In today’s episode of #O365 Hours, we’re joined by Office Apps & Services MVP Vesku Nopanen to discuss the future of hybrid work and how the recent announcements at Ignite may impact workflows. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!
Guest: Vesku Nopanen, Principal Consultant in Office 365 and Modern Work at Sulava Oy (visit his website here)
- Maybe a more fundamental question, how is hybrid work evolving the ways in which we work?
- With Microsoft Ignite behind us now, many of the modern work announcements were around Microsoft Viva and the ways in which work is changing. With these technologies in mind, how is work changing, from your perspective?
- What were the biggest announcements from Ignite that you think will have a direct impact on working teams?
- Talking specifically about Microsoft Viva, how is it currently positioned, or being positioned, to help support the future of work? And hybrid work?
Christian Buckley: Hello and welcome to another Office 365 Hours. My name is Christian Buckley. I’m the Microsoft Go-To-Market Director here at AvePoint and a Microsoft MVP and regional director. And I am joined today by a fellow Office Apps and Services MVP and principal consultant at Solara in Finland, Vesku Nopanen.
Vesku Nopanen: Good afternoon, Christian.
CB: Yes. Today we’re discussing the topic of Microsoft Teams, Viva, and hybrid work. I’m excited to jump into this topic, and obviously there’s a lot to cover within it. We’re going to try and do that in under 30 minutes. We’ll try to get to all those things and answer any possible questions that anyone in the audience could have. So, why don’t we start with a fundamental question? I think this is a good time to set the stage here: how is hybrid work evolving the ways in which we work?
VN: Yeah, that’s just more question, right? We only have a couple of hours, our full focus. At first, adjusting to hybrid work must have been a kind of shock to many companies and they had to learn skills. And now that people are working remotely via hybrid work, and some people are working from the offices. Some people are working from home from other places and they don’t travel as much. So the hybrid work is going to make things more complicated. It was kind of easy when you’re working, everyone was online, but they had to find out, okay, how do we work with files, how we do meetings, and how do we just survive in a sense?
VN: And now that we are going to hybrid work with these tools, some people are meeting like us now through Teams, we have so-called video calls in here or meetings and, and some people might be in the same room. So of course it’s going to create a lot, a lot more things to think about how do you work? Okay. Who’s sharing that information. Like people are talking at the office. What about people at the auto office? And how do you meet you? Okay. You are not going to be in the same space. So that’s kind of things we can do work as online, but then some people are going to be using the old practices.
CB: You know, I think what’s, what’s interesting. So one, it being thrust into the work from home model you saw a lot of those discussions of realizing, Hey, we there’s, there’s not parody in the devices that we have the quality of lighting of cameras, of microphones and kind of all those things. And I think that we, we all have much more empathy, abound dogs, barking, babies, screaming in the background, things like that. And that would even drove improvements to the technology, with the filtering, the AI, cutting out the background, noise, those kinds of things that happen. But to your point around, you know, the fact that you, you ha might have 10 people in a meeting and three or four of them in the same room there at the, at the building and in a conference room, yet everybody else distributed, where are we centrally sharing our files?
CB: Are there two or three different places where there might be conversations, chats that are happening, that are related? How are we managing to make sure that the files that were discussed are shared in the same way? You know, all of those things, which you would think, Hey, we’re on a unified platform here we are on teams. And that’s our primary place where we’re doing a lot of these activities. And yet, even with teams as that core, that hub for the way that we’re working here together, emails will be shot on. Other one drive links will be shared, multiple files will be uploaded or linked, shared with other existing content, other teams, all those things. So what is that standard? What are those etiquettes within your organization? That’s a major issue within hybrid work.
VN: Yeah. That that’s a major issue and that’s why organizations should have the playbook. They should have those working practices, how they are doing the work. Unfortunately, teams cannot force them to follow the playbook.
