The Most Important Takeaways From Microsoft Ignite and ESPC 2023

Post Date: 12/20/2023
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November was a busy month as Microsoft held its annual Microsoft Ignite conference, unveiling a wave of new capabilities and updates across its stack of cloud productivity tools. The announcements didn’t stop there, as more news was released later that month at the European SharePoint Conference.  

To help make sense of everything, AvePoint’s Chief Product Officer John Peluso and Chief Brand Officer Dux Sy recently recapped all the changes and what they mean in our latest webinar. They highlighted the most important announcements and how AvePoint is responding with new solutions to further enable organizations on their digital transformation journeys. 

To get the full conversation, watch the webinar on-demand.  

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Now, let’s recap the key themes and product launches. 

Microsoft Doubles Down on AI with Microsoft 365 Copilot 

Far and away, the biggest theme coming out of Ignite was Microsoft’s plan to infuse AI and automation across its entire portfolio. This builds on years of investment in areas like machine learning and natural language processing. 

Dux and John homed in on one of the most notable announcements around Microsoft 365 Copilot. It draws on large language models to generate content and complete tasks while keeping customer data private within an organization’s own tenant. Microsoft 365 Copilot is currently available in preview across Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other apps. 

Dux demonstrated how Microsoft 365 Copilot can deliver huge potential productivity gains. It can draft executive summaries, generate multi-page translated documents, create presentations from Word files, and more in seconds. To demonstrate, Dux asked Microsoft 365 Copilot to write a 3-page business justification document in Spanish about why government organizations should use AvePoint’s Cloud Governance solution. In mere moments, Microsoft 365 Copilot produced a polished draft ready for human review and editing. 

However, as John noted, organizations should thoughtfully prepare before deploying Microsoft 365 Copilot widely. He outlined a readiness framework: 

  1. Clean up data quality, eliminating outdated, trivial, or redundant content Copilot could inadvertently leverage. For example, Microsoft 365 Copilot may pull up HR policy documents that are five years outdated, resulting in incorrect guidance. Proper information lifecycle management ensures only the right data is fueling Microsoft 365 Copilot. 
  2. Conduct security reviews to prevent overexposure of information. Permissions often drift over time in Microsoft 365, resulting in documents being far more widely accessible than intended. A content risk assessment identifies and resolves such issues. 
  3. Implement ongoing governance to keep data integrity high amidst Microsoft 365 Copilot usage. Even quality data can grow stale over time. Continued content classification, policy review, and retention enforcement provide guardrails for Microsoft 365 Copilot to operate successfully. 

AvePoint can help with these readiness steps both before Microsoft 365 Copilot deployment and on an ongoing basis afterward. 

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Introducing SharePoint Premium for Advanced Content Management 

In addition to Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft also announced SharePoint Premium, which builds on existing Microsoft Syntex and Cortex technologies to automatically organize enterprise content. SharePoint Premium brings new capabilities like: 

  • AI-powered document understanding and metadata extraction. SharePoint Premium can scan uploaded documents and extract key fields into indexed metadata tags, ensuring findability. 
  • Automated content tagging and classification. Based on rules, SharePoint Premium can apply standardized tags and labels so users avoid chaotic ad-hoc tagging approaches that inhibit discovery. 
  • Lifecycle management with retention rules. Organizations can set policies to age out stale, obsolete content after set periods to avoid bloat. 
  • Business process automation. SharePoint Premium brings no-code workflows to digitize manual document reviews, approvals, and other processes. 

Dux explained how SharePoint Premium directly complements Microsoft 365 Copilot by ensuring content is labeled properly so Microsoft 365 Copilot can make the most of an organization’s data estate. Metadata fuels the Graph powering Microsoft 365 Copilot, so investing in SharePoint Premium pays dividends later when deploying AI assistants. 

From John’s perspective, SharePoint Premium fills a critical gap around managing and securing mission-critical content. With collaboration and remote work growing exponentially thanks to tools like Microsoft Teams, the amount of content being created and shared is far outpacing traditional information governance capacities. SharePoint Premium gives IT a fighting chance to tame this content explosion. 

