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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

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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.

Boards

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


Gotchas
:

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

Email

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.

Gotchas:
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.

Azure

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.

Sitecore

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!!

 

Expanding Data Loss Prevention Across Office 365

Continuing from my previous post on Information Rights Management (IRM), today we will focus our discussion at yet another security feature which is essentially part of customer controls, known as Data Loss Prevention aka DLP.

DLP provides users with policy tips and detects sensitive information in the context of communication. DLP was first rolled out in Exchange and Outlook and then expanded into Outlook Web App (OWA). The only problem was that email is not the only way to share information. A ton of information in this digital age is shared via documents and keeping that in mind, DLP was expanded into SharePoint Online (SPO) and OneDrive for Business (ODFB). Until now eDiscovery allowed us to search sensitive content across SharePoint and OneDrive and now policy actions (restrict and block access) and email notifications are also being introduced.

Source: blogs.office.com

Source: blogs.office.com

With the advent of Office 365, the Microsoft community has become increasingly collaborative in nature, and product teams are now more agile and communicative in their approach than ever before. Building on that approach, recently Microsoft conducted a yamjam around DLP features. Some great scenarios, concerns, and solutions were exchanged. Here is my attempt to capture and summarize that for you.

—————————————————————————

Q: Will DLP be a supplement or replacement to IRM and auditing mechanisms in SharePoint? And in what way will it supplement to IRM and or auditing.

A: DLP is a great supplement for IRM today. Both of these functionalities work seamlessly in Exchange and we are extending that same experience for SPO/ODFB

Q: Will DLP have effect on the content that is shown, or not shown, in Delve

A: That is absolutely our vision. Delve adheres to the user permissions set by your admins and end users, and we will respect the same when it comes to DLP.

Q: Will DLP be a part of the announced Dropbox partnership? Extending to Dropbox for business

A: Currently DLP functionalities are planned only for ODFB/SPO and not Dropbox.

Q: Will DLP be able to enforce IRM on documents that match a policy? 

A: That is definitely in our plans and you can expect us to release that in the service in early 2015

Q: If I want to make sure my policy is enforced on all content all users should have a sufficient license?

A: Yes, you need as many DLP licenses as the number of users. DLP is licensed on per user basis.

Q: How can we protect documents that contain trade secrets or company plans from being uploaded to OneDrive and then downloaded to home computers? These are random documents that may not have specific information to search for. What is to keep users from uploading a mass amount of documents and then downloading them at home?

A: The next level is to apply Rights Management Service (RMS) policies for all content that lands in that area. You can further protect using IRM from within the client and establish a further depth of what can/can’t be done, and possibly further restrict who. Next up is setting policy rules with #dlp that again help to inform and enforce actions that are and are not allowed. In the future we’ll have additional tools via MDM to help protect and reclaim/delete content that can no longer be on devices. Additionally, we’re planning auditing and reporting capabilities so admins can run reports to understand better how content is being used (shared, modified, viewed, etc.).

Q: Is OneDrive for Business a supported application by Azure RMS?

A:  IRM works today for documents on ODFBso yes, Azure RMS works for OneDrive for business. There are some fixes we are making for IRM protected libraries so that it syncs seamlessly just like any other library

Q: ODFB Management : For ODFB and IRM, it seems to be cumbersome to turn on IRM and with certain policy settings like “Allow users to print”. Plus, it does not seem to reference centralized IRM policies like you would expect with Azure RMS because you just name your own policy and do not select from a dropdown list. Is this because IRM on ODFB is not really supported by Azure RMS yet? And is this expected to change sometime soon?

A: ODFB is certainly covered, and is a manual process today from the scope of an audit or configuration of IRM. The concern you have is valid and is something the teams are aware of for auditing, eDiscovery, DLP scenarios. We don’t have timing to share, but we do want to treat ODFB as included by default, not something you have to configure for broader application

Q: If we have 10 users on E3 and 40 users on Business Essentials, do the messages created by the 40 Business Essentials users get evaluated by DLP? What about the server-side processing? If a non-E3 user sent a message that violates a DLP rule, would it be blocked, or would it be sent to the recipient?

A: DLP does require E3, so the non-E3 users would not get a DLP experience, aka the tool tips coming early next year. No, you need to have DLP licensing to enable server side and client side processing for sensitive content. So for eg, in exchange today, every time you use the “the message contains sensitive information” predicate, you need DLP license.

Q: We have a system that generates PDF reports and emails them via SMTP. We use DLP to block the messages from being forwarded but we would like to apply document level IRM as it enters the system via SMTP?

