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Building Your SharePoint Intranet Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

risePerficient has today acquired Blue Rooster’s Rise Foundation product, a “UX as a Service” application for SharePoint (Online and On-Premises alike) that is basically a just-add-water intranet solution. The beautifully branded user interface, streamlined social and publishing features, and fully responsive design framework in the Rise Foundation package give organizations the ability to turn SharePoint into an engaging, accessible intranet portal with a minimum of the time and effort needed for a custom-developed solution. As you can imagine, we’re all pretty excited by this news.

Happily, I’m uniquely qualified to comment on the possibilities ahead for this product. At Microsoft’s Ignite conference this past May, I spent my time walking the floor researching various “boxed intranet” products for an article I later posted on CMSWire. At the time, I found the Rise UI to be friendlier than its competition, relying more on familiar website experiences and less on the “cutting edge”, Pinterest-flavored interfaces favored by other vendors (but not always by business users, who don’t like to be confused).

In the past few months, I’ve gotten to know the product much better. My initial confidence was buttressed first by a deep analysis a Perficient colleague performed on the technical back end—Rise cleaves closely to Microsoft’s Office 365 Patterns and Practices, a best-practice claim that not every such product can make. I was further impressed by the ability to further customize and build out desired functionality for our clients on top of Rise, if needed—a powerful value-add now that the weight of Perficient’s Microsoft delivery team is there to augment a first-class product development group.

On top of all of this, I’m personally thrilled to welcome the Rise team on board. I’ve known Blue Rooster for a very long time, and I can say with confidence that this move allows us all to work together to build on what was already some very exciting momentum. There’s no doubt that the future of SharePoint and intranet portals in general is one where products play at least as great a role as the services that support them, and I’m thrilled to say that Perficient now shares that view.

I’m looking forward to doing great things with Rise Foundation, SharePoint and our customers. Have questions? Drop me a line at or ping me on Twitter!

Skype for Business: Meeting Broadcast Experience

If your orgskype4banization is using Office Communicator and/or offers cell phone allowance, now is likely an opportune time to reevaluate.

Here’s insight on just a few Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync) features that we will see in the near future. These features will enhance your webinars, demos, and team meetings.

“…as meetings grow larger, it’s less about collaboration and more about presentation”
– Greg Baribault, Lead Project Manager, Skype Meeting Broadcast


Microsoft is known for building solutions alongside its customers through technical previews, live demos, and feedback before version releases. It’s pleasant to have a glimpse of what to expect instead of secret developments and flashy release parties. Office Mechanics is a good source if you’re looking to stay up to date on Microsoft technologies. You can find their YouTube channel here.

Definite Scenarios to Consider Yammer (Workplace Social Media)

Are you unaware of what Yammer is? Are you unsure of why you should consider it? Here’s some insightful guidance:

What is Yammer?
“Yammer is a social network that’s entirely focused on your business (Brad Chacos, PC World).“ It is an easy to use platform for dynamic communication at all levels and facets of an organization. It exist to give everyone within the organization a relevant voice. Yammer is a collaboration tool that couples nicely with other Microsoft solutions and takes advantage of the various ways we communicate. Here are some plausible use cases:

yamRemote Employees (at home)
Technologies that enable people to work anywhere at any time are steadily becoming cheaper and easier to implement. The virtual workplace is becoming ever more common.

Many organizations struggle within a virtual environment not form the IT side, but rather from interpersonal and social struggles. Socializing within the workplace is how we identify who may be best to handle a special sort of task. Yammer can make this process faster. Imagine being able to ask everyone a question without waiting for a weekly meeting, playing phone tag, touring around the office in a disruptive way, and without sending distribution emails.

Before moving a segment of your business to work remotely, consider adding Yammer to your scope. Remote employees also include employees with a high travel rate.

Retail: A real world example
In this scenario Yammer was used for bottom-up communications. With certain information the Westfield team was able to make important real-time changes.

Business Development
The sales team is often the most mobile, energized, and social department. Yammer is a great place to share big wins, leads, and drive sales competition. Private or public groups can be created and later deleted. Within these groups, members can share files, ideas, presentations, or whatever their creativity desires. These groups have also been used to tighten B2B relationships. Furthermore it is a place to get information out without using a distribution group email.

ROI on Yammer may be challenging to quantify, but it is a tool worth considering. Like many business tools, you can mold Yammer to fit the unique needs of your organization.

Ignite 2015 Recap – Top 3 Sessions to Replay

ignite mainWelcome back from a great Ignite Conference! By now, I hope everyone knows that the conference recordings are posted to channel9, a section of MSDN. Microsoft does a great job of recording and publishing all of this content quickly, its pretty awesome.

