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Microsoft’s Interesting Migration Approach

We all know that eventually, unless a miracle occurs, Microsoft will continue to push Office 365 until every organization, large and small will be using it. I just read an excellent article by Joe Shepley, published in CMS Wire. Anyone thinking about moving to Office 365 should read it. The name of the article is ‘Office 365 is a Disaster Waiting to Happen’. I don’t think that’s strong enough.

According to Mr. Shepley, “Microsoft is in the midst of a full court press to get organizations on Office 365, especially moving share drive content to Office 365. As part of this, it’s doing quick hit, fixed fee projects to migrate shared drive content to Office 365 — whether a simple cut and paste to OneDrive or a slightly more advanced lift and shift to SharePoint.” He continued, “moving terabytes or petabytes of shared drive content to O365 in the way that Microsoft appears to be doing will increase the risks associated with e-discovery, records management and information security because it makes it harder (or impossible) for firms to comply with regulations, industry standards, etc., relating to these domains.”

What’s the problem? The problem is most organizations will be moving ‘garbage’ from one repository to another. There are security risks, compliance risks, records management risks, and the list goes on. Most organizations do not manage their content. Some analysts say that up to 69% of information can and should be deleted. And then there is the problem with dark data that lurks in the background perhaps providing value, or containing risk. Migrating to Office 365 presents a significant opportunity for organizations to tackle and solve the issues surrounding unstructured information management. This may significantly slow the migration to Office 365, but the business benefits far outweigh the Microsoft tactic.

I still think Microsoft is not providing value to clients and in many cases will leave them with an even bigger mess than when they started. However, I do agree with the article, is that it is not Microsoft’s responsibility for the content – it is the organization’s. They need to clean up the content, addressing all of the risks mentioned above before moving to Office 365. I would highly recommend that organizations evaluate and purchase a tool, such as ours, to aid in the clean-up and solve the content organization problem.

I’d tell Microsoft to wait for the money. They can put it in the forecast for next quarter. What do you think?

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What is Microsoft’s Search Strategy? Are they as confused as I am?

Microsoft’s search strategy is somewhat unclear, at least to me. Office Graph uses artificial intelligence and borrows from the FAST search technology. This is the basis for the Clutter feature in Outlook that lets users remove low priority emails. It is also the basis for Delve, which is a business social tool. From within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Bing is used to provide a tool called Insights with a ‘Tell Me’ search feature from within the basic Microsoft applications. Many organizations would find this confusing, and one wonders if improvements and management of the results would require additional support personnel to address each search option. I would have to believe organizations would prefer not to put together pieces of the search puzzle. Adding on-premises to the mix, becomes more complicated.

These factors can present challenges to Microsoft, although organizations want accurate and relevant search, they don’t want to spend money or time on it, would like a plug and play environment, and take the burden off the end user to find what they are seeking. Unfortunately, Office Graph, even though combined with FAST needs to learn the interests of each individual, which will delay the effectiveness of search across the organization, and ultimately Office 365 adoption. The primary stumbling block is going to be the issue of end user tagging, as Office Graph uses the metadata added automatically or by the individual. Delve is going to be very confused considering how poorly users tag content.

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Big Brother really is watching you! Office 365 Delve

Under the name ‘Organizational Analytics’ the new version of Delve, available later this year, will include a dashboard view which will track your own work performance and compare it to the company average. Although Microsoft sees this as a valuable tool, one would question if it is an effective management tool or will upset the proverbial end user apple cart. This actually bothers me a bit. I realize that there are those who are diligent workers and then there are the slackers. Now we will all be tracked on exactly what we are doing, ‘oh-oh you went to too many meetings, you’re answering too many emails, the whole department is performing better than you’, I think you get the picture.

Another new feature, termed a productivity tool, Delve has also added a new profile page for users to specify their contact information, whom you report to, who reports to you, and, a personal blog page that enables the user to embed videos, documents and images. It also includes a Praise page where the user can list personal accolades, customer sales, contracts, whatever they wish to share with colleagues. Hmm, what will the Organizational Analytics think of my time spent building my blog of ‘atta boys’.

The above ‘tools’ go hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s new infographic, which I thought was just very tasteless. If you haven’t seen it yet, ‘This terrifying Microsoft ad suggests you’re not working hard enough in the bathroom‘ infographic, which has gone viral. I thought it was a huge marketing mistake, but am rethinking the assumption that it really wasn’t a mistake at all. What do you think?

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To Delve or not to Delve? The jury’s still out.

Delve is a dashboard like interface using machine learning and artificial intelligence (using Office Graph) to display the most relevant information of interest to you, based on your work, and of those in your network. Delve indexes and analyzes emails, meetings, contacts, social networks, etc., and presents this information as cards. Rather than having to search for something, Delve tries to automatically and intuitively put it in front of you. Some may not like the overly intrusive approach of being presented with data, but others will see it as a huge time saver. It is important to note that Delve integrates with Exchange, and OneDrive for Business from the individual personal blog page within Delve, and Yammer, with more content sources planned. Integration with iOS and Android was recently announced.

