Microsoft Teams Announcements and New Features – Enhance your meetings today

Microsoft Teams has just turned 2. To celebrate, new features have been announced and are coming your way soon. With this wave of new features there aren’t many reasons left not to adopt Microsoft Teams. Many of our customers are embracing Teams as they see the value in a connected collaboration experience that brings together voice, chat, content & meetings.

For me, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. Though, as people embrace flexible working, are geographically distributed or constantly on the go, connecting with others can be challenging. A recent focal point for many has been creating a connected meeting experience that brings physical & virtual spaces together. I’ve heard stories and experienced first-hand the challenges with traditional meeting room technology. Dial-ins never work, people can’t see the what’s being presented in the physical room, it’s difficult to hear people on the phone, people don’t have the right version of the software…the list of frustrations is long.

The announcement has lots of new features that enhances a range of experiences though, I want to focus on the ones I think enhance the meting experience.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Whilst still in preview, this is a hidden gem. Microsoft Whiteboard allows people to quickly draw and share in real-time. No physical whiteboards needed. Better yet the drawings are automatically saved and easily available when you need to revisit. Taking it one step further –  those lucky enough to have Surface Hub, tighter Teams integration is coming your way. There’s lots of interest in Surface Hub and worthwhile checking out.

New Calendar App

The current Meetings Tab is being renamed to Calendar and lots of updates are coming. You’ll be able to join, RSVP, cancel or decline meetings from the right click-menu. You’ll be able to see a range of views including weekly, daily or work week which will honour your settings in Outlook. So no need to switch to Outlook as often. You have to wonder – will Teams eventually replace Outlook? I think so.

New Meeting Devices

As Teams grows, so does the maturity of hardware. There are some great new Teams Certified devices from AudioCodes, Crestron, HP, Jabra, Lenovo, Logitech, Plantronics/Polycom & Sennheiser. Check out the Teams Marketplace to buy and start trialling.

My colleague Craig Chiffers has some great articles on managing Teams devices & enabling Teams Rooms – worthwhile reads if you are looking to start using these devices.

Content Cameras and Intelligent Capture

For those people who like to still use white boards, this feature is for you! Not only can you now add a second camera to your meeting, it digitises the physical whiteboard. The intelligent capture ensures your white board drawings are still visible even as your draw, check out below to see it in action –borrowed from Microsoft Announcement.

Hopefully that’s given you a quick overview of the great new features coming to Microsoft Teams soon.

Analogue Devices and Microsoft Teams

Last week, I was working through a technical workshop with a customer who wanted to make the move to Microsoft Teams. We’d worked through the usual questions, and then the infamous question came: So .. are there any analogue devices still in use? “Yeah, about 50 handsets”. You’d be forgiven for thinking that analogue handsets were a thing of the past. However, much like the fax machine, there’s still a whole lot of love out there for them. There are many reasons for this, but the ones often heard are:
  • A basic analogue handset fits the requirement – There’s no need for a fancy touch screen.
  • It’s a common area phone – hallways, lifts, stairwells, doors, gates etc
  • It’s a wireless DECT handset – this may include multiple handsets and base stations.
  • It’s something special – like a car park barrier phone or intercom system
  • It’s in a difficult to reach or remote location – such as a shed or building located away from the main office
  • There’s no power or ethernet cabling to this location – it’s simply using a copper pair.
Whatever the reason, in almost all cases I have encountered, the customer has a requirement to have a working phone at that location. This means we need to come up with a plan of how we’re going to handle these analogue devices once we’ve moved to Microsoft Teams. So, What’s the plan? Well, firstly check and confirm with the customer that they actually still need the handset at that location. There’s always a possibility that it’s no longer required. As mentioned above though, this seldom happens. Once you’ve confirmed the phone is still required, figure out if it can be replaced with a Microsoft Teams handset. Currently, there are a small number of Microsoft Teams handsets available from Yealink and AudioCodes:
  • Yealink T56A
  • Yealink T58A
  • Audiocodes C450HD
Some things to consider with this approach:
  • Availability of networking and PoE – These phones will require a network connection, and can be powered via PoE.
  • Is this a noisy environment? – If the old analogue device was connected to a separate external ringer like a bell or light, this will need to be replaced too.
What if I can’t replace the handset with a Teams compatible device? There will be times when you simply can’t replace an old analogue device with a Teams compatible handset. This could be as simple as there not being ethernet cabling at that location, or that the analogue device is built into something like a car park barrier, or emergency lift phone. Most of the time, your customer is going to want to keep the same level of functionality on the device. The best news is, there are a number of ways to achieve this! Options You’ve got a few options here: Option 1: Do .. nothing You’ve read that right. Do nothing. Your PABX is already configured to work with these devices. If you can leave the PABX in place, as well as the PSTN connectivity, these devices can remain connected to the PABX and happily continue to work as they always have. If you have this as an option, great! Most of us don’t though. Option 2: Deploy Microsoft Teams Direct Routing Alright, so the PABX has to go. What now? Microsoft Teams Direct Routing is the answer. Direct Routing involves deploying a compatible session border controller (SBC) on premises, which allows you to connect up your analogue devices and convert them to SIP. Here’s a simplified overview of how it works: With this approach, your analogue devices and Microsoft Teams users can call each other internally, and you get to keep your existing ISDN or SIP provider for PSTN calls. You can deploy this solution to many different sites within your organisation, and you can even route calls between SBC’s so analogue devices at different sites can make internal calls to each other. What if we’ve gone down the Microsoft Online-only path? If you’re already making and receiving calls via Microsoft Phone System and Calling Plans in Office 365, you’ll need to deploy direct routing at locations where analogue devices still require connectivity. I’m ready to delve into this Awesome! Microsoft have plenty of helpful documentation on Direct Routing over at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/MicrosoftTeams/direct-routing-plan And as usual, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Fix for Site column not showing up in Search crawled properties in Microsoft Team Sites

