Microsoft Enterprise Technologies Perficient is proud to be partnered with Microsoft Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:12:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Microsoft Community 2011 (Microsoft Enterprise Technologies) (Microsoft Enterprise Technologies) 1440 Microsoft Enterprise Technologies 144 144 Perficient is proud to be partnered with Microsoft Microsoft Enterprise Technologies Microsoft Enterprise Technologies no no Why Does Data Warehousing Take So Long? Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:00:23 +0000 A common complaint about data warehousing/BI has been time to market.   The investment in real months required to stand up analytics is just too large. Descriptions of the actual time required vary (depending on who you ask, and what their interests are) from a year to 24 months. The numbers are open to debate, but let’s go ahead and stick with the conventional wisdom that Data Warehousing typically requires a significant timeline to see results. This assumption then begs two questions:

  1. Does it have to take that long?
  2. If it has to, will it be worthwhile?

Looking at the second question first, there’s a very simple answer: YES. Successful DW/BI projects can utterly revolutionize an organization’s processes and even their outlook. They can shine light on problems, point the way to new opportunities, and improve the daily work lives of employees at almost any level. I consider it a foregone conclusion that there is tremendous value in well-built DW/BI systems.

Of course, the caveat there is the whole “well-built” part. That’s where the delays creep in, and where the real timeline resides. In addition to the experience and expertise brought to the design and construction these systems, the degree of involvement of the business also plays a very large role in how successful the solution will be. Too many gaps or failures on either side can result in less-than-satisfactory outcomes being reached after spending a lot of time and effort.

So that leads us back to the first question above: does it have to take that long? I mean, upwards of 2 years to build a decent Business Intelligence solution? This answer is not nearly as easy because the factors that contribute to extending timelines in DW/BI projects are numerous and varied. For instance:

  • Are the builders of the system planning development closely with the consuming org? If not, extend the timeline.
  • Is the business committed to providing solid requirements on an ongoing basis? If not, extend the timeline.
  • Is the development team sufficiently experienced and under solid technical leadership? If not, extend the timeline.

You get the point. The development work in and of itself is not necessarily what takes a long time. What takes a long time is when business needs are misunderstood or disregarded, when expectations aren’t managed, when the chosen technology platform is not well-aligned to business requirements — basically, when either side doesn’t fully understand what they are getting into, and there is misalignment in that area.

In the next few posts, I’ll go over various tools and techniques currently in the market that offer some kind of acceleration of the data warehousing process, and see what paths are available to speed up time-to-analytics. I will include the tool class sometimes variously referred to as either “frameworks” or “accelerators”. I’ll talk about iterative development and the potential risks and benefits of using Agile methodologies. And I’ll discuss possible ways that planning in itself can help deliver results sooner rather than later.

Next time: Accelerators and Frameworks. Hope to see you then!


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The Sitecore Symposium Experience For You Mon, 15 Sep 2014 03:08:06 +0000 Jamie Stump, Parshva Vora, myself, and others from the Perficient family attended Sitecore Symposium this past week. We absorbed a lot of knowledge about what is upcoming with Sitecore 7.5 and Sitecore 8. The cadence communicated from Sitecore is around “experience”. The building blocks are being put in place for you, our clients, to help your customers have a custom and personal experience while we as a partner provide solutions that allow you to place “experience before content”. 

Sitecore is moving forward to be a top-tier provider for your marketing and communication goals through the Sitecore Experience Platform. With real-time marketing, growing demand through multiple channels, and customizing your content to your individual customers, you have the abilities to have dedicated customers for life through an enriching experience for them through you.

Now trying to empathize by putting myself in your shoes after reading those paragraphs, I would probably think – “Well that is a great bunch of words, but what does that really entail for me”.

Well it means a new approach to analytics data. Sitecore’s xDB, using MongoDB, provides the ability to store large amounts of data about your customers. It plays well with your current infrastructure and is extensible to your profile needs as well as scalable through various database design principles and patterns. Along with this, reporting of the analytics information is improved to use all of that collected information.

Multi-channel capabilities to capture your client’s information to place in Sitecore’s xDB from both online and offline sources, using it to add to your customer’s profile so you can better build that relationship experience through better targeted information and social interactions.

Parshva Vora’s post, Connected Customer Experience => Lifelong Customers, touches on the multi-channel approach and his experience while out at the MVP dinner.

“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.“

With the acquisition of Commerce Server, Sitecore is working to provide integration and connectivity through the Commerce Connector. This will not only to provide an enterprise level commerce system but to allow the numerous technical partners of Sitecore to provide commerce products to integrate into the Experience Platform.

