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Posts Tagged ‘social’

Everything You Need to Know About Delve & Office Graph

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.

Office 365 pushes Microsoft atop Gartner’s Social Magic Quadrant

Microsoft position as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace has moved to the top. Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint Online Retires Tags and Notes

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-Notes

Tags and Note UX in SharePoint 2013

Below is the table of  how this will affect users :

Item
Change
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.

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.

Will Enterprise Collaboration Drive Digital Transformation?

CIO.com has an article titled, “Enterprise Collaboration Will Drive Digital Transformation“.  Perhaps a more descriptive but longer title would be, “Digital Transformation Will Happen But Those Who Succeed Will Collaborate Across The Enterprise”  It’s not the catchiest title of course.  However, it highlights how to make any transformation successful.  The author, Matt Kapko, notes

“The CIO is more important than ever before,” says Solis. Instead of working against a technology roadmap, CIOs are now focusing on organizational processes and objectives that matter more to different types of customers and employees.

Now this is in CIO Magazine so it’s from a CIO perspective.  But the accompanying graphic from Alitimeter group tells you something

Who is the Executive Champion?

Who is the Executive Champion?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMO’s and CEO’s are driving digital transformation more than CIO’s.  That more than anything tells you that even though we are talking about digital transformation, it’s not just about the technology.  Matt Kapko has it right when he says that technology has to be an enabler and that it needs to be aligned with a bigger mission.

I especially like the Sephora example in the article.

Companies like Sephora are making this transformation by grouping every employee that touches a digital customer into a single team. Social media, customer service, sales, support and other functions are now equally equipped, informed and capable of meeting various customer needs.

“It all started with this greater intent to recognize that the digital customer is different than solving any one of these problems alone. To the customer we’re one brand, so we should act like it internally,” explains Solis.

I think that nails it on the head and brings enterprise collaboration into focus.  Enterprise Collaboration tools purport to break down silos and enable people across an organization find each other and get work done.   When you say digital transformation and customer in one sentence then, like Sephora, you have to cut across multiple organizations.

Read the whole article for other interesting graphics and information.

Developing for Office 365 and SharePoint

Recently I participated in a Microsoft developer discussion on the Yammer Network where some great ideas were shared. I am re posting a summary of the session posted in that group here for everyone’s benefit

——————————–

Overview: Microsoft responses to questions are provided by Chris Johnson, Sonya Koptyev, Jeremy Thake, Dorrene Brown, Mauricio Ordonez, Brian Jones, Ricky Kirkham, Christophe Fiessinger, Jeremy Chapman, Alister Spiers, and 365 IT Pro Team as well as MVP Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin.
 

FUTURE PLANS
Q: When will we see the O365 APIs move out of preview? When will we see the O365 APIs move out of preview?
A: We’re aiming for end of this calendar year. We’re getting a bunch of great feedback and have a few partners building solutions that have helped us identify some additional work we’d like to get in. We will have a public roadmap soon that we will be keeping up to date to help give people a heads up on when developer related features will be coming.

Q: Are there any plans in the SharePoint roadmap for an analytics API about user actions (like Usage or Audit data for SharePoint On-Prem)?
A: It is something that our Information Management team are working on. This is obviously challenging from a multi-tenant perspective due to the nature of where we have come from historically with the SharePoint platform

Q: Is there is any plans for Lync online API so we can schedule and add people to meetings from our custom application? 
A: We are working to expand our APIs across the suite, but we don’t have any announcements around the Lync Online APIs at this time.
 
Q: Can you please provide a little more insight around the plans for auto versus provider hosted apps and what is going to happen to Cloud Business Apps (light switch / html)? I understand provider hoist is the current guidance but I’d like to understand what the path will be so we can make some good architectural and strategic decisions for our apps in the near future – 3-6 months timeframe. We currently create, and have a need for small, dedicated task oriented apps that interact between Office 365 and SQL Azure.
A: The Auto-hosted apps preview program is closed (http://blogs.office.com/2014/05/16/update-on-autohosted-apps-preview-program and we will be allowing the apps to run until close to the end of the year. The guidance is to convert your auto-hosted apps (if you have any) to provider-hosted. That is the preferred app deployment model today. We cannot comment on the CBAs but can pull in the right folks to answer your questions around CBAs.

