Hello! I’m so excited to finally connect with Anne Michels, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Office 365, who is very passionate about ensuring customers have visibility into their Office 365 Usage and Adoption. In this episode of “The Road to #MSIgnite”, Anne and I discuss her background, the value of having visibility into your Office 365 tenant and Microsoft Ignite.
I hope you enjoy this episode and don’t miss Anne’s sessions at Microsoft Ignite! Danke schön!
Dux: Hallo, und guten tag, mein name ist Dux.
Anne: Guten tag, mein name ist Anne.
Dux: Hold on, hold on, we’re actually in Seattle, right. My name is Dux. Thank you for tuning in for another episode of Dux Quax. I’m so excited. Finally, I get to meet Anne. And I’d only been exchanging tweets and talking on Twitter, and it’s so great to meet you, especially on this beautiful day in Seattle, right?
Anne: Oh, yeah. I mean, I live in Seattle, the city where it only rains once or twice a year. So you take a right.
Dux: I take a right, okay, yeah.
Anne: So, yeah, and fortunately, for us today, it’s not one of the two days in the year where it rains in Seattle.
Dux: Well, and then sometimes it becomes smoky as well.
Anne: Just a little bit, yes.
Dux: So how does this compare, living here, to what part of Germany were you originally from?
Anne: I’m originally from the western part, like Dahn, Cologne, an hour and a half of Frankfurt, for those of you who have been to Germany.
Dux: Got it, got it. And does the weather compare or…not, not that way?
Anne: Not really. You can take a left.
Dux: So as you know, I’m not familiar with Seattle. She knows it better.
Anne: Got to give him some directions.
Dux: That’s right.
Anne: The weather doesn’t really compare. So people always bitch about the weather in Seattle. Those are people that have never been to Germany.
Dux: Got it.
Anne: In Germany, it rains more, the summers are less stable, like it can totally happen that you’re in the middle of August, like right now in Germany, it’s 70 and it’s raining, and it’s been like that for three weeks, so…
Dux: Got it. But you know what? I had a great opportunity to live there for a brief period of time.
Dux: Boy, I do miss the culture, though. Like I lived there during summer, you know, every week there’s a vine fest, beer fest, you know, great food. I miss all that good stuff.
Anne: Yes, yes, yes. Always when I go to Germany and I come back to Seattle, like I always go with a suitcase that is half-empty, and when I come back it’s full with German food.
Dux: Now, I understand you started your Microsoft career in Germany, right?
Dux: You were with the DX team and you moved over with the DX team as well. How did you transition to the Office 365 team?
Anne: Well, I was at some point, I got to a point where I had been with DX for five years, and I loved working with developers, but I wanted to explore something else. And I was always really interested in Office because it was one of the products that I was just using on a daily basis and that I was really passionate about.
Anne: So I thought about, “Okay, how can I combine my passion about Office and my passion for IT Pros?” And, well, that’s what brought me to the Office 365 team.
Dux: There you go. And these days, you are busy, aren’t you?
Anne: Yes, definitely.
Dux: And first and foremost, I mean, I really appreciate all the stuff you guys are putting out and some of the reports and content packs. So maybe you can tell everybody all the goodness that’s out there and they can take advantage of.
Anne: Yeah. So that is definitely one of the areas where we have been heavily focused on. In the last year, where we’ve seen a lot of improvements is usage reporting in Office 365. About a year and a half ago…you can take a right here again. About a year and a half ago, it was actually difficult for customers to understand how their users were using and adopting Office 365.
But of course, that is very, very important information for all of our customers. So we started to re-architect our usage reporting. And last year, in March, we launched a new usage reporting dashboard in the Office 365 admin center that helps you to understand how your users are using Office 365 across all the services and across your organization. But also, how your individual end users are using Office 365, how they are using the individual services.
Anne: And that was a really good starting point for admin. So we…
Dux: So, okay, is that available for everybody, though?
Dux: E1, E3, E5.
Anne: Everybody who has access to the admin center, you have access to the usage reporting dashboard. Simply click in the left navigation, there’s reporting, I think, it says, and then usage reports.
Dux: Got it. And then is there a way I can take those reports and stick it in Power BI?
Anne: Oh, yes, you can, what a surprise.
Dux: Yeah, dashboard promoting.
Anne: I will start mentioning dashboard from tomorrow on in every user reading.
Dux: There you go. And then, again, yeah, Power BI’s so powerful to visualize and ensure all this good stuff.
Anne: Exactly. And the advantage of the content pack is also that it enables you to pivot by active directory attributes, like organization or departments. So you can actually also see how specific parts in your organization are using Office 365, and not only your entire organization.
Dux: In the recent release, I think last week or two weeks ago, it was similar for Yammer, right?
Anne: Yeah. So for Yammer, it’s not in the content pack yet, because we always have a version of the content pack and then we update it every couple of months. But last year, last year, last year…last week, we released a new usage report in the usage reporting dashboard in the admin center that allows you to see how your employees are using Yammer groups as well.