One of my biggest challenges at the conference was knowing which session to pick. There were 3-6 sessions at any given time that I wanted to go to. All week it was like that, crazy.

This year, Microsoft added “foundational keynote” sessions. Sadly, most of them were on Monday and over-lapped each other. I went back and downloaded the videos and they are all amazing, filled with product name changes, roadmap discussions, and a very transparent look at Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy. Read the rest of this post »

A Day in the Life of an Office 365 User


Office 365 comprises of a lot of services and features which can be overwhelming for an end user. More often than not, we hear concerns from organizations and individual users of how roll out of new products and technologies fail. I do not see this as a technology problem, rather a communication and change management issue.

At Perficient, we deal with this day in and day out and understand the importance of a successful roll out. Any big technology implementation requires a significant investment (time and effort) towards creating and utilizing process, training, and governance. It’s not just big talk, but an extremely important undertaking when moving your platform to the cloud (Office 365).

When we look at a typical day in life of an end user from the time they start their day to the time they shut down their devices (and brains), they go through their emails, work on documents, involve in conversations (phone or messaging), search for content, and much more. Office 365 connects all of these tasks and make it seamless so it’s tightly interwoven. In this post I will take the opportunity to showcase few of these scenarios and demonstrate how a day would look like for an office 365 user. Read the rest of this post »

How Delve Makes your Life Easier!

For some time now Microsoft has been working on an intelligent fabric- machine learning. This algorithm is (now more than ever) becoming an Delve Img1integral part of many new platforms and products, especially office graph which powers the new Office app called “Delve”. Delve is part of the Office 365 suite and is available for all tenants with “First Release” turned on.

I blogged about Delve in its early days here & here  but since then it has evolved quite a bit. What I wanted to share with you is how Microsoft is rolling new functionality into this app so that life for an end user becomes simpler. There are many aspects when we look into a “day in the life” of an end user but one of the most important ones is organizing and email. Won’t you agree? Taking these two in consideration, let’s look at how Delve makes your everyday life easier!

But before we look into the new enhancements, let’s take a small walk down the memory lane and see what is Delve. Office Delve brings most relevant content to you. This is based on what you’re working on and what is trending around you (your connections, groups etc.). Helps you discover new connection, be it People, documents, or new ideas. All this is done by Delve constantly learning your work habits/styles and creating a globe of information in and around you. Office Graph incorporated signals across Office 365 and content primarily from OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online team sites and the new Office 365 Video portal.

Now let’s explore the latest enhancements that has been keeping the Delve team pretty busy.


This feature helps you organize various content and make it readily accessible and share friendly. Think of this as the same exercise you are Image 001used to, of applying sticky on a board to gather all relevant ideas and suggestions. This feature takes this traditional approach, digital.

Image 002Everyone in your organization can view and contribute to an existing board or create a board—but they can only see and open documents that they have permission to access.  From within Delve, you can search for a board, follow it to stay informed and discover other boards—all without having to know or remember where individual pieces of content live. Watch this youtube video to get a better idea.

Image 003


Boards does not allow you to embed external pages yet; so in essence no public boards!
Currently you cannot add context to the content on a public board. It’s simply pinning a document without any comment or context around it. (Sounds like a yammer integration in the play here)

Image 004


I bet you would not disagree with me when I say email is single handedly the most used/abused application today. People use it to share ideas, circulate announcements, send attachments etc. This is a the latest in the list of additions to Delve. On the Delve home page, attachments found in email show up in the “Home” view. The attachments are presented in cards that provide some context including information about who sent the message and some text from the message body. If a message contains multiple attachments, each attachment is presented in a separate card.

It won’t show you attachments sent by you.
Attachments will only show in the two week time frame. Delve will show items that are of interest to you based on insights it has gathered and analyzed in the Office Graph database. The same kind of signal-driven rationale is used to surface documents stored in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business libraries.
You obviously can’t delete items from Delve – that’s due to the reason that Delve is a machine learning algorithm based on search.

Overall great additions to the Delve family. I’m certainly looking forward to the next one – Yammer integration.



Image source: Microsoft Office blog

Four Microsoft Platforms and Products for Digital Transformation

When we talk about Digital Transformation, the first thing most people tend to think about is digital marketing—and that means consumer-facing technology. Your public website, how it’s delivered to various form factors, how you integrate an app strategy for B2C commerce or the engine driving your B2B transactions, how you track consumers’ interaction with you and interact with them, serving recommendations based on that tracking data… it’s all about the outside.

