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Posts Tagged ‘Office 365’

A Day in the Life of a 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 & 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 »

Global Rollout for Office Delve

colored_paper_shutterstock_wordpressFor quite some time I have been sharing my experiences and knowledge around the new Office Graph app (utilizing machine learning) called Delve. It’s great to know that this feature is now public for all Office 365 business subscribers globally. Until now it was only available for “First Release” customers and but everyone who wishes to take benefit of this intelligent new feature can now do so.

I’ll give a quick recap of what Delve encompasses. Delve is always proactively surfacing content from across Office 365. It assists you to discover content from various Office 365 streams including SharePoint Online team sites and OneDrive for Business, Office 365 video portal, and Yammer shared links, and most importantly, email.

Here are some articles which will help you gain more understanding around this cool feature.

  1. Delve
  2. Everything you need to know
  3. Make your life easier
  4. Office announcement


Happy Delving!!


Advanced Content Targeting in SharePoint – Part 2

This post is a continuation of my previous blog post explaining advanced content targeting using SharePoint search. We saw earlier how to implement a custom token for the logged in user which filters incoming content in the search index based on the user’s profile attributes. Today we are going to look into creating display templates to render custom result URLs. Before we begin let’s refresh our memory with the scenario here


An internal portal accessed by employees and contractors in three dozen locations comprising of countries and/or regions. Authoring takes place in a separate content site and content is rendered on the publishing site. All content is targeted with three important profile attributes -

a. Location (comprises of country and their region)
b. Role
c. Business Unit

Each piece of content/link takes the user to the publishing site keeping authoring unexposed to the end user. What this means for search results is

1. The results should be targeted based on user profile properties (mentioned above)
2. Customizing search results URL to point to publishing site
3. Customizing hover preview to display publishing pages (instead of the authoring site content pages)
4. Customizing Control template to implement custom paging


In the previous post we covered #1 above. This post will focus on #2.

By default all the search results points the user to the actual authoring pages which is (in this case) sitting in a separate site. Because the authoring site (usually) does not have any branding or targeting enabled, we do not want our users to lose their place in the navigation. In order to avoid that we came up with top level category pages with each of them having sub category sections which render page content from the authoring site. So in essence the publishing site URL for any piece of content will look like this:[categoryname].aspx#[subcategory]. The hash tag in the URL is to enable anchor links (bookmark) feature. It’s not relevant in this context so we’ll leave it out.

1. We declare the managed property mappings – Here we used RefinableString0 and RefinableString1 to map the category and sub category metadata fields.


2. Build a custom linkURL



3. This leads us to the html section to render the linkURL


4. And this is how the result URL look like


Webinar Recap: @PIH Uses Office 365 for Global Collaboration

Last week,Partners In Health Office 365 we were very fortunate to have one of our customers, Partners In Health (PIH), join us for a webinar. If you are not familiar with PIH, it’s a Boston based non-profit global healthcare organization with a mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare. PIH works with sister organizations that are based in settings of poverty to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need, and also, to serve as an antidote to disappear.

Dave Mayo is a 25 year veteran of the technology industry, and for the last two years, Dave has been leading technology for Partners in Health. Together with Kent Larson, Director within Perficient’s Microsoft practice, and David Chapman, Director of Change Management within our Management Consulting practice, the three speakers spoke about the global deployment of Office 365 at PIH.

Many successful non-profits run lean, and PIH is no exception. Putting money back into the field for ten years equated to ten years of neglected technology. As Dave stated during the session, the non-profit organization was using decade-old hardware, which was failing, and failing fast. This was also spread across three email platforms. To add to that, email is mission critical for PIH… essentially a life and death type of application. PIH chose to partner with Microsoft and implement Office 365. Together, Perficient and Partners In Health have worked to successfully deploy Office 365 in some of the most remote areas of the world – think Malawi, Liberia, Rwanda.

It was a fantastic session from start to finish, and I encourage anyone interested to check out the replay here. You can also review the case study, which focuses on the Change Management aspect of the project.

