We sat down with Karuana Gatimu (@Karuana), Principal Product Manager at Microsoft, to discuss the new SharePoint and Teams, how to achieve frictionless IT governance in Microsoft 365, and what to focus on in the year ahead.
Microsoft 365 is evolving faster than ever before. With disruptions like AI now in the mix, users have powerful new capabilities when using products like SharePoint and Teams.
Innovations include AI-powered features, like Copilot, that allow you to create beautiful SharePoint sites and pages through simple prompts, coauthoring capabilities that make it easier to create content, users getting a new Teams and Teams premium experience, updates to Viva and Loop, and so much more.
To discuss this new wave of changes and how to apply them to your organization, Benjamin Niaulin, ShareGate’s VP of Product, sat down with Karuana Gatimu, Principal Product Manager and Customer Advocacy Lead at Microsoft. She also shared strategies for achieving what she calls “frictionless IT governance.”
Here’s a recap of our interview and its key takeaways. Let’s dive in!
Watch the full interview or keep reading for a recap of the highlights.
Table of contents
- Navigating the latest Microsoft 365 updates
- Microsoft Viva: Elevating the employee experience
- How to achieve frictionless IT governance
- 4 outcomes of frictionless IT governance
- “Doing more with less:” What it really means
- Nurturing an environment of trust
- The evolving role of IT: Adapting to future challenges
- Key takeaways
Navigating the latest Microsoft 365 updates
A lot is happening in the Microsoft ecosystem right now. With so many innovations and features being announced, we asked Karuana about the underlying theme that connected all these updates: Teams, Viva, Loop, or Copilot, and where she thinks the highest impact will be.
Karuana sees three main points of impact: performance, ease of use, and flexibility. The better experience Microsoft can create for its users (like incorporating all of this in the new Teams, the main productivity center for so many people), the more efficient people can be in their workplace.
And, as Karuana points out, “it would be crazy not to talk about Copilot” and its integration into Microsoft 365, which she sees as a “huge sea of change.”
Microsoft Viva: Elevating the employee experience
Another crucial point discussed was Microsoft Viva and its impact on the employee experience. According to Karuana, Microsoft 365 users have one thing in common: they’re not using their tools to the best they can. And Microsoft Viva—with the integration of features like Viva Learning, which enables custom content delivery right into users’ workflows—is vital in helping people understand the power of the tools they already bought.
In many ways, Karuana added, Viva is also more than just the “other thing” that helps with employee engagement and experience. It can also play an essential role in deployment, where it’s fundamental to get end users up to speed on the tools they’ll be using once they get started with Microsoft 365.
How to achieve frictionless IT governance
One key aspect among all the changes coming to Microsoft that Karuana has emphasized time and time again in her sessions and on social media is “frictionless IT governance.” So we asked her about the idea behind this concept and how it could empower IT moving forward.
What makes for frictionless IT governance?
According to Karuana, there are three main elements to frictionless IT governance in Microsoft 365:
- Hygiene—Organizations must review configurations and policies to ensure their environments are neat and set up correctly. This is even more important for organizations that underwent rapid deployments during COVID and never really set things up properly.
- Automation—As a consequence of not undergoing a hygiene review, IT might be unaware of the automation capabilities already available for governance. By doing it, managing Microsoft 365 will be easier and more effective, saving precious time for more strategic work.
- Partnering with end users—Once hygiene and automation are in place, be sure to partner with the people responsible for user experience in the company. Together, you can remove roadblocks for end users, taking a big step in mitigating issues such as shadow IT.
4 outcomes of frictionless IT governance
- User adoption—Good governance is a predecessor to great adoption. So if you lack governance and users start facing blockers, shadow IT might show up, bringing along security risks.
- A seamless work experience—Good governance eliminates unnecessary processes, increasing efficiency and productivity, making people happier, and helping organizations achieve great things.
- Less sprawl—With your frictionless IT governance strategy in place, you’re greatly reducing the risk of sprawl and clutter in your Microsoft 365 environments, making life easier and more productive for everyone.
- Empowered users—Microsoft 365 aims to empower end users in their digital workspaces. This is why self-service comes packed with Microsoft 365 by default, enabling people to create and manage teams, sites, and pages on their own, boosting collaboration.
To put all of this into practice, try out ShareGate. It’s the perfect automated sidekick that helps you manage and take control of your Microsoft 365 environments.
Doing more with less: What it really means
Managers and business leaders everywhere love the idea of “doing more with less”—which, for Karuana, means more than having the best possible return on investment. It’s also about ensuring end users make the most of their time with the Microsoft 365 services and generate real impact in the organization.
Here’s an example provided by Karuana: if you’re editing the same rows in a spreadsheet over and over, or if you’re doing something more than three times, it should be clear that there’s an opportunity for automation. You should think: “How can I do things a little bit differently?” Think of using Power Automate, or other tools—after all, you already bought them, they’re yours!
So whether it’s Copilot, Loop, Excel, or Word, backed by AI, automation enhancements, or any other feature, the underlying objective is to help people create value without being bogged down by repetitive, manual work.
Nurturing an environment of trust
With the recent changes in Microsoft 365 and with hundreds of millions of users working and collaborating on products like Teams and SharePoint, it’s natural that people raise concerns over the risks of AI and data privacy. Karuana acknowledges these concerns, but she says she’s confident in Microsoft’s ability to advance AI responsibly, both as an industry leader and as, in her words, “an environment of trust.”
“I’ve worked here for a decade now. I worked in the Microsoft ecosystem before I came inside Microsoft. But it’s not blindly. I have evaluated our abilities as a company,” she says. “I’m here, and I align myself with Microsoft because I believe we are ethical. I believe we really focus on trust.”
Karuana adds that the innovations brought by Microsoft are designed to empower every user and organization on the planet, “and It’s not just a slide.”
The evolving role of IT: Adapting to future challenges
The role of IT is evolving. With new technologies like AI now in the mix, IT professionals need to adapt to future challenges and see how these innovations are an opportunity to steer their companies in a new direction.
Closing off the interview, Karuana said that IT professionals must focus on continuous learning. She sees no way around this, as new innovations require staying ahead of the curve and embracing new challenges. In her words: “IT professionals shouldn’t be afraid to reinvent themselves.”
IT professionals should also understand the technology they’re using in a broader context. With Microsoft 365, for example, you might be an expert in SharePoint and Teams, but it’s important to understand other Microsoft 365 products, too, so you can leverage them to help your organization. By understanding all these products, you can connect the dots more clearly and lead your organization toward a future of innovation, efficiency, and success.
To recap, here are the key takeaways from our conversation with Karuana:
- Frictionless governance is crucial for IT admins in managing the new features and tools and balancing productivity and security.
- New innovations in the workplace revolve around efficiency and automation. Microsoft 365 is a game-changer in this regard, bringing powerful new AI features to assist with everyday tasks and make people more productive than ever before.
- The key elements of the new Teams will be performance, ease of use, and flexibility.
- IT should focus on reviewing policies and configurations, automation, and partnering with end users to keep their environment healthy.
- Microsoft Viva is a powerful learning tool that can help users understand the products they already have that are not being leveraged to their full potential.
- IT professionals need to build deep expertise around various product offerings by Microsoft 365 to connect the dots and help their organization grow.
If you want to learn more about the growing role of governance in the new Microsoft 365, check out our new course, “Optimize Governance in Microsoft 365,” available in ShareGate’s Microsoft 365 Maturity Program.