Most enterprise collaboration initiatives start off with enthusiasm, and a high level of engagement among employees. However, without constant nurturing, the level of participation can quickly drop off. Employees today need almost constant visual and mental stimulation. The more static your environment, the more quickly people become blind to your content. Look at some of the most successful sites on the worldwide web today — the social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter — and you will see a constant stream of content and links and advertisements that encourage people to “discover” new content, new communities, and new people. This discovery content is provided along the sides of the user interface, as well as through “discovery cards” within the newsfeed itself. This constant refreshing of content means that the newsfeed is continually being updated with suggestions that are (mostly) relevant to the individual based upon their activities and interactions with members of their personal network. Advertising aside, this idea of “nurturing” the user interface is essential to keeping people engaged. The more engaged your employees, the greater the potential impact of your collaboration platform — which makes discovery cards essential to collaboration.
As discussed in a previous post, the newsfeed is at the center of enterprise collaboration, providing three essential functions:
- Discovery content, which is what the organization wants the user to care about, and what is relevant to the user based on the communities and users they follow, by their search criteria, and by their online work activities. An example might be a list of suggested people to follow.
- Follow-up content, which is what the user cares about, including content they need to be aware of (when people mention them, or assign them tasks) or actions that will help the network itself. An example might be a request from a peer to review and edit an important document.
- Recovery content, which is a history of what the user has done. Usually found on the user profile page, this is content created by actions within the collaboration platform, allowing the user to retrace their steps. Examples might include a document uploaded to a sub-site, or a threaded discussion that happened the day before, both of which the user forgot to bookmark or tag.
Discovery and follow-up cards are commonly part of the intranet home page newsfeed. Social communities, which are created around business units, projects, and other areas of interest, also include discovery and follow-up cards within their individual newsfeeds — all of which roll up to the user’s top-level newsfeed, aggregating content across all of their communities. Recovery cards, however, are more typically found within an employee profile page — which is similar to the SharePoint MySite, keeping track of all of the documents a user has uploaded, conversations or comments made, and sites followed. Furthermore, the profile page newsfeed tracks everything a user does within the platform so that steps can be retraced, and activities easily located.
All three components of the newsfeed play equally important roles in collaboration, but what sets the discovery content apart is that these cards are largely automated and dynamic rather than activity-based, as with follow-up and recovery cards. Essentially, discovery cards are “injected” between follow-up cards so that the user is able to discover new things while reviewing activity within their network. Discovery cards are a powerful way for individuals to break out of their collaboration silos, discovering and interacting with people, ideas and content that are relevant — but may not otherwise be found through traditional search and collaboration activities.
Out-of-the-box with Beezy
As we have worked closely with some of the world’s largest SharePoint and Office 365 deployments to improve enterprise collaboration, we have identified a number of common discovery cards that benefit the majority of teams. These cards are not static components on the page, as with the top navigation bar. Instead, with each page refresh the discovery cards change position so that users won’t become “blind” to them. Instead, each time the user reaches the home page newsfeed, the mix of cards is updated with the latest follow-up cards and a refreshed set of discovery cards. The Beezy solution offers a number of out-of-the-box discovery cards to help enrich the end user experience, improve adoption, and drive engagement, including the following:
Of course, many organizations will also have unique requirements and will want to develop customized discovery cards. For example, an organization may have a policy to publish all new job listings internally before initiating an external candidate search, allowing current employees to apply for the job — or to share with their personal networks. A discovery card could be created that draws data from a SharePoint list to help surface relevant roles based on the user’s current position, job function, or community membership. These cards can be built to also utilize SharePoint security trimming, or to leverage profile page data, so that employees only see those roles published to specific security groups, or which match their profile criteria.
In addition, an Office 365 (SharePoint Online) or hybrid environment will benefit from the automation and machine-learning capabilities of the Office Graph to generate even more dynamic discovery cards. The Office Graph is one of the most innovative developments to come out of Microsoft in a decade, and is the key to many of Office 365’s latest features, including the Delve search experience. Beezy extends and enhances the Delve experience, allowing organizations to offer both automated and “curated” content within the newsfeed. As highlighted in a recent press release and related video, the Beezy team have developed a number of Office Graph integrations that improve performance and relevancy of common tasks, and encourages stronger collaboration and engagement across teams. For example, by prompting users to add skills and expertise — and identify the skills and expertise of their peers — these discovery cards can lead to more complete user profiles. Having robust and extended user profiles can directly improve cross-team collaboration, and will provide better “talent-finder” search results.
For more examples of Office Graph discovery cards and the innovation coming from the Beezy product team, check out our YouTube video.
Engagement is key
As many organizations have come to understand, an employee that is not actively engaged in their work can have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line. When individuals are not engaged, they are not creating content, they are not sharing ideas, and they are not expanding the collective knowledge of the organization — all of which are the fundamentals of a successful collaboration environment. Engaged employees, on the other hand, drive business value.
While there are many strategies that you can employ to improve employee engagement, one of the lessons learned within organizations that have successfully deployed and maintained social collaboration platforms is that the user experience must be nurtured. Microsoft has built tools and content and best practices around ‘customer success management’ because they acutely understand the relationship between nurturing and engagement, which leads to collaboration success. Enhancing the user experience through discovery cards is a powerful nurturing tool for your collaboration environment.
For organizations using SharePoint, Beezy can have a direct impact on adoption and engagement, with many case studies available that show how using Beezy has dramatically improved license utilization, platform adoption, and service consumption — and we do it with an award-winning user experience that employees love. While SharePoint provides the basics, we have extended the newsfeed beyond the out-of-the-box experience to give organizations leading-edge capabilities for discovery, follow-up, and recovery cards within the newsfeed — all essential components of modern collaboration.
Schedule your demo today, and find out why Beezy is the leading enterprise collaboration solution for SharePoint and Office 365.