A lot of readers will ask why we’d talk about these topics on a Microsoft blog. It’s a darn good question—after all, Microsoft’s focus these past few years has, as ever, been firmly behind the proverbial firewall. Productivity and (and in) the enterprise is Microsoft’s sweet spot—not consumers—and that assessment remains true. Sort of. In point of fact, Microsoft technologies do a lot of heavy lifting in that space, even if Microsoft’s products there are less obvious.

Meanwhile, Digital Transformation taken as a whole is about more than just outreach and interaction. It’s about embracing new ways of working—working social, working mobile, powered by the cloud and not inhibited by archaic notions of a firewall—that’s how you enable your own users to move faster, work smarter, and just be more effective versions of themselves. And Microsoft is all about that. Let’s take a quick look at four key planks in the Microsoft stack that have a lot to say about how Redmond gets involved in the Digital Transformation conversation.


It all begins from the ground up, with the baseline infrastructure. Azure is Microsoft’s infrastructure in the cloud, allowing you to build server farms, develop and host business applications, and even migrate entire datacenters into a highly-available infrastructure living within Microsoft’s cloud. Whether you want to enable mobility and a broader reach, become more flexible and scalable in how you respond to business needs, or simply operationalize your hardware expenses, getting your servers out from behind your own firewall and into the Microsoft cloud is a good start.

Office 365 and Yammer

Enabling your own users to work faster and more effectively, communicating and collaborating across boundaries on devices as diverse as old Windows PCs and the latest version of iOS? That’s a concept at the core of Digital Transformation, and that’s what Office 365 and Yammer are all about.

Dynamics CRM

I read somewhere that another CRM-focused software company has “defined the customer journey”. I’d like to call shenanigans on that. Software doesn’t define anything; it supports and enables it. Dynamics CRM—integrated as it is with Yammer and Office 365, and far less expensive to license than its primary competition—can do a surprisingly thorough job of supporting and enabling how you interact with your customers. If you haven’t given it a hard look before, you might want to think about it now.


It’s not a Microsoft product, but Sitecore’s CMS, DMS and Customer Experience Platform are built on the .NET Framework, run on Microsoft infrastructure and are produced by last year’s Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year, so they’re about as close as you get without being shipped from Redmond. I’ve avoided writing about this in other outlets lately because third-party publishers always ask me to be objective, but the bottom line is, there’s not much point to doing a public-facing website on Microsoft’s platform with the likes of Ektron or Umbraco when Sitecore is available. Their many integrations—including with Dynamics AX, Microsoft’s ERP platform—and incredibly rich platform for digital marketing and customer experience (which enables things like email marketing, persona development and personalized content, and more) make them a no-brainer in reaching consumers in the digital age.

These four pillars are just the foundation of how Microsoft contributes to what we’re calling Digital Transformation. As ever, what you can build with .NET and Windows is only limited by your imagination—but now, both for your own internal users and your external consumers—they’ve got the goods to really go digital. If you should decide you want to move into that space with confidence, check out my colleague Michael Porter’s webinar on Wednesday, February 11.

Top 10 Things to Know About Yammer External Messaging-Flexternal

Yammer is rolling out an exciting new feature which will provide the ability to add external collaborators to new conversations, existing conversations,External-Messaging2 and private messages within the Office 365 network. This will be first released for beta testing (for verified and registered admins).

The Office 365 community hosted an open discussion around this new feature led by Microsoft team. Folks on the discussion shared real time scenarios where this could prove real helpful.

  1.  We have a new person joining our team. The manager announced it internally and the excitement and kudos poured in. But the person that we were hiring wasn’t on the thread. Everyone was sort of preemptively congratulating this person even though this person wasn’t on boarded yet. Once this feature turned up, we included the new hire on the thread, and this person was able to see all the congratulatory messages and even make their first post about how excited they are to join the team.
  2. We’re working with an external person on a project. One where it doesn’t necessarily make sense to spin up an external network. Doing so would just be overkill. We want to exchange files, have conversations, etc. The external person isn’t necessarily full time on the project and we only need their input infrequently.

