What a week it was! I am referring to the last week spent at Sitecore symposium North America and annual MVP summit that took place in Las Vegas. There was plenty to absorb with as much as seven sessions in progress at the same time. Sessions were divided into three different tracks Product, Business and Developer. Obviously I couldn’t make it to all but I did attend good mix of them. All sessions were diverse in terms of subject. However from opening keynote to closing keynote, emerging theme was clear and it was Connected Consumer Experience!
Well consumer experience is not a news. Here stronger emphasis is on term ‘connected’. Digital marketing landscape is continuously shifting as customers are engaging into doing business over several channels – emails, website, mobile sites, apps. social media, CRM etc. and it poses at least two immediate questions for any organization that takes their customers seriously.
1. Are we ready, as an organization, to do business with customers over these diverse channels?
2. And if so, do we have infrastructure and solution in place that offers single view of a customer over online and offline touch points to offer connected and meaningful experience?
Chris Nash and Ron Person, during business key note on day 1, talked about three stage maturity model that describes organization maturity journey from attracting visitors by rendering consistent content across channels and then converting them into customers by presenting an experience relevant to their needs and finally turning them into advocate by offering real time and the most meaningful, intelligence and prediction based experience.
I was further submersed into connected CX philosophy as in the same week, I was reading my complementary copy of “Connect- how to use data and experience marketing to create lifetime customers” by Chris Nash, Ron Person and Lars Peterson. It was given to all symposium attendees. It was a nice read. Authors describe optimization as a “low hanging fruit” of experience marketing and recommends scoring a quick win. Also it stages the path for long term success as insights gained over period of time can be leveraged in real-time later.
The last point is important. If the information gathered over variety of channels, over period of time can become a knowledge and can be used in real time to transform your customer into a lifelong customer. Last week at Spanish restaurant while waiting for dinner, I was chatting with Chris Nash from Sitecore, one of the authors of the above book. It was kind of a planned event so I have specified my vegetarian meal preference when I registered for the event on website 3 days ago and then Sitecore must have provided this information to restaurant, mostly by phone. I was expecting salad and grilled vegetables to be served for me but to my surprise, I got vegetable paella and I haven’t had it ever before since it is typically not cooked as one person dish. When I asked manager, “Did you really make vegetarian paella just for me?”. His response was, “I want you to experience paella in Spanish restaurant”. He went an extra mile to offer me personalized experience relevant to my needs. What impact did it leave on me? I did feel that I am valued customer and I am more likely to recommend this restaurant to my friends. It instantly turned me into advocate.
The next and last step in bridging the disconnect is to further optimize customer experience though advice and recommendations with learning and predictive analysis. At this level, information served to customer at every touch point is meaningful and relevant. It is not just, session, IP address or campaign visit but about considering and treating your customer as human. More your organization adopt to this philosophy, more it is going to get loyal customers that bring repeat business. Key is experience, connected experience!
Ok, I got to admit I really meant to say “Almost everything you need to know in first Release”.
The more you share, the more you get. Believe in that? Office 365 community does and as a result , this week Microsoft hosted “Delve Yamjam” to coincide with the launch of the new Office 365 product called “Delve”. (If you are new to I highly recommend reading earlier articles here and here to get to know your new friend Delve). Look at a screenshot of Delve from my demo tenant, looks pretty cool huh?
Some great questions asked some great thoughts shared. I summarize here for the larger community. Microsoft responses were from Christophe Fiessinger, Kady Dundas, Josh Stickler, Mark Kashman, Cem Aykan and on the phone Ashok Kuppusamy, Stefan Debald, Fredrik Holm, John Toews, and Robin Miller.
Hope this provides some insights around how office graph captures and renders signals. Check back for more details as I dive more into Delve.
Microsoft position as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace has moved to the top. Read the rest of this post »
On Tuesday, we teamed up with Binary Tree, Microsoft’s 2014 Messaging Partner of the Year, for a webinar on Best Practices & Solutions For Migrating to Microsoft Exchange.
The session delved into Office 365, common challenges when migrating to Exchange, along with an example of a customer who recently migrated to Exchange Online with the help of Binary Tree’s solution, and then, how Binary Tree’s CMT Suite works with a demonstration of CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange.
First, Perficient’s Rene Strawser, whose role as a lead technical consultant allows her to focus primarily on the deployment and migration of the Microsoft unified communications technologies of Exchange, gave attendees a bit of background on the trends surrounding the cloud, and specific features of cloud-based Exchange in Office 365.
Following this, James Tolentino, another lead technical consultant at Perficient, shared the common challenges he’s worked through when migrating customers to Exchange from legacy email platforms, and then walked through a situation where a customer recently moved from a legacy email platform to Exchange Online. He described the key features of the Binary Tree tools that were used as well as an overview of the migration process. This included the criticality of end user communication and the use of PowerShell commands and replica/staging.
For the second half of the webinar, Binary Tree solution architect Perry Hiltz went into further detail on Binary Trees’s award-winning SMART migration software solutions, CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange, and then gave the audience a live demo of the tools in action.
The Suite Bar is the thin blue bar that runs at the very top of your Office 365 window with your Outlook, Calendar, People, Yammer, OneDrive, and Sites links. Its your primary navigation to all the different services in your Office 365 Suite of products. Have you ever wished the bar wasn’t blue? Have you ever wanted to add your own logo? Well now you can!
