Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series Episode 7: Power Platform and Microsoft Graph

In the final episode of the series, Stephen and Paul discuss Power Apps, Power Automate, and the Microsoft Graph, and reflect on what they’ve learned since the pandemic has forced us all into a new normal of working remotely.


Paul Thurrott (00:06):
Welcome back everybody to the Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series. I’m Paul Thurrott and I’m here as always with Stephen Rose, Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Modern Workplace, Teams and Platform. That is a long title.

Stephen Rose (00:18):
It’s ridiculous. I’m just the, IT Pro Teams guy, much easier.

Paul Thurrott (00:24):
This is not the penultimate episode. This is literally the final episode.

Stephen Rose (00:29):
It is.

Paul Thurrott (00:29):
Started this back in January. We’ve gone through various aspects of Microsoft 365 over the past few months. And today we’re going to hit on some parts of the Power Platform, including Power Apps, Power Automate, as well as the Microsoft Graph, and then, you know, I’d like to have a kind of a look back. Obviously the world has changed a lot, which is kind of amazing and you know, see what we’ve learned over the past.

Stephen Rose (00:53):
I think people watch these episodes in order and see our hair change. And now go back to kind of the way it was, it’s interesting.

Paul Thurrott (01:00):
A flood of COVID haircuts have occurred. That’s right. So, kind of back to normal in some ways, but not in many ways.

Stephen Rose (01:07):

Paul Thurrott (01:09):
So with regards to the Power Platform, this encompasses a bunch of Microsoft solutions. Let’s see if I can get this straight Power BI, Power Virtual Agents, Power Apps, and Power Automate. We’re going to talk about Power Apps and Power Automate largely today. You may remember Power Automate as Flow. That name has changed to kind of bring it in house with the branding. And I’m pretty excited about both of these things, actually, I have to say. And this is kind of a neat way to wrap it up because in many ways Power Apps, Power Automate, and Microsoft Graph, which we’re also going to talk about. I think of as kind of the glue of Microsoft 365.

Stephen Rose (01:46):
It is. Yeah, and if we look at Teams sort of being the new productivity platform that we’re building upon the next sort of Windows, where people will be spending most of their time, Power Automate and Power Apps, and these things really allow you to not just extend the work that you’re doing, but it really allows you to create super easy shortcuts and quick apps. These low code, no code solutions for people to be able to get more done in different ways. And the thing I always tell people is, for those who were really into InfoPath back in the day, this is sort of replaced InfoPath, because you would use InfoPath for approvals. Now, why not just use, you know, Power Apps and bring it right into Teams and do it right there. So it’s sort of replacing that void, but adding so much more to it on so many different levels and making it intelligent by bringing the Graph into it.

Paul Thurrott (02:41):
So how does this work, with Power Apps is a, I guess we described it as kind of low code, no code environment aimed literally at end-users, not just at administrative or IT Pros. People can write their own apps. And that sounds daunting, especially to anyone who has not written an app and if you ever try to do so in a formal programming environment, it is in fact daunting, but,

Stephen Rose (03:05):

Paul Thurrott (03:06):
How does this work in the context of Power Apps? What makes this thing different or special?

Stephen Rose (03:11):
Yeah. Well actually let’s just show it. So over here, I’m going to share out, so we’ll let my browser, take a moment and all right. So here we are. We have, you know, we have a Power Apps site and I have the Power Automate site up and what’s great is you have, where do you want to start? Do you want to bring in SharePoint data, Excel, or even a simple SQL database? You can bring in a blank one, you can have some models already built and then there are great learnings. So we can go in and I can say, Hey, I want to create an app. I want to create it blank.

Stephen Rose (03:47):
You give it a name. I’m going to call it Test. And you get to pick whether this is a tablet-based app or phone, and that’s going to set up the appropriate sort of, you know, level and how it’s going to look. And the right templates are going to come up and it’ll start to do a lot of this work for you, which is great. You can see, we already have a bunch of templates that you can start with. You’re going to pick where your data source is. And then once this loads up, this becomes a really easy way to say, I, you know, work at a car dealership and I’m looking for you know, different tires so I can create a form. I can create a gallery. So let’s say I want to create a gallery with that. It’ll come up and it’ll say, okay, awesome.

Stephen Rose (04:30):
You know, maybe I want to put pictures of tires and I want to be able to search for that. So I could put in these pictures here of all of these different tires, I could say here’s the data source. And then say, I want to be able to filter this by model, by car, by date, by availability. And within a few minutes, you’re going to be dropping in all of that information. And then you publish it. It’s that simple to be able to go out and bring that in. You have a wide variety of forms that you can do. You can do text input, you can even do pen input, date, picture, you know, checkboxes, et cetera. You can choose what sort of text you want to bring in. Whether it’s a pen input. You want somebody to sign a form when you’re done.

