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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 In our annual 2015 SharePoint and Office 365 Metadata survey, currently unpublished, the overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they would not be using Delve, either now or in the future, in fact, almost half indicated no interest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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Microsoft on a buying spree – LiveLoop added to the Microsoft cast of players

Microsoft recently acquired LiveLoop. Live Loop is a Microsoft PowerPoint plug-in that brings truly real time cloud-based collaboration to PowerPoint’s 750 million users, enabling teams to collaborate effectively without leaving the familiar Microsoft Office ecosystem. “Instead of emailing dozens of versions of a presentation back and forth, with filenames like Marketing_v133_Final_v2_ReallyFinal, LiveLoop’s users work on a single version of their presentation, seeing each other’s changes as they type.”  It is anticipated that LiveLoop has bigger fish to fry and will eventually work with documents of all types, not just PowerPoint.

I am a heavy duty PowerPoint user. From my work perspective, I really don’t want others watching me in real-time create PowerPoint slides, nor do I want to watch them creating slides for the same presentation. I think I would find it rather unsettling. Like, “oh no, where did they get that? I already did that slide later in the deck,” and you can imagine if you are like me what would be racing through your head.

I suppose for this to work effectively, you would have to perform pre-planning to ensure all participants are focused on their part of the presentation. I wonder too, how much of the message gets blurred or lost with participants expressing their own point of view. Writing will always be subjective.

I do see the advantage of eliminating multiple versions being emailed when one item has been changed. I also see the advantage for very large presentations to break it into sections, enabling all participants to work on their own section at the same time. I am very curious to see how well this will be accepted and used. I can see benefits, but to me let me keep doing it the way I have always done.

From a Microsoft game plan – according to the author Virginia Bakaitis, it’s likely that LiveLoop’s PowerPoint solution will be integrated into the Office 365 family much the same way Accompli was. As a result there will be no need to reach for non-Microsoft tools. Interesting scenario. Something for everyone – and it’s all Microsoft. Guess that’s a different article.

So what do you think?

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Well, there you have it – IDC’s 10 predictions for emerging technologies in 2015

Now, who didn’t know it would be cloud centered? In the article, IDC’s 10 predictions for emerging technologies in 2015, authored by Frank Gens, he refers to the ‘third platform’. Sounds rather ominous. But it isn’t. The third platform, was defined by IDC in 2007, and according to IDC is in a key phase of development. Historically, as outlined in the article there have been three waves of computing. First, the mainframes and terminals, secondly, PC’s, networking, relational databases, and client services apps.

Now it gets interesting. The third platform is our current state, built around cloud computing, social applications, big data, and mobile computing. IDC has predicted that the third platform will continue to evolve and grow for the next twenty years. This will be attributed to a community of developers and a wave of core technologies (e.g. Innovation Accelerators). These accelerators include:

  • The Internet of Things
  • Cognitive systems
  • Pervasive robotics
  • 3-D printing of all kinds
  • Natural interfaces
  • Optimized security technologies and solutions

Now to the list. Not as exciting as the accelerators:

  • Information and Communications Technology Spending
  • Wireless Data
  • Mobile Development
  • Cloud Services
  • Data and Analytics
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Data Centers
  • Industry Disruption
  • IoT security

I guess we will just have to wait to see if all these predictions come true. What do you think of the ‘third platform’? Does anything on the list surprise you? I personally think the Innovation Accelerators sound pretty amazing.

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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I’m on Facebook and Twitter 10 hours per day – My opinion? My lips are sealed.

I recently wrote a blog regarding the use of social tools and the challenges of adoption versus training. A tantalizing social study I recently ran across was conducted the Pew Research Center in conjunction with Rutgers University in New Jersey. According to this study, people who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot button issues, even when they are offline. Researchers say they have detected a spiral of silence phenomenon. Unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial.

“People do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere, said Keith Hampton a communication professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study.

Of the 1,801 adults surveyed 86% say they would be willing to discuss their views about government surveillance if it came up at various in-person scenarios, such as at a public meeting at work or at a restaurant with friends, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users said they would be willing to post online about it.

What’s more, the typical Facebook user – someone who logs onto the site a few times a day, was actually half as likely to discuss the Snowden case at a public meeting as a non-Facebook user. Someone who goes on Twitter a few times per day was one quarter as likely to share opinions in the workplace as compared with those who never use Twitter.

To me, it rings the same sort of bells as business social. If users won’t voice their opinion in a personal social setting, it makes sense they would be even less likely to voice it in an on-line business setting.

