costs for custom application development and maintenance; a growing demand for organizations to deliver more custom, streamlined, and collaborative digital experiences to meet evolving workforce expectations.
Microsoft Power Platform training is highly intuitive since it combines low code tools with enterprise-level application development tools to deliver a collaborative solution in which citizen developers and professional developers can collaborate to build targeted solutions to meet the needs of their active daily users. Microsoft Power Platform for Administrators include capabilities such as: environments, data integration, data policies, data gateways, analytics, resources, help & support. Access also includes a home page dashboard, a message center, documentation and training, and service health checks.
Microsoft Modern Workplace Benefits
The M365 Modern Workplace is the future of the working landscape. Microsoft modern workplace products help the newest generation of the workforces streamline their business processes, improve communication, and connect and collaborate in the modern, remote business sphere.
Microsoft Office 365 Modern Workplace includes new platforms, tools, and apps to nurture a better employee experience for remote teams. The Modern Workplace environment powers seamless collaboration and streamlines workflows across platforms, and the Power Platform automates repetitive, time-consuming tasks – both of which enhance overall productivity. And by leveraging self-service functionality in Microsoft 365, the modern workplace strategy is scalable for remote teams and employees are empowered to create the resources they need.
Challenges of the Modern Workplace
Workplace modernization does not come without challenges. Some common Modern Workplace issues that organizations face each day include:
- Budgeting: For any business in any era, managing the budget has been and always will be a challenge. This is especially true of IT budgets in the Modern Workplace. The average business may use hundreds of cloud services and only inform and get explicit approval from IT departments for a few dozen. This is known as shadow IT, and the likelihood of shadow IT only increases with the combination of remote work and accessible cloud-based and SaaS products. Without clear visibility into what you’re actually using and paying for, the budget can get out of hand very quickly.
- Investing in New Tech: Before investing in new tech, ask yourself: Is this a new solution to offer to customers? Is this a way to get to market faster? Will this help our organization stand out in the marketplace? Will this offer a better digital experience? Will the rewards significantly outweigh the effort input? You want the answer to be Yes to at least one more of these questions before investing in a new technology.
- Security: More remote access from more devices from more locations means more opportunities for breaches in security. Data protection in a decentralized modern workplace is complex and requires strictly adhering to zero trust protocols, providing frequent and consistent security education, and adopting an edge security approach.
- Future-Proofing the Organization: A decentralized modern workplace requires a robust infrastructure. While IT can monitor and control an in-office environment, quality, control, and visibility on the outside, i.e. in a remote office, is beyond IT’s control. Future-proofing an organization under these conditions requires a business model infrastructure that is flexible, scalable, and reliable enough to withstand the changing needs of employees.
- Keeping Up with the Changes: At the rate at which modern technology updates, keeping up with the Jones’s changes is a daunting task. And in such a highly competitive landscape, businesses cannot afford to be reactive. Automation helps businesses proactively stay up-to-date with the latest changes in tech. Automation runs repetitive yet necessary daily tasks in a fraction of the time, freeing up time that IT teams can use to spark innovation and discover different means of using technology to enhance the business’s competitive edge.
Microsoft Modern Workplace Services by Provoke Solutions
Provoke Solutions is a specialist in modern workplace and employee experience management. As part of the network of Microsoft Modern Workplace Partners, Provoke provides employee experience services that help companies embrace a Modern Workplace culture, and connect and empower their employees in ways that fit with their internal structure and business model.
Provoke has worked hand-in-hand with Microsoft teams and helped clients: migrate to Azure while digitizing and storing paper-based documents, perform usability reviews on applications and discover call-center insights through user observational testing, drive operational efficiencies with Microsoft 365 as a Gold Partner, and leverage SharePoint Online to provide a one-stop site for operations managers.
Modern Workplace is the future of how we work, and Provoke Solutions is at the forefront of modernization solutions. For more customer success stories, check out the Provoke portfolio.