Stephen Rose (05:11):
You can obviously bring in buttons, barcode scanners, video, Microsoft Stream. You can add audio notes to it. So you could say, Hey, I want to add this audio note to be able to go to that or even a chart that can show that level of availability. You can pick your own icons that are going to drop into there and then import components. And then we have an AI builder and this AI builder leverages Graph, which we’re going to talk about later. But with that, I can turn it into a business card reader, which basically says, when I open this app, it’s going to open up the camera, scan the business card and bring that information into the appropriate fields or form processor where I take a picture of a form. And it uses, you know OCR to be able to bring that in or an object detector where if you’re out in the field, you could perhaps take a picture of a part and it will tell you what that part is, by again, leveraging the Graph in a database of parts, or even say this part is broken.

Stephen Rose (06:09):
And if it’s broken, it can kick off a flow that says, I need to let this person know and order a new one. So there’s a really interesting variety of things that we can do, that are not incredibly difficult for folks to be able to bring together. And as you click, it’ll tell you right here, Hey, here’s the position and wrap and padding and all of that sort of stuff. So it’s pretty impressive on how simply, and I’ve been able to build a few simple apps, but you were telling me that you built one. So I’d love to, I’m gonna stop sharing here and I want you to talk about your cool app,

Paul Thurrott (06:40):
Yeah. As you’re going through the demo I was kind of jumping up and down in my seat. No, it really is exciting. And by the way, nowhere in there did you show any code. Right?

Stephen Rose (06:50):
No, I’m not a coder.

Paul Thurrott (06:50):
So, yeah, sorry.

Stephen Rose (06:53):
No, I was just going to say I’m not a coder. That is absolutely not my area.

Paul Thurrott (06:56):
So I used to be a coder and I decided to kind of get back into it on the side, just so I could speak more intelligently about that stuff. And last fall, I started working on a notepad clone and I decided I’d kind of work my way through the different Microsoft frameworks. And so I wrote versions in Windows Forums and WPF, Windows Presentation Foundation, and then in the Universal Windows Platform, UWP. And by that point I was like, look, I kind of want to move on to the next thing. I want to do something different.

Paul Thurrott (07:22):
I decided to make a cocktail app. It’s a simple app. You’d have a front page, would be a filterable list of cocktails. There’d be a second screen when you click on one where you get the picture, the name, the description, the ingredients, and the steps all in one screen. And then there’d be an edit screen where you could either input a new cocktail or edit an existing cocktail. So it sounds simple, but as it turns out, so I started working on a WPF version just to kind of work my way through what the UI would be like, but really I wanted this thing to be a mobile app. And so then I spent honestly, a couple of months working on a Xamarin Forms version of the app. And it was, you know, frankly, it was frustrating, but I say that from a developer standpoint.

Stephen Rose (08:01):

Paul Thurrott (08:02):
So you and I were talking about Power Apps recently, and I thought, you know, I need to get into this environment. Let me see, what would this look like in Power Apps? And it is the easiest thing in the world. You know, you were talking about data sources, for example, you could have SharePoint lists.

Stephen Rose (08:18):
An Excel spreadsheet, yeah.

Paul Thurrott (08:18):
Excel, SQL, whatever. I created a SharePoint list, that SharePoint list has cocktails in it. Those cocktails have a photo, a title, a description, steps, and ingredients. And okay. It’s up in SharePoint. Great. I did exactly what you just did, step through it. I made it a phone app. This thing created the UI, created the layout, created every one of those screens I just described, including things I hadn’t gotten to yet, because they’re so complex, like the ability to search and filter that list of cocktails.

Paul Thurrott (08:49):
It was literally in the span of less than 30 minutes. And a lot of that time was just me tweaking the way different fonts looked and stuff. Cause I like to do that stuff, you don’t even have to, but I just made it better looking. And that thing it’s done, it’s just done. And I didn’t write a line of code. I stepped through Wizards. You know, just like you showed, I mean, this was literally last weekend. It’s the first time I’ve looked at it. I cannot believe how easy and efficient and powerful it is. It’s incredible. Yeah. So, you know, I know a cocktail app is not exactly a work sanctioned you know, anything, but it is, I think representative of the fact that you have data in some data source and you want to bring it out to an app and it just, it literally automated everything for me. And I could tell you having written the code to do this, incredible.

Stephen Rose (09:41):
And that’s the idea is to empower people who are not developers that have a great idea, that say, look, I do this job every day and I know more about it than anybody else in the company is going to know, because I’m out in the field. Especially with Firstline workers, I’m out in the field, I’m doing this. If only I could do this easier or get to this easier or not have to go through this. So enabling people to do that. And again, you still have got DLP controls and AIP and all of that stuff going on. So you can ensure that private information like credit card numbers and things like that aren’t being shared. But by showing this to end users and showing a simple app like that and saying, look, we’re going to make an app for fun. You know, here you can do your fishing gear or whatever it is that makes you happy and do this for home.