Recently in a project, where we are implementing Microsoft Teams, we faced an issue in the SharePoint Modern Sites created with Microsoft Teams where site columns were not showing up in managed properties even after a 24 hour wait. Pretty sure the crawled property must have been crawled, we started investigating the issue with MS help and found a workaround fix.

In this blog, will list out the troubleshooting steps and quick fix for the search properties for those having a similar issue

Issue:

The crawled property and manged property for the Site column don’t show up in Search crawled properties of SharePoint Modern Team sites created through Microsoft Teams. The content is actually crawled and the properties exists but doesn’t show up in the Crawled property screen at Site Setting -> Schema or SharePoint Admin Center -> Manage Search Schema.

Troubleshooting:

It is recommended to do the following troubleshooting steps to confirm the fix will work.

Note: If all the steps below are completed, then the data is crawled and there is not other Search crawling issue so the fix will most probably work

1. Reindex site where site column is added. This will add the property in next crawl. The settings are in SiteSettings -> Search and Offline Avaliability

Search and Offline Availability

2. Go to searchable columns and make sure the site column hasn’t excluded the site column from searching. The link format is

https://<tenant>.sharepoint.com/sites/<sitecollec>/_layouts/15/NoCrawlSettings.aspx

3. Look through crawl log using PnP PowerShell to make sure the data is crawled. The script is below and uses PnP PowerShell. For an overview of how get started with PnP PowerShell check here.

Get-PnPSearchCrawlLog -Sites -ContentSource Sites -Filter "https://<tenant>.sharepoint.com/sites/<sitecollec>"

4. Look through the Crawled and Managed Property XML from the site and see the crawled property is in the xml results. The format of crawl property is ows_<siteColumn> and the REST URL to get the search xml is below

https://<tenant>.sharepoint.com/sites/<sitecollec>/_api/search/query?querytext=%27<Keyword>%27&trimduplicates=false&selectproperties=%27Path,Title,MyColOWSTEXT%27&refiners=%27ManagedProperties,CrawledProperties%27

5. Use Search of the site to search for explicitly using the managed property format. The format for the managed property is <SiteColumn>OWSCHS. If you get the results as in then the managed property is ready.

Searchquery format: <SiteColumn>OWSCHS:<Search Keyword>

The above steps will helps us identify the site column is crawled and ready for search.