Here is a list of top 10 quick tips you need to know about this idea – Flexternal

  1. People who you add to the conversation will be able to contribute and add others. However, they will not be able to add you to the conversations in their network. Only you can add others at this time.
  2. People can NOT be invited to Public or Private Group as a whole but just to a thread. They can be invited to public conversations, but only to single instances. So they have to be invited to every conversation you want them to see.
  3. If you remove an external participant from a thread, they no longer see the message in Yammer, but still can find the message within their email inbox. How much of that conversation is revealed in email? For instance if there were four posts on a thread, will all four responses show in the email or just part of the conversation up until they were removed?
    Every comment from the conversation is sent individually via email. So one email will only include one comment of the conversation–not the entire thread. Let’s say you were added at the beginning of the conversation. You’ll get four separate emails. If you were added by comment three you will only receive comments three and four. Once a user is removed they will no longer receive email notifications. You also cannot view content in email. You need to sign into Yammer to view files or notes.
  4. What happens if the invited external does not already have a company Yammer network? For example, an individual contractor/consultant.
    That external user can either chose to respond via email, or signup and join their Yammer network. Obviously they wouldn’t be able to join your network.
  5. What happens if I invite an external user to a conversation at the “wrong” email address. Will they have to create a new Yammer profile or would they be able to pull the conversation into their existing inbox?
    Right now that person would be able to reply to you by email. There isn’t currently the functionality to pull the conversation into an existing inbox though.
  6. Will the network admin be able to easily identify/contact the admins of the foreign network posting to their users? The most obvious reason will be around spam and abuse.
    Microsoft is working on including ‘report as spam’ button with this feature. That button will automatically provide this feedback to them and to the network admins.
  7. Will the email address of those posting into my network be clearly available in the data exports?
    Yes – the mail addresses are available. People who will be posting into your network are the ones that are explicitly invited to conversations by other people in your network. Therefore it is similar to someone in your network cc’ing an external user in their email that is also addressed to others in the company.
  8. How will external messaging recipients be clearly identified in email interaction with a thread?
    If you are responding by email, you’ll see the same external participant icon that you see on the web (the globe icon). When responding by email you’ll also get a warning at the bottom of the email that there are external participants in the thread.
  9. It’s not possible to disable this feature at a network level at this time. This means NO administrative override.  However, Yammer External Messaging will clearly show the external party that has been added.
  10. Currently it will not allow users to communicate with Gmail/AOL/Yahoo types of email address. You have to use a corporate email address.

The Top 5 Reasons Why Content Strategy Matters

Something happened while we were all madly getting websites up and running. They evolved. At the same time sites evolved, users expectations evolved as they wanted more than just a simple site. Users recognized the value of sites that provide content. They began to visit sites that were less about mass marketing and more about giving you something in return for their time.

Top 5 Reasons Why Content Strategy MattersSmart marketing and site administrators understood this and changed the way their sites worked.  Start-ups with limited budgets focused on their passion as a replacement for marketing dollars. Larger organizations realized that their ROI in digital marketing was directly related to the quality and the message. All of that drives the top 5 reasons why a content strategy matters:

  1. Users base their buying decisions on research
  2. They trust those who bring value over those who bring a pretty picture
  3. Engaged users result in repeat customers
  4. Good content drives better search results
  5. You can achieve more return on your marketing investment with a good content strategy (regardless of how many ads you buy on Google, Facebook, or elsewhere.)

All that said, what makes a great content strategy? Well, it comes down to a number of things, which are described in the guide, 10 Content Strategy Steps to Drive an Effective Personalized Digital Experience.

Yammer Sign-in Now Tied with Office 365

Keeping up with the roll out momentum, Microsoft released a significant feature last week which allows you to use your existing Office 365 credentials to access Yammer. It essentially provides the same experience as when using OneDrive for Business, Outlook, and SharePoint.

yammer signin


Here are some facts which will help you understand what’s covered in this release:

  • The easiest way to know when this is coming to your tenant is to check the announcement in the Office 365 message center (if your tenant fulfills the requirements). Expected rollout is slated to start in December. The global menu will change and Yammer will be included and styled as the other Office 365 services. e.g. Outlook or SharePoint.
  • This feature will support many of the scenarios previously covered with Yammer SSO, but it doesn’t cover DirSync. Yammer DirSync will still be required. Microsoft is continuing to invest in Azure AD integration and have plans that cover Dirsync in the future. Note that some of the Yammer SSO scenarios are not yet covered with Office 365 login. These scenarios are covered in the documentation here.
  • When you connect to Yammer, you’ll be routed to the Microsoft login screen, enter your credentials there and then you would be redirected to your company’s ADFS server for authentication. You will be then redirected back to Yammer after ADFS authentication.
  • If the email address used to create a Yammer account is not part of your Office 365/AAD account, then the account won’t be mapped and you will continue to login using Yammer login.
  • Longer term as Microsoft continue to deepen the Yammer, Office 365, and Azure Active Directory integration, expect Office 365 active directory sync, Yammer DirSync and O365 DirSync be combined in the future.
  • A new option to synchronize from Azure AD (rather than on-premises AD) is on the backlog.


Hopefully you are as excited as I am with this announcement; Happy Yammering!!