A: Look at adding a document library into your solution. You could then add additional capabilities if above needs a little more.

Q: Can you please elaborate on the phrase “with additional policy controls and actions like Information Rights Management, coming in the first quarter of 2015” from the 10/28 blog post on DLP? What might this mean in terms of capabilities?

A: In our initial release for SPO policies, you will have actions such as block or request access when someone uploads a document. With RMS action, you will be able to automatically apply IRM action to the uploaded document if the document contains sensitive information.

Q: What will happen if a document is accessed through an API using custom coding? Will DLP apply?

A: If the content is stored in a location that is subject to a DLP policy, such as SharePoint – then yes the changes will be scanned and subject to the DLP requirements in the policy.

Q: Will Microsoft provide a way to automatically add ODFB sites (as they are provisioned) to DLP scope?

A: Yes, you can configure a DLP policy to apply to “all” OneDrive for Business sites, which will automatically include new sites as they are provisioned.

Q: <em?Will the fact that IRM is applied to a document be able to overwrite DLP actions? For instance if IRM is applied with ‘lower’ restrictions, van DLP apply more restrictieve restrictions? Consider this example: IRM can be configured by Site Admins, so a site admin makes a library for contracts. He configures very little restrictions. At company (DLP) level we have a very strict policy and want to override what the site admin on lower level set up.

A: We currently do not allow IRM policy override. This is an interesting feature request. will be available when our policy actions are available in early 2015.

Q: We found the mobility use case to be painful as iOS and Android devices cannot open IRM protected documents minus a few exceptions like PDFs with a purchased app. When is this targeted to change to where the Office Mobile apps will support IRM protected documents?

A: It works great today for email across OWA for devices, Outlook, Outlook for MAC, OWA etc and you can expect us to add the same functionality across Office documents. IRM works today for documents on ODFB so yes Azure RMS works for OneDrive for business.

Q: With an increasing number of non-technical small business users, what is the plan to give true user account management to Global Admins in O365? This weekend we had to terminate a long time employee who lives in a different state. I checked every source for clear guidelines and documentation surrounding this is nearly non-existent. There is no simple way to prevent loss of information other than resetting the user password. If “blocked” then we could not go into Exchange Online or ODFB to back up information. If we remove licenses, we lose all data. If we turn mailbox into shared, we lose auto archive folder/ability. We cannot backup to a PST due to auto archive as well. Four days after the fact, we learned that resetting the password means they can still have access to any sessions of mail, CRM, SharePoint that have not expired. How are we supposed to manage security under these conditions? Please advise when your 100% “cloud first/mobile first” O365 Online small business customers can expect to have the right tools to terminate an employee while preventing any data loss.

A: The scenario you describe is well covered in the enterprise, where we have additional value in the E1-E4 plans. And I’m guessing you know this, but want to be clear that all the compliance tools like RMS, DLP, eDiscovery … they are only offered to enterprise. It is very common to find smaller businesses using the enterprise plans when their needs require the more robust compliance capabilities. Consider upgrading your plan to enterprise. This article should get you started: I can tell you that you can recover documents. You would need to assign a secondary user who can then go into users’ ODFB. You can do this today here: SPO admin center > user profiles > Set up MySites > My Site Cleanup – and then add a secondary owner.

Here’s the text from in-product once you get to this admin setting, “My Site Cleanup”. When a user’s profile has been deleted, that user’s My Site will be flagged for deletion after fourteen days. To prevent data loss, access to the former user’s My Site can be granted to the user’s manager or, in the absence of a manager, a secondary My Site owner. This gives the manager or the secondary owner an opportunity to retrieve content from the My Site before it is deleted. Select whether or not ownership of the Site should be transferred to a manager or secondary owner before the site is deleted. Set a secondary owner to receive access in situations in which a user’s manager cannot be determined.

Q: Any plans to add DLP to Yammer? For instance if a user decides to share his credit card number on Yammer he will get a policy tip; Such as not allowing videos to be downloaded (but only to be viewed), to making sure that PII is not being shared inadvertently in healthcare or insurance companies. You can overcome these things with peer governance but it would be great to have some tech in place too.

A: Definitively something that we are thinking about. What kind of scenarios would you like to see if/when this would happen?

Q: When or will Data Loss Prevention (DLP) become available in the On-Premise version of SharePoint?

A: We’re not ready to discuss any portion of SharePoint Server vNext (on-premises) and what will be included. That said, there are a number of 3rd party solutions today that can be integrated with SharePoint already.