Q2: Are you working on a replacement for Autohosted Apps? Autohosted Apps were a really powerful App Type for creating and deploying small Apps without having to worry about deploying them in Azure.
A2: We heard from developers that they wanted to have full access to Azure, and so as we announced in the blog post we will continue to work with the Visual Studio team to continue to simplify and streamline the deploy process into Azure.

Q: Is there a plan to enhance the APIs available for administrative activies such as managing domains/DNS entries or modify Exchange/Lync/Sharepoint settings via APIs?
A: Our approach is to have management APIs via PowerShell + the remote APIs via REST/CSOM. We don’t currently have anything to share about new APIs coming to PowerShell about those specific things. We’re always looking to improve what can be automated! The big focus has been to make it easier through poweshell cmdlets… check them out on TechNet – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn194107.aspx

Q: Are there any plans to be more transparent about updates to the UI? Given that our development is focused on a client side API, any changes to the standard HTML can immediately render our solutions broken. For example — the top navigation bar’s text color recently changed. If my branding had used that color for the background color, the text would have been invisible. Even “non-disruptive” changes can be disruptive.
A: There is work in progress to be more transparent with our roadmap where we will share changes such as the user experience changes along with new and changed APIs.

The nature of us running a service now is that we are continually improving the user experience. With SharePoint On-Premises the user experience has changed between Cumulative Updates, Service Packs and major releases. As a SharePoint developer we have always had to manage this balance, taking a dependency from your code on the UI is a fragile one due to the frequency of change and we would recommend you avoid it at all costs.

With regards to the scenario you provided around the top navigation bar text color recently changing…the Theme approach is fully supported. I do agree that it is unfortunate that the text became invisible. We are working on some new features to improve this experience, but are not quite ready to disclose them

Q: Are there plans to make it easier for public facing and publishing sites to be Responsive ready? What can we look forward to?
A: Have you checked out this post about responsive web design in SharePoint? http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepointdev/archive/2013/04/01/implementing-your-responsive-designs-on-sharepoint-2013.aspx
Also, you can find additional information about designing public facing sites here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/public-website-faq-HA104135026.aspx#_Toc383417646

Q: CRM now supports multiple instances within a single Office 365 tenant. Will SharePoint receive this same capability in the future so that we can better manage Development and QA instances?
A: Currently SharePoint has the capability of creating different Site Collections in the same tenancy which is how some handle dev/QA areas to keep things separate. However, others choose to create an entirely separate tenancy to keep things separate.

In your case what are you looking for isolation of? Sites, User profiles? Mailboxes? All of the above? Keen to hear more about what you are looking for. Please log it on UserVoice: http://officespdev.uservoice.com/

Q: A request that we get from Office365 customers is hiding specific content from the suite bar. Are there any plans to implement customizing and hiding content? This would need to be consistent across all Office365 Services. 
A: We’ve also heard several times that customizing the suite bar is something that users want as well. While we aren’t quite ready to share our thinking just yet, this is something we are thinking about at this time.
 
APIs 
Q: How much change should we expect moving from the Preview APIs to the Production APIs?
How much notice will we get when this happens to make sure we can make adjustments in our code?
A: We don’t anticipate huge changes in the O365 APIs moving from preview to production. There will be changes to the APIs while they are still in preview, but we’ll make sure to let everyone know in advance. We are currently working on a 30-60-90 day roadmap for the public that will show people what will be changing in the near future.
 
Q: In the preview Office 365 Files Rest API what is the reasoning behind limiting file copy and move operations to only within the same document library? This really limits the usefulness of those operations and is less functionality than what is in the existing SharePoint web endpoints.
A: No reason other than we haven’t implemented the feature yet :) The Files APIs are still in preview mode, and while we can’t share the exact improvements we will be making this is definitely a good idea. Can you add this feature request to our UserVoice (aka.ms/officedevfeedback) so we can get it on our backlog?