Dux and John then shared the new and updated solutions AvePoint announced during Ignite and ESPC that are purpose-built to address the new challenges in the digital workplace: AvePoint Opus, AvePoint Cloud Backup Express, and AvePoint Confide

AvePoint Opus Transforms Legacy Information Management 

Amidst the transformative change and need we see for advanced information lifecycle management, Dux and John shared the introduction of AvePoint Opus, the next generation of our records management and storage optimization solutions. AvePoint Opus introduces AI and automation to simplify policy-driven retention, disposal, archiving and records declaration.

For example, AvePoint Opus can use pattern recognition to classify certain financial documents as official accounting records needing long-term preservation or identify expired marketing materials to remove. AvePoint Opus reduces the manual overhead for records and lifecycle management through its built-in intelligence.

John shared how AvePoint Opus builds on our unique position working across the entire Microsoft 365 data journey – from ingestion to protection, compliance, and operational management. Automated retention rules reduce overhead for IT teams while ensuring organizations retain only relevant business content.

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Lightning-Fast, Secure Data Protection with AvePoint Cloud Backup Express

With Microsoft 365 adoption accelerating, backup and recovery has become a growing pain point given the mass scale of data from SharePoint sites to OneDrive personal storage to Exchange mailboxes. Legacy tools struggle to efficiently back up enormous, constantly changing Microsoft 365 content sets. That’s why at Ignite, Microsoft introduced a new Microsoft 365 Backup Storage API to address such bottlenecks. These APIs allow faster data transfer and snapshotting directly within the Microsoft cloud.

AvePoint is among the first to implement these APIs with AvePoint Cloud Backup Express, providing rapid backup and up to 20x faster restores. AvePoint Cloud Backup Express eliminates the stalling and timeouts common with older Microsoft 365 backup technologies.

John went on to explain how AvePoint Cloud Backup Express integrates with AvePoint’s multi-SaaS cloud backup solution for comprehensive Microsoft 365 protection. Organizations gain fine-tuned controls to meet a variety of use cases – whether daily automated backups, delegated self-service for end users, or long-term archival needs. 

For example, AvePoint Cloud Backup Express may handle daily incremental backups of Exchange and SharePoint changes, while Cloud Backup facilitates quarterly snapshots that store data offline for long-term retention goals. 

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Secure External Sharing with AvePoint Confide, Powered by SharePoint Embedded 

Finally, Microsoft and AvePoint made separate but complementary announcements around improving secure external collaboration at ESPC. 

Microsoft introduced SharePoint Embedded, allowing partners like AvePoint to fully customize the end-user access experience while still leveraging SharePoint’s security, compliance, and content lifecycle features. 

For example, AvePoint could build Confide as an externally facing, branded portal with tailored business processes for confidential document sharing. But the files themselves would be stored and protected within SharePoint, transparently integrated with data loss prevention policies, retention rules, legal holds, and more. 

AvePoint is adopting SharePoint Embedded within its newly updated AvePoint Confide solution for creating encrypted virtual data rooms to securely share confidential content with outside parties.  

AvePoint Confide enables easy, governed collaboration with audited user access. It provides an attractive alternative to risky makeshift data-sharing approaches often seen today, like emailing sensitive documents or using consumer file-sharing apps. 

AvePoint Confide using SharePoint Embedded technology is now in public preview. Check out our website to learn more:  

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Ready to Transform Work? AvePoint Has You Covered 

With Microsoft marching ahead on AI along with enhanced SharePoint content capabilities, organizations need a trusted expert at their side to successfully adopt new technologies. From strategy to deployment services to purpose-built software across every phase of your digital workplace transformation, AvePoint stands ready to drive your digital workplace transformation. 

Get the complete rundown from Dux and John by watching our webinar on-demand today

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As Senior Director of Content & Communications at AvePoint, Chris is responsible for all external and internal corporate marketing communications. Chris brings more than 15 years of experience to his role at AvePoint, previously holding roles at EisnerAmper, BASF, MetLife and CRM Magazine. Chris received two American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards for feature articles on salesforce.com and generational trends.

View all post by Christopher Musico

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