Dux: Awesome. Now, Ignite’s coming. What do you have in store for Ignite?
Anne: Yes, super, super excited for Ignite. Working on a lot of good things, a lot of improvements, and a lot of, well, announcements for Ignite. We’ll actually have four sessions that will focus on main Office 365 admin topics. So please come to my sessions, I really, and I’ll cover all of that.
Dux: I’ll make sure I put the link in the blog post here, and we’ll link to your sessions, yeah.
Anne: Fantastic, yeah. So what we’re working on, is on the one hand, we’re working on how can we actually make the admin center itself smarter and more personalized. Because when you think about it, we in Office 365, we have a lot of data, we have a lot of telemetry information. And we’re working on how can we surface that through admins at the right moment in the right spot to make it easier for you to manage Office 365.
Dux: Right. Sure. And that’s key, right, because by having visibility of the usage, now you can think about, are people adopting or not? Like what are they looking at most? And then you can tweet certain areas that if you wanna highlight further so that your users can take advantage of it.
Anne: Yeah, exactly. And it’s not only usage, right. For example, we have access to a lot of information. Like let’s say, if I saw that you had, one of your DNS records wasn’t configured correctly, right, what if I could actually surface that to you and let you know before anything actually gets broken so that you can fix it proactively.
Dux: That’s awesome.
Anne: So that’s all what we’re looking at, like really bringing you, or giving you the right information at the right time so that we can surface and give you recommendations on how to better manage Office 365.
Dux: Fantastic, fantastic. And what else are you…so other than your sessions, you know, there’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s a Universal Studios party. So if there’s one thing, like, on top of your list, outside the sessions, what are you looking for?
Anne: Meeting with the community.
Dux: Well, there you go, yeah.
Anne: I mean, that’s, seriously, that’s what I love about Ignite. Like, at Ignite, I can meet all the great people from the community that I’ve been working with over the whole year, but that might be in different countries, right, like my MVPs from Germany, like Rafael, or from Austria, Martina, and so on. I just really love connecting with the community, and of course, also connecting with customers.
Ignite is the best opportunity for us to, of course, share with customers what we are working on, but then also to get feedback on the solutions what we’re working at.
Dux: So the community is fantastic. And one of those things I like is, you know, especially with technology and social, these people I already know. It’s just like a long lost family or a reunion, right?
Anne: Yeah, yeah.
Dux: And that’s awesome about technology.
Anne: Yeah, that’s true, yeah, it’s like a…yeah, Ignite is like a family reunion.
Dux: It is, it is.
Anne: That’s what it is.
Dux: I mean, that’s true social networking right there.
Dux: Awesome. And so, again, so after Ignite, what else is coming up in, at least, your new physical year? What or were the key areas of focus for you?
Anne: Yeah, so definitely then, actually, deliver all the announcements and all the new features that we’ll be sharing at Ignite. So to really work on how we can make the admin center smarter. But that also includes then how can we make the usage reporting smarter.
That is actually an area that we’re also heavily investing into right now. Because having all the information that you have in usage reports that’s super helpful, having all that data, but a lot of customers have shared with us, or Microsoft, it’s great if I see that 95% of my users are using Skype, but what about the 5% that aren’t? How can I actually help them to use Skype? How can I increase my usage of the various services?
Dux: And this is where resources, like FastTrack comes in, right?
Dux: And FastTrack’s center’s been on, well, because there’s a lot of guides and information. And then places like Tech Community, right? People can go to Tech Community and say, “Hey, based on my usage report, this is not working. What have you guys done?” So…
Anne: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we’re working on helping you turn this in where your organization exactly is in your digital transformation journey. And then giving you recommendation. How can you actually increase usage, and not only giving you recommendations, what you should be doing in your specific case, but also enabling you to take action directly from the admin center.
For example, those 5% of your users that might not be using Skype, they might not know how to get started with Skype.
Dux: That’s right, that’s right.
Anne: So you might want to actually send them an email, pointing them through a training resource.
Dux: Or even, yeah, or even simple things, like a lot of presence, right? Presence shows up on email or online, so.
Dux: Fantastic. It looks like it’s gonna be an exciting year?
Anne: Yes, it definitely will be.
Dux: Awesome. Well, well, thank you, Anne, for showing me around this beautiful area. Capitol Hill, I’ve never been around this area. It’s really nice.
Anne: It’s really beautiful.
Dux: But, look, you know, maybe next time, I have to convince you, we have to do “99 Luftballons,” yeah.
Anne: Okay, so just for the record, he tried to convince me to sing “99 Luftballons.” But if I do that, this is no good for nobody in the world, because if there’s one thing that I really suck in it’s singing, so…
Dux: But’s it’s Nena, okay. Or, or maybe let’s do Fantasia
Anne: That would be way better.
Dux: Because you don’t have to sing, right. With our friends, thank you so much for joining us in this episode. Thank you, Anne, and we’ll see you in the next one. Bye. Tschuss.