According to Mark Hachman, Senior Editor of PC World in an article “A revamped Microsoft Delve looks like a corporate mashup of Facebook and LinkedIn, he wrote, “it’s looking more like a corporate-sponsored mashup of Facebook and LinkedIn—with likely the same self-editing effect that friending your parents on Facebook would inspire.” He continued, “also note that Delve is only as good as the people who use it. Case in point: IDG uses Office 365, but an early attempt to nurture conversations on Yammer failed miserably. Each group and even publication had already settled on their own collaboration solution. One of two things needs to happen for Delve’s profile pages to become a hit: Either HR must be able to auto-populate them with your information, or the corporate culture must encourage its use. Otherwise, your Delve profile could be a wasteland.”

As stated above, for Delve to be readily and willingly adopted, its success is solely based on participation by organizational users. This is not just a Microsoft challenge. This is a business challenge as social applications typically fail because of lack of end user acceptance, even when sponsored by management. It will be up to the individual organization to decide if Delve is a help or a hindrance. Microsoft has a huge challenge ahead, as Delve currently works with some Microsoft products, but the optimal solution is to provide integration with a vast number of third party Microsoft applications and non-Microsoft applications, which is still years away.


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Microsoft’s Sense of Humor?

I had overlooked an email from The Washington Post, and to get it out of my inbox I decided to read it. The article refers to an infographic that was published by Microsoft. Supposedly gone viral, if you haven’t seen it, I do find it disturbing, the author calls it ‘terrifying’. The infographic is a series of vignettes that illustrate how you can work 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, regardless of where you are. Vignettes include working from the bathroom, on vacation, in bed, watching TV, at your children’s events, out to dinner, I think you get the picture. I’m not sure if Microsoft thinks this is amusing, or they are serious?

The author, Christopher Ingraham, makes some good points on exhausted workers:
• They are more likely to cheat and steal
• They are less productive than their colleagues and don’t perform as well
• Performance and productivity does increase when workers take vacation and leave their jobs at work

In my heyday, and sometimes even now, I do put in extra hours. I have also learned that while you can work 24/7, I can guarantee at some point in your life you will ask yourself if it was worth it? After too many years to count, my answer would be no. What would yours be?

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eMail or Yammer? The battle of the Titans. Who’s going to win?

Microsoft is committed to Yammer and its success. It will be available in SharePoint 2016 On-line. To push organizations towards Yammer Microsoft has almost silently removed a number of features available in the current version of SharePoint Online. Notes and Tags features have been deprecated sometime during September, but will remain available for one year. The ‘Tasks’ feature has been removed from the current version of SharePoint Online. In the future, the Synch to Outlook feature is also subject to removal. Microsoft has stated that although the applications will be available in SharePoint 2016 Online, not all of them will be. Currently they have not stated what is and what is not to be included. It is predicted that SharePoint Online’s Newsfeed solution is only temporary and will be deprecated to further push organizations to adopt Yammer.

According to Rob Helm, Managing Vice President of Directions on Microsoft , “Microsoft has typically pointed to Yammer, a cloud-based collaboration service, as a replacement to many features currently available in SharePoint Online, although there is no premises-based Yammer version. Helm expressed surprise at how slowly Yammer is getting integrated into Microsoft products.”

Since Yammer is a solely cloud based solution, although it will be included in SharePoint 2016 Online, it is questionable if all organizations using the online version of SharePoint will want to move all their social communications to the cloud.

According to David Roe, in his article on CMS Wire, “The Problem with Yammer? People don’t use it. ” “There is still no evidence to suggest that Yammer is being used widely across the enterprise. In fact in July of this year (2014), David Lavenda of told us that in his experience Yammer is still not being used by workers that have access to it.”

In fairness to Microsoft, the problem lies not with the product itself but with the way people work. Email is still the collaboration tool of choice by most enterprise workers and despite overflowing inboxes and the rise of social networks, it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

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Delving into the Details – Benefit or Distraction?

Microsoft has been escalating their focus on Delve, and everywhere you look, if you are into Microsoft, Delve is the next best thing since sliced bread. For those living in a bubble, Delve is a productivity tool to help people work in new and more connected ways. Delve surfaces relevant content and insights tailored to each person. Microsoft has been internally pushing development teams to provide more connectivity options for Delve which currently supports Office Online, OneDrive for Business, Yammer, Office 365 Video Portal, eMail, and social feeds from within Office 365.

One of the problems Microsoft is facing, despite their touting of the rapid growth of Office 365, the real growth can be attributed to Exchange, not Office 365. For it to become the cloud solution of choice, Microsoft must shift the focus as a giant email server to fulfill their vision of Office 365 becoming the standard to encompass and become the center of the enterprise IT infrastructure. Hence, products like Delve.

Personally, the way I work, I would find Delve a distraction not a productivity tool. Apparently so do many SharePoint/Office 365 enterprises. In our annual 2015 SharePoint and Office 365 Metadata survey, currently unpublished, the overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they would not be using Delve, either now or in the future, in fact, almost half indicated no interest at all.

That figure may very well change in the future. Right now, despite the best efforts of Microsoft, it is still somewhat of a half-baked product. As Steve Jobs said, ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around’. Would you use Delve? Would you find it a productivity enhancement, or are you old school like me and would find it a distraction?

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