VN: And of course, because we all have our unique ways, how we want to work, how we prefer to work. And, and when we’ve been working from home, we have kind of a hat, the opportunity to do our own styles as well. So, so what works for us, what motivates us what’s makes us work better. And that, that’s a kind of a one big key thing there. Now that you are coming to the office as well. And some people want to work like they were working before some people at the office are, they are meeting face-to-face, they are making decisions. What about the people who are online? So it’s getting complicated there. And you were saying about this sharing files, using email, using private chats. So if you don’t have a kind of good culture work at the office, that then you are going to end up in a so-called digital noise.
VN: This was a hot topic in Finland. About a month ago or two months ago in newspaper, there was a one article about the stick to digital noise. Like you have lots of applications, you have lots of things coming up, but I, I think it was also that when you start thinking about that you have your mobile phone, you’ll have plenty of apps there. You don’t have that confusion there. Where do I put that message or do something there because you already have the playbook in your head in a sense, you know, what to use and when and why. So that’s kind of a very clear in there, you know, the benefits.
CB: Well, should it be the responsibility of the person calling the meeting to kind of, you put an agenda together. Here’s what we’re going to cover. You know, how difficult it is then to, as part of that and say, here is where as part of the instruction, here’s where, where the conversation is happening. Here’s where the content is being stored for the context of this project for this. Yeah.
VN: Yeah. It’s not that the [inaudible], I was about to choke that. Okay. You have agenda in the meeting. How many meetings do have agenda? How many meetings do you know your role?
CB: Another cultural thing, though, if you’re having a problem with sprawl with the digital noise, then that’s time for you to put together those best practices that, that playbook and provide that–
VN: Exactly. And that comes from the directors and come from management as well, because they have to commit to that. They have to start thinking about, okay, how we are changing, how we are working together, what’s our culture. And so there’s lots of human side in all this. I know we are getting back to BVI at the end because but that’s just pearls how important Viva is in there and, and how important it is to think about the people and why you have to put the people in the center at the, to understand, okay, what’s happening there. And I really enjoyed those key points you made about the meeting stuff, because there’s lots of confusion. Okay. Where do we put those meeting notes, for example, and, and putting those documents in there, I need to call kind of fields. It’s a bit difficult. Sometimes I have to go there, pick up the links. I have to pace them, or do I put that attachment or something else? And it’s those are the difficult kind of places we have. It’s missing something in, in, in a sense. And, and when you can start to work better and, and kind of bring in all the ideas, all the collaboration into one place, and that’s just one part of that, but it’s a something people will encounter or having there already.
CB: And maybe this is a good, that’s a good place to kind of start talking on the technology side of things, because so much of what is w with Microsoft ignite now behind us. So much of what was announced was talked about is really directed towards the hybrid work environment. So, so many of the modern work announcements. So you think about the Microsoft 365 stack and, you know, Microsoft Viva specifically, it’s all about the ways in which work is changing, is evolving within our organizations. So with these technologies in mind, so, you know, how is work changing from your perspective? Like what have you actually seen around these new tools and gravitation towards certain workloads? I mean, is it, is it changing over the last even two years?
VN: Well, it has changed too, just may have not noticed that, but what has been now announced, I’m still excited. I excited about those yes, that it’s going to change even more and, and all these technology that just came out or ideas coming out, rolling out eventually during the next year is going to help us to go with the change, can help us to change as well. But the thing is that we are, have to find a new ways how we work together, because we are not going to be in the same time zones like you and me, it’s your morning, it’s my afternoon or late, late afternoon here. And so we are going to be working more asynchronously as well and bringing you those tools, those capabilities there, that’s going to be fundamental in that in that journey because you start thinking about, okay, we can drop in some tech names, I guess a micro loop was the big thing there.
