M365 Trends and Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

Home » Blog » M365 Trends and Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

The rapid shift to remote work and cloud-based apps has made M365 an invaluable tool for teams and businesses. And, M365 trends show Microsoft is listening to what users want and need most from their tools.

Much like the way we all work is changing, M365 is planning some major shifts as well. While some are already in progress, others are more predictions and what Microsoft hopes to accomplish.

One thing is for certain, Microsoft 365 is adapting quickly. If you need more than just a suite of individual tools, you’re going to be excited about what’s coming in 2021 and beyond.

A Focus-Oriented UX

What’s one of the biggest productivity killers? Notifications. They’re everywhere, including in M365. They can be useful, but more often than not, they can wait. The barrage of notifications has become more distracting than anything else and it can take you over 20 minutes just to re-focus with each one.

One of the more exciting M365 trends is the focus-oriented UX Microsoft’s working on. Microsoft actually introduced a teaser of the simplified and focus-centric new Office UI back in July of 2020. While things like a smaller ribbon and dark mode have already come into play, Microsoft’s testing out a floating toolbar and an even more simplified ribbon. 

The idea is to put the focus namely on the content or project you’re working on versus notifications, menus, icons and other distractions. This can lead to better productivity across every platform you use M365 on.

Search Takes Center Stage

Searching for information between various M365 apps is time consuming and Microsoft agrees fully. One of the M365 trends that might actually become a user favorite when it arrives is a universal search. 

In the new Office UI teaser, Microsoft showcased a cross-suite search bar that would take center stage versus the typical toolbar or ribbon you’re used to seeing. Instead of having to jump through hoops to search for information, you’ll gradually be able to search from any app and get results from all the others you’re using. 

The time savings alone is enough to get excited about this one. As to when it arrives, it could be within 2021 or a few years into the future.

Embracing Fluid Frameworks

Part of what’s helping fuel the centralized search is the Microsoft Fluid Framework. Actually, this framework is powering many of the changes Microsoft is making and is hoping to make in the future. 

The Fluid Framework was first introduced in 2019, but hasn’t reached its full potential yet. However, based on its capabilities to provide a seamless experience between apps, the future is promising indeed. Users will even be able to create more “flexible” documents that you can use and collaborate on between apps.

Seamless Experiences Between Devices

You don’t just use M365 on one device. You use it on the web, on your tablet, on your smartphone and in downloaded apps. Microsoft believes you should have a completely seamless experience as you go from one device or platform to another. 

As part of the M365 trends to turn individual apps into one major productivity destination, Microsoft plans to create cross-platform scaling to make your experience on each device feel more intuitive. Nothing’s more frustrating than jumping from your smartphone to the web only to have to figure out where everything is and how to navigate. Imagine the possibilities of M365 working and looking the same no matter where you’re using it or what device you’re using it on.

Simplifying Security 

Microsoft 365 does a surprisingly great job at simplifying security already. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some flaws. In the future, M365 should make security even more intuitive. A focus on better explaining privacy options and reducing the chance of sharing documents with the wrong person helps improve security even more. The best part is this simplifies security for both employees and IT teams. Of course, that’s always a win.

The full scope of how Microsoft will incorporate new security measures is yet to be seen. However, it’s a trend that can help reduce the human error aspect, which is something every business should be excited about.

AI Gets An Upgrade With Project Cortex

Cortana is already an integral part of M365, but there’s still so much more that could be done. Don’t worry, Microsoft’s on it. While Microsoft is looking to invest more heavily in AI within M365 apps, the company still wants a good balance between what users want to do themselves and where AI can give them a boost. 

Microsoft originally introduced Project Cortex in 2019, but plans to evolve the technology. Currently, it can create knowledge networks to organize related information, making it easier to review things and find what you need faster.

As it evolves, the AI behind Project Cortex can help gather errors in documents for you to review when you’re finished versus distracting you while you work. It can even be used to simplify task creation based on what you’ve done in the past. 

Improved Communication Between M365 Apps

As you can tell, the theme behind most all M365 trends is a seamless experience. When you already have so many apps you use on a daily basis, creating a smoother transition between them reduces friction and distractions. Naturally, this creates a productivity boost and can even make employees happier as it makes navigating through the apps a simpler process.

In the full list of what Microsoft envisions for M365, Jon Friedman talks about how the company plans to include additional asynchronous abilities throughout M365 apps. One example Friedman points out, and one that’s extremely useful to be honest, is the ability to send quick video responses versus just a text or email. This can also be used to help reduce meetings and lengthy calls by creating a more dynamic form of communication.

No matter what M365 trends lie ahead, our team is here to help you better understand them and make the most out of them. It’s our goal to help your team collaboration easily while boosting productivity.

Scroll to Top