Remember Fluid Components and the entire Fluid Framework? Well, Microsoft has repackaged it into a new real-time collaboration app called Microsoft Loop. Recently announced at Microsoft Ignite (Fall 2021), this new idea takes the standard of co-authoring Office documents to the next level. Loop helps organizations embrace hybrid work by increasing the velocity of collaboration and ideation.
What is Microsoft Loop?
Microsoft Loop is built on the premise of a canvas rather than a document. Canvases, known as Loop Pages, are grouped together for ease of access and organization within Loop Workspaces. Each Loop Page is constructed with a set of Loop Components. Components range from simple text, tables, lists, and notes to more complex data components such as status trackers and sales opportunities from Dynamics CRM.
Loop Components are persistent, reusable units of information that can be shared across chats, emails, meetings, and documents. And regardless of how often they are distributed, components will always stay synced with the most recent and accurate data. This flexibility allows multiple users to contribute to a Page at the same time, each represented by their own name and callouts for easy tracking. Loop allows project contributors to simultaneously tackle sections of content and messaging.
Why does Loop sound familiar?
Loop is not the first app created for this purpose. Many similar apps in the market provide an interactive canvas experience, such as Notion, Mural, Miro, Lucid, and the likes of Google Wave back in 2010. But Loop is the first of its kind to be tightly woven into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Loop helps organizations collaborate in real-time through workspaces, pages, and components surfaced through Microsoft Teams, Outlook, OneNote, and other apps. See this link for more.
Demise of the Document
As more and more organizations look to de-clutter by digitizing important documents, the need to unlock the pertinent data within those documents becomes crucial. Learn the strategic steps you need to take to stop managing documents and start managing knowledge.
When would I want to use Microsoft Loop?
Microsoft 365 has no shortage of apps for users, so where does Loop fit in? Here are five quick use cases for Microsoft Loop:
Wikis, Pages, and Lightweight Docs
Wikis, Pages, and other lightweight docs can be the backbone of a productive team. A Loop Page is a great option for landing pages, wikis, and other scenarios. While the variety of components is limited today, they can still be useful for smaller groups to centralize knowledge such as files, links, and data.
Brainstorming and Ideation
Brainstorming and ideation sessions allow a group to gather and take stock of the possibilities to drive new solutions. Centralizing ideas from your group is a perfect use case for Microsoft Loop. Loop Components such as the Voting Table and others allow the team to ideate, drive consensus, and make decisions easily.
Quick Status Reports and Task Tracking
Weekly status reports, while necessary for the management and governance of a project, can drain important cycles from team members. Not every effort needs a To-do list, board, or Project plan. Collaborate with key project contributors on a status report via email, Teams, or a Loop Page by utilizing a persistent Loop Component, Status tracking.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for departments and working groups
MOOCs are used in many organizations’ educational journeys, focusing on information sharing, learning, and retention across many form factors and content formats. Monolithic libraries of documents can be cumbersome. Wikis often feel too lightweight for the usable presentation of information. Using a Loop Page as the central point to access the MOOC curriculum keeps things light, versatile, and reusable.
Business Process Design
With multiple moving parts and stakeholders, workflow processes in complex organizations can be both difficult to explain and understand. Loop allows teams to start from a high-level understanding of a process, such as approvals for purchase orders. Use a Loop Page to establish a shared collaborative canvas. Components help organize, solicit, and validate requirements, instead of locking valuable details in a design document. Stakeholders can then work through the lesser-known or misunderstood steps of the process to create an improved version. Then, use Power Apps and Power Automate to create a new app experience.
Sounds Awesome! When can I have it?
According to Microsoft, Loop components for Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and OneNote will start rolling out this month (November 2021). Expect more details on integrations and building Microsoft Graph connectors for extending Loop at Build Conference next year.
A New Perspective
Microsoft Loop is the next great tool for rethinking how to organize, collaborate on, and share information. Check out this perspective, “The Demise of the Document” written by my colleague Eric Walk and learn how breaking free from the metaphor of “physical documents” helps prepare organizations for a new knowledge-centric future.
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