VN: And, and thinking about, okay, how it’s going to make our life easier. Well, we can add mentioned document at times, but you don’t share it specifically. We don’t, or that was the context IQ, sorry, but we don’t necessarily share it don’t or we don’t add that sheet or anything like that. We just let the AI find it. And at that meeting, for example, and, and that’s how it gets started to move forward. You put the loop components there so people can work on the table or ideas asynchronously. It can’t be a live meeting, but they, everybody can participate. And I’ve been talking about that for a while that the hybrid meetings and, and meetings overall have to change because from the traditional single person is repressed presenting something. And even the application through screen sharing or something, and trying to get the ideas in. And everybody’s just saying that, and somebody’s typing them down. That’s old world. And we have seen during the one, a half years, two years, okay, it’s getting it’s, it’s, it’s not efficient. It’s, it’s not a good practice. Everybody should participate. And especially when you have lots of online meetings, you doze off. If you are not active and you multitask–
CB: Hey, that’s not just an online meetings. That’s a meetings in general. People are actively engaged at they’re participating. I mean, you get more out of it, but you also, I mean, everybody gets more out of that because, I mean, that’s, that’s a kind of, you know, backing out, looking at it, you know, met a level of when people are actively engaged in collaboration, we all benefit from that. The, the, the value of the innovation created it dramatically increases because something that I say an idea that I have you build off of that, and it kind of grows from then others take off of, of, of those ideas. And, you know, so that’s, that’s why collaboration is so incredibly powerful. It’s, it’s great. When you can go do things as an individual, and there’s always going to be individual contributor activities, but in work, as in life, we could do so much, so much more together by collaborating and learning from each other and shell sharing and adding to it, the work that each other.
VN: Exactly. And, and the big change is that intelligent meeting life cycle is going to be a much more Royal with Lupe components. For example, because the text this there, that the data is terror content is terror. So you can start working on that more easily than you were able to do before. And I guess that easiness and flow work as Microsoft likes to say it, putting the components there, putting the stuff in there, it might be in the chat, but Hey, in reality, I prop you a chat with the loop component and we work on some ideas, but the same component can’t be in the meeting notes and it updates instantly there. And, and, and if you think about that, the same component has been copied as this is more future, I guess to the whiteboard. And, and some team is thinking about, and they are seeing what we are planning into chat or in a meeting on that component. And it’s reflecting or sinking everything simultaneously throughout places where it’s shown. And I think that’s the kind of beauty of that, because it’s really game changing that the way we work together. And I like to start to get saying, okay, this is the future of collaboration.
CB: That’s the thing I think of with so many of these, of these features. And for those that don’t know. So Microsoft, H R D R D had a, a project called gig jam. It was never a formal product, but I actually still have the non-working app on my phone. But so many of the fluid components of what we’re talking about with Microsoft loop you know, where the ideas, the concepts were first kind of talked about through the gig jam solution.
VN: Yeah. And so you kind of take pieces of information or pieces of content and put them to the different places and have different people to work on them.
CB: That’s the difference. It’s not just, you’re not cutting and pasting an image, but you’re taking that live thing. So if you then update a number it’s reflected wherever that component sits and lives, as well as let’s say that you pulled data from, or you pulled as part of your CRM platform, because you wanted to discuss it in a project team, you know, a team meeting and you made changes there, it would be real-time reflected back in the CRM platform.
VN: Yes and no. Now you open that door because that’s the single source of truth. And then what we’ve been trying to aim for 20 years, or even more in some cases, and, and yeah, you can, so you can take this dynamics, record account something opportunity, put it to the chat, put it to the whiteboard and an email, and you do change this to reflect there. But I think what I’m really waiting is the next bit, because that’s, when they are going to talk more about how partners and developers can build their own loop components, right? So you can create a custom component. It’s basically something like what they described that already is that you it’s based on the messaging extensions and graph API. And so you add an interface there and you can create a group components out of your legacy data, for example, and this is changing. Even teams be happy thinking about teams as a platform. Yes. I said, I know it’s a dirty word. But that’s it, it’s not very clear what people may mean about that, but, but you can, you don’t have to add an application anymore is that you add a loop component. And I know we are not even going to loop.
