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MJFChat: Live from Ignite with Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President Jared Spat

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  • Brad Sams

    At Microsoft Ignite 2019, Mary Jo did her first video MJFChat with special guest Jared Spataro. Spataro is the head of the Microsoft 365 platform — which is Microsoft’s Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security subscription bundle.

    Spataro fielded some of her questions about big Ignite announcements like Project Cortex and the new Office Mobile app for iOS and Android. But he also agreed to take questions that you, our readers and listeners, submitted in advance via Twitter. Spataro talked about making security and compliance easier for small/mid-size business customers to incorporate; the pace of adding new M365 features to the Government Cloud; and how Microsoft thinks about incenting customers to move from on-prem to the cloud (plus lots more).

    Here’s a transcript of the live from the Microsoft booth at Ignite, you can find the video replay here.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>00:00</u> Hi, welcome to the first videotaped MJFChat on My name is Mary Jo Foley. I am the community magnate at and today I have a very special guest here at Microsoft ignite. Jared Spataro who is the corporate vice president of Microsoft 365. Jared, thanks for doing this.

    Jared Spataro: <u>00:26</u> Thanks for having me here.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>00:27</u> So we have a number of questions for you that came from our readers. I also added a couple of my own, so I wanted to start out with what I think is one of the biggest announcements here at the show: Project Cortex. When I first read about this, it kind of reminded me of Delve, which basically turned into Microsoft search. I wanted you to explain a little more how this is different from Delve.

    Jared Spataro: <u>00:56</u> First I’ll start by talking about how it’s the same, which is, it is based on the Microsoft Graph and Delve was absolutely kind of like a reference app based on the graph as well. The graph wasn’t as rich at that time. And Delve in some ways was an app looking for a problem. You know, it was surfacing a lot of information, but the question was to what end, what were we trying to do? Well with Project Cortex, we know what problems, like specifically what we’re focused on in a couple of use cases is upscaling and helping people to kind of get up to speed on things that the organization knows about that they may not know about. So that’s kind of these, these cards, these topic cards and topic pages. Then we are very specifically looking at how we can take your content and turn it into what I call an interactive content repository where you can actually interact with it, ask the content questions and it gives you answers back.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>01:47</u> So when I started learning more about this, what impressed me is this is not an app and a service in the traditional sense. There won’t be a Project Cortex client, right?

    Jared Spataro: <u>01:59</u> That’s correct. Yeah, that’s right. The first part to these topic cards, topic pages that the cards themselves show up in all sorts of interfaces, including Outlook and Teams. So it’s kind of in the context of work. I love the topic pages because they’re kind of like a Wikipedia meets AI, you know, they’re automatically authored. There is a place you can go to see these pages together, but we won’t call that the Project Cortex app, you know, be powered essentially by the project cortex technology. And then the work that we’re doing around the interactive document repository. Again, we won’t call it Project Cortex per se. We’ll be very focused on specific business process, helping people to get the most from the tech.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>02:34</u> That’s a great one. So I’m gonna ask a reader question now. ChrisK asked if Microsoft has any plans to use AI to identify things that people do repeatedly in office. So if somebody does a lot of things say with, you know, using Office Lens all the time, are you going to use AI to somehow make suggestions as to how they can have a better workflow?

    Jared Spataro: <u>03:00</u> I love it. It was an excellent suggestion. Like really, really nice suggestion. I would think of it this way. We don’t have any plans right now to do that, but it’s a great feature suggestion. I would also differentiate between AI and automation in that the AI question there is like, can you identify what people were doing? Then what would be even more interesting to us as could we automate some of that? And at the conference this week we introduced what we call office scripts. That’s pretty exciting for us. You know, there’ve been scripting languages, but for a long time people have been wondering what’s happening in VBA, how do we think about macros going forward? This really is our answer for kind of web-based technologies in the future of where we’re headed. So I think it’s a great suggestion, but I’d like to go even further, not just identify what they’re doing. I’d love to automate some of that

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>03:42</u> Okay. I’m going to ask another question from myself. That new Office mobile app that’s coming to iOS and Android. I got a demo of that yesterday and I cannot wait to put that on my Android phone. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and why Microsoft built that?

    Jared Spataro: <u>04:01</u> Yeah, there’s so much behind it. So, you know, when we first went to mobile, the basic use case was I would like to have access to my documents on the go. And we spent a lot of time, you know, OneDrive was a core component of the overall formula and then even Word did some really interesting things, allowing you to kind of see the documents in a way that flowed for your device. That was really great. We have since learned a lot.

