It’s been three decades since the release of the first version of Microsoft Office.
Yet traditional Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are still the main means of capturing, storing, and sharing business-related information. But not for long…
At its Fall 2021 Ignite event, Microsoft announced a new application that’s supposed to bring Office to the hybrid work era by going beyond the confines of a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
The name of the latest addition to the Office family is Microsoft Loop, and all organizations that rely on Microsoft’s technology for their day-to-day operations will soon have the opportunity to experience first-hand how it enables seamless collaboration. Learn more about Microsoft Loop in our blog recap!
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What Is Microsoft Loop?
Microsoft Loop is essentially an evolution of Microsoft’s Fluid Framework.
During its introduction at the Build conference in May 2019, Microsoft said that the Fluid Framework would replace the concept of a document with a cloud address and enable its individual components, such as text passages and tables, to be shared and collaborated on in real time.
While cloud document storage and real-time collaboration are something Office users have been enjoying for some time now, the ability to individually share, for example, a single table from a Word document and see changes made to it by someone else reflected in the original document is new. This idea has the potential to significantly streamline many existing workflows, and that’s exactly where Microsoft Loop comes in.
On its website, Microsoft describes Loop as a new application that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications. These are the individual elements that make up the application:
“[Microsoft Loop] is a tool that is intended for use cases that word processors were not designed for,” said Raúl Castañón, senior analyst at 451 Research, a division of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Such use cases are now far more common than they were before the pandemic disrupted established work routines, causing many organizations to permanently embrace hybrid work arrangements.
But Microsoft Loop goes far beyond addressing the needs of hybrid workers. It fundamentally changes the entire document creation process by allowing data to be captured just once before becoming reusable in its intended form across many different applications within Microsoft’s ecosystem. The deep integration with applications like Teams, Dynamics, and Outlook is an important selling point and something competing productivity products like Notion will never be able to deliver.
Collaborating Using Microsoft Loop
While the standalone Microsoft Loop application will be released sometime during the first half of 2022, organizations will be able to start collaborating using Loop components in Teams, Outlook, and OneNote later this month to experience first-hand their positive impact on productivity.
Here’s an example of how such a collaboration could look like in the future: The sales team creates a Teams group chat to discuss a new lead and brainstorm ideas how to turn it into a paying customer. Because not all members of the sales team are familiar with the lead, the Head of Sales embeds the relevant Dynamics 365 record using a Loop component in Teams so that all participants can see all collected information without leaving the chat. After some discussion, the sales team agrees not to pursue the lead at the moment, changing its status accordingly.
The change is immediately reflected in Dynamics 365, completely removing the need to update the record manually after the meeting. Finally, the Head of Sales embeds the same record in an email to his boss, informing her about the team’s decision.
This example shows how Loop components maintain a single source of truth that helps keep everyone in sync and significantly reduces the duplication of effort.
In the near future, Microsoft wants to introduce more Loop components for connecting its business applications with productivity tools and enable third-party application developers to build Loop components by extending their existing message extensions applications and Microsoft Graph connectors integrations.
Knowing that new features are useful only when they’re actually used, Microsoft has recently introduced Context IQ, a set of AI capabilities that predict, seek, and suggest information people need, when they need it. With the help of Context IQ, employees of all skill levels should soon be able to level up their productivity and collaborate more effectively.
Summary on Microsoft Loop Adoption
With Microsoft Loop, the Redmond-based tech giant wants to make monolithic documents a thing of the past. By breaking them down into atomic units of productivity called components, Microsoft empowers users to create sharable content blocks that can be reused anywhere, always providing a single source of truth.
It will still take some time before Microsoft Loop is ready for prime-time, but its individual pieces are already starting to appear in products like Microsoft Teams.
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