Big Announcements from Ignite 2019

Microsoft’s Ignite is the place to learn from the experts, connect with your community, and explore the latest technology. The platform connects over 25,000 individuals focused on software development, security, architecture, and IT. Attendees explore new hands-on experiences that will help them innovate in areas such as security, cloud, and hybrid infrastructure and development.

Diversity and inclusion are core elements of the Microsoft mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In support of that commitment and with 1628 sessions, Ignite 2019 was proud to host events accessible to everyone.

I have cherry picked sessions across the following topics that should of interest to you as project managers going into 2020:

  1. Productivity
  2. Project Management
  3. Team Management

Let’s start at the beginning though. Microsoft Ignite started with a visionary key note by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.


He shared a comprehensive look at the future of enterprise technology. A few key announcements and demos included: Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Arc, and Azure Quantum. Satya shares an innovative use of glass as a storage device for Warner Brothers. Microsoft 365 announcements included Project Cortex, Play My Emails in Outlook, and a new Teams Chat button in Outlook. As CEO, Satya invited us to some time getting excited about new Microsoft technology and learn how to get things done faster. Watch this video at



Power Automate

Power Automate, previously Microsoft Flow, is a unified platform with API and UI based automation for enterprise customers, including business, technical, and end users. It includes a new set of robotic process automation capabilities called UI flows, now available in public preview.

UI flows enables enterprise businesses to automate repetitive tasks and legacy applications to simplify workflows in a scalable, secure way. Take a closer look at UI flows at


Microsoft Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agents, a low code and no code bot building solution, is now in the public preview phase. It enables anyone in an organization, regardless of technical ability, to create and deploy intelligent virtual agents (external or internal facing).

Built on the Azure Bot Framework, the solution includes AI driven insights to help users create and improve conversational agents for personalized customer service. Power Virtual Agents became generally available December 1, 2019. Learn more about Power Virtual Agents and sign up for the preview here.

AI Builder

AI Builder is introducing a new set of pre-built models that add intelligence to the Power Platform and are accessible via Power Apps and Power Automate. AI Builder is the no-code AI capability for Power Apps and Power Automate. It was made generally available on October 1, 2019. For business users, having prebuilt AI models means they don’t have to gather data, build, or train their models.

The following were demonstrated at Ignite

  1. Key phrase extraction identifies the main talking points in a text document.
  2. Language detection identifies the predominant language of a text document.
  3. Text recognition, which uses OCR detection of embedded printed and handwritten text.
  4. Sentiment analysis, which detects positive or negative sentiment in social media, customer reviews, or any text data.

More about AI Builder is available at


Power BI Security Enhancements

For Microsoft customers, empowering every employee with Power BI is critical for them to ensure that they better protect their data no matter where it is accessed.  At Ignite, Power BI data protection capability was announced. These enhancements take advantage of Microsoft world-class security capabilities, enabling organizations to:

  1. Classify and label sensitive Power BI data using the same familiar Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels used in Office.
  2. Enforce governance policies even when Power BI content is exported to Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF, to help ensure data is protected even when it leaves Power BI.
  3. Monitor and protect user activity on sensitive data in real time with alerts, session monitoring, and risk remediation using Microsoft Cloud App Security.
  4. Empower security administrators who use data protection reports and security investigation capabilities with Microsoft Cloud App Security to enhance organizational oversight.

Now in the preview phase, these capabilities engage when Power BI is paired with Microsoft Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security.

More about this new capability is available at


Teams and Power Platform

Bringing Power Platform applications to Teams means users’ dashboards, apps, and automations are easier to find, share, and use on an everyday basis.

Power Apps creators can now publish their apps directly to their company’s app library in Teams, making them more discoverable to users and improving the experience of adding these apps to Teams. Users will be able to pin Power Apps to their Teams left rail, providing easy access to regularly used apps.

New triggers and actions for Power Automate are now available within Teams. These capabilities streamline the completion of common team and personal tasks, such as scheduling focus time and automating document approvals.

New features coming to Power BI in 2020 include the ability to create rich adaptive cards in Teams conversations, which help users see and act on their data. An improved Power BI tab experience in Teams will also make selecting the correct reports easier than ever.

Read more by clicking


Project Management

The New Microsoft Project

The new Microsoft Project is here! The new Project, built on the Microsoft Power Platform, can help your teams be more collaborative through Microsoft 365 tools and Teams, and work flexibly while you get the successful outcomes and compliance you and your organization need.

The following Ignite sessions on the topic are worth the watch:


Automate Your Tasks with Project, Planner, and Microsoft Automate

Research shows that people can only complete three to seven tasks every day. What you chose to work on really matters. Microsoft Automate helps to automate your Microsoft Project and Microsoft Planner tasks to customize workflow for your organization using Planner connector and CDS connector.

