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Archive for the ‘Social Business’ Category

How Secure is Your Cloud? – Introduction to Office 365 Security

Who owns the data we store in your service? Will you use our data to build advertising products? Do you offer privacy controls in your service? Do we have visibility to know where our data is stored? Can we get our data out of your service if we decide to leave?

These questions are top of mind for any organization that is considering Office 365. Luckily for you, Microsoft publishes the Office 365 Trust Center to answer those and many more questions about security on the Office 365 service.

Office 365Microsoft has 4 core tenants for its approach to earning and maintaining your trust:

1. Built-in Security

  • Service-level security through defense-in-depth
  • Customer controls within the service
  • Security hardening and operational best practices

At the service level, Office 365 uses the defense-in-depth approach to provide physical, logical, and data layers of security features and operational best practices. In addition, Office 365 gives you enterprise-grade, user and admin controls to further secure your environment.

Physical Security – 24-hour monitoring of data centers, Multi-factor authentication, including biometric scanning for data center access, Internal data center network is segregated from the external network, Role separation renders location of specific customer data unintelligible to the personnel that have physical access, Faulty drives and hardware are demagnetized and destroyed

Logical Security – Lock box processes for strictly supervised escalation process greatly limits human access to your data, Servers run only processes on whitelist, Read the rest of this post »

Microsoft Azure SharePoint Architectures

Are you interested in cloud services, but aren’t quite ready to move all your data to a public, multi-tenant environment? Do you have a development or test environment that is costing you too much money to create/migrate/upgrade/maintain? Do you have a need to implement Disaster Recovery for your on premises SharePoint deployment?

You may be interested to know that Microsoft Azure IaaS (infrastructure as a service) provides many different hosted SharePoint options. Azure is a good environment for hosting a SharePoint Server solution. In most cases, we recommend Office 365, but a SharePoint Server farm hosted in Azure can be a good option for specific solutions.microsoft-azure-logo_11368901

Let’s have a look at a few examples and why they might be a good fit for Azure:

1. Development and test environments

Dev and test environments can be costly. They require hardware resources that your infrastructure team must manage and maintain. They also require human time in configuring, updating, and patching those servers. With Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to create and manage Dev and Test environments that can be scaled, easily updated, and deleted/recreated if necessary. Read the rest of this post »

Yammer’s Enterprise Social Resource Center

Would you like to grow your business by working like a network? Would you like to connect your workforce to inspire a culture of collaboration and open communication? Did you know that engaged employees lead to higher profits?

Microsoft has just the tool for you – Enterprise Social Resource Center

The site has a plethora of great information to help you get started with your Social implementation. From white papers and Harvard Business Review articles to how-to guides and customers success stories, these educational resources will help you learn how to work like a network and succeed with Enterprise Social technologies.

3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Enterprise Social

Addressing the top challenges facing your business today with the power of enterprise social networking: disengaged employees, inefficient collaboration, and sustaining business growth. Read the rest of this post »

Meet Yammer, Your Answer to Project Collaboration!

Yammer has a full range of features to help you communicate openly and expedite decision making, open new collaboration channels and breakdown email silos. Let’s start looking at our current ways of communicating with our team. A typical project is slated to begin and end with a vision and goal. In order to achieve these, it’s essential to have transparent and effective communication. Throughout the project lifecycle, we engage in numerous communication channels whether they are phone calls, emails, video calls, messenger chats etc. We are so engaged in making the project a success that we end up overseeing the numerous hours spent communicating with internal team or external customers. This is where Yammer steps in. The idea is not to replace each and every channel but to reduce the time spent and make it more effective so you can reach maximum throughput.

Three main reasons why would you consider using Yammer for internal and external collaboration are ease of use, mobile app, and collaborating with external users. Yammer can move your team beyond the hierarchical and glacial-paced decision making that can hobble a project’s progress. You can set up a private Yammer group where your team can conduct online conversations around important project elements; this allows each team member to be part of the decision-making process. To keep things in perspective, I will share a use case from one of my recent customer engagements. Delivery success is measured by how well the deliverables and activities match the agreed upon vision and goal objectives. One of the first sessions in these engagements is the project kick off. This meeting involves all the stakeholders of the project and establishes a sense of common goals and allows us to start understanding each individual. This is where all communication channels are discussed and confirmed and ultimately where Yammer can be introduced.

