Emily Ley believes perfect is overrated. When life gets overly busy, rather than strive in vain to check every box every day, Ley’s approach is to scale back. Simplify. Make intentional choices. Plan purposefully. And don’t be afraid to fail.
These are the principles that drive Ley’s daily life as well as her namesake business. What started in South Florida in 2008 as a small design shop has blossomed into a thriving boutique brand that now ships artfully designed organizational products to eager customers worldwide—everything from planning tools to stationery, office necessities, small storage items, and more.
Her signature product, The Simplified Planner, got off the ground after her first son was born in 2011. Ley says she went in search of the perfect planner but was left dissatisfied. “Everything I found was full of extra checklists and other features I didn’t need,” she says. “All those boxes that went unchecked or empty everyday made me feel even more like I wasn’t measuring up. What I desperately wanted was a fresh start every morning. A place to plan my day, keep track of my to-dos, and keep track of dinners. I just wanted something simple. So, I set out to create my own. With a sharpie and blank paper in hand, The Simplified Planner was born.”
In addition to her own organizational products, Ley uses the productivity tools in Office 365 to keep her day-to-day creative activities on track. She says she and her team use Word to draft creative briefs and production plans—including things like what files need to be created, who’s responsible for what, and, of course, deadlines. “The Review features in Word are fantastic,” says Ley, who also wrote her two books—Grace Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy (2016), and A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living (2017)—in Word. “They really help my editor and her team streamline the process of editing and proofreading.”
Excel also plays a crucial role in her daily life. In addition to using Excel as the family address book and to keep track of annual family budgets, Ley uses it to manage the manufacturing, ordering, and importing of her products. “With multiple manufacturers and multiple shipments—each on its own production, shipment, receiving deadlines—things can get complicated quickly. The features in Excel really help to keep track of both the overarching view of things, as well as the details of each shipment,” says Ley.
She also notes the importance of being able to customize Excel sheets to make them more visual. “Being able to manipulate formulas as well as colors, borders, and the sizes of each cell helps to create spreadsheets that are dynamic as well as visually organized. This is especially helpful in a fast-paced industry. [You can] set it up once and use that template for future projects.”
Speaking of future projects, when asked how her growing family has informed the way she designs new items, the answer is surprising—or perhaps not, given Ley’s plan-purposefully philosophy. “As my family life has gotten busier, The Simplified Planner has gotten simpler. Every year, we look at its pages and examine each feature and each mark on the pages. ‘Does this absolutely need to be here?’ Or, ‘Could we simplify the page in an intentional way, making white space or margin for what really matters?’”
What really matters: it’s something Ley learned at an early age from her parents, and she tries to carry it through all aspects of her life today. She says the secret to staying organized is in focusing on the right things and in using the right tools—and in not trying to be perfect. “I really see mistakes and mess-ups as opportunities for great things. If we don’t let ourselves off the hook for being imperfect, then what fun is life?
“We often think about pursuing dreams as being really, really complicated or big. But the truth is, pursuing our passions is quite simple: one foot in front of the other. Little by little, our tiny decisions and actions can produce great joy in our lives.”
Technology is changing the way people get things done. We’ve picked up the pace. Our work is more collaborative. And we’re blurring the boundaries of time and place. When we ask customers why they continue to choose Office for their most important work, they tell us that they love the power the Office apps offer. The breadth and depth of features is unmatched in the industry and allows them to do things that they just can’t do with other products. But they also tell us that they need Office to adapt to the changing environment, and they’d love us to simplify the user experience and make that power more accessible. Today, we’re pleased to announce user experience updates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook rolling out gradually over the next few months. These changes are inspired by the new culture of work and designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity.
Office is used by more than a billion people every month, so while we’re excited about these changes, we also recognize how important it is to get things right. To guide our work, we came up with “The Three Cs”—a set of guiding principles that we use as a north star. Because these principles will make this process feel different than any previous user experience update, we thought it would be useful to share them with you.
Customers—We’re using a customer-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. That process consists of three phases: initial customer research and analysis; concepting and co-creation; and validation and refinement.
Context—Customers love the power of Office, but they don’t need every feature at the same time. We want our new designs to understand the context that you’re working in, so you can focus on the job at hand. That means surfacing the most relevant commands based on the work you’re doing and making it easy to connect and collaborate with others.
Control—We recognize that established skills and routines are powerful—and that the way someone uses the apps often depends on specific parts of the user interface. So we want to give users control, allowing them to toggle significant changes on and off.
These updates are exclusive to Office.com and Office 365—the always up-to-date versions of our apps and services. But they won’t happen all at once. Instead, over the next several months we will deploy new designs to select customers in stages and carefully test and learn. We’ll move them into production only after they’ve made it through rigorous rounds of validation and refinement.
The initial set of updates includes three changes:
Simplified ribbon—A new, updated version of the ribbon is designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. People who prefer to dedicate more screen space to the commands will still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.
The first app to get this new experience will be the web version of Word and will start to roll out to select consumer users today on Office.com. Select Insiders will then see the simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows in July.
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows offer our deepest, richest feature set—and they’re the preferred experience for users who want to get the most from our apps. Users have a lot of “muscle memory” built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work. We aren’t ready to bring the simplified ribbon to these versions yet because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first. But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click.
New colors and icons—Across the apps you’ll start to see new colors and new icons built as scalable graphics—so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernize the user experience and make it more inclusive and accessible.
The new colors and icons will first appear in the web version of Word for Office.com. Then, later this month, select Insiders will see them in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. In July, they will go to Outlook for Windows, and in August they will begin rolling out to Outlook for Mac.
Search—Search will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people. With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.
Commercial users can already see this experience in action in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app, and it will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.
For an overview of these changes, check out the video below by Jon Friedman, our chief designer for Office.
To develop these initial designs, Jon’s team worked closely with customers. They collected data on how people use the apps and built prototypes to test new concepts. While we have plenty of work left to do, we’ve definitely heard encouraging things from customers using early builds:
“It’s simpler and I feel like I can open it and immediately get my bearings and move forward. Not a lot of extra information. The tasks are obvious on this screen.”
“The toolbar provides the most frequently used features…maximizing the screen real estate for the actual content.”
“I like the extra space. What I do find is that the feature to toggle it off/on is helpful because occasionally I can’t figure out (quickly) where something went.”
We plan on carefully monitoring usage and feedback as the changes roll out, and we’ll update our designs as we learn more.
Technology is changing the way people get things done at work, at school, and at home, resetting expectations for productivity. Inspired by these changes, these updates are designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity. But what’s most exciting for us is that over the next few months we’ll be co-creating and refining these new experiences with our customers—and making the power of Office more accessible for everyone.
With Windows Autopilot, our goal is to simplify deployment of new Windows 10 devices by eliminating the cost and complexity associated with creating, maintaining, and loading custom images. Windows Autopilot will revolutionize how new devices get deployed in your organization—now you can deliver new off-the-shelf Windows 10 devices directly to your users. With a few simple clicks, the device transforms itself into a fully business-ready state, dramatically reducing the time it takes for your users to get up and running with new devices.
Not only does Windows Autopilot significantly reduce the cost of deploying Windows 10 devices but also delivers an experience that’s magical for users and zero-touch for IT.
I’m excited to share that we are extending that zero-touch experience even further with several new capabilities available in preview with the Windows Insider Program today.