Stephen Rose (10:24):
And then they use it often and they see that value. That’s where shortly you’re going to say, you know what, at work, if I could do this, if I could filter by this, if I could find this easier and that starts to create productivity. And we have a ton of case studies on customers who have done that and case studies are all great. But if everybody were to sit down and play with this and do what you did and do some sort of personal app, whether it’s cataloging their memories or photos or documents or book collections or movie collections, or whatever that is and bring that together, it becomes really great. And it’s something where you can hand that phone to somebody and say, here you look for what it is that you want from me or, whatever that is. And that really empowers folks and empowers you know, Power Apps and things like Power Automate and Flow. Make those littler tasks, also sort of brings those to life and does that as well, which is great.

Paul Thurrott (11:16):
Yeah. And actually, you know, you just touched on something. You know, my mind races now, when I think about Power Apps, cause the possibilities are literally endless. And anyway, most of the people listening to this are programmers probably. And I’m telling you, Microsoft, other companies have had various efforts over the year trying to bring programmability to non programming audiences. And it doesn’t always go very well. This is not that. This is an Office application. It’s very logical. It works the way you expect. You could even, you mentioned Firstline workers. I could picture someone out in the field is doing something as simple as look, I’m an insurance adjuster or claims adjuster, whatever. They have these massive forms. I just need to get to a couple of things. I could build my own app that just has those form items, those text inputs, whatever they are. It all hits the back end data you’re authenticating against your work account. It’s safe, it’s secure. And you could make your life better just by taking literally a few minutes to construct a simple form that has only the stuff you really need every single time you bring out that device. And it’s, the mind boggles at the possibilities.

Stephen Rose (12:22):
Yeah, and it works on every platform. And that’s what’s really great about this is it doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac or an iOS or Android, it’s the same platform on the back end and it’s all web based. So you can use it for many devices. So if there’s something wrong, you can go in from your mobile phone or sit down with your laptop or sit down at a public kiosk, login securely, use MFA and make those changes to it right then and there, because it’s part of that M365 account.

Paul Thurrott (12:46):
That’s right. So you also mentioned Power Automate. Now this is the product formerly known as Flow. And I guess the things you create with Power Automate are still technically called Flows, which I like that term. I mean, it makes sense.

Stephen Rose (12:59):

Paul Thurrott (13:00):
But this is similar to, if this, then that I would say, right? In that you are,

Stephen Rose (13:06):
It is leveraging like that Boolean logic.

Paul Thurrott (13:10):
Yeah. So you’re building workflows and the thing that’s interesting here is again, you’re working with a bunch of data types, but you’re basically responding to certain actions and you have a great example of an automate that you made.

Stephen Rose (13:24):

Paul Thurrott (13:25):
Which is something I think a lot of us could use.

Stephen Rose (13:27):
I’m going to share it. So here we go. So let’s take a look.

Stephen Rose (13:32):
Alright. So we’ll go here to Power Automate and there’s a whole ton of templates, which is what I’m going to encourage folks. And you can see, we even have ones for things like Google Calendar and Dropbox, Instagram.

Paul Thurrott (13:48):
That’s right. That’s important to remember. This is not just Microsoft data sources, right? This is first and third party.

Stephen Rose (13:53):
Yep. So you can take a look here and you can see like RSS, like you can do one that says if somebody tweets me, look at that follower, if they have more than a thousand followers, go ahead and add their address to MailChimp, which is great. Or Azure, you know, Box is in here and, you know, Basecamp is there, which is great for those who are publishing on Mac or Campfire. And there’s just tons here. But what I really love is when you get here, they have things like nine templates to help your sales team. Templates to help you, you know, so when you click it, all you have to do is customize it. You can say, receive a weekly email of new Dynamics, 365 opportunities. That’s been used over 6,000 times. The one that I created was when my boss emails me, I get a push notification on my phone that says Boss email.

Stephen Rose (14:47):
Which is great, it’s super simple. And if I take a look at it and I go to edit, I created this in like five minutes. It says, when I get a new email, look at my profile, which goes into Active Directory, it says, get my manager. So it looks at who my manager is and check to see if it’s my manager. And if it is, then it does a popup. And it’s that simple to do it. If it’s no, then I add an action. If it’s yes, then I send a push notification, but that’s it. And then on my phone, it goes, Oh, Boss email bot, which is great. And I have it only when I am on the To line and not on a CC line. So I know it was sent to me or something that I need to read. What’s great is you have the flow checker so you can test it.