Today, I’ll share my firsthand experience of using Yammer as a project collaboration platform and showcase its value with a real world use case.

One of the biggest frustrations I face at the start of every project is the ton of emails exchanged, many times with attachments and their different versions end up choking my inbox. This is where Yammer comes to rescue. Follow these three basic steps and you will never go back to traditional ways of project management.

  1. Create an Internal Yammer Group
  2. Create an External Network
  3. Invite Members and Start Sharing

 

1. Your Internal GroupInternalGroup1

This will enable daily communication within our team. Drafts of documents, questions, clarification everything can be posted in the internal group.

  • Tagging People – Helps notify the right individuals and keep the noise from others inbox. All our posts were targeted to the group and at least one team member. This generates a notification for the tagged individual.
  • Tagging Content – Helps to find information when needed most. You’ve got to love the subscription model, and this is where it is most powerful. Subscribe to any topic and you are then fed all conversations around that topic on your home screen.
  • Ask a Question – Every project has issues and gaps and Yammer is your best bet to get those straightened out quickly. We made sure any question that involved more than two individuals is posted in the internal group. You will be amazed at how quick and effective this approach can be.
  • Upload Deliverables for Review – I have yet to meet someone who enjoys receiving multiple versions of documents (and sometimes huge slide decks) in their inbox followed by performing a clean-up activity. We used Yammer to share all project related documents which helped us unclog our inbox and tag the content with topics and people for appropriate notification.

Now, when you are ready with your deliverables, move them over to the external group for sharing. This keeps separation between internal team and customer communications.

2. Create an External NetworkExternalNetwork1

Creating an external network will allow you to have an dedicated collaboration space with the customer.

  • Allows Yammer groups to collaborate on individual project and social needs.
  • Advantage of transparency and a quick communication channel.

 

 

 

ExternalGroup2

When you have an external network setup, go ahead and create a project group. This will enable you to focus all project related conversations inside a group. Add all team members to this group and mark it as “Public” or “Private” based on your needs.

 

3. Don’t forget to add team members and post your first message

Remember there might be few folks on your team who are not familiar or not comfortable with the concept of using Yammer for this purpose. Sharing documents, deliverables and posting questions will all act as an ice breaker. Start with some water cooler talk if nothing else (keep it relevant to your team or project though). Upload files directly to Yammer for sharing across the group. You can upload new versions of documents and let Yammer maintain control over previous versions.

Suggestions:

  • Mark your uploaded content as “official and read only” if you are working on projects in which documents are changed often. The “official and read only” designation is also an effective way to get team members past sticking to their own versions of project documents.
  • Equip your team members with one of Yammer’s mobile apps and they will have always-on channel to team discussions and files. Social collaboration does take a little extra convincing and showcasing but once you get people on board it’s a breeze. Reducing those chunky emails, not having to clear your inbox every now and then, quick response, level of engagement, and ability to search topics and documents makes it a sure shot winner.
  • Use groups to receive feedback and approval on project deliverables by including your stakeholders/sponsors in the “cc” while sharing the posts.

* If you are concerned about compliance and security when uploading documents, no need to worry, you can still use Yammer effectively. In circumstances like those, utilize SharePoint as the document repository and Yammer as the front end for all communications, post links to SharePoint document libraries and start a conversation. Even better, if you are on Office 365, all the group conversations are now integrated with the documents and sites.

Here at Perficient we have utilized Yammer in various scenarios.  Along with our certified customer success managers and admins, we continue to help our customers adopt and roll out  successful social networks. Please add your feedback and share your experience here if you have used this approach.

Could Yammer Supplant Your Intranet?

We see a lot of scenarios where clients are moving their intranets successfully to the Office 365 cloud with SharePoint Online.  This is the easiest, smoothest path to an social intranet on the Microsoft platform, due largely to the ever-closer relationship between Yammer and the rest of the services in Office 365.

That said,there are still plenty of enterprises out there who prefer to either keep their intranet on-premises, or not upgrade / migrate just yet.  Many of those organizations would still like to get their bang for the buck with Yammer, however, and need to figure out a solution for integrating those social features into their on-premises solution.

By far the most common way to accomplish this right now is through the use of the Yammer Embed functionality (or specifically for SharePoint, the Yammer app for SharePoint) to embed specific news feeds on specific sites.  This is easily the most obvious way to “socialize” an on-premises SharePoint intranet with Yammer.