Microsoft has announced a new feature of Office 365 – Custom Themes. Go to your Office 365 Admin Dashboard, click your company hyperlink in the top right corner, then you’ll see options to change the following: Read the rest of this post »
As Microsoft continues to blend and expand Yammer capabilities across the platform, they have retired Tags and Notes in SharePoint Online. Read the rest of this post »
How long have you been patiently waiting for this amazing new search powered app called “Delve”? Days, weeks, months?
The wait is finally over with Microsoft announcing today that it is releasing Delve to office 365 subscribers!
The Office blog says, “Delve will roll out to Office 365 customers in phases, first to customers that have elected to receive significant Office 365 service updates at first release, an opt-in program. Following that, Delve will roll out to all Office 365 customers over several months in standard release, the default option for Office 365 customers. We expect Delve to roll out to all eligible Office 365 customers by early 2015. For the Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business customers, first release rollout will begin in January 2015.”
Admin Get Started
If you are wondering how to avail this feature, check out the Delve for Admins here.
In the past month, Microsoft has added two key new service capabilities to SharePoint Online and Rights Management that provide a more robust secure computing experience. The first is the introduction of data loss prevention and the second is the improvements in protecting content across all platforms including OS X Support.
SharePoint Online now provides the ability to perform a legal audit to determine the amount of risk posed by data stored on SharePoint sites and OneDrive, commonly known as data loss prevention or DLP. This capability provides the ability to identifying 51 built-in sensitive information types such as credit cards, passport numbers, and Social Security numbers. Once discovered there is the ability to perform an audit and export a report with suspect content.
There is future capabilities for policy creation that automatically detects sensitive content and applies protection, such as deletion or quarantine for review.
Windows Server 2003 will reach end of life on July 14, 2015. Support and security patches will no longer be available after that date. If you are still running Server 2003 in your environment, hopefully you are already planning how to migrate your workloads to a supportable platform. If you are just beginning to consider your migration, a sample of tools and methodologies are outlined below to help you get started.
~ Windows Server Migration Tools
Windows Server 2012 offers a built-in migration solution called Windows Server Migration Tools (install as a feature). Use this tool to ease the process of migrating server roles, features, OS settings and data from Windows Server 2003. The source server must be running at least Server 2003 SP2 or R2. It will handle both 32bit and 64bit. Find the Microsoft guide to this tool here.
Microsoft Partner AppZero offers a tool which extracts and encapsulates only the target applications you want to migrate. You can choose to run the application in the encapsulated form on the destination server, which enables continued portability. This is handy for use in hybrid environments where you might want the flexibility of running the application on a server in the cloud, or in your on-premises environment. With the application encapsulated, you can continue to easily move them between those environments. Or you can choose to ‘dissolve’ the application to the destination server. This enables it to run as if it were natively installed. Learn more about how AppZero can help migrate your workloads, and provide ongoing flexibility.
~ Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant
This isn’t so much of a tool as it is a workflow type assistant with will help you work through the steps you need to focus on to identify the applications you really need to move. You may find legacy applications which your organization isn’t using any longer, or that so few people are using them that you can help them find alternative solutions and not actually migrate those apps. Get started with the Migration Planning Assistant.
The Migration Planning Assistant steps you through a methodology which helps you identify the applications, features and roles, services and data which you may need to migrate to a supportable platform. Your team may also use this methodology independent of the Planning Assistant.
The first step is to identify all the servers and applications running on Server 2003. Use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) to help with identification. You may also decide to enlist the help of Microsoft Partners to help with this, and the entire process.
Now that you have identified your at-risk servers and applications, it’s time to take a critical look at what they are, and how they will fit into your migration plan.
Type – What is it? What does it do?
~ Server Roles
~ Native Microsoft application
Criticality – How important is it to your organization?
~ Mission Critical
Complexity – How many resources and how much time do you need to dedicate to each app?
Risk – How long can you live without the app if it is unavailable during the migration?
What is the destination platform? You may decide to move it to a Microsoft Server 2012 R2 server running in your own datacenter. Or you may want to leverage the flexibility and potential cost-savings of Microsoft Azure. Should the server be physical or virtual? Perhaps this is a messaging or collaboration solution you want to run in Office 365.
You have combed through your environment and identified the applications you need to migrate. Now decide who has responsibility for actually migrating the apps and plan the move. Again, you may utilize tools for the migration, or identify a Microsoft Partner to help you with the process.
How you get there is definitely important and these tools and steps will help you. The most important thing is to get started now. With time on your side, this doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Good luck!
I am back to blogging after a long pause – way too modest term for more than 7 months of break. But you know the days when you are swamped too deep into the project and don’t do anything other than breathing and work. Everyone, almost everyone, goes through it. Anyway, back to business now. Today’s blog post is about mapping search results with Glass.Mapper pulled from search index(Lucene, SOLR etc.) to actual items in content database without writing single line of imperative code. If you don’t know about Glass.Mapper, it is an amazing OOM(Object-Object Mapping) and ORM(Object-Relational Mapping) tool that significantly cuts down both the development and testing effort through declarative programming. Check out its home to learn more about it.
Let’s talk about motivation first. I was dealing with a problem involving aggregate object where information needed to be retrieved seamlessly from various and diverse data sources including search index without spreading data access code into my models and views. Does’t it sound like classic case of data mapping problem? In fact, Sitecore 7 content search APIs similar approach where indexed content is filled into specified .Net object(typically into SearchResultItem or its derivative). And mapping is directed through IndexField, IgnoreIndexField and few other attributes. Now it begs an obvious question, why would I use Glass.Mapper? Consider following scenario: