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Leveraging the Power of the Office Graph

2/11/16 7:22 AM

For organizations used to working with SharePoint, some aspects of the Office 365 default user experience may take some adjustments. From the card-based Delve interface that leverages the power of the Office Graph to the ever-expanding App Launcher, the UX can be confusing. Even seasoned pros are having trouble figuring out when to use Groups versus Yammer versus SharePoint. Some view the platform through the lens of the workload they are most comfortable with: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and so forth. Which makes sense, considering most of the solutions within Office 365 had long and storied histories as standalone tools. But as the platform matures, people are beginning to see Office 365 not as an assembly of disparate tools, but as a single productivity solution.

Beezy extends the Office Graph user experience

Truth be told, the Office 365 user experience has a long, long way to go. Of course, the partner ecosystem can help solve many of these usability issues today -- and Beezy is one of the leaders in extending and enhancing the Office 365 user experience. But more on that in a minute…

One of the most compelling capabilities within Office 365 is the Office Graph, which uses the scalability and computing power of the cloud to identify all of the connections and understand all of the relationships between our content, our networks, and our activities. Through Delve and other features that leverage this machine-learning, Office 365 can provide a more personalized experience for each and every user. And if users can more quickly and easily find their own content, locate the right experts, and discover new and relevant artifacts based on their activities -- they will undoubtedly be more productive.

Here's the reality check: on a new Office 365 account, when Delve is being used for the first time, there's not much to it. When initially launched, Delve could only draw upon content and activity within Office 365 and your OneDrive for Business account….which meant that it could surface very little of what people were actually working on. Over time, Microsoft has continued to introduce new content types into Delve, allowing customers to "discover" more and more content across Office 365, SharePoint, OneNote, Visio, Project, and beyond. The more you use Delve, and the more you collaborate and communicate with your team and peers within the supported content types and areas accessed by the Office Graph, the more the system will learn and provide you with a more personalized experience.

As the Office Graph is further integrated with existing systems, such as your on-premises SharePoint content, the potential value of Delve and other solutions that leverage this capability will be huge.

When Delve was initially launched, community feedback was mixed. In my opinion, it was because of the limited number of content types it could surface. At the time, most of my content was sitting in an on-premises SharePoint server or on my hard drive, with some content spread between Dropbox and my personal OneDrive. Now that Delve can surface essentially any content type within our document libraries, I have seen a movement toward putting more content into the cloud where the Office Graph can see it, and Delve can surface it for people. As I talk with customers about the potential of Delve to unlock hidden content, I can see that people are beginning to understand the inherent value -- but they want to see this capability within other solutions, not just Delve.

Talking about productivity -- it's still early for Delve, and there are limited user experiences that are generally available to all Office 365 tenants. Microsoft is expanding some of the filters through which you can quickly organize your view of your data, allowing you to drill down into your content, but it's fairly basic:

  • Popular documents, which is your default view, highlighting what you're currently working on, and what is most relevant within your network
  • Me - Activity, which filters your view to just what you've most recently worked on
  • Favorites, which catalog any content you are following, or Boards you have created or are following

At Beezy, we're always working hard to deliver the best user experiences within SharePoint and across the Office 365 platform. As a Microsoft partner, we work very closely with Microsoft to make sure that we're aware of what is on their product roadmap, and how we can add value to our customers. The Office Graph and Delve have provided new tools and capabilities to build these rich experiences, and the support for an expanded set of content types is great to see. With our latest product version, the Beezy solution provides rich integration with the Office Graph, providing, for example, a card interface with both dynamic and curated content -- something Delve does not do, giving our enterprise customers more control over what their employees see and the content they consume.

At Beezy, we believe the Microsoft stack is the most fertile ground from which to build our collaboration solutions, on top of which we have built a powerful engine that connects the disparate tools within the Office 365 platform (as well as for SharePoint on-prem). We have worked hard to develop a comprehensive set of use cases, giving your employees the tools they want in a consumer-like experience that reduces training -- and improves both adoption and engagement. If you are interested in learning more about how we've improved the Office 365 user experience, contact us to schedule a demo today.

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