What does Copilot mean for Microsoft 365 IT administration? How can Microsoft 365 certifications help you along your career? We take a look at these burning questions in this month’s issue of the Microsoft 365 Admin Digest. There’s also a spotlight on the latest admin experience with Viva Topics, a highlight on integrated apps within and outside the Microsoft 365 admin center, and an overview of the new Intune suite. Bonus for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) – check out how Business Assist frees you to focus on running your business and learn about how some of the latest updates for Microsoft Teams ensure users can stay in the flow of work.
Putting the AI in (A)dm(I)n
To open this month’s blog, we want to recap the exciting announcement on March 16 where Microsoft 365 Copilot was introduced to the world. In case you missed it, Microsoft 365 Copilot combines the power of large language models (LLMs), Microsoft Graph, and Microsoft 365 Apps. Currently in limited Private Preview, Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways:
- It works alongside you, embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more—to unleash creativity, unlock productivity, and uplevel skills.
- Through a new experience called Business Chat, which works across the LLM, Microsoft 365 apps, and your data to take in natural language prompts like, “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy” and generates a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails, and chat threads.
In introducing Copilot, the goal is for everyone to get a sense for what’s possible when AI is used to help us be even more deliberate and impactful with our time spent on work. In the context of administering Microsoft 365 in the new era of artificial intelligence:
- Microsoft remains committed to our principles for data security and privacy. The new Copilot experiences do not change that. All your organization’s security, compliance, and privacy policies and processes will be inherited when Copilot is integrated.
- Built-in controls monitor for inappropriate uses, with mitigations in place both for prompts and filtering generated content in accordance with guidelines described in our published Code of Conduct.
- The Copilot experience is currently in Private Preview, but as more of these services become broadly available, admins will be provided with technical documentation about controls and policies. Check out Administration of Microsoft 365 in the new era of AI for more, including the FAQ.
More details will undoubtedly be released on Copilot and we’ll provide close coverage on all things related to AI and Microsoft 365 administration in future blog posts in this series.
Upskilling – Evolving Microsoft 365 certifications
With one of the goals of integrating Copilot into Microsoft apps being to remove busy work and give users time to be more productive, expect to see a corresponding renewed emphasis on upskilling. To help you learn more, here’s a recently published blog that outlines the latest updates on a few Microsoft 365 certifications.
These certifications, available through Microsoft Learn, are beneficial for several reasons. For admins, they provide professional validation of your knowledge and skills in using Microsoft tools and technologies. They can also help you stand out if you’re vying for a new position or trying to advance your career within your current organization. These certifications are something Microsoft has invested in, to help you learn and thrive at your job.
Updated Viva Topics admin experience
At the end of March, an updated admin experience for Viva Topics began rolling out. Accessible through the Microsoft 365 admin center, it’s designed to be a more intuitive and connected admin experience to help you set up and configure Viva Topics. Read more about the new Microsoft Viva admin experience.
Did you know you can delegate administrative permissions for Viva to specific individuals? Sharing permissions and responsibility for Viva administration can free you from certain tasks while maintaining oversight and control. Read more about admin roles and tasks in Microsoft Viva.
Connecting your digital ecosystem – Microsoft 365 apps
In the vein of collaboration (and delegation) in the spirit of focused productivity, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight the ecosystem of apps supported in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Through the left navigation menu, select Settings > Integrated app to browse the myriad third-party apps available to your organization. Third-party apps can help boost productivity by streamlining workflows, improve data accuracy, and enhance functionality of Microsoft 365.
There are also a number of Microsoft 365 apps on third-party platforms that provide the same enhanced value as integrated apps. One app that was recently updated is our Microsoft 365 support integration with ServiceNow. Now, you can integrate Microsoft 365 self-help content with your ServiceNow instance so you can resolve incidents, find reported issues, and complete tasks using Microsoft recommended solutions. You can also easily escalate to Microsoft support agents if needed. The app also integrated ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent to provide users a step-by-step experience to guide them to a right solution. As you review your digital tool stack, consider how it might integrate with Microsoft 365, so you’re not inadvertently creating more steps in your workflow.
Gaining greater efficiency with Microsoft Intune Suite
Following Microsoft’s vision and intent to launch a series of advanced endpoint management solutions, earlier this month we announced the launch of the Microsoft Intune Suite. Building on Intune as a trusted and industry-leading endpoint management solution, this new plan brings together advanced, cross-platform capabilities that can help you simplify endpoint management, increase your security posture, reduce your total cost of ownership by eliminating the need for multiple point solutions, and improve user experience with fewer agents.
