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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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 »

Perficient announces Rich Wood to speak at #SPC14 on Yammer

Today, Perficient announced that Rich Wood, director of Perficient’s national Microsoft web and social collaboration practice, will present on Yammer best practices at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014, taking place next week, March 3-6, in Las Vegas. 2014-Sharepoint-Give-AwayThe Perficient Microsoft team will also be available in booth #308 to discuss all things SharePoint, and they’ll be giving away a $1000 gift certificate to the Microsoft Store. The winner does not need to be present to win.

From the Press Release.

“Since it was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, Yammer has emerged as the technology giant’s direction for enterprise social networks and rightfully so. It integrates with SharePoint Online, and is an interactive and social communications tool that is intuitive, mobile-friendly and accessible across all platforms, easy to adopt and governance-ready,” said Rich Wood, director of Perficient’s national Microsoft web and social collaboration practice. “But what most organizations have yet to tap into is Yammer’s ability to extend its features outside the company’s walls to vendors, partners and even customers. Yammer is redefining the traditional external network into what I call extranet 2.0.”

During the SharePoint Conference, Wood will address the need to engage with customers, partners and vendors, and how Yammer can lead the way, during the session “Yammer External Networks: Engaging Customers and Partners.” Specifically, Wood will demonstrate how to set up, configure and govern external networks powered by Yammer. He also will discuss adoption strategies and how to get the most out of the platform’s intuitive user experience.

“Employees need to engage with one another, with partners and with customers anytime, anywhere; the cloud, social and mobile come together to drive this,” continued Wood. “An attractive attribute of Microsoft SharePoint with Yammer integration is that it is a single solution that can power a company’s intranet, extranet and website. The key to its success is having a proper vision and business strategy that aligns with a well thought out technology roadmap. This leads to enhanced collaboration and communications and ultimately will drive improved business performance and growth.”

Rich’s session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 4th at 10:45 a.m. The session hashtag is #SPC248, and he’ll be tweeting throughout the conference from @RichOtheWood.

Swing by booth #308 to chat with the team about how they are assisting customers to successfully deploy enterprise social networks that improve information sharing and connectivity. They’ll also be on hand to discuss SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Online, and SharePoint hybrid portal solutions that promote user adoption, increase operational productivity and drive quantifiable business value. We hope to see you there!

Perficient’s Top 5 Office 365 Blog Posts of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, we’re taking a look at our most popular blog posts of the year. It was a big year for the cloud, and specifically, Office 365, which officially launched in 2013. Here are the top five Office 365 posts, in no particular order:

Using System Center Automation to Manage Office 365Bryon BurkhardtTop-5-Office-365

Are you looking for ways to manage Office 365 from an on premises location? PowerShell offers the most flexible on premises management abilities. Using PowerShell, combined with other Microsoft products, you can create management automation that is simple and secure. With Orchestrator, which comes with the purchase of System Center, Bryon explains a few different scenarios to make this happen.

Changing UPN for Office 365 Account Between 2 SSO DomainsErik Enger

This post served as a reminder (or a heads up) about an issue many have run into when trying to change a user’s userPrincipalName in their local active directory while using DirSync. If you change the UPN (left side of @) and keep the user in the same domain, DirSync should correctly update it in the cloud account. However, when changing from one domain to another, and that domain is also configured as an SSO domain (i.e. federated),  DirSync will show an error, “exported-change-not-reimported.” Erik explains how to resolve this problem.

How Yammer and Office 365 Will Make You a Better Jedi KnightRich Wood

Microsoft views cloud-based social business tools—through Office 365 and Yammer— as the way people interact, the place they come together with others, with data, and with mash-ups that enhance communication and collaboration on and with valuable information.  If you’re looking to move forward with enterprise social, Microsoft and Yammer allow your users to be social wherever they are, on any device.  As Rich puts it, it’s a pretty solid way to be sure the Force is always with you.

Attention Nonprofits: Microsoft is Donating Office 365 to YouRyan Duclos

Is your organization a nonprofit that benefit could from Exchange and SharePoint, as well as Office applications? Wouldn’t it be great if you could simplify IT administration and work towards your goals as a nonprofit? If you qualify, Microsoft will donate Office 365 to your organization. The offering is available in 41 countries.

Explaining the Microsoft / Yammer Social LayerRich Wood

Microsoft has presented the social layer as a concept that spans some familiar places to get work done: Yammer, Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, and line of business applications. Naturally, now people want to know what that “social layer” really means. You’ve likely read the posts, heard the presentations, maybe even seen the MTC sessions– but what exactly does Microsoft’s new strategy for Enterprise Social mean?  Rich breaks it down in this post.

Webinar Replay: Driving Employee Engagement with Yammer and #ESN

This past Wednesday, we hosted a webinar, “Using Yammer and SharePoint Intranets to Drive Employee Engagement.” During the session, Rich Wood, Director of Web & Social Collaboration at Perficient, first gave a quick overview on the enterprise social network and Yammer, and then went on discuss user adoption and engagement. He covered what exactly a social strategy entails, and the importance of a social maturity assessment, complete with a social toolset recommendation, community planning and a communication plan. Throughout the webinar, we shared some of Rich’s highlights on Twitter @Perficient_MSFT:

Enterprise Social Network Tweet
Rich explained that when it comes to adoption (he prefers the term engagement), training is crucial, yet surprisingly rare today. That said, learning from coworkers is among the most common AND most effective learning methods. While organic growth is bottom up, and organizational mandate is top down, and both have their advantages and disadvantages – but the key is in the planning.