That works, sure.  But it’s not all that elegant.  Too, if you’re using the Yammer app for SharePoint, this approach forces you to go in and update every Yammer feed when they update the app (which is a pain).

A more forward-thinking, less common but emerging approach to a social intranet is to actually use Yammer as the intranet home.

This is an example of truly embracing enterprise social and may require a complete rethink from a lot of organizations as to how they approach an intranet, but it’s the direction things seem to be going.  You make the social network your home, and instead of augmenting informational sites with social feeds, you augment social groups with links to informational sites using Pins and the Info window’s rich text / HTML editor feature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about it.  Here at Perficient, we’re in the midst of rolling out a new platform for time tracking, financials, and other fun line-of-business activity and reporting.  We have both a Yammer group stood up to support that rollout, and a more traditional SharePoint intranet site.

What we’ve found in this scenario is that the Yammer feed has actually supplanted the informational site because it’s a much faster and more responsive way for people to get answers and collaborate.  Links embedded in the Yammer page direct users back to SharePoint for the informational / non-collaborative content they need, but the social discussion and interaction is now the focus.

Of course, Yammer in general resists (i.e., doesn’t allow) any but the most basic customization.  Fonts, styles, navigation etc., are all locked in “as is”.  The only thing you can really change in Yammer is the header atop your page.  That means we lose some control over branding, but gain quite a bit in interaction and employee engagement.  For this use case, it’s a smashing success.

The question then becomes, “Can this approach work for an entire intranet, and not just one use case?”

To some extent, that depends on the users.  At the end of the day, it all depends on where they go when they log on in the morning.  Email?  The intranet?  Or their social network?  Get the ball rolling with enterprise social and people will start skipping over the intranet– it’s almost a given.  Use social to surface intranet content and the line starts to blur… which is a lot closer to where things are going in the cloud than it is to a hodgepodge of on-prem intranet sites with embedded social feeds.

5 Tips for Onboarding Using Yammer

Having just gone through the onboarding process myself, I believe that using Yammer to facilitate the onboarding process can help drive adoption among recent hires. In addition, using Yammer for onboarding will allow them to get a functional grasp of the organization much quicker. Recent hires will have the whole Yammer network to ask questions to as well as being able to see all the posts from before they were hired.  In an environment where new hires are increasingly under pressure to add value quickly, these five tips could help make that a reality.

  1. Have one dedicated group for onboarding

    Yammer

Different people have different ideas on whether or not groups of new hires, who were hired at different points, should have separate groups or one large onboarding group. In my mind, it’s better to have one large onboarding group that people can join when they are hired and leave when the information in the group no longer pertains to them. That way the information and knowledge generated by previous groups of new hires is still there for the most recent new hires. Everyone who joins a company are going to have the same questions coming in, and rather than have to answer the same questions over and over, it’s easier to simply answer the question once and have new employees refer to that post.

  1. Encourage recent hires to join other Yammer groups

New employees might have never had any previous exposure to Yammer so it’s beneficial to encourage them to join your network’s “Yammer 101” group.  This way they can learn about how to use Yammer while learning about your company at the same time! In addition to the “Yammer 101” group, also encourage new hires to join other groups that they are interested in. Even if a group is not particularly business related (one colleague told me about a “Selfie” group) it can help foster a sense of team spirit and some research suggests can help with employee retention.

  1. Appoint a community manager

Read the rest of this post »

Enterprise Social and its Three Most Dangerous Myths

Enterprise social.  It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread (The Beatles, frozen custard and computer-generated animation all make stronger cases for that title) but lately it seems like it’s close.  That said, for all of its growing popularity, our experience tells us that a good deal of what people believe about social networks– and how to get users engaged on them– is flat-out wrong.

sliced_breadAfter a summer so busy that I missed my July deadline, this morning I published a new article on CMSWire addressing three of enterprise social’s most dangerous myths head-on.  Check it out and learn why…

  • A single network might not be your best bet for adoption…
  • #ESN rollouts aren’t like any other new application, and…
  • Some users will simply never adopt them, no matter what you do.