    Jared Spataro: <u>04:21</u> I’ll give you one input that is a kind of pretty practical and tactical input, but that means a lot. As we’ve continued to work with OEM manufacturers of phones, they’ve said, Hey, we love what you’re doing, but we find that loading up three different apps, for instance, a little bit cumbersome. Could you think about doing that as we worked more with customers, they have the same thing. You know, I love word Excel, PowerPoint together and my documents, but it turns out I think of that all as office. That’s the way I’ve been trained to think of it.

    Finally, the thing that I love the most about the New Office app is this idea of adding actions. You know, we call it micro productivity and we’re just getting started with those. That essentially takes good advantage of the affordances of the hardware on your phone and says, Hey, you can scan documents for it, you can sign documents for it. We have that wonderful demo that we’re always doing where you take a picture of an Excel spreadsheet or a table and turn it into an Excel spreadsheet. That is micro productivity to us and that’s the other half of the Office equate that Office app equation. There’s so much there for us.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>05:15</u> Yeah. I really liked the productivity suggestions because I’m always forgetting I can do certain things, especially things like automatically turn a document into a PDF that I can sign. Yeah. I always think, Oh I have to go home and you actually use my printer to scan it and then I can print it out and sign it, but I don’t have to do that.

    Jared Spataro: <u>05:35</u> Powerful. Very, very powerful.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>05:37</u> Okay. Reader Bugrahan on Twitter asked if you’re going to have any more new incentives for academic institutions who want to move to the cloud.

    Jared Spataro: <u>05:49</u> Well, I don’t know of any specific incentives that I’ll be creating. You know, the, the biggest incentive that we’re trying to create is cloud based services that just make irresistible so that people kind of feel like, boy, I want that. That’s where all of our effort and energy is going into right now. So now I don’t know of any specific financial incentives or anything that we’re doing.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>06:08</u> I have a few different readers ask me what Microsoft is doing, if anything, to simplify how SMBs can manage security and compliance within Microsoft 365. So we’re not asking you to show us the whole roadmap here while I would ask you to, but could you just give any kind of statements of general direction or hints for people who have found that to be a cumbersome thing to undertake?

    Jared Spataro: <u>06:34</u> Yes, they are exactly right. Essentially what we’ve done historically is take our enterprise level security compliance, bring it down is often too complex. The vehicle, I’ll start with the first one. The vehicle, the vehicle for us to do this is a, is a product that we called Microsoft 365 business. So sometimes we’ll refer to as M365B but it’s our business skew. This is where we are taking those enterprise capabilities and we’re working to simplify them and we’re making them specific for SMB. So the great underlying technology, we’re doing a lot of work around administration, management, setup, ongoing monitoring, those types of things. So that is the product, you’ll see us do this work that the reader’s asking about.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>07:12</u> Great. We have another reader question from Eric Beehler who asked, why does it take so long for Microsoft to bring so many of its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 features to the government cloud? I get this question a lot on Twitter too. When you, when Microsoft announced as something super cool, all the government cloud people are kind of like, yeah, but when are we going to get it? So the question is, is there any way or plan that you can reduce that delta time between when commercial customers get it and when government cloud customers get it?

    Jared Spataro: <u>07:46</u> Yes. The short answer is yes, and we are working on, but let me explain a little bit more. It isn’t just a matter of saying, Oh, we’ve got a feature here and now let’s put it into the government cloud.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>07:55</u> Right.

    Jared Spataro: <u>07:55</u> There is a process that we go through that entails, you know, doing a detailed assessment of kind of what the new features are and then we actually look at the dependencies that those features have. Then we go through an audit process, make sure we understand anything that needs to be addressed. Then we actually move the features into the cloud. Then we do a second audit to make sure that everything’s right and then we go through one more check to make sure everything is working. So it is a bit of a, you know, it’s a bit of a process. We are absolutely very sensitive to the feedback. They’re exactly right. We are trying to shorten that as much as possible. It will never be kind of simultaneous launch. Just simply because of the process we have to go through. But we are working to shorten it as much as possible.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>08:32</u> That’s good. I’m glad I can tell readers that because I get that question a lot. Reader Robert Suspiro asked when will Teams and conference room hardware be complete? He feels like some of the features he needs, to do Teams meetings with specific hardware may be not all there yet. And I also saw that Microsoft did make an interesting announcement this week about a new managed meeting room service. That’s not for everybody, that’s for very big customers, but still, I’m sure this is top of mind for Microsoft too because you want to be known as a service that makes meetings better. So what are you doing there specifically for someone who feels like not all of the Team meeting room stuff is there yet?