Q: What is the relationship between the O365 APIs (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/office/dn605893) and SharePoint apps intended for SharePoint Online? Are SP apps going to be replaced (eventually) by the O365 APIs? If not, what scenarios are appropriate for SP Apps, but not for O365 APIs, and vice versa?
A: No, they are not replacing Apps for SharePoint. The way we see is that the Apps are the contextual experience of surfacing your customization into SharePoint and Office. Such as App Parts, Ribbon Custom Actions, List Item Block Actions in SharePoint or Read/Write Compose in Outlook and Content App in PowerPoint.

The Office 365 APIs are your way of reaching into the services (Calendar, Mail, Contacts, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint All Sites) from your standalone web applications or mobile applications.We see these two complementing each other to deliver your business solutions. We will be sharing more soon on this direction and strategy.

Q: From my SharePoint site can I call my custom for example WebAPI endpoint and use OAuth to authorize this call on the backend? I want to call external backend from JavaScript in my SharePoint site and just know the caller from my backend I don’t want to call back to SharePoint I will just get data from my backend and send it to the caller. 
A: We don’t think you can use the context token in that way. There’s no way to obtain a context token programmatically. What we would suggest for these JavaScript scenarios is that your WebAPI use an Auth cookie that gets sent in response to the initial context token.

GENERAL QUESTIONS AND FUNCTIONALITY 
Q: When will we get to know more about the Discovery Service? We work in integration, and knowing what’s out there instead of having to search for it would be extraordinarily helpful.
A:The Discovery Service allows applications to find the specific endpoint location for resources. For example, when a user signs into an application it can call the discovery service to determine URL of the user’s OneDrive. This saves the user from having to manually type in the URL. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn605898(v=office.15).aspx

Q: I’ve been having a lot of trouble figuring out leverage Office Web Apps as a provider hosted app. What’s the best path for third party companies wanting to give users the best web experience possible?
Is it possible to use Office Web Apps with a client dropbox account? Feed them a byte[] or some such action?
A: If the files are stored in O365, then you should be able to use the Web Apps to render the files. If the files are in dropbox, you’d need to first get them into the user’s OneDrive for business folder, and the Web Apps would then render them.

Q: What is the relationship of the O365 Common Consent Framework (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn605895(v=of…) to SharePoint apps? Assuming the app is targeted only for SharePoint Online, is the ComCon Framework and alternative to the existing ACS/OAuth system for SP app developers? Is it meant to replace the existing system?
A: The Common Consent Framework allows applications to access multiple services. Today the set of services supported by common consent includes SharePoint, Exchange, and the directory. In contrast, SharePoint app authorization model allows access solely to SharePoint resources. At SharePoint Conference 2014 we announced our direction is to converge these two models.
Right now you can actually already call the CSOM and REST APIs if your app asks for at least READ permissions that the user consents to. You can pass the Auth Bearer token as you make calls to both those APIs.

Q2: How would you use CSOM in an O365 APP? Would you use a token to establish a ClientContext?
A2: Yes, you can use CSOM completely out of SharePoint…there is a post of Kirk Evans where he shows how to create a Timer Job where you can see this idea.http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kaevans/archive/2014/03/02/building-a-sharepoint-app-as-a-timer-job.aspx
The Microsoft team is also working on getting out some simple blogs posts dealing with this particular subject.

Q: When developing Apps for Office 365 and the App Catalog: we may want to update our app from time to time. What resources are there to learn the best way to do this and could this potentially translate to On-Prem app updates? 
A: Ricky Kirkham did an amazing session on this at SharePoint Conference http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC425. Due to the app model not sitting on the SharePoint Server, the good news is that IISRESETs are not required that would impact the operational uptime of the SharePoint server.
There are naturally strategies just like any web applications of releasing new versions of your web app into production still. But it does not impact your SharePoint SLA now, just your app. We have several topics on MSDN about updating SP apps. The top node is: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/fp179904%28v=office.15%29.aspx. It is not necessary to stop SharePoint to update an app. Only the app itself is inaccessible while the update is running.