Self-Deploying mode—Currently, the Windows Autopilot experience requires the user to select basic settings like Region, Language, and Keyboard, and also enter their credentials, in the Windows 10 out-of-the-box experience. With a new Windows Autopilot capability called “Self-Deploying mode,” we’re extending the zero-touch experience from IT to the user deploying the device. Power on* is all it takes to deploy a new Windows 10 device into a fully business-ready state—managed, secured, and ready for usage—no need for any user interaction. You can configure the device to self-deploy into a locked down kiosk, a digital signage, or a shared productivity device—all it takes is power on.*
Windows Autopilot reset—This feature extends the zero-touch experience from deployment of new Windows 10 devices to reset scenarios where a device is being repurposed for a new user. We’re making it possible to completely reset and redeploy an Intune-managed Windows 10 device into a fully business-ready state without having to physically access the device. All you need to do is click a button in Intune!
Windows Insiders can test these features with the latest Windows 10 build and Microsoft Intune now.
I cannot wait to see the feedback from the Insider community! To see how this works, and several exciting updates to Windows Autopilot, check out this quick video:
One final note: A big part of what we build is based on feedback from our customers. With this in mind, we also added several new Windows Autopilot capabilities into the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803) based on feedback, and these capabilities are also available today:
Enrollment Status page—We received tons of feedback from Windows Autopilot customers who want the ability to hold the device in the out-of-box setup experience until the configured policies and apps have been provisioned to the device. This enables IT admins to be assured the device is configured into a fully business-ready state prior to users getting to the desktop. This is made possible with a capability called “Enrollment Status” and is available today with Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803) and Microsoft Intune.
Device vendor supply chain integration—We enabled Windows 10 OEMs and hardware vendors to integrate Windows Autopilot into their supply chain and fulfillment systems so that devices are registered in Windows Autopilot to your organization the moment your purchase is fulfilled. This makes the registration of Windows Autopilot devices completely hands-free and zero-touch for you as well as your device vendor/OEM. Contact your device reseller to find out if they are supporting Windows Autopilot.
Automatic Windows Autopilot profile assignment—We integrated Azure Active Directory (AD) dynamic groups with Windows Autopilot and Microsoft Intune to deliver a zero-touch experience for Windows Autopilot profile assignments on all Windows Autopilot devices.
I said this in my prior post and I’ll say it again—Windows Autopilot is an absolute game changer. I urge you to spend some time learning more about it.
In a recent study produced in partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, more than three-quarters of business leaders said that the evolution of their workplace strategy, processes, and technology is very important to their company’s overall performance. Yet less than one-third said their company was forward-looking in its approach. In a global economy, where new technologies have the potential to disrupt entire industries, how do companies enable their most important asset: people?
Today’s post was written by Stephen Cutchins CIO and accessibility lead at Accenture.
Diversity at Accenture is a source of strength; the wealth of different perspectives and skillsets that our employees bring to the table keeps us leading in our field. Achieving more as a company starts with addressing the needs of every single employee in our workforce. I am passionate about accessibility. I grew up with two cousins with disabilities and it shaped my outlook on the whole idea of inclusion in the workplace. Accessible technology is about one thing—fitting the tools to the humans who use them—and I’m fortunate to work with a company that shares my vision. I wanted to create an accessibility practice at Accenture, and to that end, I started as the first employee in the CIO’s Center for Excellence, where we look at finding the right tools for an inclusive workplace. And when it comes to business tools, we see Microsoft as a leader in inclusive technology and a great partner, a perfect match for our goals to put technology to work empowering every one of our employees. In fact, we now take it for granted that the experiences within Microsoft 365 are going to work well for our employees.
As a human-centric company, our workplace initiatives are designed to bring the conversation about accessibility to the forefront, encouraging an open dialogue about how we can support employees’ needs in the workplace. Accenture runs on Office 365 productivity services that include a wealth of built-in accessibility features. The Microsoft approach of “accessibility by design” matches our philosophy that accessibility is not an add-on or an afterthought, but an inherent part of the technology we use to communicate and collaborate as an organization.
