Tag Archives: collaborative

Mobile Sharing & Companion Experiences for Microsoft Teams Meetings – Microsoft Garage

Research into Computer-Supported Collaborative Work has explored problems of disengagement in video meetings and device conflict since the 1990s, but good solutions that could work at scale have been elusive. Microsoft Research Cambridge UK had been working on these issues when the 2015 Hackathon arose as an opportunity to highlight for the rest of the company that just a few simple and dynamic device combinations might provide users with the means to solve the issues themselves.

While we had explored some research prototypes in late 2014 and early 2015, for the Hackathon we decided to use a vision video with the goal of getting the attention of the Skype product group, because we knew that the idea would have the most impact as an infrastructural feature of an existing product rather than as a new stand-alone product. We called the video “Skype Unleashed” to connote breaking free of the traditional one person per endpoint model.

team in a conference room
Turning the hackathon video into a working proof-of-concept

When we won the Business category, our prize was meeting with the sponsor of the Business category, then-COO Kevin Turner.  We scrambled to build a proof-of-concept prototype, which at first we jokingly referred to as “Skype Skwid”, a deliberate misspelling of “squid”, because it was like a body that had lots of tentacles that could reach out to different other things. However, we realized that we needed an official project name, so we became “Project Wellington”. This was a related inside joke, because the largest squid in the world is the Colossal Squid, and the largest specimen in the world is in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa… in Wellington, New Zealand.

So as Project Wellington we went to meet Kevin Turner, who also invited Gurdeep Singh Pall, then-CVP for Skype, in November 2015. Both immediately saw the relevance of the concepts and Gurdeep connected us to Brian MacDonald’s incubation project that would become Microsoft Teams.

Brian also understood right away that Companion Experiences could be an innovative market differentiator for meetings and a mobile driver for Teams. He championed the integration of our small Cambridge group with his Modern Meetings group as a loose v-team. The Modern Meetings group was exceptionally welcoming, graciously showing us the ropes of productization and taking on the formidable challenge of helping us socialize the need for changes at all levels of the product, from media stack, middle tier, and all clients. We, in turn, learned a lot about the cadence of production, scoping, aligning with the needs of multiple roadmaps, and the multitude of issues required to turn feature ideas into releasable code.Through 2016 and 2017 we worked on design iterations, usability testing, and middle tier and client code. We were thrilled when first glimpses of roving camera and proximity joining were shown at Build 2017, and then announced as officially rolling out at Enterprise Connect 2018.

a group of people in a conference room
The combined research and product team

We are very excited to see these features released. We are also excited to close the research loop by evaluating our thesis that dynamic device combinations will improve hybrid collaboration in video meetings, and doing research ‘in the wild’ at a scale unimaginable by most research projects. Microsoft is one of only a handful of institutions that can make research possible that will improve the productivity of millions of people daily. So as well as releasing product features, we are exceptionally proud of the model of collaboration itself. And, indeed, we are continuing to collaborate with Microsoft Teams even after these features are released, as we now have a tremendous relationship with a product group that understands how we work and values our help.

To come full circle, then, it was Satya Nadella’s emphasis on the Hackathon as a valuable use of company time, and The Garage’s organization of the event itself, that allowed ideas well outside a product group to be catapulted to the attention of people who could see its value and then provide a path to making it happen.

If you would like to find out more about this project, connect with Sean Rintel on LinkedIn or follow @seanrintel on twitter.

Office 365 admin roles give users the power of permissions

When a business moves to the Office 365 platform, its collaborative capabilities can go beyond joint efforts on…

team projects — it also extends into the IT department by letting users handle some tasks traditionally reserved for administrators.

Office 365 admin roles let IT teams deputize trusted users to perform certain business functions or administrative jobs. While it can be helpful to delegate some administrative work to an end user to reduce help desk tickets, it’s important to limit the number of end users with advanced capabilities to reduce security risks.

Organizations that plan to move to Office 365 should explore the administrative options beforehand. Companies already on the platform should review administrative rights and procedures on a regular basis.

Two levels of administrative permissions

By default, new accounts created in the Office 365 admin center do not have administrative permissions. An Office 365 user account can have two levels of administrative permissions: customized administrator role and global administrator role.

In a customized administrator role, the user account has one or more individual administrator roles. Available Office 365 admin roles include billing administrator, compliance administrator, Dynamics 365 administrator, Exchange administrator, password administrator, Skype for Business administrator, Power BI service administrator, service administrator, SharePoint administrator and user management administrator.

Some Office 365 admin roles provide application-specific permissions, while others provide service-specific permissions. For example, end users granted an Exchange administrator role can manage Exchange Online, while users with the password administrator role can reset passwords, monitor service health and manage service requests.

Customized administrator configurations benefit both large and small organizations. In large organizations, it’s common for separate administrators to manage different services, such as Exchange, Skype for Business and SharePoint. Conversely, small organizations typically have fewer administrators who manage multiple — if not all — systems. In either scenario, if additional help is needed for certain tasks, you can assign appropriate administrative roles to the most qualified users, allowing them to make modifications to the tenancy.

The global administrator role provides complete control over Office 365 services. It’s the only administrator role that can assign users with Office 365 admin roles. The first account created in a new Office 365 tenancy automatically gets the global administrator role. An organization can give the global administrator role to multiple user accounts, but it’s best to restrict this role to as few accounts as possible.

Managing Yammer requires careful planning because it’s separate in the Yammer admin center. The highest level of administrative permissions in Yammer is the verified admin role. An organization can give all Office 365 global administrators this role, but regular users with a Yammer verified role shouldn’t have it.

Security and compliance permissions

An organization must also decide how to configure permissions in the Security & Compliance Center. These permissions use the same role-based access control (RBAC) permissions model that on-premises Exchange and Exchange Online use.

The Security & Compliance Center features eight role groups that allow a user to perform administrative tasks related to security and compliance. For example, members of the eDiscovery Manager role group receive case management and compliance search roles that allow the user to create, delete and edit eDiscovery cases. These users also can perform search queries across mailboxes.

Office 365 provides 29 different roles that an organization can add to role groups, and each role holds different security and compliance permissions. This comprehensive range of role groups and available roles means that an organization must determine the most appropriate security and compliance permissions model.

It’s important to understand differences in role groups and plan permissions accordingly. For example, both the Security & Compliance Center and Exchange Online have role groups named organization management, but they are separate entities and serve different permissions purposes.

Multifactor authentication matters

Enabling Azure multifactor authentication adds another layer of protection around Office 365 accounts with administrator access. Administrators provide proof of their identity via a second authentication factor, such as a phone call acknowledgement, text message verification code or phone app notification, each time they log into the Office 365 account.

If the business uses Azure multifactor authentication, it should educate administrators and service desk staff to ensure everyone knows operational and service desk procedures involved with the security service.

Keep tabs on administrator actions

As administrators make changes to the systems and grant or revoke permissions to users and other administrators, you’ll need a way to review these actions.

In the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, an organization can enable audit logging and search the log for details of administrator activities from the last 90 days. This log tracks a wide range of administrator actions, such as user deletion, password resets, group membership changes and eDiscovery activities.

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