CB: We talked about this before we even started that we weren’t going to get sucked into the loop discussion. Well, that’s, Hey, we’re technologists. We’re excited to talk about the new things that are out there, but Veeva is all brand new as well, but let’s, I, my next question was actually going to be around, you know, what are the other major announcements out of ignite that you think will have a direct impact on hybrid work? Obviously loop is a big piece of that, but the announcement that all four of the existing components in, in Veeva are now generally available. That’s that was an announcement. And the fact that they, with the acquisition of ally.dot o.io that there’s going to be, that will be a fifth module within Veeva. That’s huge. I’m actually, I’m so excited about OKR, about, you know, that category of, of solutions and the need for ally.io as, as part of Veeva. I’m very excited about that. I don’t know if you’ve explored that, that much, if you know much about that.
VN: No, I haven’t yet. I basically gone through some of the announcement and seeing about these goals and tracking your, where you’re going, but I didn’t dive into Allah yet, but it’s definitely looking interesting because you can bring the performance bot in there to your work and, and start thinking about, okay, how I’m doing work as well.
CB: Well, it’s right. It’s, it’s, it’s really about. And for those I’m a former Microsoft person, I know that a big part of, of the culture inside the company is around you have your individual KPIs, your commitments and you understand, or you should understand. And it’s a big part of how Microsoft is able to achieve so much. And theirs is that when individuals are clear on their KPIs and know how those objectives are driving towards meet at the team level and how they all come together to meet the team objectives. So the things that I’m doing day in day out, my daily activities, are all working towards the goal of helping you know, what the team is trying to achieve, and then know where the team activities fit into the global, the company objectives. That means that you’ll, you’re a CEO can come out and say over the next year, we’re going to be focusing on these four things and you should then be able to go down to every single individual that knows how their activities are driving the completion of those four goals. That’s an incredibly powerful aspect of work culture and helping teams come together and focus in bond around that, that shared sense of purpose. That’s a big thing you can understand then from that perspective, how that fits into Viva, and no matter where in, from a distributed, from a hybrid workplace model, it’s like you’re able to work more closely together when we both understand what are we trying to do? What are we trying?
VN: Yes. Yeah. I think that would have been very useful even before this pandemic era, because people, even when people have booked together, but especially now with the hybrid book, now you are not going to meet all of your colleagues at all. You might not meet someone at a favor in that sense. They might leave in different countries, they are leaving different city. You don’t have those gatherings together. So, so you may see them once a year or never. So, so for that, it’s really important I can ask. So I can’t wait to get my hands on the previews in there and start digging it out. But of course the other VBA components like insights that’s one of my favorites as well. Well, it revolves a lot around wellbeing and, and going of birth all months in that sense. But I really liked the kind of meeting performance spot that’s coming up.
VN: The team leads and people who are organizing meetings are starting to get some information, okay, how are my meetings, what I should be doing better. And I think Biba overall at the be insights is about, you are getting some insights and you are getting some action up actions based on that. You do, you can do something based on these metrics you have, right. And when it’s anonymized as well. So team leads don’t know about their team members, individual style info, but the, instead of days thought start seeing the big picture and take action. And on the CEO and HR manager on that hire a director level, they can see that as well. And, and that’s a very good way, again, to focus on the company culture and as the changing things. So ally in this group, it’s a very, very good fit. Yeah.
CB: Well, I think that in talking about the insights as well, I know that I hear from people that are feeling overwhelmed, like all this data that I need to be monitoring, taking a look at. And I think there’s one trap to avoid, which is relying on, well, the data tells me this, therefore, and I make my decision. I, it should inform the conversations that you’re hopefully already happening, happening. It’s already happening with your direct reports, for example, with your peers that you can look at this data, be informed by it to know, to go, Hey, how are you doing that was like, I, I see you, like efficiencies are through the roof, but are you, are you feel like there was, there seemed to be a surge here? I just, I, I, I’m worried that you might be overwhelmed or, or like, how are you actually feeling and doing with this performance, have that, that data driven discussion now with employees on what’s actually happening and what we’re seeing and just to make, to check in on a regular basis.