The ability to collaborate effectively with your colleagues to get work done is the baseline of any productive organization. A lot of credit goes to accessibility features in Office 365 ProPlus applications—such as Skype for Business, Word, and Outlook—for helping us tap into the incredible resources in our company. Daily Skype voice and video calls become transformative when people who are blind or motor-disabled can participate by using JAWS screen reader for Windows or voice dictation software. Even minor changes can have an enormous impact. I was excited to see that when Microsoft moved the Accessibility Checker front and center in Word, near the spell check, it raised awareness of both the feature itself and the need to use it. We are all of different abilities, and learning to consider the full range of situations across the disability spectrum means employees will use the tools at hand for better communication and collaboration with everyone.
It gives me enormous satisfaction that our inclusive workplace, with Microsoft technologies, engages our employees to do their best work and to help them realize their true potential and grow as human beings. Everyone benefits.
Read the case study to learn more about how Accenture is empowering its workforce with the intuitive accessibility tools built into Windows 10 and Office 365.
Today’s post was written by Rudra Mitra, director for Office 365 Information Protection Engineering.
The built-in suite of powerful threat protection services for Office 365—including Exchange Online Protection (EOP), Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and Threat Intelligence—is a paramount requirement for customers choosing Office 365 to help drive their digital transformation. With InfoSecurity Europe kicking off today, we are providing an update on how these security workloads provide enhanced protection for our customers and meet the strict data residency, compliance, and privacy requirements of Office 365.
The foundational elements of Office 365 threat protection include:
Protecting users from threats.
Raising awareness and enabling education of threats.
Overview of enhanced capabilities for Office 365 threat protection.
Here’s a summary of the enhancements we made to these elements:
Phishing has many forms ranging from “royalty” offering rewards to more sophisticated and targeted campaigns. Cybercriminals continue to find other attack methods, manifesting in a rise of phishing campaigns across the industry landscape, including in Office 365. We have a >99.9 percent malware catch rate, and to better protect customers against phishing, we made following enhancements in Office 365:
The new anti-phishing technology made available to our customers is leveraged by Microsoft Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO). As one of the world’s largest enterprises, Microsoft faces concerns and security requirements similar to our customers. With the enhanced protection capabilities, our customers should have even greater confidence with Office 365 threat protection.
Different types of phishing attacks seen in the threat landscape.
Detection enhancements enriching the user and admin experience
For users to be educated on flagging suspicious links coming through email, they must have visibility to the destination URLs point. Now, Office 365 offers the Native Link Rendering feature that enables Office 365 ATP customers to view the destination of URLs and make more informed decisions when clicking links. This feature is currently available for the Outlook Web App and coming to the Outlook client later this year.
Example of the Native Link Rendering and Report Message features in Outlook Web App.
The enhanced Phish view in the Security & Compliance Center dashboard offers admins new reporting capabilities that provide broader visibility, control, and finer detail on the threats impacting their organization. The Phish view offers ATP admins with enriched phishing, malware, and user submission (the emails reported by users) details. In the coming months, we will add more details to the Phish view, exposing the category of phishing email that is blocked. Additionally, enhancements are also launching for new reporting views for EOP customers.
Enhanced Phish view in the enriched admin capabilities for Office 365 ATP.
Threat remediation, awareness, and education
Since we first announced Office 365 Threat Intelligence, we added powerful threat remediation features in the service. Admins can proactively search for suspicious emails and delete them before any adverse impact to the organization. Additionally, threat trackers are available enabling admins to perform investigations on potential threats to the tenant.
Remediation actions available for proactive deletion of suspicious emails.
Threat Intelligence also features the Attack Simulator to help raise awareness and provide an education for modern threats. Using the Attack Simulator, admins can launch realistic threats at specific users. This allows them to update policies and protection based on actionable insights from the simulations. Our recent webcast provides a detailed update on the impressive set of capabilities offered in Office 365 Threat Intelligence.
Attack simulator dashboard.
Secure your digital transformation
Security for the modern workplace is fundamental to our customers’ digital transformation journey. Start an Office 365 E5 trial to experience holistic protection of the modern workplace.