With Yammer, familiarity breeds usability. Yammer looks like Facebook, as Rich pointed out. If you know how to use Facebook (as the vast majority of us do), then you intrinsically know how to use Yammer. Read the rest of this post »

Webinar: Using Yammer & SharePoint to Drive Employee Engagement

With the recent acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft is is now able to truly support social collaboration within the enterprise. Are you ready to take advantage of this?

As mentioned in our webinar with Forrester last week, just because you’ve built it, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will come (Field of Dreams, anyone?). A successful social solution must give users the foundational tools needed to effectively collaborate with coworkers, clients and partners while maintaining control of access, security and content. Each business has a different sweet spot when it comes to creating an engaging social environment that’ll drive both collaboration and purposeful dialogue.

sharepoint surfaceTo learn how to unearth your employees’ key motivational drivers, align the solution to your company’s culture, create a vision for leveraging cloud-based solutions, and tailor a strategy to fit, join us on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1 p.m. CST for the webinar, “Using Yammer & SharePoint Intranets to Drive Employee Engagement.”  Rich Wood, Director of Perficient’s Microsoft Web & Social Collaboration practice, will share his experience and best practices around Yammer, SharePoint, and social business.

 

Rich will cover the following:

  • What planning for Yammer success entails
  • The importance of a social maturity assessment
  • A social toolset recommendation
  • Community use case planning and a communication plan

He’ll also discuss the value of a Yammer pilot, or SharePoint social on premises where appropriate.

To register for the webinar, click here.
Using Yammer & SharePoint Intranets to Drive Employee Engagement
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
1:00 p.m. CST

Webinar Replay: Forrester & Perficient on CIO & CMO Convergence

On Wednesday, we hosted a webinar on the CIO & CMO Convergence: Microsoft for Cloud, Social & Mobile Enterprise Social Networks. Guest speaker Rob Koplowitz from Forrester, and Perficient’s own Director of Web & Social Collaboration, Rich Wood, discussed what defines an enterprise social network and where the true value lies.

Rob kicked off the session with a presentation around driving social business value. Forrester is seeing a fair amount of investment in enterprise social, with a lot of organizations investing in it – and most people want to get there, if not there already. First he brought up the classic movie, Field of Dreams, and the famous quote, “If you build it, he will come.” While no doubt a great movie, and a great line, it doesn’t translate perfectly to social business and the enterprise.

So how do organizations get the people to come and embrace this new way of working, once they’ve built it? As with any tool, you look for hot spots of adoption – and Forrester found one such hot spot is sales. The sales team is often a driver of new technology (think back to car phones) because it allows them to connect more effectively and efficiently with customers and access various sources of information. In addition, sales and marketing are more likely to use external social networks, and evidently, also more apt to quickly embrace internal social networks such as Yammer and SharePoint. They are not only connecting more effectively with content, but also with prospects.

The role of the CIO and CMO coming together is an interesting topic. Within the market, Forrester and Perficient have seen that people actually follow value, and use the tools that provide immediate measurable value to the organization. The cloud is a different way of working, and CIOs and CMOs really need to be talking about it in order to reach customers more effectively while maintaining internal systems. The CIO and the CMO must work together to accelerate the path to better collaboration. Read the rest of this post »

Perficient & Guest Forrester Talk SharePoint, Yammer and Mobile

The roles of CMOs and CIOs are changing. What was once easy to define – CMOs focused on the brand and sales, CIOs on IT – the line between the two has become increasingly blurred. Why? Well, for starters, a CMO’s role now encompasses social media and digital marketing channels. This includes enabling collaboration and communication using modern social business tools to generate new information and improve productivity. And today’s enterprise social networks must include multiple technology components to meet the business needs of users and the mobile devices they utilize.

To learn what can be accomplished using Microsoft tools you likely own, join us on Wednesday, November 13, 2013, at 1 p.m. CDT for the webinar, “CIO & CMO Convergence: Microsoft for Cloud, Social and Mobile ESNs.”

Forrester logo 1Guest speaker Rob Koplowitz, Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., and Rich Wood, Director of Microsoft Web & Social Collaboration at Perficient, will take a look at how CIOs and CMOs can effectively partner to create a vision and strategy that addresses the requirements of a successful enterprise social network implementation.

Together, they will discuss:

  • What defines an enterprise social network and where is the true value
  • Key CIO and CMO considerations for successful collaboration, and how the evolving ESN supports these goals
  • How SharePoint, the cloud and Yammer fit into the equation
  • Considerations like mobility and responsive design
  • How the evolution of Microsoft equates to more success with enterprise social networks and the cloud

To register for the webinar, click here.
CIO & CMO Convergence: Microsoft for Cloud, Social and Mobile ESNs
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
1:00 p.m. CDT

In the meantime, you can read more on the CIO and CMO convergence by checking out Mike Porter’s blog post, Blurring the Line Between CIO and CMO.

SharePoint Fest Chicago: Migrating Intranets to SharePoint Online

Last week, Perficient sponsored and presented at SharePoint Fest Chicago. One of our speakers was Rich Wood, National Director of Modern Applications here at Perficient. He presented on “Migrating Your Intranet to SharePoint Online.”

First, Rich explained what’s different about the cloud, and gave details on SharePoint as a service, including what makes it different from SharePoint on-premise. Next, he discussed key intranet elements and what to plan for, particularly around search and social (and Yammer). He explained user profiles, managed metadata, lists, libraries, and calendars, publishing, Office Web Apps, Skydrive, customization… you name it, he covered it!

He also talked about governance, site provisioning, security, compliance and privacy. And of course, he covered migration questions, options, and tools. Thanks to both Rich and Perficient’s Chris Hines for such a comprehensive presentation on SharePoint Online.

You can check out the entire presentation below. Other presentations from SharePoint Fest Chicago can be viewed here.