Stephen Rose (15:30):
And then you also can just test it to send a test message, or whatever it is that you are doing. But the amount of templates, and then again, much like, as we’ve talked about you know, here’s a whole template, get my weather forecast. Some of these are kind of bullshitty, but some of these are really great, trigger a flow when a Power BI data-driven, you know, app is done which is great. But what’s nicer, is also again with the data connectors. We have a lot of that same thing where we can take a look at connections. And once again, we’re going to see all those same data sources that we saw for, you know, earlier, are all going to be here and how we can all bring those together. So here’s Azure Blob Storage, and here’s Bing Maps and all that stuff. So all that works exactly the same way. And again, think about all of those little things from running an approval in Teams, because you can put this right into Teams and do approval workflows to if somebody out in the field and they take a picture and something’s wrong, then it immediately sends a message to the engineering team to say, Hey, there’s a problem here, but if it’s less than five, just send an email. So you can also create those workflows and these Teams as the platform to bring that to life.

Paul Thurrott (16:38):
I think the appropriate response to both these things is to just get excited by the possibilities. And you’ll see a lot of startup points in there like that. All the templates you kind of went through that Microsoft and others have made, which is really great. But then, you know, you could see how you might want to tweak one of those things, well I use this service, not this service, but this exact flow would work. I’m just going to swap out the individual services, which is really cool, now.

Stephen Rose (17:02):
And again, this is on every platform and I can’t stress that enough where, should just be a desktop app. And should I only allow my Firstline workers to use this when they’re in a VDI environment or is this going to be mobile? And you have those choices to bring that out. And it’s literally just republishing it and making sure that everything fits within the template and you’re not using a font that’s too big, type of thing. Or too small.

Paul Thurrott (17:24):
Yes. Now the underlying, I guess I’ll call it glue. Although I used that term earlier to describe all these things, is of course the, well, I shouldn’t say of course, maybe people not are not familiar with this, but it’s the Microsoft Graph. And this is a concept that Microsoft introduced three years ago, two, three years ago, at Ignite, I want to say. I mean, can you speak a little bit about the AI and intelligence that’s behind the Microsoft Graph? You know what it is? What it does?

Stephen Rose (17:50):
Yeah. Well, I mean, Azure of course, is that framework that’s powering the whole Power Platform. But then when you want to start to bring things like cognitive intelligence to that, whether that’s a bot that you want to create, which can’t be, I’m here with a customer and, excuse me, and they want to order this. What’s the current, how many days out is this? And things like that too. One of my favorites, which is when I’m done with a meeting, it pops up and says, you just showed this file in the meeting. Do you want to share this with all the attendees? And that is the graph API. It, you know, binds us and separates us. It binds the universe together.

Paul Thurrott (18:32):
Yes it does.

Stephen Rose (18:32):
Kind of an Obi Wan force thing. But what it is, is it is an API that anybody can leverage.

Stephen Rose (18:40):
And it is the intelligence platform, which a lot of this, that things that are built into Azure can add that level. So when you think about any sort of data information application, you go, this would be made better by intelligence and awareness. Intelligence saying it should look for certain people. It should look for causes and events. It should surface things up. And I really think of intelligence as this proactive assistant. And my biggest problem is when people start to talk about AI and intelligence that has this invasive, it’s going to jump into my life. It’s going to take things over. It’s looking at my data. Microsoft is storing my data and all this stuff. And that’s so far from the truth, when it’s at its most useful is being proactive. Hi, here’s your meetings today. When you take a look at My Analytics, here’s how you spent your time last week.

Stephen Rose (19:34):
And here’s some people you may want to connect with. Do you want to share that file with everybody else? Popping up and telling you that, Hey, you need, this meeting is going to start in 30 minutes and it’s in another building. Are you aware and looking at your travel time, it’s going to take you this long to get there. It’s those things that, you know, Cortana is built upon. And so many of our technologies that help you to be proactive rather than reactive. And we see then the Graph within our security features that we talked about. Well it will say, this person just logged in from Redmond. And then they logged in from Beijing a half hour later, that couldn’t happen. So using intelligence, I’m going to suspend that account, but like he was a human being though, and let you decide and figure out what’s going on.

Stephen Rose (20:15):
If this is something that you should be aware of. So the Graph API brings all of that intelligence together. And whether you’re using things like Power BI or you’re using just OneDrive, or things like that, it’ll look and say, Hey, all these OneDrive files are being overwritten quickly. Chances are you have a malware virus. So I’m going to stop that from happening. I’m going to let you know. So it is this assistive layer that people can tap into on any level.

Paul Thurrott (20:43):
Yeah. I mean, I think what makes the Graph successful is the many, many data points, right? The places where it’s getting information, everything from Teams to OneDrive to Outlook and Exchange and the security products, like you mentioned, Windows 10 notifications, even Dynamics 365 on and on it goes. But you know, for people who are, I mean, and look, this is a complex topic. I find myself sometimes overwhelmed by the Microsoft Graph. But I mean, the simple example to me in some ways is that Windows search feature in Bing, where you’re signed in with your work account and what you’re trying to find is someone with a certain expertise or what someone is working on and you know, that kind of thing. And it, again, it’s taking data from all of these different points and then bringing forth something to you that you wouldn’t typically associate with a basic web search.