Sitecore is adding content testing, so that you as marketers and content authors can have better tools to determine the impact of your content changes before putting them out to your public domain. These tools truly provide the ability to train, observe, forecast, and calculate the results of your content changes – something you couldn’t do before without your own content testing process.

With Sitecore 8, there is a newer look and feel to your tools thanks to the SPEAK UI framework. Mark Stiles has provided a great overview and images of the new interface in Sitecore 8 among other observances in  a great Sitecore Symposium summary.

Also, any search engine indecision you have had in the past has been made easier with the announcement from Coveo. Coveo for Sitecore is now offering a free version. So you have an additional choice. Need a little bit more from your search for the enterprise or support? No worries, Coveo still offers their fully functional paid version as well as additional support for both versions.

So, again empathizing with you, I would think you might ask what do you need to do to get there.

The path to Sitecore 8 goes through Sitecore 7.5 which is intended to be available this month. If you are beginning your experience on Sitecore you would preferably start with the Sitecore 7.5 version until Sitecore 8 is available later this year. If you are already using Sitecore, then the process at a high level is as follows:

  • Perform the upgrade path from your current version to version 7.2.
  • Run the update installation wizard for 7.5
  • Convert your analytics data through the data conversion tool.

Are you ready to start looking at what Sitecore 8 can provide you to drive customer loyalty and revenue.

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A “Connected Consumer” turns into lifelong customers Sun, 14 Sep 2014 07:42:40 +0000 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 a good mix of them. All sessions were diverse in terms of subject matter. However, from opening keynote to closing keynote, the emerging theme was clear, and it was the Connected Consumer Experience!

personalizationWell, the concept of the consumer experience is not entirely brand new. At the symposium, stronger emphasis was placed on the term ‘connected’. The digital marketing landscape is continuously shifting as customers are engaging in doing business across several channels – email, 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 across these diverse channels?
  2. And, if so, do we have the infrastructure and solutions in place that drive for us a single view of our customer across online and offline touch points so that we can offer them a connected and meaningful experience?

Chris Nash and Ron Person, during the business keynote on Day 1, talked about a three-stage maturity model that describes the organization maturity journey:

  1. Attracting visitors by rendering consistent content across channels
  2. Converting them into customers by presenting an experience relevant to their needs
  3. Turning them into an advocate by offering real-time and the most meaningful, intelligence and prediction-based experience.

I was further submersed into the connected consumer philosophy when, in the same week, I was reading my complimentary 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. The authors describe optimization as a “low-hanging fruit” of experience marketing, and they recommend working toward quick wins. Also it stages the path for long-term success as insights gained over a period of time can be leveraged in real-time later.

The last point is important. If the information is properly gathered over a variety of channels, then over a period of time it can become knowledge and can be used in real time to transform your customer into a lifelong customer. Last week at a 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 had specified my vegetarian meal preference when I registered for the event on their website 3 days prior, and then Sitecore must have provided this information to the 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 a one-person dish. When I asked the manager, “Did you really make vegetarian paella just for me?” his response was, “I want you to experience paella in a Spanish restaurant, yes.” He went the extra mile to offer me a personalized experience relevant to my needs. What impact did it leave on me? I did feel that I am a 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 the customer experience though advice and recommendations with learning and predictive analysis. At this level, information served to the 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. The more your organization adopts this philosophy, the more it is going to get loyal customers that bring repeat business. The key is experience – a connected consumer experience!

Perficient has been addressing the need for a “Connected Consumer” experience in our consumer markets practice in a variety of ways. Read more:

Download our white paper:  The Retailer’s Guide to the Connected Consumer

Read our Consumer Markets blog post: Trends that are shaping the expectations of the connected consumer

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Everything You Need to Know About Delve & Office Graph Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:55:46 +0000 Ok, I’ve 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?

Delve Img1

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.