To learn more about Partners In Health, visit

Read the rest of this post »

Managing the Skype Client UI in Skype for Business

With Microsoft officially announcing that they will be upgrading Office365 to utilize the Skype for Business back-end, administrators will need to begin to take actions to prepare themselves and their users for the impact of this update.

Note: Since Skype for Business (hereafter, S4B) hasn’t been released to GA yet, this information is still pre-release and subject to change!

A few important things you should begin planning for:

Skype for Business will be provided as an update package to existing Lync 2013 clients

S4B will still remain “lync.exe” from an executable perspective and maintain the same major version number as Lync 2013. This greatly helps admins because Windows QoS policies should not need to be re-tooled and application whitelists will not need to be updated. Microsoft has not yet set a release date on the client update but an official announcement is likely to come soon.

Can I use Lync 2013 with a S4B Server?

The simple answer to this is “Yes!”. Lync 2013 clients will absolutely work when your user account is homed to a S4B pool. Remember that any new features of a S4B pool will not be presented to your user account until you update your client software from the Lync 2013 UI.

How do I control the UI presented to users?

This is a multi-faceted answer but largely boils down to two major points:

  1. If your Lync 2013 client has the latest S4B client update and your user account is homed on a S4B pool, upon first sign-in your client will automatically switch to the new S4B UI.
  2. If your Lync 2013 client has the latest S4B client update and your user account is homed on a S4B pool, you can override the automatic UI behavior by setting the EnableSkypeUI parameter within the Client Policies.

The EnableSkypeUI parameter, when set to $FALSE, ensures that the Lync 2013 UI is always used by any clients connecting to a S4B pool. This parameter is the only method you can use to ensure that the new Skype UI is not presented to users and can be controlled in a targeted fashion to help organizations manage a staged rollout of the new UI. I’ve included a table below that describes the various different combinations of clients, servers, and resulting client UI:

Client PlatformServer PlatformClient UI
Lync 2010Lync Server 2013Lync 2010
Lync 2010Skype for Business ServerLync 2010
Lync 2013Lync Server 2013Lync 2013
Lync 2013 (no S4B update)Skype for Business ServerLync 2013
Lync 2013 (S4B update)Skype for Business ServerSkype for Business
Lync 2013 (S4B update & EnableSkypeUI=FALSE)Skype for Business ServerLync 2013
Lync 2013 (S4B update & EnableSkypeUI=TRUE)Skype for Business ServerSkype for Business
Lync 2013 (S4B update & EnableSkypeUI=NULL)Skype for Business ServerSkype for Business
Skype for BusinessSkype for Business ServerSkype for Business
Skype for Business (EnableSkypeUI=FALSE)Skype for Business ServerLync 2013
Skype for Business (EnableSkypeUI=TRUE)Skype for Business ServerSkype for Business
Skype for Business (EnableSkypeUI=NULL)Skype for Business ServerSkype for Business

How does this effect Lync Online users?

Microsoft exerts total control over all policies and pools within Lync Online and have begun notifying customers that pending S4B upgrades will be coming within the next 90 days. Some organizations may not be ready to begin rolling out the new S4B UI but because Microsoft controls the pool upgrade process within Office365, there are limited options in controlling the client UI. Lync Online customers cannot customize Client Policies and all current Lync Online policies have a value of NULL for the EnableSkypeUI parameter. With the EnableSkypeUI parameter being NULL, clients will invoke the new UI if they have obtained the latest client update. At the current time there is no other recourse for Lync Online customers to prevent the Skype UI from being displayed, other than restricting the rollout of the latest client updates. I do believe that Microsoft will begin publishing additional client policies to allow organizations to disable the Skype UI, but customers will need to keep examining available client policies within Lync Online to discover which policies will be available:

Get-CsClientPolicy | Select Identity,EnableSkypeUI

What else should I know?