Stephen Rose (21:31):
Absolutely. I’m bringing up our Graph page real quick. I don’t need to share this out, but there was a whole toolkit that looks at presence.

Paul Thurrott (21:43):

Stephen Rose (21:44):
So you can take a look at how you base things upon where people are at physically or their online presence. We can you know, dig into the API. But the bottom line is it gives you this rich context, who someone’s manager is. If they’re in the office, out of the office, these insights from trending documents, this is where a lot of the Hey, when I take a look at, you know, Connect and who should I be looking at and what’s going on. And the people that I work with, it’s all real time. And it goes across all of the Azure, Office 365, and even consumer services like and If you want to leverage that. And that’s really at the key center of this, is that ability to be able to bring all that data. When you go into Windows and you go to the bottom and you say, show me every document that has this text and it brings it right up. That’s so much more than indexing because it’s got to take a look at what you’re asking for and all of the variations of that. But again, it just powers it and sends that data back down to you

Paul Thurrott (22:46):
And to what you said earlier because people do worry about the privacy implications of AI and everything. You know, you as a Microsoft employee are not able to see every single thing about every single employee. You know, it’s permissions based, it’s based on the organization. If you have a need to know what someone is working on or what they’re doing or who they are, I mean, it could be, I don’t know how Microsoft is organized exactly. But as simple as yes, they are a person in this organization, yes, they are maybe at work or whatever. To literally this is the document they’re working on, depending on your relationship.

Stephen Rose (23:18):
And that’s exactly, yeah I can see things, obviously, within my own team, I can see anything that has been shared to a SharePoint site or a team site. I can’t see anything that’s in their personal OneDrive. And then we always say, you know, OneDrive is for your personal stuff. And then SharePoint and Teams is where you do things we’re gonna work on. So when somebody publishes that to Teams and they’re part of my group, I see that in search. And then if they’re part of our marketing organization, and that has been shared with people outside of just that team, then that can pop up, but it has to hit all variety of things and you can keep that from happening, of course. But it’s great because before I start a project and I had a customer who works for one of the largest ad agencies in the world, they said when they started using Teams and leveraging AI, before somebody would start a project, they would type in like a keyword.

Stephen Rose (24:01):
And they would start to see other people that have worked on similar projects and say, why did this fail? Why didn’t this work? I see you’re working on this, we’re doing something similar. How can we partner, he goes the amount of duplication that we have been able to reduce and the amount of opportunities for people to talk to other people within the company about what they’re working on and learning from that, has gone through the roof. Because, if somebody starts, I’m going, did you do a search? Did you look for the stuff? And they go, no, and we’re teaching people through that. And it’s really enabling us since, what is it? One out of every three projects that a company starts, fails because it’s not done properly. This really starts to reduce that right out of the gate.

Paul Thurrott (24:39):
Right. Yeah, and I think that’s, I mean, what these things that we discussed today, all share across Power Apps, Power Automate, Microsoft Graph generally is just making things more efficient and automated and proactive and just in doing so via the intelligent use of data.

Stephen Rose (24:57):
Yeah, and power BI really does that too. And I’m a person who, you know, I like a good spreadsheet and that’s great, but it’s not something you can show to somebody like in a meeting or to a large group. You go, yeah, it’s a lot of data. Once I started putting that into Power BI and I said, okay, let’s break this down by geographic region. Like when we’re looking at social media influencers and where are we seeing our biggest overnight hits on different things and who’s having the deepest conversations and what part of the world is talking about Teams more than some other part like that. All of a sudden things light up on the globe that we start to see or outliers. And that is the most important thing, is not only where those trends are, but why is there this huge spike in Reykjavik today on this?

Stephen Rose (25:40):
And then you start to dig in and go, Oh, they’re having a Teams day or whatever that is. So it allows us to better communicate and look at data in whole new ways and visualize it in whole new ways, that you can sit there and put up on a screen and everybody goes, Oh, I get it. And why is this the way? And it immediately starts conversations, other than going, hi, can you look over the spreadsheet? And everybody’s just looking at a bunch of numbers and goes, yeah, that looks nice. And even a pie chart doesn’t really do it the same way that organizing the stuff that way. And live and in real time, as the data’s coming in.

Paul Thurrott (26:14):
And this stuff is all available to anyone who’s in Microsoft 365. And that was one of, you know, when we started this show, you know, one of the themes we had was there’s a lot of value in this offering that people don’t even realize is there. And most people are familiar with the traditional Office apps, email and calendar, obviously Word Excel, et cetera. But if you go into your Office 365, or Microsoft 365 dashboard, you’ll find this stuff and more, I mean, there’s all kinds of additional tools and you’re already getting them, you know, and some of these things will make, all these things really technically, but certainly the things we’ve talked about can make your life better. They can make you more efficient and they can free up time. And just you know, just like I said, I get jumpy just thinking about it, especially Power Apps, Power Automate. I mean, it’s just amazing.