  • Which Office 365 business plans includes Delve?
    • Delve is included in the Office 365 E1 – E4 subscription plans (and the corresponding A2 – A4 and G1 – G4 plans for Academic and Government customers respectively)
  • Can I protect data from ever being shown in others Delve results?
    • Yes, Delve only shows documents based on permissions set and inherit those from OneDrive and SharePoint online. Also each card will have a sharing control and “who can see this” option
    • If your folder and contents are not shared with anyone, they will not appear in Delve for anyone. It always respect the permissions set on the items.
  • Which kinds of data is considered “private data”?
    • There’s both the concept of private data (e.g. files that only you or you and a select few colleagues can see) and private signals (e.g. the fact that you have viewed a particular document, even if it’s public). Delve respects SharePoint and Search permissions, so only users who have access to read a document can see that document appear as a result in Delve. Furthermore, details like the documents you view or documents others view are private.
  • Any Android / iOS apps in the pipeline for Delve?
    • Yes but no timeline could be provided yet
  • Not all content (file types) is included in Delve. Any plans for extending the list of file types, and/or list of content sources?
    • PDF, excel, and word file types are included but there is absence of image files and Visio files.
    • Yep, we are planning to add more content sources and signals to the Office Graph on ongoing basis
    • We are working on increasing the content types supported by Delve. We started with an initial list of Office doc types, but we will expand this over time.
  • Delve site has default branding and does not incorporate our corporate branding that is available on Yammer, OneDrive and Sites menu options in top navigation bar?
    • The top Office 365 navigation is now theme able and your theme should be available in Delve as well. Broader theming is something we’ll be looking at in the future.
  • Delve was rolled out to our business tenant yesterday. So far it is showing us trending documents that our co-workers are viewing on SharePoint. Is there a way to block certain areas so we don’t see our co-workers trends in HR searches?
    • You can make those documents not shared using the SharePoint permissions UI, but right now, there’s no feature to exclude documents from Delve but still available to everyone.  read here for more details.
  • Will Outlook be leverage into Delve
    • Outlook as part of Office 365 is already leveraged in Delve.
    • We are considering adding email attachments to Delve.
    • Office Graph is driving scenario for OWA. So appointments and attendee information are only leveraged in delve if it’s in OWA. You can imagine Office Graph providing insights multiple scenarios in the future…if you haven’t already done so check the Office Graph on the blog post from Monday.
  • Does ‘signals from exchange’ refer to email relationships (i.e. who the recipients and senders are)?
    • Yes, and to elaborate, it analyzes the set of people with whom you correspond via email and use this data as a factor to weight your working relationships with your colleagues.
    • The org structure is another factor taken into consideration
  • The 5 people to the left – seems to be right for most people (in terms of the ones with most interactions), but I have seen colleagues, with strange people presented as top 5 people.
    • have a bug where it is showing groups/crawler accounts instead of just people
    • The people on the left aren’t related to them in any way. Known issues MSFT working with no ETA
  • Will Delve work in a hybrid scenario using my On-Premise systems?
    • This is place for partner opportunities! But MSFT is working on a solution to feed on-premises (like exchange on premise) content into Delve, but no timeline can be announced.
    • Plans to release hybrid connector capabilities so that the Office Graph can integrate signals and content from on prem.
  • Any federation plans across multiple tenants?
    • No plans today
  • Delve supports the most common screen readers, high-contrast mode etc aligned with Microsoft policies in this area.
  • Is there a way to limit #delve deployment to some user groups in the company? Just to help company to graduate deploy it
    • An individual user can turn off Delve. This will also control Office Graph as-well.
  • Are you adding Delve results to the search page, or can we see this as an UI opportunity
    • Not to SharePoint enterprise search center but we look at that as an opportunity
  • Item limit for Delve
    • Delve shows up to 36 items in a view. This is the same when you search in the search box.
  • Details to the API Roadmap?
    • Right now you can do graph queries through the SharePoint Search Rest API using “Graph Query Language” as described here: GQL
  • If a user has permission to access a document/list item but the library/list is excluded from search in list settings will the content still display in Delve?
    • Nope, Delve uses the same permissions for search..
  • Do you have plan to return Yammer conversations in any form as Delve results ?
    • It’s something MSFT is actively working on showing the Yammer conversations tied to documents in Delve.
  • Is Delve going to work with Office 365 Pro Plus client or only Office online, and the other question, is it only working based on files saved only in ODFB and SharePoint online?
    • Yes if the document is stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online then yes the Office Graph will index it
  • What is the best way to introduce Delve within an organization? Are there best practices and change management recommendations?
    • We are working on an email template that Office 365 admins can then send to their users that helps address exactly what you’re asking. It would have info about What, How, Why with links and first steps. This template will be made available to admins via the message center to raise awareness.
    • We, too, plan to incorporate Delve info and insight into the adoption website we currently maintain here: Discover SharePoint  (with near-term plans to focus on broader Office 365 scenarios).

Hope this provides some insights around how Office Graph captures and renders signals. Check back for more details as I dive more into Delve.

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Office 365 pushes Microsoft atop Gartner’s Social Magic Quadrant Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:17:39 +0000 Microsoft position as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace has moved to the top.

The latest report released last week shows the Microsoft offering as the leader of the pack. Gartner details the change in position from SharePoint as the social platform to Yammer and Office 365. Gartner also calls out the future roadmap for social within the Microsoft offering to be focused on Yammer and not sharepoint. According to the report Gartner states, “Although Yammer and SharePoint will remain distinct but integrated products, Microsoft will concentrate its future social enhancements exclusively on Yammer, while focusing SharePoint on related capabilities, including document management, portal capabilities, application development, business intelligence and Web content management.”