Interested in continuing the conversation?  I’ll be unofficially representing Perficient (which cannot be held responsible for any comparisons I make between Yammer and Game of Thrones) in CMSWire’s upcoming TweetJam (yes, that’s a thing) on this month’s editorial focus “What does working like a network look like in practice?” The Tweet Jam will take place on Wednesday, August 20 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT.  You can find me on Twitter at @richOthewood; follow @CMSWire for TweetJam details and the #official #hashtag to follow.

Why We Collaborate – Exploring Yammer Maturity & Engagement

A few weeks ago, a colleague posted a TED Radio Hour from NPR on our Perficient Yammer network titled – “Why We Collaborate”. After listening to the broadcast, I thought this would be a perfect segway into a post I have been working on for a while now. I want to discuss some of the high points of the broadcast, while weaving in some personal observations about our own network at Perficient. My hope is that by providing some context around our experiences at Perficient implementing Enterprise Social networks, it might help grow your own Yammer network’s maturity and engagement.Yammer-logo

The first part of the broadcast was an interview with Jimmy Wales, one of the creators of Wikipedia. If you didn’t know, Wikipedia has over 80,000 people who update it, and they do it for free. They have 19 billion page views per month, in the top 5 of all internet websites. That’s a ton of traffic, viewing a ton of content, all administered for free by people all over the world.

Why would they do it? Why do they do it for free? Jimmy says –

Its fun!…and I made the world a little bit of a better place

This is a very powerful concept. To me, the idea of having 80,000 unpaid employees is a quite advanced. You start to think about their motivations and what about this endeavor is appealing to them. We’ll explore some of these thoughts later in the post.

One of Wikipedia’s earliest challenges was how to handle controversial subjects. They ended up with a policy of “Neutral point of view. Don’t take a stance, only report on what reputable parties say about it.”

In Yammer, we have similar challenges. What’s appropriate to post and what’s not? Conflict is a natural part of collaboration. How do we handle conflict on our Yammer network? Its important to handle these challenges up front and proactively. Read the rest of this post »

Yammer – DirSync or AD FS (SSO) or Both?

There’s a lot to think about when planning your Enterprise Yammer implementation. How will I get users into Yammer? How will users login to Yammer? Which password will they use? How will users who leave my organization be handled in Yammer? What software do I really need to implement?

This post is all about Yammer DirSync and SSO. SSO in Yammer is a generalized term, as any SSO provider can be connected with Yammer. For purposes of this post, we will focus on AD FS, as that is Microsoft’s SSO software.

What is Yammer DirSync?Yammer

Directory Sync synchronizes your internal Active Directory with Yammer to automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of users:

  • On a regular schedule, the DirSync utility will run a lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) query against your AD DS that returns accounts that have been modified since the last successful sync.
  • The utility then connects to your Yammer network via a Yammer service account and sends a payload of instructions to add, suspend, and update users according to the changes that occurred in your AD DS.

What is AD FS?

AD FS is a standards-based service that allows the secure sharing of identity information between trusted business partners (known as a federation). AD FS is Microsoft’s implementation of the WS-Federation Passive Requestor Profile protocol (passive indicates that the client requirements are just a cookie- and JavaScript-enabled Web browser). AD FS implements the standards based WS-Federation protocol and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).

AD FS enables SSO and a host of other services like – Web Service Interoperability, Federated Partner Management, and Claim Mapping. Please visit here for more info on AD FS.

What is Yammer SSO? Read the rest of this post »

Yammer 101 Series – Posting

Welcome back to Perficient’s Yammer 101 Series. This is Part 2 of the series. If you missed Part 1 – Introduction, please have a look. In this post, we will take a dive into the world of Posting – How to Post, Types of Posts, Topics, Mentions, and Best Practices for Posting.

How to Postyammer1

Starting from your Yammer Home screen, you will easily find the “Post box”. As with any social network, its always at the top of the screen. Yammer defaults to the Update tab and you will see the text “What are you working on”. You will also see blue links for Upload, Poll, Praise, Event and More, which we will cover later in this post.

Posting to Yammer is as simple as typing into the box and clicking the Post button. The one difference from Facebook is hitting the Enter button does not automatically create the Post. In Yammer, the Enter button is a new line. On Facebook you must hit Shift + Enter to get a new line. Small difference there and it might take time to get acclimated for some users.

When Posting, there are a few key Best Practices to keep in mind: Read the rest of this post »