Stephen Rose (27:02):
I’m glad that you had a chance to play with this and kind of take a look at it. And that this episode got you to sort of dig into it a little bit and see the value. Are you going to show your cocktail app?

Paul Thurrott (27:12):
Yes. Yes I am, in fact,

Stephen Rose (27:13):
Alright, I’d love to see it.

Paul Thurrott (27:14):
Oh, not today on the show. I’m sorry, I apologize. So I am preparing an article, that will be on the site where I will be writing about this because it is a revelation how easy it was. And it’s like the comic book man, Simpson, who I’ve wasted my life moment, where you realize, you know, what have I been doing? Look the programming stuff is fine. It’s fun, I should say, I enjoy it. But I mean, this is so much more efficient for this kind of thing. It’s just and I mean this seriously, yes, I have programmed. I’m not a professional programmer. Anyone could do what, I just did, anyone. And that’s in many ways, the point.

Stephen Rose (27:49):
It may be great to actually set up and, you know, for those folks who are listening, try to build something and you know what, reach out to us on Twitter and let us know what you thought. Matter of fact, if you do that, I have, what do I have, I have something somewhere. Oh, here we go. Here’s what I will do. I not only have a Teams t-shirt, but look, I have,

Paul Thurrott (28:12):

Stephen Rose (28:12):
A Teams power brick.

Paul Thurrott (28:14):

Stephen Rose (28:15):
That, I’ll let you, Paul pick the winner of whoever you think sends the best one. Yes. Whoever creates the best or just most interesting or most unusual, and I’ll send them a Teams t-shirt and a cool Teams power brick to whoever that goes to, and I will do that.

Paul Thurrott (28:29):
Alright. Well, we have been doing this since January and my God has the world changed and, you know, we’ve gone through several episodes and we talked about, the Modern Desktop, collaboration, management, security, Microsoft Teams, and now Power Apps, Power Automate, and the Microsoft Graph. We’ve had some, we should mention the guests we’ve had over the weeks, let me see if I can find them. Chris Bryan, the two Chris’s I know. Chris Jackson and of course, Jeremy Chapman, who is awesome. They’re all awesome. They were all awesome. And, you know, looking back over everything we’ve discussed and of course, how things have changed. I mean, you know, it’s very interesting that, well, you know, and tragic in many ways, of course, but I mean Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams in particular is kind of ideally situated to this new way of doing things. And that’s a nice coincidence, I guess, but the fact that it happened while we were discussing this. I mean, because Microsoft Teams is always an episode, right? This was always something we were going to talk about. It’s a big part of Microsoft, 365, but in this new COVID world, this new normal, I mean, it becomes even more important and of course we’ve seen that. So, I mean, what do you take away from All the discussions we’ve had over these episodes? Anything?

Stephen Rose (29:47):
Yeah, I mean, there’s so much, and I don’t know what the new norm is going to be, but,

Paul Thurrott (29:52):

Stephen Rose (29:53):
Nothing’s going to be the same, but the great thing is, I’m super proud of the work that we’ve done as a company and the products that we’ve pushed up and how we stepped up, how we built sites in days to help people to get work done, to be able to go back and say, look, let’s just get this out the door, let’s get Teams up, you know, let’s lock down our security, or we’re going to use Team with you know, whatever this is. We’re gonna use it with Zoom, or we’re going to use it with Cisco or whatever. And for them to go in Teams to say, Hey, there is a Box link.

Stephen Rose (30:25):
There is a Zoom link. There is a Bluejeans link, and I can bring those into the product so that it wasn’t just this Microsoft thing, that it really was this great ecosystem. But people aren’t going to be able to say, Hey, we’re not going to hire you because you work in a different city.

Paul Thurrott (30:39):
Right, right.

Stephen Rose (30:39):
I think we’ve seen, you can work anywhere from any device and be able to do it well and connect. People are now showing their faces on calls and realizing the value of that. I mean, when I first started using Teams and video conferencing and even Skype for Business and all that, people never turned on their cameras. It just, wasn’t a thing you did. And now they do, because it’s a way to connect. And I think we’re going to keep doing that. Cause you realize meetings are better when people turn that on.

Stephen Rose (31:06):
We’re finding more people now that are seeing the value of saving stuff to the cloud, because now they, it’s harder to get to that ex drive. It’s harder to VPN in and wait and split tunneling is becoming, you know, IT Pros are looking at that on how do I create better bandwidth experiences? So all these things that people kept putting off have happened more quickly, but it’s going open up interesting opportunities in education. My daughter’s senior year next year is not going to be normal in any way, shape or form she’s going to be going it looks like to school two or three days a week. And then working from home some days a week.

