Microsoft

Blog Categories

Subscribe to RSS feed

Archives

Follow our Microsoft Technologies board on Pinterest

Posts Tagged ‘social’

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!!

Webinar: Yammer External Networks – Engaging Customers & Partners

These days, there’s much talk about Yammer, and for good reason. Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, and since that time, it has become the company’s direction for enterprise social, now integrating with SharePoint Online.

While Yammer has clearly distinguished itself as Yammer_logo-featurean enterprise social network within organizations, its potential for engaging those outside company walls has yet to be realized, as most have not extended its features to engage customers, partners and/or vendors.

If you weren’t able to make it to the SharePoint Conference this year, or were there but unable to attend Rich Wood’s popular Yammer session, join us next week, on Wednesday, April 16 at 3 p.m. CT, as he again discusses Yammer External Networks: Engaging Customers and Partners.

During the complimentary webinar, Rich will explain how Yammer is redefining the traditional external network, and will show attendees how to set up, configure and govern a Yammer-powered external network. You’ll get to see just how intuitive and mobile-friendly Yammer is, and how it is accessible across all platforms. He’ll also talk about how Yammer is easy to adopt and governance-ready, and will show you how to make the most of the platform’s intuitive user experience.

You can also hear what Rich is saying on Twitter @richOthewood.

To register for the webinar, click here.
Yammer External Networks: Engaging Customers and Partners
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
3:00 p.m. CDT

Compelling Case for Office 365

Everyone has an opinion on “Cloud’ and its effect on the business, for some it’s scary in terms of data security and for some it’s revenue generation and cost savings. There are a number of reasons why cloud computing is so widely used among businesses today. Some of them include

Reduction of costs – lower hardware costs from more effective use of physical resources
Universal access – allow remotely located employees to access applications and work via the internet
Up to date software – ability to get upgraded software and patches seamlessly
Scalability & Flexibility – allows users to switch applications easily and rapidly, using the one that suits their needs best. Allows a business to use, access and pay only for what they use, with a fast implementation time

Though we can go on and on with the benefits, it’s also important to know there are circumstances which does not make cloud a best fit for an organization. But isn’t that the case for any technology or software? So for the purposes of this post I will focus on the most talked cloud service from Microsoft, Office 365. It’s been promoted as SaaS but there are scenarios which I think it fits better in the PaaS bucket, but we’ll leave that for a later discussion.

Now I have been in consulting for as long as I can remember which has given me the chance to work across various industries, technologies, and tools but most recently I have been enthralled by Microsoft’s latest cloud offering Office 365 and I wanted to cover some compelling reasons for organizations or individuals to move to O365 and what makes office a preferred choice for over 1 billion people

  • Pricing – The greatest advantage  here being the multiple SKU’s being offered providing an opportunity to do a test drive. I know of organizations who have started their cloud journey  by simply enrolling for OneDrive for Business (previously SkyDrive) or Yammer (enterprise social networking tool), or some standalone SharePoint. Can you imagine standing up social networking and collaboration in your organization (small to medium to large enterprise) for as little as zero? Plans are extremely favorable starting from $5 user/month to $22 user/month. For latest pricing and plan details check out Office 365 Business Plans
  • Availability – “Your complete office in the cloud” is how we think of Microsoft Office 365. The worldwide uptime number for Office 365 for the last four quarters beginning July 2012  and ending June 2013 has been 99.98%, 99.97%, 99.94% and 99.97% respectively and financially backed by SLA of 99.9%. Check  Office 365 Trust Center for uptime numbers disclosed every quarter.
  • Ease of Use – Same old office applications we have been using for last two decades now online. Whatever device you’re working on, Office 365 gives you access to everything you need—your documents, email, calendars, contacts, and team sites all come with you. A mobile or geographically distributed workforce accessing email, documents and spreadsheets online or offline, and collaborating with colleagues either offline or in real time sounds like lot of work but O365 makes it a snap by taking out all that headache of maintenance and constant upgrades out of your hand.
  • Funding – Now many don’t know this but since Microsoft truly believes in the value this provides to organizations they are offering (for a limited time only) funding for qualifying deployments for 150 seats and above. This will help you accelerate your adoption by investing in Office 365 Fast Track methodology. Check Fast track Funding for more details
  • Cost – This is one of my favorite ones for businesses who require a quick public facing site or are  bringing up extranets for collaborating with their partners or vendors, they can get all of that for no charge (for up to 10,000 users based on the subscription plan)
  • Application Suite

So that I don’t bore with too much details I’ll keep it short for the well-known platforms/services already being widely used like SharePoint,  Lync, Exchange etc.