    Jared Spataro: <u>09:19</u> Yeah, I would agree. I would say we have been in some ways it is a nice problem to have in that Teams has just blown up for us over the course of the last two years. And so this part of the business that is where he, with our hardware partners to ensure that every kind of component within a broad portfolio is there, is not quite there. We’re working on it. Here at Ignite, in fact I was just was touring our booth and we have a great layout of devices from all of the device partners that we work with and they’re working really hard, as fast as we can get them produced as well. I’d say the only thing holding us back as literally the physics of getting it all done, we also introduced, you mentioned the manage meeting service. I love that we also introduced a new type of device that we call collaboration bars here at the conference. It’s a smaller all in one device that allows you to take any screen of any size and turn it into a conference meeting space just by plugging it into a network and to the screen itself.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>10:10</u> What I didn’t even know about this. Where is this?

    Jared Spataro: <u>10:12</u> Yeah, you can, you can actually go see it right over in the booth. It’s fantastic. We have two devices, both that are on sale now.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>10:19</u> So it’s not something Microsoft itself makes?

    Jared Spataro: <u>10:22</u> No, no. It’s something that we did with partners, but what we found is that there are a lot of these screens all over the place that are not touch screens and they aren’t quite necessarily proper conference rooms. People want to create these touchdown spaces and our customers have been asking us for just this new class of devices. They’ve said this would be nice, we’d like it to fit in at a very reasonable price point and it’s very affordable.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>10:42</u> Okay, cool. I didn’t know something I didn’t know about here. I would also like you to talk a little bit about something that was announced during Ignite called the Microsoft 365 business voice. It’s a service first for UK and Canada I believe. It’s about bringing, or creating, a phone system that’s completely cloud based. So I would like to know why Microsoft built that and what your expansion plans are for that. Is it going to come to the U S as well?

    Jared Spataro: <u>11:11</u> Yeah, so this is specifically designed for SMBs. We can kind of harken back to my answer related to security compliance where oftentimes what we’ve done is take the great enterprise features and just bring them straight down that are too complex. We actually did our homework this time and determine, Hey we love this voice capability that comes as a part of Teams. We’re going to have to simplify things in order to make it work for SMBs. So there is a cap on it up to 300 seats, so it’s a skewed that it can be bought up to 300 seats. It brings together phone system and conferencing together with your ability to buy minutes from us if you’d like as well. You can also buy minutes from a telecom vendor and plug that in. Either way is fine, but it is dramatically simplified so the simplification come in admin. So a very simple, easy setup and administration and then also an onboarding step for end users.

    Jared Spataro: <u>12:00</u> So we’re very focused on how quick it is to get up and running. So the biggest thing for us here is in the past you may have seen us like do this big announce like Tada, it’s here. And what we’re learning is like this is a place that we’re going to have to learn the formula a little bit. And so we decided to start with these smaller markets where we could really get our arms around and work with partners very carefully. And then as we start to feel like we know what we’re doing because we’re finding that this product to get it right isn’t just the technology, it’s the partnerships with telecoms is those folks who know how to go in and get it set up. Once we get that right, we will expand.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>12:31</u> We have one more question. This is kind of a zinger, reader, Jason Perlow who happens to be a friend of mine, but I didn’t ask him to ask this question. He said, I am a partner. I would like to know what Microsoft’s pitch is to get these people who are still on premises hosted exchange to go to the cloud. He’s like, I don’t want them to stay on premises. I don’t care what they want. I want Microsoft to give me a pitch that I can make to them to get them convinced that they should go to the cloud.

    Jared Spataro: <u>13:05</u> This is Jason, who asked.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>13:05</u> Yes.

    Jared Spataro: <u>13:06</u> Yes, Jason, I’m with Jason. Jason, wherever you are, we’re with you. There is this long tail of hosted exchange out there. Right. And you know, the things that we’ve been doing is trying to really make the product better and better and better and really have the value prop sing for us. We’re also trying to make it a part of this broader approach to life that we call Microsoft 365 that I know you know a lot about. Right now, we’re not doing a lot to necessarily go in and create sticks to push people off. You know, you have carrots and sticks. We’ve just decided that the carrot is the way to go here. And so we’re doing our very best with the product and everything that we do around go to market. I definitely sympathize with Jason out there where we would love to see them move as well because we just feel like it’s a better experience. It’s more economical lots of reasons to do it. I am meeting here at the show with a lot of people who are helping me understand why they’re still in that situation. So we’re trying to make sure we go deep with them. Right.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>13:57</u> I feel like Microsoft’s pitch right now is we’ll meet the customer where they are. If they want to stay on premises, we’re not going to pull the rug out.

    Jared Spataro: <u>14:04</u> That that is correct. I think that makes us different from many cloud vendors out there and that we want to meet you where you are and say again, if I could give carrot and sticks, we’re going to be all about carrots here and all of these types scenarios.

    Mary Jo Foley: <u>14:15</u> Jared, thank you so much for doing this. It was really fun talking to you as always. Likewise, thank you very much. And this is your first MJFchat completed. Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft 365: here we are.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Brad Sams.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Brad Sams.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Mary Jo Foley.


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