Q: Why is the Recycle method not exposed on SP.Web in CSOM? In order to recycle a web rather than delete it. I only see DeleteObject exposed where other objects such as SP.List have a Recycle method.
A: That would be a great one to add to user voice, and we can take a look at it. http://officespdev.uservoice.com

Q: Tenancy scope app can’t install app part. How I can create the concept of app stabling to my site and run code in the host web without needing to install an app and add my app part to the host web?
A: If it is a scenario when a user launches the home page of the host web and you want to execute some code and render something on the page,right now you would need to add the App to every Site where you wanted the App Part.
Right now you can’t automatically add the App Part to a page, we have an engineer investigating this scenario right now. In the future we intend on improving this scenario of deploying apps at a tenant level. If you just want to execute code against multiple host webs, have you can build a Standalone Web Application or Mobile Application that calls the Office 365 APIs.
 
Q: How to deal with the announcement of discontinuation of InfoPath in SharePoint? Is there any guidance or migration path?
A: Customers can still use InfoPath until 2023. We plan to release a replacement (side by side for now) with the SharePoint form customization technology, currently codenamed “FoSL” later this summer. We are also working actively on vNext technologies for other scenarios, and we will provide more details later this year, closer to Q4. http://blogs.office.com/2014/01/31/update-on-infopath-and-sharepoint-forms

Q2: Regarding the 2023 date… will this include InfoPath Forms Services or just InfoPath Desktop Client? Dates this far in the future would certainly impact a client’s decision.
A2: InfoPath Desktop Client will continue to be supported through 2023. InfoPath Forms Services in on-prem deployments will also continue to be supported until 2023. InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Online (Office 365) will be maintained until the next on-premises release of SharePoint. We will provide a year’s notice (via blog post) before turning off IPFS in the service.

Q: Will it be possible (or is it already possible) to use Word Online, Excel Online, etc from SharePoint Online as a drop in replacement for textarea/ckeditor html-fields in .Net/Azure web applications?
A: We currently have the ability to drop a document on a page and use Word Online to view it. However, we don’t have the ability to just use it as a generic rich text editing control like you would with the radEditor for example.

Q2: When you say drop a document on a page, do you mean a web page that is not within SharePoint Online (like a regular MVC-web application pages (for example a cshtml-page))? And does this solution require the users to login to SharePoint online also?
A2: Yes, that’s right. Auth depends on where the document sits. If it’s in Office 365, then yes, they would need to authenticate. You can also do the same with documents in OneDrive.

 

 

Source: Yammer IT Pro

Updates on SharePoint and Yammer SKUs

SharePoint SKU Retirement

July 1st, the following SKUs will be retired:

  • SharePoint Plan 1 w/ Yammer
  • SharePoint Plan 2 w/ Yammer
  • Office Online w/ SharePoint Plan 1
  • Office Online w/ SharePoint Plan 1

Updates on SharePoint and Yammer SKUsThis retirement aligns with Microsoft’s previous announcement of OneDrive for Business and the broader SKU strategy of eliminating mini-suites. More information on this announcement will be forthcoming.

 

Yammer: Free with A and M SKUs 

Starting June 16th, Yammer capability will be included in A and M SKU. Access will roll out to existing and new customers in the coming weeks.

More information on this rollout will be announced shortly.

 

SharePoint Plan 1/2 and Yammer Standalone Coming to Open

Starting August 1st, SharePoint Plan 1, SharePoint Plan 2, and Yammer Enterprise Standalone will be available in Open.

These SKUs will appear on the July 1st Pricelist Preview and the August 1st Pricelist.

 

Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in Yammer

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at the office.  Besides hopping from LA to NYC to Chicago to work with various and sundry eye-catching clients, we’ve been turning out essays on a couple of hot topics:

  • Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in YammerROI (Return On Investment) as provided by Enterprise Social Networks
  • Governance in Yammer, specifically External Networks

In the first instance, we’ve got an article up over at CMSWire discussing the futility of using ROI as a case for investing in enterprise social.  The wiser course by far is to leverage one of the freemium networks available (and of course, I’m personally partial to Yammer– the best one out there) and let it build value within your organization first.  That basically makes the case for you.

The second piece covers Yammer directly, and specifically goes into the design of Usage Policies for Yammer’s External Networks.  These are a great tool for communicating and collaborating with clients, vendors and partners– so long as you design a binding Usage Policy with several key guidelines in mind.  In our post on ViewDo Labs’ enterprise social blog, we tell you what those guidelines are.

