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Microsoft recently released a new feature for M365 that automatically converts word documents to PowerPoint presentations.  Why is this useful? 

Perhaps you have prepared a proposal for a client that you’re going to be reviewing in Teams.  Instead of going over a boring Word document, you can convert it to a PowerPoint!   This feature is only available in Word online. 

The AI uses what your document “says” to choose icons and images.  Headers and document formatting is used as a clue to create new slides for each header section.  Bullet lists often become stylized lists, sometimes with images. 

Try it out in Word online by going to File->Export->Export to PowerPoint (preview).  Choose a theme and watch what happens – it’s pretty handy!


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Our client, VLMK Engineering + Design, came to us looking for help with their phone systems in their office. As a structural and civil engineering firm, they are constantly fielding client calls, coordinating with contractors, and connecting internally to bring their projects to completion. For them, communication is important. We were able to set them up with Microsoft 365 Business Voice, a cloud-based calling solution that fits their needs and has already been happily adopted by their team.

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Facilitating collaboration amongst both remote and in-person teams can be challenging. It is easy for meetings to get derailed and difficult to evolve your conversation into results. However, with the help of SharePoint you can easily align your team and quickly create documentation that is accessible to and able to be edited by everyone.

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Our Client, a local Non-Profit here in Portland, Oregon, wanted to consolidate their IT infrastructure and move to a fully remote work model. Though they already had Microsoft 365, they knew they were underutilizing it and paying for multiple redundant services.

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Microsoft Teams continues to get better.  Microsoft has introduced several new features: 

  • Together mode– puts everyone in the meeting in a virtual room together, instead of the usual “box for each person”.  You can customize the setting for the room. We thought this was sort of cheesy, but we might try this feature again during our virtual Covid-era Christmas party. 
  • AI-based noise suppression – reduces unwanted background noise during meetings. 
  • Polls during meetings – to use this feature, you’ll need to add the Forms app as a Tab to your meeting.  Learn how. 
  • Improved iOS functionality, including the ability to view shared content, speaker view, and Apple CarPlay support. 


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We have been rolling out Microsoft 365 Business voice to clients that are transitioning to a work-from-home, virtual workplace.  It has been a resounding success so far – and clients are loving the flexibility and savings it has offered them. 

Let us know if you are interested in transitioning your current phone system solution to M365 business voice! 


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Microsoft announced changes coming to their Stream video product to better integrate it with the rest of the M365 ecosystem.  Currently, recordings are stored in Stream, which requires accessing a separate site to view recordings of teams meetings. The service will be revised starting in October to store Recordings in OneDrive or SharePoint.  Here are the guidelines and timing we’ve been provided: 

  • Early October (October 5, 2020) – You can enable the Teams Meeting policy to have meeting recordings saved to OneDrive and SharePoint instead of Microsoft Stream (Classic).  Requires use of powershell to enable this policy. 
  • End of October (October 31, 2020) – Meeting recordings in OneDrive and SharePoint will have support for English captions via the Teams transcription feature. 
  • Early to mid-November (Rolling out between November 1 -15 , 2020) – All new Teams meeting recordings will be saved to OneDrive and SharePoint . 

Microsoft has issued guidance around the changes in behavior you will notice: 

  • Meeting storage: 
  • Non-Channel meetings will be stored in the OneDrive of the person who clicked the record button in a special folder labeled “Recordings” – that sits at the top of the recorder’s OneDrive. 
  Read more...

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Many of us are still working remotely, and a lot of our communication and meetings are occurring using Microsoft Teams.  Here are some things we’re doing to try and stay better connected during this time: 

  • Add a tab to your team for a document or information you’d like to stay front and center.  This could be some key performance indicators (KPI’s), goals, core values, or some other information you’d like your team to be reminded of. 
  • “Social hour” meetings.  We hold informal get-together’s at 4:30 once every week or two.  This enables us to bond and talk about non-business issues and catch up on major developments in each other’s personal lives.  
  • Lights, camera, action!  At SpireTech, we ask our staff during scheduled meetings to have their cameras on.  We don’t require it for quick 1:1 teams calls, but for scheduled meetings it is preferred.  This really helps bring people together during an otherwise fairly isolated time and is a nice replacement while we’re lacking the ability to meet in a conference room. 
  Read more...

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It used to be that if you wanted to record a video of your screen, you had to buy some commercial software.  Not anymore.  Microsoft Stream (included in many M365 subscriptions) recently released a feature to allow you to record your screen, we have found this useful for training or marketing activities.  You can optionally record yourself at the same time with a front-facing camera, if you want a view of the person speaking. 

Videos are stored on Stream, and privacy settings can be controlled for each video before it is uploaded.  Videos can be downloaded, and the format they are stored in is compatible with YouTube, so if you want to record something for later upload to YouTube you can do that as well. 


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Many things are changing in the world right now, and technology is no exception.  As usual, we are spending a lot of time on R&D, training, and investigating new technology.  Why do you care?  Because we see certain technologies being key enablers for our clients moving forward.  We’re already using most of these technologies (accelerated by WFH), and many clients are rethinking the way they want to work.  

If you don’t know about these key enablers, you should, because they are disruptive technologies.  We’ll give you a primer here, with the “why” for each.  

WhatWhy
Azure ADEnables security in a WFH, cloud-first workplace 
IntuneAutomatic software deployment, enforcement of company IT standards, mobile device security 
AutopilotAutomatic setup and configuration of new computers, anywhere 
SharePointFile sharing without a server, simultaneous document editing 
OneDriveEasy access to SharePoint and backup of local documents 
TeamsTeam chat, meetings, calls, and collaboration 
Microsoft 365 Business VoicePotentially disruptive extension to teams calling and traditional business phone systems 

Many of these features are things you’re already paying for, and others present minimal additional cost.   Read more...

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