CB: That’s a key thing I think is so important. Of course, it’s important when you’re all in the office together to check in with people. And it’s not just about looking at the efficiency of the data of work that’s being done, but to have the human connection, to have those conversations, which can uncover so much more, you might find out that like, are you being overwhelmed? Like, no, look, I could take on twice as much, you know, and great how’d that conversation, no one will readily admit that, but are they going to be twice as much?
VN: Yeah, it is all about this. As you said, we are not all at the office, so you have to have kind of some notifications or something like pushing you to keep in touch with your team members. And of course looking overall the scores, okay. How it looks, are people working too much or is there not enough cooperation, just kind of general metrics so you can get the understanding. But what I really like about the insights is the ability to compare different large groups. Like you might have say, and you have, might have it support persons, and you start comparing how people are working there, or just checking out on based on some meta data that they are okay. We have two groups of people and aunties are performing very well in that in some sense, but here are some gaps like, okay, what’s the cause of that?
CB: Or just recognize that there’s a different subculture within, and that team works differently because they can be, you know, not sharing as much content through the tools of doing things, which might be a flag within the system, but just may indicate that they’re working well in another method and being effective. But again, it’s informing you so that you can go and have that connection.
VN: And, and you mentioned the empathy in the beginning, which is important, I think by insights. It sounded bad. Now I know that. I think what I just said, because it’s, it’s not about finding the guilty ones. It’s the opposite. It’s about okay.
We see, okay, there might be something we could help them with and make things better. And it’s not about competition between these teams, but seeing, okay. Some teams might have some issues. Some people might have, there might be something okay to execute this can help with. So, being like a scrum master, okay, I’m going to help you achieve this one and remove the embodiments and everything like that.
CB: No, I think it’s I’m a big fan of your, you know, the idea of [inaudible] the process of continual improvement, and you’re always looking and saying, let’s say, this is great, and we’re flying high. We’re doing well, we’re performing, we’re achieving our goals. What else can we go and accomplish? How else can we improve? Are we achieving all the high marks? And yet we’re close to burnout across the board. You know, having those conversations, you know, what else can we do better? There’s always going to be room for improvement you know, in that way then, but I think that you do need to, you do need to focus on again, being informed by the data. I love so much about what Veeva announced and so much about is the, the AI is just helping for you to interpret the signals and to flag differences between so that you can go and take action. Cause I think that’s the biggest takeaway from this is that it, it’s not changing the need to go and talk with people. It, the idea is to help prompt you to go and have those conversations you know, more, more actively and to be more timely in checking in on people and teams and projects, and,
VN: And it’s going to help you to do better meetings. It’s going to give you ideas because we are spending lots of time in meetings and there’s some great ideas in that. Okay. Don’t do recurring meetings, make them shorter. Have people have roles in meetings like we talked about in the playbook. And it can help you to make a better playbook as well when you start finding out how we are doing things in the organization.
CB: So I think we have the takeaways from this conversation is one, have a meetings, playbook. I think that’s a big deal. That’s a big piece of changing, evolving the culture of collaboration within your organization.
CB: Any other in India.
VN: Yeah. And as something about habitat, about the hybrid meeting a playbook basically you upgrade whatever practices you had to this new word or this modern world we are living in what else? You kind of miss that other exciting news on, on teams at ignite the mesh. And I know we could talk for another hour about that, but we are not going to do that. And what kind of possibilities it will include when would be a reasonable way when you should be meeting people in virtual reality or enabling that. So there might be some people in virtual reality, some people in a real room and you don’t have to have the headset and all that. It’s very exciting when you start thinking about the innovation process or relaxing, or some kind of have different spaces, whatever. I’m really excited about that stuff.
CB: Because the entire episodes around Microsoft loop around Microsoft mesh even around a, you know, content IQ and a lot of the AI that’s baked in across all of the workloads across Microsoft 365, probably standalone.