  • Yammer – social network entirely focused on business. I think this one alone is one of the most riveting of the lot. The way people are hooked onto Facebook they are going to find tremendous power to this tool. Microsoft has been taking big strides in this area by deprecating SharePoint 2013 newsfeed and replacing (Go Yammer! Is the slogan) it with Yammer ($1.2B acquisition made in mid of 2012). There are some upcoming features announced recently which includes a much tighter Yammer integration with Outlook Online and O365 sites.
    • If you are anything like me this one is an “Aw” factor of O365. Codename “Oslo” it is a proactive personalized search and discovery using office graph. A strong algorithmic approach for surfacing tailored feed is truly a mark of next generation technology.

Olso_dd_01-1024x576

Olso_dd_02-1024x576

Olso_dd_04-1024x576

  • Group Experience and Inline Social – A cross-Office 365 concept that will unify people, profiles, conversations, email, calendars, and files across the entire set of Office 365 applications. Creating a group anywhere in Office 365 will automatically provision a corresponding inbox, social feed, calendar, and document library that group members can use to get the job done.

ES_Outlook_06_resized

How do you like weaving your social activity into apps you use daily like Word, PowerPoint etc. Adding conversations to documents in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. View conversations side by side. That means whether you are working from within Outlook, or Yammer, or a document you get a similar experience.

ES_09_resized

Pick your conversations from where you left from within any of these places!

*To dive deeper I highly recommend you look at the Office Blog

  • One Drive – Divided in personal and business SKU’s. OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro) is personal online storage for a your employees.  It’s the place where people can store, sync, and share their work files across multiple devices with ease and security. You can then collaborate with others in real time right from within Office and edit documents from virtually anywhere via a web browser in real time using Office Online. And yes starting April 1st,2014 you will have this as a standalone service. I have seen many organizations using  OneDrive as the primary use case to get a foot in the cloud and once  accepted well within groups and teams reach out for more meat available on  O365. Check out the OneDrive blog for more details
  • Office Applications – The  general suite of office applications we are so used to in our daily lives so much that we take it for granted. it’ll be almost impossible to work on  presentations, financial modelling, or lot of other stuff without the  availability of these applications.
  • SharePoint – Collaboration platform which existed since the early 2001. One of the biggest players  for Microsoft in the enterprise world. Also comes in standalone plans  “SharePoint Online”
  • Lync – Instant messaging and  video conferencing technology widely used in enterprises
  • Exchange – Access to email, calendar, and contacts across all devices while protecting your mailboxes  with anti-malware and anti-spam filters
  • Other benefits -
    • Outsource infrastructure so  you can focus on core business.
    • Electronic signature  – Microsoft and DocuSign entered in a strategic partnership providing you eSignature apps across Office 365
    • Cloud based Business Intelligence: Power BI – Register on premise data source with Data  Management gateway and with some configuration you can gain insights from  data, working within Excel to analyze and visualize the data in a  self-service way even on mobile devices.

PowerBI

  • Analysis with Google Apps – I  encourage you to take a look at this article Office 365 vs. Google Apps compares O365 and Google Apps.

Microsoft recently made a firm and vocal commitment to another SharePoint on premise release and I think lot of folks started reading between the lines – does that mean end to on premise support? no more version upgrades? But as we all understand on premise isn’t going anywhere soon since there are businesses with tight governance restrictions and compliance issues. But at the same time we also know that the weather in SharePoint land is certainly getting “cloudy”.  We at Perficient have a great deal of experience deploying, managing, and migrating to Office 365 helping our customers take the road to success and we are particularly very excited to the see the future and being able to influence Microsoft roadmap for cloud.

Leave your feedback or comments on how you currently use these features and how is it helping your organization. Are these reasons enough for you to stir things up at your next executive meeting? What maturity level is your organization at? Do you feel Office 365 meets your needs?

SPC14: Microsoft’s Roadmap for Enterprise Social

Juliet Wei and Christopher Fiessinger, Microsoft Product Managers gave us a look into where Enterprise Social is headed.   Given the many questions on deeper integration between SharePoint and Yammer plus hoped for enhancements made this a packed session, even if it was the end of the day. They put the agenda as:

  1. Work like a network
  2. New experiences
  3. Journey
  4. Next steps

Getting started with Yammer is absolutely the single most important step you can take with social.Work Like A Network

Juliet wants to make the vision real by correlating the features that correspond to the vision.  The consumer world drives how we think about social while at the same time, our work tools don’t look a lot like facebook, twitter, or pinterest.  When you work like a network, you

  1. Listen to conversations that matter
  2. Adapt and make smarter decisions
  3. Grow your business

Quote: Getting started with Yammer is absolutely the single most important step you can take with social.  They find this because Yammer is social and uses Yammer Groups.   The new Enterprise Graph with a wide range of info served up in a relatively smart fashion.

Read the rest of this post »