Paul Thurrott (31:40):

Stephen Rose (31:40):
She’s in marching band who knows how that’s going to work. Sports are not going to happen. So, movie theaters are now saying, we’re going to start to do some movies, direct out through our different services instead of going.

Stephen Rose (31:54):
The way we get food, all this stuff, you know, has all changed. And a lot of that is going to stay and some things are going to evolve, but I feel that, you know, I’m really proud that as a company we’ve placed ourselves in a really good position to enable people who want to do that, whether they have to, or they were forced, you know, whether they had to and were forced to, or just said, now’s the time. And let’s just bite the bullet to be able to move that forward. And that we’re seeing what that four generation split of people, people from, you know, the baby boomer end that never jump on to this stuff, getting pulled in pretty quickly. Like my parents who are in their seventies saying, yeah, let’s, you know, we did Father’s Day dinner remotely. I barbecued, I sent my dad some steaks and lobster with my mom there in Arizona. I wasn’t able to be there. And we did a virtual dinner last night over Teams. And it was not as great as being there,

Paul Thurrott (32:44):
It was okay.

Stephen Rose (32:44):
But it’s not something that we would have done in the past, we would have just called and said, have a great Father’s Day and that’s it. But we had a meal and a conversation and that’s a great thing. And they really love it because it helps them to feel more connected.

Paul Thurrott (32:55):
Wow, I mean, you’ve really kind of hit on it. I go back to that March comment from Jared Spataro where he said, you know, we are never going back to working the way we did. And it really struck me at the time. And it’s really interesting to see the world evolve. I’ve had the same experiences as you. My daughter’s going to college, she’s going to have the same kind of weird on/off experience and probably be home by Thanksgiving and we’ll see how that goes and everything, but kind of across the board for individuals who maybe never had the chance to work from home, now forced to work from home.

Paul Thurrott (33:26):
And some will like it a lot. Some of them are going to want to go back to the office, but from the opposite perspective, offices or companies, rather that maybe were a little suspicious of having people work from home, suddenly see the benefits. Lower costs, the productivity is not going down, like this actually makes sense. Yeah. education, obviously like we discussed, I mean, this is in conferences too. You and I are big conference goers and you know, conferencing Microsoft.

Stephen Rose (33:53):
Yeah, I think hybrid.

Paul Thurrott (33:53):
Yeah, hybrid conferences. I mean Build, I think was an interesting peek at the beginning of the future for the conferences. Cause I think there’ll be a mix of in person and remote. And again, because of what happened, it’s terrible, it’s obviously terrible. But the positive change that will come out of it could benefit all of us in the future by opening these things up more publicly to those who want to attend remotely.

Stephen Rose (34:17):
Yeah. I mean, we’re in the process of planning for Ignite right now and some of the interesting conversations that we’re having are do we go 24 hours? And do you think these are going to be odd numbers for people overseas or not? We’re going to be recording a ton of sessions. We’re going to do them live. We’re looking at a hundred to 200,000 people coming to Ignite.

Paul Thurrott (34:35):
That’s incredible.

Stephen Rose (34:35):
And the big thing that changes there is instead of it, we’re going to pick two people from the company to go and they’re going to come back and report to everybody, is now all of my team from that company can attend. And go and participate.

Paul Thurrott (34:46):
That’s amazing right, I mean, that’s hugely positive and you know, conferences are expensive, you know, no doubt about it. They’re disruptive, you know, even for the people who go. For all the goodness, you’re out of work for those number of days, you’re hard to reach or impossible to reach depending on what you’re doing.

Paul Thurrott (35:00):
I mean, again, it’s not going to be, no one view is perfect. No one way of doing things is perfect. But because this was kind of thrust on us, you kind of find this happy middle ground. And I overall think the benefits are huge. Even talked about older workers, you know what’s the divide between an older person, like myself who relies on email and a younger guy like Brad, who would be more comfortable in Teams. These are two worlds that don’t really intersect in the normal workforce, but because of the situation we find ourselves in you know, more people crossing over in both directions.

Stephen Rose (35:34):

Paul Thurrott (35:34):
And, you know, the outcome, I mean, again, nobody wanted this, for sure. But there were positive outcomes.

Stephen Rose (35:41):
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, when we look at conferences, nothing replaces walking up to somebody and having a 20 minute conversation and certainly meeting your peers, which is one of the great things that I really love about Ignite is not just the sessions, which are great and not just the chance for me to chat with everybody, but seeing people that I’ve known for 10, 15 years start to meet other people in the industry and start to share their advice. And that matrix networking doesn’t really happen at a virtual level and that gets missed. But I would love to see us do this hybrid where yes, we’re going to have the in person, but we’re also going to do not just putting sessions online a day later and just recordings, but start to do more live more people coming in via Teams and being able to participate and having this larger thing.