VN: Yeah. So the take away, yes, we are steering away from that very easily. Is that to think about, okay. What kind of changes you have to be preparing for? How what’s your playbook do get into the duke start exploring about them. You can already use loop in that sense, in a smaller sense, there’s live components in teams chat it’s in public preview. You can’t do that and start thinking about how we are going to be using that because it’s not something like very, very clear, and it’s going to be in the playbook, how we are going to be getting benefits out of using all this. Right. So that’s one takeaway as well. It’s comes to playbook.
CB: And then Viva would, now that everything is generally available and that there’s new package licensing around the premium components as well. Of course Viva connections is available with, with all the standard you know, at least the licenses.
VN: But whenever SharePoint is available, correct, [inaudible] correct.
CB: But you but, but, so there are options that are out there. People should go take a look at and understand you know, Hey, I, Hey, here’s a question somebody asked, well, is it overwhelming so much around Veeva, but do we need to turn it all on? Is it, is it kind of like, Hey, we have to just enable it all the, the capability and then deal with all the questions and the training, getting people ramped up around that. It’s like, the answer is–
VN: We have a learning. Okay.
VN: No, no, they don’t. We buy insight to something people can explore by themselves, but you don’t have to kind of take that into the formal path. If you don’t want to be of a connections may have auto requirements. Like you have to have to hold them aside. You have to set things up. So for that to be useful. So you might not be using that unless, unless you have the capability to do that. And then of course thinking about the Biba topics, that’s going to be tougher for lots of organizations, there’s a lot of–
CB: Work behind that.
VN: Correct. Yeah. And of course, it’s going to be easier on us. You have your content in English. And so there’s on the Europe side, there’s going to be a much less language support.
CB: What are you talking about, Jessica? We’re talking to English right now. How hard is it? Come on…
VN: Back to content. We have, that’s the thing, what we have produced then unless when they add Phoenix there, I’m sort of, there’s going to be lots of finished companies that are going to be using that, but it’s not yet their friends German, I think in Spanish or the cheese was coming up. So, so some big countries can get help from that. But what I was coming to say about the Biba learning, because it can help to drive these, there’s the fever free version of that. So it’s included basically with more lots of subscriptions and, and you can add your SharePoint content there. And so, so you can add your company content, that’s tailored specifically to you, how, okay, how do we start using these if you are deploying them? So you can use VBA for people to learn about VBA and hypertrophic. And that may be a very good.
CB: Around your playbook, into diva learning and then track people’s progress at having gone through that training. Yeah.
VN: Yeah, of course you need the premium licensing if you want to track people, but on the free one, you can give them some possibilities. You can pilot things, and that’s a big thing, but you mentioned the Beba suite. They announced that they are bundling things together. I just found the beaver, so it into one of the demo tenants. So it’s basically nine bucks a month per user all, all those three ones combined. So you get a 25% discount or something like that. Right. So it’s kind of interesting.
CB: That’s cool. You know, we never in these videos talk about licensing because that thing changes all the time, but yes, out there for taking a look within your region, based on the rough timeframe of when just post ignite, when this video went live and that’s what it was.
VN: That’s true. That’s true. I keep on forgetting that there’s this very online for us.
CB: It’s very evergreen, correct? Yeah. Well, that’s good. Really appreciate your time talking about, I know there’s a lot to talk about under just the Veeva banner, but of course, under the hybrid you know, work category as well, that topic is loaded.
VN: Yes. This time what we had, it’s just up by, we can barely scratch the surface with this one, but well, yes, follow our books because we write a lot in there and you can learn a lot. Definitely helps.
CB: Yeah. Well, that’s very, very much appreciate your time. And again, thank you for everybody for watching. Of course, please subscribe to office hours and you’ll get the notifications about upcoming shows you know, coming to you on the first and third, Wednesday of each month at 11:00 AM Eastern. So thanks for watching.