The speed at which Microsoft is innovating is astounding. And with Microsoft increasing its investments in productivity and collaboration, it truly is an exciting time to be part of the SharePoint and Office 365 ecosystem. Having said that, there seems to be a lot of conflicting messaging coming from Microsoft around social collaboration. For many years now, SharePoint has been at the top of the industry -- and according to the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for social software, the company is seen as the leader in terms of both completeness of vision and ability to execute.
On paper, Microsoft has all of the pieces. But on practice, many customers struggle to understand how those pieces fit together as a single user experience.
Microsoft's rich collaboration history has evolved since SharePoint Portal Server 2001. There is no longer one way for teams to communicate and collaborate. There has never been as much competition in the collaboration space as there is today, from Slack and WhatsApp to Box, Jive, and IBM Connections. Many of these alternate solutions seek to improve very specific collaboration scenarios, while others provide broad platforms for team and enterprise collaboration.
Organizations have a choice when it comes to collaboration, and rarely does any company invest in only one solution. Rather than change internal standards and culture to meet the constraints of a technology, they have options -- even within the Microsoft ecosystem. Some teams gravitate toward Exchange and email-based collaboration. Other teams prefer document and process-centric collaboration through the SharePoint platform. Still others prefer the enterprise social network model provided by Yammer. And across all three of these "modalities of collaboration," the Office suite of productivity tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are increasingly connected and collaborative in their own right.
If the story stopped there, most customers would figure things out and know when to use one tool over the other. But the rate of innovation out of Redmond has only increased, and new tools and changes are being made at a rapid pace, which is both exciting and frustrating for IT managers, who struggle to keep up with it all. Other major tools they have to think about include OneDrive for Business (and OneDrive personal), Skype for Business (and Skype personal), and the new Office 365 Groups (sometimes called Outlook Groups).
Each tool or platform has its strengths and weaknesses, but the underlying message from Microsoft is that organizations should select and use those tools which best match their collaboration culture.
Moving to the Office 365 platform solves some of this "modalities of collaboration" confusion by offering a single platform through which you can find each of these tools and features. Some hide behind tabs, other are accessed through the App Launcher in the top menu. But what Office 365 also provides is a way for partners to develop solutions that integrate with all of these rich capabilities, offering more seamless customer experiences than what is available out of the box.
That's where Beezy fits in. Our solution unifies and streamlines the user experience across all of these disparate tools and capabilities, delivering an end-to-end collaboration platform that end users love and which improves adoption and engagement on the platform. But Beezy is not just a UI -- we enhance and extend the default capabilities of Office 365 with additional features that help teams better connect and communicate, including questions & answers, town halls, idea management, polls and announcement, and powerful gamification capabilities. Beezy truly extends collaboration across the Office 365 platform, helping organizations to quickly achieve the business value they are looking for.
One of the most compelling features of Beezy is that our solution architecture for both our on-prem solution (which supports SharePoint 2010 and 2013) and for Office 365 follow the standards of the SharePoint app model. What this means is that the user experience for on-prem is identical to the cloud, making the transition to Office 365 seamless and relatively invisible for your employees.