Fix:

The workaround fix for this issue is to add the account that will manage the crawled property as Site Collection Admininstrator of the site. In other words, even if the user who is trying to work on the crawl property is part of the unified group, that user also needs to be explictly added to the Site Collection administrators as in the screenshot below. After adding the user, the property doesn’t show up instantly so leave the user for sometime and in few hours the crawl property should show up automatically by magic 🙂

SiteCollectionAdminsSearchFix

Conclusion

In this blog, we saw how we could get the crawled properties to show up in Search Schema for SharePoint Team sites created through Teams. Actually as of 5th Nov 2018, MS has identified this issue and will be releasing a fix soon, so if it doesn’t happen after some time then you know 🙂

Pump up your investments in Modern Intranet and Team Sites with latest cool advancements (Ignite 2018)

At Ignite 2018, Microsoft provided a great perspective about how Modern Intranets (using SharePoint Communication Sites) and Collaboration features are becoming a major collaboration platform for many companies and investments Microsoft is doing to make them better. Some of these cool features were mentioned during the event. We will take a look at many of them in this blog and how we could use it to make Modern Intranets, Modern Team Sites and Microsoft Teams work even better and seamlessly together.

If you are looking a strategy or starter guide for building Modern Intranet using Communication sites, check here.

Another reason for writing this blog is that earlier I had posted some of these postings from Microsoft updates in my LinkedIn and Twitter feed but found that information was too scattered and hard to collate, so thought of combining all here. Please feel free to use it as useful.

Note: There will be another blog about Tenant level enhancements in SharePoint Modern Admin Center and Security and Compliance
PS: The blog is about 3-5 min read but it is full of goodness, so worth a read

The brief highlights of the latest updates are as follows:

1. New Page designs – It is possible to select different page designs when adding a page, which adds a lot of variety, and additionally provides prebuild content besides the standard page sections.

Ignite2018_PageDesign

2. Audience targeting – Audience targeting provides personalised content to users and can be set on a unified group, active directory group or user.

Ignite2018_AudienceTargeting

3. Conversations (New Yammer) web part – This is going to be updated version of the current Yammer web part.

Ignite2018_NewYammerWebPart

4. Make Communication Sites as a root site – What else could be more cool than now having your Modern Intranet Communication site to be set as the root for your Tenant

5. Mega menus for top navigation – Top Navigation will not be limited to only one level (which is hardly the case right !!!)

Ignite2018_MegaMenus

6. Search Associated Sites from Hub site – We can search associated sites under a SharePoint hub site from the hub search

Ignite2018_SearchAssociatedSites

7. Web part Connections (Dynamic data) – Not exactly clear yet how this will work yet but assuming it will be the same the old web part connections (but better) to be able to pass a property from existing to another web part.

Ignite2018_FilePreview

8. File cards – Get a brief snippet of the document with terms and information that is editable

Ignite2018_FileCard.png

9. Column formatting from edit properties – Now we can add column formatting on the edit pane of the list instead of writing JSON (at least for the simple ones) for it.

Ignite2018_formatcolumn2

10. Custom web parts on list edit web part views– We can have custom web parts on list views,  so no need to create custom pages to have custom views for lists.

Ignite2018_CustomViewInList.png

11. SharePoint UI layout coming to Teams – So now there will be no difference when a library is viewed in Teams or on the web. The biggest advantage is that no switching between Teams or SharePoint to fill metadata or use other features such as Sync directly from MS Teams (great !!!)

Ignite2018_SPInTeams.png

12. Modern Teams linked libraries now visible on SharePoint – This allows users to know the content is also accessible through Teams.

Ignite2018_LibraryLinkedtoTeams.png

13. SharePoint news feed into Microsoft Teams – Now we could publish SharePoint news to a Teams Channel allowing users to view the news content in teams itself.

Ignite2018_SharePointNewsInTeams.png

14. Edit Metadata when uploading file to SharePoint One Drive folder in Mobile

Ignite2018_MobileCapture.png

15. Stream Mobile App and Live Streaming video from SharePoint – With the Stream mobile app to stream videos and keep for offline viewing. Also there is an additional feature to live stream videos from the portal.

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16. Modern Document Templates and Document sets – Getting back Document templates to the new button and Document sets are back to modern libraries

17. File Plans, New Labels and Label analytics – File plans allow to manage department, categories, identifiers etc at scale. New labels coming up such as Immutable Record labels and sensitivity labels applied to a site. Finally we will have label analytics to look at usage reports.

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18. Clips webpages from Mobile phone onto your website (iOS and Android integration) – so now you could share a clip of a web page from Android or iOS to the SharePoint app and site directly

ShareFromPhone_Ignite2018

19. PowerApps integration in Document libraries – Use PowerApps to create custom. Forms for SharePoint Document libraries

Above, we saw some of the important and highlighting updates from Ignite 2018. There will be another blog about updates about latest SharePoint Admin Center and Security and Compliance updates, not covered here.

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