Curious?  I hope so!  Check out the latest and let us know what you think.

Yammer Roadmap and Work-like-a-network

So much is changing each day with Office 365 suite of services and applications, that it’s hard to keep up. This post is an attempt to get you up to speed with the exciting new features on Yammer roadmap slated for this year.

Work Like a Network

If you are asking yourself what is this, then you certainly have a lot to catch up.  It’s probably the single most exciting feature unifying multiple services in the Office 365 suite. So what’s all the buzz about #Worklikeanetwork?

This is how Microsoft defines it:

It’s not just what you know but also who you know that matters. Enterprise social should be woven into the way people already work, so that the power of human networks is available to help people get their jobs done—anywhere and on any device. It’s also the way you stay communicated, stay in touch with friends, or find a job at enterprise, all about helping you being agile breaking down barriers across collaboration and communication channel.  To make all of this possible, Microsoft is building an integrated set of social, collaboration, and communication technologies that enable companies to work like a network!

I talk about this in our Yammer roadmap since I see this as one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in enterprise communications and probably the most important one on Yammer’s roadmap this year. You can read about Office graph and Oslo on office blog and TechNet. My goal here is not to duplicate that information rather share my findings and experiences during the course of last few months since this was first announced. So let’s look a bit further and find out how this transforms your work life.

There are three main pillars to this concept

  • Office Graph & Oslo App- Office Graph is in the cloud, Oslo is the client UI that serves up the Office Graph.

oslo1

Office Graph

oslo2

  • Inline Social – bringing social into tasks and documents. Notion of conversation is not only for office documents, but also videos. Real time feedback available in right sidebar in conversations.

inlinesocial

  • Groups – This sweet concept was picked up from Yammer and extended to Office 365. It breaks application silos, provides seamless integration between mail, SharePoint, and social.

yammergroup1

yammergroup2

 

All of this is going to be exposed by an application called “Oslo”. It will furnish the algorithmic results from office graph and provides a natural way for users to navigate, discover, and search people and information across an organization. Watch this cool video from Yammer

Now can you visualize how your work is going to be easier and more manageable? Whether you live in email or yammer you will be able to work more closely. If not then here’s a preview:

Open outlook web access, it’ll list groups on bottom left same as yammer groups. Go to a particular group, it’ll shows light weight card like conversation, feed like conversation. When someone post a link it includes inline preview of the article. Another cool thing, it also includes inline native video player in Outlook. Idea is to keep users within the context of their conversation. No more search for relevant email in exchange distribution list for older conversations. All group conversation shows up all here, searchable and cataloged. Open a document, which opens using Office Online side by side with conversation. You can hover on the group calendar event and add it to your personal calendar, it syncs your calendar if something changes. Any member of the group can add/edit/delete meetings. You can subscribe to groups (go to colleagues groups). Groups have their own OneDrive for Business library for each group. When you edit a document in your group space it will auto save that version to the library.

Recently I had a chance to discuss Microsoft’s social strategy and roadmap with Jared Spataro (General manager of Enterprise Social @Microsoft) in the yammer community along with other social experts and here are some takeaways from that sessionKeep-Calm-and-Get-a-Takeaway