Microsoft continues to update TechNet with information regarding the upcoming Office365 updates. I strongly urge customers to examine the TechNet website for additional information and as always, I’ll update this post (or create additional posts) to reflect new changes as they are announced!

Office 365 – Microsoft’s “Cloud-First” Strategy In Action

For the past year, we’ve heard Satya Nadella’s “cloud-first, mobile-first” vision from Microsoft. Some joke that they both can’t be “first” but let’s just call it priority “1A” and “1B”.

I see it every day in Office 365. Exchange Online has nearly a bi-weekly addition of features while the on-premises version lags behind. It makes sense too that at some point, Microsoft will have to decide that “feature X” will go into the next version of Exchange as there needs to be some incentive to purchase the next version. Meanwhile, the “evergreen” service of Exchange Online continues to receive updates.

In the past 24 hours, two examples popped up demonstrating this priority.
Read the rest of this post »


Posted in Office 365

Webinar: How the Microsoft Cloud Helps @PIH Improve Global Health

Many nonprofits (and cerpihtainly other organizations as well) would likely share the same sentiment as Partners In Health (PIH) – due to the mission at hand, resource allocation, more often than not, prioritizes the needs of people over systems. It’s not all that surprising that this can lead to disbanded communication systems. Systems that, over time, become expensive to maintain and increasingly deficient.

This was the situation Partners In Health faced, and they are solving it by migrating to Office 365. PIH is a Boston-based nonprofit that delivers high-quality health care and serves impoverished communities around the world. Through the move to Office 365, they now have a single, reliable platform for colleague interactions and can more effectively focus on the mission, improving the quality of health and meeting the needs of underserved populations.

More from a recent news release:

Deployment of Office 365 across sites in Africa, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, Russia and the U.S. will further Partners In Health’s mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. It will also enhance cross-site communication and collaboration as the organization responds to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Cloud-based storage allows documents to be accessed at any time from any device in any setting, including those where bandwidth is limited. With a common email platform, information may be shared seamlessly among colleagues, partners and all others involved in the fight against illness and poverty.

This migration included including a transition to Exchange Online for company-wide communication, Azure-hosted ADFS for identity management, and SharePoint Online for document storage and collaboration.

We’re fortunate to have assisted PIH with this deployment, and are excited to host a webinar next week, on Wednesday, March 4 at 1 p.m. CT, How Partners In Health Is Using the Microsoft Cloud to Improve Global Health.

During the session, PIH’s CIO Dave Mayo, as well as Kent Larson and David Chapman from Perficient, will share details around the challenges the organization faced prior to moving to Office 365 and how the Microsoft Cloud has impacted their ability to share information and collaborate across the globe, even in the most remote locations. They’ll also discuss how change management played an important role in a successful deployment.

For more about PIH or to make a contribution to help the organization transform global health, visit Read the rest of this post »

New Additions to the Office 365 Family

I’ll keep this post short and sweet in honor of Friday!

Now if you are an avid follower of Microsoft, you got to agree that the most fascinating news (other than stock news) about the company is their shift to the cloud with platforms and products like Azure and Office 365. With so much exciting features coming through it’s tough to keep track. We at Perficient here, have the privilege to work with the latest greatest and keep you updated with the same. The three new features which caught my attention last week provide a great enhancement to user experience, be it mobile or desktop. I discuss them briefly here

Office on iOS

Office 365 Message Encryption Viewer – This app allows you to open mail attachments and send back an encrypted reply. Microsoft verifies your identity to ensure you are who you say you are. Get a one time pass code on your phone.

image1 Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – How to Update Address Lists in Exchange Online

Address Lists are a way to create an additional “view” within the Global Address List (GAL) based on a set of mailboxes attributes.

As an example, perhaps you want to create a view for everyone with the “Office” of “Headquarters”. This new Address List would appear as an additional dropdown in both Outlook and OWA. Address Lists are also part of Address Book Policies (ABPs) should you want to have actual segmentation of your GAL.

However, with Exchange Online, there is a small issue with Address Lists that can make them challenging to work with.
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