At last year's Microsoft Build conference, Actionable Messages were introduced to Outlook. Emails for work typically require a response or action to be taken, but there has yet to be a streamlined one-click solution. This year, Microsoft is drastically improving Actionable Messages in Outlook with the addition of Adaptive Cards and payment support without leaving your inbox.
Improvements to Actionable Messages allow for faster workflows with contextual suggestions. One simple use case is for support tickets. A ticket can be flagged as priority by a button click and be automatically redirected to the appropriate supervisor capable of handling the response.
Microsoft is allowing third-party developers to integrate their tools into Office 365. Currently, Hootsuite, Freshdesk, Sapho, Wrike, Zoho, SAP Fieldglass and TINYpulse have already begun using Actionable Messages to make using their respective platforms easier without having to leave Outlook.
Adaptive Cards are a new format for displaying rich information and is supported in Timeline View, Teams, and in Cortana across Windows. Notifications can be used to automatically create Adaptive Cards that can be inserted into emails and Team chats. Web-based users can use the feature immediately and support will be arriving for Outlook 2016 shortly.
Handling bill payments and invoices is going to become easier with the introduction of Microsoft Pay integration to Outlook. Stripe and Braintree have been named as supported payment processors with additional options coming in the future. Invoicing services such as Intuit, FreshBooks, Invoice2Go, Sage, Wave, and Xero have all committed to integration as well.
Payment actions can be embedded in emails sent from Outlook. Customers will be notified of the request for payment and can choose to pay the invoice with a support account from within Outlook. The feature will be rolling out to limited numbers of Outlook.com users over the next several weeks and will have full availability within a few months.