Please send us your in-product feedback so we can continue making enhancements and provide the most advanced services to protect your Office 365 environment.
Each month on the Microsoft 365 Blog, we highlight key updates to Microsoft 365 that build on our vision for the modern workplace. This month, we introduced a number of new capabilities to help individuals produce accessible content, work together in real-time, and create a secure and compliant workplace.
Here’s a look at what we brought to Microsoft 365 in May.
Empowering creative teamwork
Create accessible content in Office 365—We enhanced the Accessibility Checker to streamline the process of creating quality content that is accessible to people with disabilities. Now, the Accessibility Checker identifies an expanded range of issues within a document, including low-contrast text that is difficult to read because the font color is too similar to the background color. The checker also includes a recommended action menu and utilizes AI to make intelligent suggestions for improvements—like suggesting a description for an image—making it easier to fix flagged issues from within your workflow.
Accessibility Checker alerts you in real-time of issues that make your content difficult for people with disabilities to access.
Work in mixed reality with SharePoint—This month, we unveiled SharePoint spaces—immersive, mixed reality experiences built on SharePoint—which enable you to interact with and explore content in new ways. Now, Microsoft 365 subscribers can work with 3D models, 360-degree videos, panoramic images, organizational charts, visualizations, and any information on your intranet to create immersive mixed reality experiences. SharePoint spaces make it easy to create virtual environments with point-and-click simplicity to help viewers digest information that might be too numerous or too complex to experience in the real world or in a two-dimensional environment.
Create immersive virtual environments in seconds with SharePoint spaces.
Find relevant content faster in SharePoint—The new Find tab in the SharePoint mobile app makes it easier to access the information you need when looking for expertise, content, apps, or resources on the go. The Find tab uses AI to automatically surface sites, files, news, and people relevant to you without having to search—including documents and sites that you were recently working on from across your devices. The Find tab also refines search results as you type, and leverages AI to provide instant answers to questions you ask based on information from across your intranet.
By learning from your existing content and organizational knowledge, AI provides instant answers, transforming search into action.
Run efficient meetings with Microsoft Teams—This month at Build, we demonstrated a range of future capabilities in Microsoft Teams that utilize AI to make meetings smarter and more intuitive over time—including real-time transcription, Cortana voice interactions for Teams-enabled devices, and automatic notetaking. Today, we’re announcing new capabilities for mobile users that make it easier to participate in meetings on the go. Now, you can quickly share your screen with others in the meeting directly from your mobile device, or upload images and video from your library. These improvements make everyone a first-class meeting participant—regardless of location or device.
Extend meeting capabilities with Surface Hub 2—Earlier this month, we introduced Surface Hub 2, a device built from the ground up to be used by teams in any organization. Surface Hub 2 integrates Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, Office 365, Windows 10, and the intelligent cloud into a seamless collaboration experience, which extends the capabilities of any meeting space and allows users to create—whether in the same room or separated by thousands of miles.
Creating a secure and compliant workplace
Achieve GDPR compliance with the Microsoft Cloud—This month marked a major milestone for individual privacy rights with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that took effect on May 25, 2018. Over the last few months, we introduced new capabilities across the Microsoft Cloud to help you effectively demonstrate that your organization has taken appropriate steps to protect the privacy rights of individuals. To learn more about these capabilities, read our summary of Microsoft’s investment to support GDPR and the privacy rights of individuals.
Microsoft 365 customer INAIL leverages Azure Information Protection to classify, label, and protect their most sensitive data.
We also improved Business-to-Consumer (B2C) collaboration, making it easier to invite external partners who use consumer email accounts like Outlook and Gmail while protecting your organization’s data and improving the process of setting access policies.
As companies seek to empower people to do their best work, a cultural transformation isn’t just inevitable—it’s essential. This month, we released a white paper outlining how Microsoft is partnering with customers to foster a modern workplace that is productive, responsive, creative, and secure. To learn more, read the New Culture of Work white paper.