  •  Focus is on three concepts 1. People 2. Groups & 3. Networks
    • People are treated as first class objects and social puts them back into work
    • Groups are core to putting people at work – together. When group of people working on a common purpose get hands on social communication tools, magic happens!
    • Networks of people can self-organize, re-allocate resources, and bubble up innovation. End of the day it’s all about sharing resources
  • Groups created in one location (Exchange Online, Yammer or Active Directory) is automatically replicated to the other two, doesn’t matter what the starting point is, groups are managed across all services. For e.g. create a group in Exchange Online and it will create a Yammer group and SharePoint team site.
    • Groups created in AD, Yammer, or Exchange Online will NOT have nesting (at least initially)
    • A yammer group uses SharePoint document library for storing files and OneDrive for business service for offline sync
    • This process group creates a full blown Exchange calendar
    • Creating a group anywhere in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online or Yammer will create the same one with the same members in the other two
    • Creating a SharePoint site will NOT create Yammer groups (Although Microsoft is working on a upgrade path)
  • Biggest problem with Yammer standalone was that it didn’t capture enough signals. Some of the most important signals were left out (emails, documents, instant messages, etc.). Integration with Office 365 will be a tremendous change.
  • Microsoft fused search capabilities with predictive intelligence. The graph collects signals from your work (who you follow, what documents you author, what you’re referring to in order to complete tasks, email, etc.) and then constructs a single graph of objects and relationships (“Joe viewed Contract DHN-125″ and “Joe attended “Product Launch”). Then using those objects and relationships it starts suggesting things that might help you get your work done.
  • Office Graph acts only on information that you have access to. So for instance, if someone shares a document with you and it isn’t publicly accessible, but you have access to it, it will still show up in your Oslo results. The “intake” component of the Graph is based on search, so it crawls information and access control lists and is intelligent enough to know who has access to what.
  • Office graph concept reaches beyond Office and Office 365. You’ll be able to incorporate just about any information source, online or on-prem.
  • You will be able to push information and provide inputs to Oslo so that a company can target content.
  • The one use case Oslo and Office graph will address – organization of all the information swirling around an organization. It’s impossible to keep up with what’s happening in even a small group, let alone one of some size, so the graph (and the Oslo app) are designed to bring information to you and allow you to explore it. In many ways, MS think of Oslo as a “browser” for the graph.
  • The Office Graph will have both push and pull mechanisms so you can include things online, on-prem, on the MSFT stack, and on non-MSFT technologies
  • As stated in SPC 2014,  Oslo/Office Graph, Inline Conversations, and Unified Groups won’t be released in one big bang. They’ll be phased in throughout this year.

So here it is, #Worklikeanetwork for you!

Yammer works on a rapid release methodology so much so that they have a weekly update cycles. They follow the thumb rule, project team size 2-10, and duration of 2-10 weeks, it’s agile in real sense.

It’s not just about work-like-a-network on Yammer’s roadmap but also many more UX and functional improvements coming your way. To stay on top of their release schedule bookmark the success center site

Is Your SharePoint Ready for Yammer?

Whether your organization is experiencing rapid growth or you simply need better collaboration, enterprise social is the key to your needs. I gave an overview of the latest services offered in Office 365 in my blog post here and for the purposes of today’s article I will focus on the enterprise social networking (ESN) product, Yammer.

Yammer is a private social network that allows you to stay on top of all your collaboration and sharing needs internal or external to your organization. If you have heard or worked with some of the other ESNs like Jive, Salesforce chatter, IBM connections you might have already heard of Yammer. Microsoft has made big leaps in the last year or so in promoting Yammer as the primary social platform in the SharePoint and Dynamics CRM roadmaps. Microsoft has clearly stated that they believe the future of social collaboration to be in the cloud, and are making most of their investments in cloud-based features within Yammer and Office 365. As a result we are experiencing a massive shift from our customers to Yammer as their social platform to enhance their social collaboration practice. The one concern I have been hearing from lot of organizations is around making this transition – from native SharePoint social to Yammer.

  • What happens to the data in SP social?
  • Would tags, keywords, likes, and conversations be a migration candidate?
  • When should we make the switch to Yammer?
  • How does this affect SharePoint communities of practice?

Remember when we talk about Social in the enterprise we should not focus on the tool, but rather work on the underlying change management process which involves leaders and followers, to promote, adapt and engage in a way which helps streamline business processes. If you are currently using native SharePoint social features, the choice to stay with it or go with Yammer depends on your specific use cases but on a very high level I recommend that you:

  • Stay with native SharePoint social – if you wish to utilize communities of practice leveraging your existing templates or information architecture AND if your organizational policy does not allow sharing of data and conversations in the cloud.
  • Go with Yammer – if your organization has high collaboration or knowledge sharing needs and requires employees to come out of the organizational silos and get quick return from the use of unstructured data AND your organization is currently on or making a shift to Office 365 enterprise plans which can leverage from rich integration features coming down the road

How do I make the shift?

Any enterprise social implementation should be handled as a change management process and Yammer is no different. Look to involve users and designate champions or what we call “Yambassadors” who will help drive adoption ensuring high level of engagement from your workforce. Yammer provides various integrations e.g. with SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, DirSync, SSO, Intranets and Portals, activity stream from line of business applications, and API usage for custom integrations.