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Hammer the Yammer

A week or so ago, I received an email from a Microsoft Yammer group that I belong to. The gist of the email offered prizes to individuals who used Yammer correctly. Basic usability, in other words, just don’t post to all, etc. I am curious to see what the result were and if the message sunk in. This was also a technical group, so one would have assumed that they could readily understand the nuances of the software to use it correctly. Obviously not.

Enterprise social is slowly gaining momentum, or at least is getting a push forward in many organizations. A productivity benefit, for sure, but hard to quantify. Microsoft has invested quite a bit of money, resources, and time after the acquisition of the software. Even so, since it is essentially being given away, it is still struggling in acceptance and adoption. Part of the problem, not just with Yammer, but many enterprise social tools, is workers just don’t want to use them. They prefer email, and their tidy applications all neatly accessible in a familiar way.

We have two sides of the coin here. The question then, is the acceptance of Yammer due to culture problem, or due to a lack of training and understanding of the benefits the software provides? Your call.

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Word of the Day: ‘Holacracy’

I just read a great article, “Is Collaboration Limited by Social Structure’, by Deb Lavoy. In this article, she outlines four organizational models and the pluses and minuses for successful collaboration. What struck me, first of all, was the term ‘holacracy’. This can be attributed to Zappos. According to Ms. Lavoy, “The recent announcement by Zappos that it was changing its organizational structure to a “holacracy” suggests that forward-thinking companies are taking it all very seriously. They recognize the emerging proof that a more collaborative organization is a more profitable one.”

To continue quoting the article, “in essence, the business becomes a hierarchy of self-directed and self-organized teams, governed by a constitution (at least it’s not a manifesto). This is somewhat reminiscent of the early work in Agile software development, with which it has some values and processes and general concepts in common — a ritualized structure and process for achieving highly flexible organizations.

Strengths: Distributed decision-making and self-direction better capitalize on human potential. Rituals and procedures oversee potential areas of conflict, clarifying decision-making in areas that a pull hierarchy struggles with. This theoretically will maximize learning, business outcomes and individual development.

Weaknesses: The general public doesn’t have much exposure to real life holacracies yet. Zappos is not the first to go Holacracy, but it is the largest. We don’t know how it scales. I would not be surprised if Holacracy followed a similar path to agile in terms of becoming a mainstream idea over the course of a couple of years, adopted by some and mangled by many, if not most.”

Now you know what holacracy is. Learn something new every day!

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Collaboration and Social Networking in SharePoint and Office 365

I believe in the past three years, I have once made a vendor pitch about anything, but I am making an exception. We have seen an upsurge in business social networking and the use of collaboration. This webinar should be a good primer on approaching these two topics as ‘business’ applications, best practices, user interface design, and achieving quantifiable business results. We have received such a great response.

The webinar, ‘Collaboration and Social Networking in SharePoint and Office 365′, is co-sponsored by Protiviti and joining us will be expert speaker, Maggie Searingen, an Experience Architect. Maggie is frequently speaking on this topic at SharePoint events and conferences.

Sorry for the direct pitch.

To access Recorded Webinars, click here.

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Collaboration – a Hot New Application? You’ve got to be Kidding Me!

There seems to be much more information regarding ‘collaboration’ as a hot topic. Perhaps because of the big push for Office 365? I really don’t know. I was wondering why collaboration is even a discussion item. Many of us are information hoarders, plain and simple. By telling me I must collaborate within corporate boundaries doesn’t really illustrate any value to me. What is rather strange, is that it is being marketed as an application so to speak. When did conversation or the written word become an application?

Collaboration, or lack thereof, can be attributed to the culture of the organization. Many corporate cultures haven’t really encouraged collaboration among colleagues and peers. More aptly, executive management hasn’t seen the value. But with many professionals working from home or mobile, collaboration does fill a gap in organizational communication. Some good, some not so good.

I think one of the biggest reasons that collaboration is not necessarily being embraced is due to a lack of time. I can’t speak for everyone but my workload is pretty demanding and although I will reach out to a colleague, spending time collaborating is honestly not my idea of a good time. For some, it is. Collaboration, without guidelines can revert to gossip, other subjects being addressed (that usually have nothing to do with me), and plain old company bashing.

The final reason I think collaboration is now a hot topic, is the big Microsoft push with Yammer and social. Are we being brainwashed on the value and importance of interacting socially in the business arena? Do we actually produce more accurate, timely information? Does it enable us to accomplish our responsibilities more effectively? What do you think??

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