Check out these other updates from across Microsoft 365:
Today, there are more than two billion Firstline Workers, who are often a customer’s first point of contact, making them the first to represent a company’s brand. Microsoft partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to survey the roles and importance of the Firstline Workforce within the context of digital transformation.
Of the 383 business leaders who responded to the survey:
78 percent responded that connecting and empowering Firstline Workers is critical.
67 percent think increased efficiency is their top driver.
60 percent will adopt advanced analytics in the next two years.
When you’re a successful food blogger, cookbook author, TV celebrity, world traveler, devoted wife, expecting mother, and occasional tap dancer, life starts to stack up like a seven-layer cake. Jocelyn Delk Adams’ personal goal through all of it? Keep things as sweet as possible.
The mastermind behind the popular baking blog Grandbaby Cakes, Adams is a lightning bolt of activity. In addition to creating and cultivating a rapidly growing brand and loyal fan base, the energetic 30-something racks up frequent flyer miles like they’re going out of style, jetting to appear live on programs like The Today Show or The Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets.
Yet even with her busy lifestyle, Adams’ favorite place is still in her own kitchen creating and testing recipes, most of which are based on techniques and tastes handed down to her from generations past. Adams says she relies on Office 365 apps in a variety of ways to stay on top of it all. For instance, she keeps track of her many food creations in Excel, using the Sort feature to quickly find what she’s looking for. And she says the Review feature in Word is indispensable for writing and editing the wealth of content she publishes on her blog, her website, and other brand outlets. (More on this below.)
As a young girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Adams had plenty of influences in the kitchen. Her mother and aunt taught her the basics of cooking and baking at an early age. Her father, seeing his daughter’s rapidly growing culinary interest, encouraged her talent by purchasing whatever she wanted at the grocery store each week, so she could make meals for herself and the family. She also says her uncle, BB, is one of the best cooks in the family. “He seriously gets down,” she proclaims.
Yet Adams’ biggest education took place during visits to her grandmother Maggie’s home in Mississippi. It was there, alongside her “Big Mama” as the family affectionately (or should we say “confectionately”) calls Maggie, that a lifelong love of creating cakes and other dessert treats took hold. It was Big Mama’s original recipes and stories that formed the inspiration behind Adams’ book Grandbaby Cakes, published in 2015.
Adams feels a big reason for the book’s popularity is the strong connection it makes between her Southern-inspired recipes and her strong family roots. “It was an opportunity to truly share my story,” she says. “I’m so glad readers connected with that.”
Family is what got Adams started in the baking business, and it’s what keeps her motivated today. Yet as a young adult, baking wasn’t always in her career sights. Her first fulltime job out of college was as a TV production assistant on the Judge Mathis show. From there she freelanced in casting for several big-budget films before eventually landing at an arts college, where she oversaw the production of a huge annual arts festival in downtown Chicago.
Through it all, however, were her grandmother’s recipes. And a natural entrepreneurial spirit. When Adams decided to pair her production experience with her unique kitchen history, Grandbaby Cakes was born. “Having a brand where family is central to its purpose really makes so much sense for me,” she says. “I’m so glad that I get to incorporate them into my first love and career in such a special way.” And while Adams’ recipes are based on Big Mama’s original creations, she likes to experiment as well, “adding new life to family recipes that could use a little spruce.”
Finding success in the crowded blogosphere and celebrity baking world requires exceptional dedication and organization. The elusive dividing line between work and life can be blurry at best, something Adams remains philosophical about. “When I realized that balance didn’t truly exist, I was finally able to prioritize and manage my schedule much better,” she says. “I believe in changing hats when I need to.”