The magic quadrant graphic is published by Gartner, Inc.

The report highlights the impact this shift has created. The cloud first focus and the move away from social on-premise has created a need for adjustments in strategic planning and migrations.
Also, there was concern expressed regarding the pace of change through the this shift to cloud deployment and customers ability to keep up.

The summary of the Gartner report may be viewed here.

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Webinar Recap: What to Know When Migrating to Microsoft Exchange Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:33:23 +0000 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.

You can view the entire replay here, including the demonstration. You can also catch up with the speakers on Twitter: @srstrawser and @PWHiltz.

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Office 365 & SharePoint Online – Customize the Suite Bar Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:25:56 +0000 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:

  • Custom logoManage-custom-themes-for-your-organization
  • URL for clickable logo
  • Base color
  • Text and icons color
  • Office 365 logo color

(sorry, you still can’t remove the “powered by Office 365″)

At Perficient, we take pride in our ability to customize your Office 365 user experience with your organization’s brand. We style SharePoint Online in ways that make you think twice if it’s even SharePoint. Our internal design agency team, called Experience Design (XD), has won numerous awards and recognition for the great work they do.

Since the rollout of Office 365, all of our clients have asked – Can we change the blue bar? Most we have successfully dissuaded from doing so, because the Suite Bar has changed frequently. Its one part of the Office 365 framework that Microsoft has updated more than others. So any changes we would make would be over-written should they decide to make a change. For the small handful of customers who didn’t heed our advice on this one, I hate to say it, but I told you so :) Now all customers have the ability to change the Suite Bar as they so desire.

Personalized Themes

In addition to an Administrator changing the theme for all users, individual users can personalize the bar themselves. Click the settings icon and select Change Theme. This will over-ride any global changes your administrator might have made to the theme. I realize that some organizations might find this frustrating, as they would like to control the theme of the bar across the organization. However, Microsoft is all about putting the user first, prioritizing the user to personalize the experience over the need of the organization to retain control.


You might have notice another enhancement to the Suite Bar – Notifications. Previously, you and your users would receive notifications only within the service you were using. For example, you would receive new mail messages only when you were using the Outlook Web App and not when you were working in SharePoint Online. You now receive notifications for new mail, reminders, and system alerts in all your Office 365 services. (Notice the triangle shaped alert icon with the number 1 below it on the blue bar above)

Make sure to stay tuned to this blog and the Office 365 Roadmap for more upcoming service releases!



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SharePoint Online Retires Tags and Notes Wed, 10 Sep 2014 16:21:04 +0000 As Microsoft continues to blend and expand Yammer capabilities across the platform, they have retired Tags and Notes in SharePoint Online.

Key factor to note is that users can no longer create create or access existing tags or notes. The only option is for SharePoint Online admins to export all existing tags and notes via an archived csv files, from the SharePoint admin center. Also, for those using this feature, the webparts will start showing up blank.


Tags and Note UX in SharePoint 2013

Below is the table of  how this will affect users :

Tags & Notes button on ribbonStill visible but disabled.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts in the web part galleryStill visible and enabled. The web parts will show up as blank when added to a page.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts embedded in a pagePage will display a blank space in the area previously occupied by the web parts. Edit the page to remove the web parts.
Social tagsSocial tags will no longer appear in the tags refiner. The refiner will still display hashtags.
Tags and notes listed on personal sitesThe area that previously listed tags and notes will be blank.
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Delve Has Arrived Mon, 08 Sep 2014 21:44:16 +0000 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!

What is Delve?
Delve is a new way to search and discover content with Office graph in the background doing all the heavy lifting.
I talk about it in detail here or Watch the video here.

Release ScheduleFinally Here
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.

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SharePoint Online (O365) adds security and compliance services Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:08:16 +0000 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.

Data Loss Prevention

DLPSharePoint 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.

For more information about Using DLP in SharePoint Online, review this TechNet article
For more information about the Using 51 DLP Information Types, review this TechNet article.

Rights Management

ShareProtectedThe Rights Management platform announced significant enhancements in the support of non-native Office formats.

The current Rights Management platform supports native Office 2010, Office 2013 and Office 365 however does not support anything else. To resolve this issue, there is now a “Share Protected” button. The Share Protected option shares and Office documents via email by sending recipients both an RMS protected version of the Office document and a protected PDF copy of the same file. When sending via the “Share Protected”, the email notifies of document use (or abuse). This provides insight into how the sensitive document is being used as intended.

For more information about the Using Rights Management on SharePoint Library, review this TechNet article.


These new capabilities ensure that sensitive information is securely stored and appropriately enforced through the DLP capabilities. Combined with the “Share Protected” capabilities, these improvements enhance the viability of SharePoint Online as a secure environment for collaboration.

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