Stephen Rose (36:25):
And I think we’re learning a lot from our competitors, our competitors are learning a lot from us. We’re creating brand new partnerships with companies. So I think I’m really curious to see what the next two to three years looks like with these different partnerships and how we continue to evolve platforms like Teams into something that goes beyond what it is today, where we really do find a way to sort of bring in email and separate parts of email into chat and the rest of it there. When we start to bring in intelligence, you know, we have that real time translation in PowerPoint. What happens when we bring that into Teams and whatever language your system is set for? That’s the language that shows up on your screen and translation is seamless and flawless. It’s those sorts of things that help us to really come together, allow companies to work and people to work in ways that they never could before. And that’s what excites me with the journey that we’ve taken is we’ve shown all the stuff that a lot of people just were not aware about. And if that’s where we are today, where are we going to be in two, three years as this continues to evolve in this new way of working and how we’re going to find new ways for people to connect to other people into their data and bring them insights and information in new ways.

Paul Thurrott (37:38):
You know, I’ve really enjoyed doing this. I very much am looking forward to running into you in the hotel bar at Ignite again.

Stephen Rose (37:46):

Paul Thurrott (37:47):
You know, and, but yeah, it is that kind of combination of things. This is efficient and great, and in person is important too. And I can’t wait.

Stephen Rose (37:58):
Yeah. No, me too. I miss MVP Summit this year was odd and weird without people. And there are people where the only time I ever see them is at these shows, but I have 10, 15 year long relationships where I know these people, I know their families, I chat with them on Twitter and social media, and I get to see them and hang out and they want to hang out and get a picture and all that. And I love that. And I love being able to connect with them and getting their feedback. This is what I did really well this year. This is what I need to do more of, this is where I’m not meeting their expectations. And that’s a conversation that’s very easy to have in person or have over a cocktail. That’s not quite as easy to have over social media.

Stephen Rose (38:33):
So I think it’s how do bring more of that intimacy to these platforms that we lose, the intimacy in meetings, the intimacy that we have in one-to-one conversations that doesn’t quite a hundred percent translate here, but it’s a goal. And I’m excited to see how we embrace that.

Paul Thurrott (38:50):
I mean, even in the past few months, it’s already improved honestly, and will continue to improve.

Stephen Rose (38:54):
Yeah, no, absolutely. No, this has been a great opportunity to sit and talk about these different products and services. And, you know, the stuff we talked about in February still is valid now, as it was then if not more in many ways and seeing the new releases and I’m excited about Ignite and you know what we’re going to talk about. I’m starting to get a look at some of the new things that we’re going to be telling folks.

Stephen Rose (39:14):
I think folks are gonna be very excited. And I think in working with the OneDrive engineering team for a long time, the one thing that we always looked at and I would, you know, there was an engineering, is a piece of string. If you pull it to the right to do something, what falls off the other end. But when I started working with Jeff Teper’s group, I’d say, I want to separate evolution from revolution. What are the features we need to have to be competitive? And that people have asked for through user voice and things that we need to do to make them happy. The big one being, you know, being able to support OneDrive, virtual environments, which you know, was so critical. And then the other end is revolution. What are the things that people aren’t expecting that we’re going to bring in?

Stephen Rose (39:53):
I love that they just announced a new feature where if there’s a document in Teams or in SharePoint, you can now have it download to a separate folder now in OneDrive where everything is there and it’s now synced with that. So you don’t have to go into those areas and go search for it. So it’s those sorts of things that people go, Oh, wow. I didn’t even know that I wanted that or, Personal Vault or things like that. So I think as long as we keep doing that, mixing that evolution and revolution, continue to listen to our customers, which is something that Satya has been phenomenal at and has done a really good job, as well as saying, here’s the future. It is Azure. It is AI. It is Power Apps and Power BI and Power Platform and what he’s and how he’s empowering people. I think as long as we stayed true to that, and don’t listen to our own PR and don’t get caught up in that and do that. I’m very excited to see what the next year or so is gonna capture as I close in on the next two years on my 15th year here. So

Paul Thurrott (40:49):

Stephen Rose (40:50):

Paul Thurrott (40:50):
Yeah. And, you know, Ignite is going to be amazing. I mean, just based on what Microsoft pulled off with Build. Ignite is a much bigger show. I can’t wait. I wish it was in New Orleans. I wish I was going.

Stephen Rose (41:05):
I know, I really was excited to get some beignets.

Paul Thurrott (41:05):
I know, so many memories. Oh, well, anyway, we’ll get there.

Stephen Rose (41:11):
And so many memories I can’t remember that well.

Paul Thurrott (41:14):
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Well, thank you so much, Stephen. And also Brad, Brad didn’t really get to appear.

Stephen Rose (41:21):

Paul Thurrott (41:21):
But Brad’s been with us every day helping us out in the back and in making this happen. And thank you to all of you. This is Paul Thurrott, signing out from the Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series.