Read the Microsoft Intune Suite announcement blog and watch the Microsoft Mechanics video for a detailed overview of what’s included.
Small and medium businesses be mighty
Starting a small business can be both rewarding and challenging. There are a number of initiatives Microsoft is working on to develop tools and services that are designed specifically with small businesses in mind.
First up is Business Assist for Microsoft 365. A great support plan great for very small businesses, Business Assist gives you and your employees 24/7 access to dedicated experts, a single support channel for hardware and software, and personalized assistance setting up and onboarding your business to Microsoft 365. This service not only takes the heavy lifting out of setting up and administrating your Microsoft 365 environment, but also proactively works with you to ensure you’re getting the most out of your subscription. Less time spent maintaining your tools means more time focusing on growing your business. Learn more about Business Assist here.
For organizations with 25 users or less that use Teams, it’s highly encouraged that admins pin the Microsoft 365 Admin app to their Teams app, available for download in the Teams App store. The Admin app enables users with the Global admin role to discover and use helpful features, update most frequently used settings, and perform core management tasks across Teams and Microsoft 365 without having to go to the Microsoft 365 admin center. You can add and remove users, manage licenses, update settings for teams, meetings, messages and more, directly from Microsoft Teams, saving you time and effort in the process.
Staying on the topic of Teams, there are a couple more benefits we think are worth highlighting. The first is the Teams device store accessible to Teams admins. Particularly important of note is that there is preferred pricing for businesses that includes expert deployment support for Teams Rooms devices for 90 days. Devices purchased through the store will already have Teams installed when shipped to you, already be integrated with Teams device management, and the device MAC ID is automatically added to your tenant in the Teams admin center. This enables automatic remote provisioning, and simplified setup and installation. Currently available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., the store is designed for a seamless purchasing experience with competitive prices, free shipping, hassle-free returns, and flexible payment methods. Admins can check out the store here.
To close out this section on SMB, make sure you bookmark our Microsoft 365 help for small businesses YouTube video library. The team will continue adding new content to this channel that is relevant to SMBs, so we highly recommend subscribing to the channel so you can stay up to date with the latest content!
Bonus Teams update
Lastly, a quick word on Microsoft Teams Zero-touch App Install feature, currently in public preview rollout, that allows admins and users to streamline the management and usage of apps within their organizations. Zero-touch App Install automatically installs apps on Teams for users after they sign into SaaS apps using Azure AD credentials, while respecting app access controls set by admins. This helps reduce manual processes and administrative costs. Admins can seamlessly add apps that users have used outside of Teams, maximizing the value of existing SaaS licenses. With Zero-touch App Install, users avoid searching for apps and can continue to use the same tools within Teams to stay in the flow of work without context switching.
Zero-touch App Install is currently rolling out in public preview and available only for a limited set of Teams apps. Public preview customers are notified in Microsoft 365 Message center upon rollout to their tenant. If you are not in public preview, you will need to either join Teams Public Preview and then submit a feature preview request, or consent to a single preview program for your entire organization. For more information, please visit Zero-touch App Install of Teams apps by admins | Microsoft Learn.
Join the Microsoft 365 Conference
Microsoft will once again be a Diamond Sponsor at the Microsoft 365 Conference in Las Vegas, May 2-4. It can now be revealed that there will be a full content track devoted to AI at this year’s event led by engineers and experts from across Microsoft. Join us as we dive into Microsoft’s recent AI announcements, including Microsoft 365 Copilot and Copilot in Power Apps. Furthermore, we will have sessions specifically for IT admins. The event will feature over 150 sessions led by Microsoft executives and Subject Matter Experts (SME), including keynotes, breakout sessions, Ask Microsoft Anything (AMA) events, and workshops. Read more and register here: https://aka.ms/m365conf23.
More ways to stay updated
While we continue sharing highlights and insights that benefit IT admins through this blog series, consider subscribing to updates on specific items in the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and look out for communications published in the Message center in the Microsoft 365 admin center. We also highlight new feature releases and enhancements released each month in our What’s new in the Microsoft 365 admin center? series.
Comment below if there are topics within IT administration or change management that you’d like us to explore!
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