Adams says she credits Excel for keeping her organized. “I have millions of spreadsheets devoted to everything from recipe ideas arranged by month or season to recipe test results to project budgets. Whether I’m making new seasonal recipe lists or invite lists for brand events, I can alphabetically sort—or sort by certain data. Talk about efficiency!” She also says she uses the Formulas feature in Excel constantly, for budgets and processing payments. “Formulas automatically calculate totals for me, which means I can concentrate on so many other things.”
As far as writing goes, she says she keeps all her recipes and chapters of her cookbook organized in Word. “The Comments feature is particularly useful for receiving edits from my publisher. We can implement Track Changes, which helps us keep tabs on any edits we make. It has totally revolutionized how I edit my transcripts.” Adams notes that for her, the ability to customize the Spelling & Grammar feature in Word is key. “I have some settings that automatically update words that I use frequently in my posts. This is such a time saver.”
The next chapter in the Grandbaby Cakes story may be the most exciting—the impending arrival of her “little BabyCakes” this winter. “My family and I are beyond excited. Because I’m having a girl, I can’t wait to get her in the kitchen and get her baking with her family,” says Adams. “We truly believe in passing down our traditions, so this will be no exception.”
No doubt adding a new family member will make a busy life even busier. But for now, Adams is taking it all in stride. “Family is always number one for me. And while I’m a super hard worker that constantly challenges myself to grow and soar more and more each year, my family comes before everything, and they totally should.”
That sounds like something that would make Big Mama proud.
Today’s post was written by Alym Rayani, director of Microsoft 365.
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect, today marks a milestone for individual privacy rights. We live in a time where digital technology is profoundly impacting our lives, from the way we connect with each other to how we interpret our world. Central to this digital transformation is the ability to store and analyze massive amounts of data to generate deeper insights and more personal customer experiences. This helps all of us achieve more than ever before, but it also leaves an extensive trail of data, including personal information and sensitive business records that need to be protected.
At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Trust is at the core of everything we do because we have long appreciated that people won’t use technology they don’t trust. We also believe that privacy is a fundamental human right that needs to be protected. As Julie Brill, Microsoft privacy lead, notes in her recent blog, Microsoft believes GDPR establishes important principles that are relevant globally.
In addition to our ongoing commitment to privacy, we made a number of investments over the last year to support GDPR and the privacy rights of individuals. Here is a recap of how you can use these capabilities to help your organization on the path to GDPR compliance.
Assess and manage compliance risk
Because achieving organizational compliance can be very challenging, understanding your compliance risk should be your first priority. Customers have told us about their challenges with the lack of in-house capabilities to define and implement controls and inefficiencies in audit preparation activities.
The Compliance Manager and Compliance Score helps you continuously monitor your compliance status. Compliance Manager captures and provides details for each Microsoft control, which has been implemented to meet specific requirements, including implementation and test plan details, and management responses if necessary. It also provides recommended actions your organization can take to enhance data protection capabilities and help you meet your compliance obligations.
Here’s a look at how Microsoft 365 customer Abrona uses Compliance Manager:
Protect personal data
At its core, GDPR is all about protecting the personal data of individuals—making sure there is proper security, governance, and management of such data to help prevent it from being misused or getting into the wrong hands. To help ensure that your organization is effectively protecting personal data as well as sensitive content relevant to organizational compliance needs, you need to implement solutions and processes that enable your organization to discover, classify, protect, and monitor data that is most important.
The information protection capabilities within Microsoft 365, such as Office 365 Data Governance and Azure Information Protection, provide an integrated classification, labeling, and protection experience—enabling more persistent protection of your data—no matter where it lives or travels. A proactive data governance strategy of classification of personal and sensitive data enables you to respond with precision when you need to find the relevant data to satisfy a regulatory request or requirement like a Data Subject Request (DSR) as a part of GDPR.
Azure Information Protection scanner addresses hybrid and on-premises scenarios by allowing you to configure policies to automatically discover, classify, label, and protect documents in your on-premises repositories such as the File Servers and on-premises SharePoint servers. You can deploy the scanner in your own environment by following instructions in this technical guide.