Here at Perficient we have been involved with spearheading some early adoptions working with complex use cases.  In the case where you are currently using native SP social features, from what I have seen there is no silver bullet, but the preferred route is to start with bringing up Yammer side by side with your existing native SP social newsfeed, and as the adoption grows replace relevant features with Yammer.   Although there is no direct path for migrating your data from the native SP social newsfeed to Yammer there are some considerations that I would like to share.

  • While making this shift use Yammer embed within your portal team sites, and my sites. It’s a simple app part available on your SharePoint site (once enabled and installed by your administrator) which can be configured to point to your home, group or user feed.

Yammer Embed in Communities Of Practice

 

  • If you are heavily using the SP community sites then I would recommend embedding Yammer app and transitioning by starting conversation thread inside of Yammer embed vs. the native SharePoint feed. You will be surprised at how fast people pick Yammer in their everyday life. The striking similarity of Yammer user experience with that of Facebook is an added advantage, you will end up saving a ton on end-user training.
  • Designate champions from each department or line of business – In order for your employees to embrace Yammer you will require a team of champions who are trained with the social capabilities and help you manage the communities at large. Actively involve them in constant redefining the Yammer communities
  • Get buy in from C-level executives – Involve senior leadership in all major decisions, you would be pleasantly surprised to see what few posts from your C-level executives can do to drive engagement.
  • Align social activities with your business objectives
  • Go for a soft launch – Soft launch or pilot helps you get the buy in from leadership and assist you with focusing on the most relevant Yammer features when you do go live. Here is an interesting article by Steve Nguyen on why NOT to call it a pilot.
  • Broadcast the Change – To make the biggest impact this message should come from your c-level executives.
  • Fade off the native SharePoint social features – Once you get some adoption across the organization by utilizing Yammer embed, go ahead and start switching off the native features eventually completely removing them. This article guides you through this process.
  • Plan on Single Sign On – To ensure a smooth transition plan on implementing Active Directory federation Services (ADFS) for single sign-on (SSO). This reduces user frustration when trying to log on to Yammer. Check here for Yammer integrations
  • Plan for cutover and staged migration – Your existing social Data cannot be migrated over to Yammer so plan on communicating this to users so they can plan ahead. One possible approach would be to use OneNote for copying and pasting important threads.
  • Yammer Network feed and Embed – Use the Yammer network feed (yammer.com/#networkname) for full screen activity feed, and Yammer embed in communities of practice for group conversations

Yammer is also a great platform for external, ad hoc collaboration where you can maximize flexibility, and collaboration is more about the conversation than with structured content. So when designing extranets or looking for options to share files, notes, ideas, and meeting minutes think of Yammer. If you are already on Office 365 or looking to move, Yammer will be highly integrated within the whole experience – groups, search, etc. You should expect this integration to be coming very soon this year #worklikeanetwork.

Update 04/29/2014: While discussing social landscape with folks from the Yammer community, Richard diZerega raised a real good point which should be considered while weighing their options between native SP social and Yammer: “From an IT Pro standpoint, native SharePoint Social is a maintenance nightmare. It uses the SharePoint MySites as the database for social activity and makes heavy use of SharePoint’s distributed cache. Both of these are very challenging to scale and architect correctly. All that effort for a social platform with capabilities that pale in comparison to Yammer.”

 

How would I know if Yammer is providing any Value?

Yammer provides basic and advanced analytics which you can use to determine the level of engagement across the organization. My fellow co-worker Rich Ross wrote a nice article on the various reports you get out of the box. Out of the box statistics are available for all users of the network while advanced reports are available for administrators via the Data Export feature.

analytics_overview1

 

If you like visualizing data and generating cool stuff I highly recommend reading this post from Richard diZerega. He shows some real powerful stuff your administrators can unleash by using the Data Export feature, Excel, and PowerBI. Take this to your next executive meeting and I’ll bet you will make some jaws drop!

Bonus: Look at this great infographics on Yammer and #worklikeanetwork

So what are you waiting for, get out there and start Yammerizing your network!!