Learn more by watching the Ignite session on the topic at


Extending the New Microsoft Project with the Power Platform

With the new Project data being stored by Microsoft Common Data Service, Teams can work in a way that enterprises get the results they need. The Ignite session demonstrated how the Microsoft Power Platform enables you to analyze data with visual BI tools, act on the data by building apps in hours, not months that easily connect to data, and automate tasks through your favorite apps.

More at


Get More Done with Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner can help your team manage work and deliver great results. Whether you are new to Planner, consider yourself an expert, or you wish to hear about the future roadmap of Planner, you need to watch this session ( You’ll learn how to use Planner and the recent new enhancements such as “Export to Excel” and “To-Do integration.”


Reporting and Dashboards

With the Project for the web Power BI Template, Microsoft is enabling the Project Partners and Admins to build Power BI reports using Project data stored in CDS (Common Data Service). The advantage of this is that it enables their Project teams and customers to help get visibility to Project KPIs.

More at


Team Management

Tips from the Field for a Successful Teams Roll Out

When the adoption of Microsoft Teams is successful in your organization, the amount of conversations and notifications can increase rapidly, and you might find it difficult to manage this. This is a logical reaction, of course, because Teams is new for you, and you have not yet embedded the use of Teams in your daily work and habits. Ignite offered a session that provided ten tips and best practices, based on real customer project experiences, to bring more structure to the use of Microsoft Teams in your daily work pattern. It is also worth the watch.

Click to view this one.


Adaptive Cards

Reach your users with beautiful UI, wherever they are, using the backend systems you’re already comfortable with.

Adaptive Cards provide a new set of efficiencies in your composable, data-backed, business and enterprise solutions, helping you to turn any data into an interactive and delightful experience that can be delivered to Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and even your own applications. Accelerate workflows for your users — and even your developers — by taking advantage of a shared template service, deep Microsoft Graph and Flow integration, and a rich suite of tooling and SDKs for every major platform.

Watch this session at


Best Practices on Training First line Workers to adopt Microsoft Teams

Another session offering interesting and useful information on MS Teams was It answered the questions of what should be especially noted when training and coaching your first line workers to use Teams. Also, how will they best adopt Teams into their work routines? And how to best train them to maximize adoption and ensure the success of deployment?


Tasks at Microsoft

Find out about the exciting new initiative which helps you to find your tasks where you need them, regardless of where you captured them. In this session, we learned how to streamline all tasks from Outlook, To-Do, Planner, Office documents, Project, and Teams into a single list.

Watch this session at


You Do Meetings?

In this one (, we saw how Outlook could recommend a meeting time, how to quickly create a meeting from the calendar surface, how to prepare for a meeting with information from Meeting Insights, and finally and effortlessly how to find the right room for your meeting! Do you need to schedule a meeting with someone outside or your organization? Lots of options there, too!


Stop Organizing your Own Meetings

Today’s enterprise employees are losing productivity and focus dealing with mundane tasks. With Scheduler for Office 365, Microsoft shows us how to employ Cortana as a virtual scheduling assistant and hand off the tedious task of scheduling meetings to save time and focus on real work. Cortana can schedule meetings for you with anyone inside or outside of your organization, and automatically confirm the best time that works for everyone—even book a conference room if you need one. It’s like having your own executive assistant.

Learn what scheduler can do at


Will Microsoft Teams Take Over from Email?

Some predict that Microsoft Teams will replace email within large organizations. It’s certainly true that Teams makes it easy to share information between tenant users and guests, but things get more difficult when external communication is the focus. This session from Ignite ( discusses how to approach a deployment of Teams when your organization has used Exchange and Outlook for many years.

So, what’s your favorite topic?


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Written by Sai Prasad
B Sai Prasad, PMP®, PMI-SP®, MVP Project, Senior Manager - Learning & Development, has been with service provider Cognizant Technology Solutions India Pvt. Ltd since 2001 where he was named winner of the company's Global Trainer of the Year award. He has spent 13,000-plus hours in mentoring, coaching, training 9000-plus practitioners on project management topics ranging from project management concepts, project risk management, project scheduling, Microsoft Office Project® to software estimation techniques. He is a Champion of Project Management from PMI India and also Associate Champion Advisory Committee, PMI India. He is awarded the Champion of the Quarter (Q4 – 2012) and Delivery Excellence Award (2011-2012, 2012-2013) from PMI India. He's also the editor of the project management book, Forecast Scheduling with Project 2010. He is a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Project 2010. He is the leader of the MPUG Chennai India Group to promote and help practitioners on how to effectively use Microsoft Office Project.
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