Azure’s fully managed database services, like Azure SQL Database, help alleviate the burden of patching and updating the data platform, while bringing intelligent built-in features that help identify where sensitive data is stored. New technologies, like Azure SQL Data Discovery and Classification, provide advanced capabilities for discovering, classifying, labeling, and protecting the sensitive data at the database level. Protect personal data with technologies like Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) that offer Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) support with Azure Key Vault integration.
Let’s take a look at how Microsoft 365 customer INAIL leverages Azure Information Protection to classify, label, and protect their most sensitive data:
Respond with confidence
Ensuring processes are in place to efficiently manage and meet certain GDPR requirements, such as responding to DSRs or responding to data breaches, is a tough hurdle for many organizations.
To help you navigate the GDPR resources provided across cloud services, we introduced the Privacy tab in the Service Trust Portal last month. It provides you with the information you need to prepare for your own Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) on Microsoft Cloud services, the guidance for responding to DSRs, and the information about how Microsoft detects and responds to personal data breaches and how to receive notifications directly from Microsoft.
Watch the new Mechanics video to learn more about the GDPR resources in the Service Trust Portal.
Features to support DSRs
Several features help support DSRs across Microsoft Cloud services, including a Data Privacy tab in Office 365, an Azure DSR portal, and new DSR search capabilities in Dynamics 365.
The new Data Privacy tab, GDPR dashboard, and DSR experience in Office 365 are now generally available for all commercial customers. This experience is designed to provide you with the tools to efficiently and effectively execute a DSR for Office 365 content—such as Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Groups, and now Microsoft Teams.
As Kelly Clay of GlaxoSmithKline says, “The GDPR 2016/679 is a regulation in E.U. law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. GDPR also brings a new set of ‘digital rights’ for E.U. citizens in an age of an increase of the economic value of personal data in the digital economy. GDPR will require large data holders and data processors to manage DSRs, and organizations will need tools in Office 365 to manage DSRs.”
Patrick Oots of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon observes his client organizations and their steps towards GDPR. “We are excited to see Microsoft investing in Office 365. As our clients prepare for GDPR, we see tremendous value in tools within the Data Privacy Portal to manage DSRs in response to Article 15. As data privacy law evolves, we remind our Office 365 clients of the overall importance in the proper implementation of information governance polices within the Security & Compliance Center to minimize risk.” Patrick further highlights how a proactive data governance strategy can help organizations react to regulations such as GDPR with precision when required.
The Azure DSR portal is now also generally available. Using the Azure DSR portal, tenant admins can identify information associated with a user and then correct, amend, delete, or export the user’s data. Admins can also identify information associated with a data subject and will be able to execute DSRs against system-generated logs (data Microsoft generates to provide a given service) for Microsoft Cloud services. Other new offerings from Azure include the general availability of Azure Policy, Compliance Manager for Azure GDPR, and the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint for GDPR.
To help customers respond to DSRs in Dynamics 365, we have two search capabilities: Relevance Search and the Person Search Report. Relevance Search gives you a fast and simple way to find what you are looking for, and is powered by Azure Search. The Person Search Report offers a prepackaged set of extendible entities, which Microsoft authored, to identify personal data used to define a person and the roles they might be assigned to.
The onset of GDPR also means stricter regulations that organizations must adhere to in the event of a data breach. Microsoft 365 has a robust set of capabilities, from Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to Azure ATP, that can help protect against and detect data breaches.
Get started today on your GDPR journey with Microsoft
Microsoft has extensive expertise in protecting data, championing privacy, and complying with complex regulations. We believe that the GDPR is an important step forward for clarifying and enabling individual privacy rights and provide GDPR related assurances in our contractual commitments.
No matter where you are in your GDPR efforts, we are here to help on your journey to GDPR compliance. We have several resources available to help you get started today: