If you are a #SharePoint person – or someone who follows the Microsoft Office and SharePoint communities, you have probably already heard of “codename Oslo” and The Office graph. Microsoft have been talking about these new technologies since the Microsoft SharePoint conference in march 2014 and now they are finally here. Or – for most people – just around the corner.
The Office Graph and Delve (the product formerly known as “codename Oslo”) are new Microsoft technologies. Well – new technology from Redmond is something we are pretty used to, but these one are something special – from my point of view. I would go as far as saying, that this launch can end up being a “game changer”!
Millions of people – across industries – are struggling on a daily basis with data and information flowing at them from a growing number of sources. For most people, the amount of information that can be comprehended has been passed a long time ago, and finding the “gems” in the sea of information is close to impossible. This is even harder in organizations where employees have individual goals and different areas of focus; we used to call the people for Knowledge Workers. It’s not a new issue. we have been talking about information overload for many years, but we have not been able to deal with this using a “root-cause” approach, meaning that we cannot teach people what is important to distribute and what is not – simply because we all have different opinions on this. So we need a tool that can filter information based on an individuals immediate needs – contextual and forward looking…
This is what the Microsoft is now proposing a solution for – with Office Graph as the foundational technology, and Delve as the new product that overburdened Knowledge Workers will probably love.
The Office Graph is based on the knowledge and innovation made in the Microsoft Search division – with some very clever Norwegian people that joined Microsoft as a part of the Fast acquisition. I have had the pleasure to work with some of these guys – and they are thinking search into new scenarios that most solution architects are not even considering – changing the game of information management and availability radically. What Office Graph does, is that it uses “Machine learning” to find information that is relevant to you, in multiple sources; email, OneDrive, SharePoint and Yammer. This surfaces across the applications you are using every day and as you are using these apps, it will learn from what you are doing to continuously sharpen the relevance of the information is finds. Searching and indexing is one part. But by registering “signals” – meaning different types of interactions between parties or objects – the office Graphs can even suggest information to you based on what other people are doing – in the area of you interest. Artificial intelligence? Well – Machine learning is along those ways, at least… 🙂
Here’s a video from Microsoft that introduces the concept in a good way:
The intelligence in Office Graph is made directly available in a completely new application called Delve. You can call this a progressive search engine, I guess. What is does is that is present you with all the information that is relevant to you in a cool graphic, fluent and dynamic interface, that may become you new digital “morning paper” over time.
Delve is presenting information in “cards” that gives you the ability to react on a piece of information right away. Liking, sharing or obviously reading it.
Another very cool feature is called “trending”. Using the signals caught by office Graph, you can find information that is trending around yourself or even people that are in your network. Using this technology, you wont miss out on important information anymore – Delve will identify and present this information for you, not only based on its content – but also based on the interest that other people have been giving it.
As mentioned, this is now available. At least for some! Both Office Graph and Delve is Office 365 only. At least for now. You could imagine that some of these services will be made available in the cloud (Machine learning in Azure is currently inPreview – http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/machine-learning/) and exposed to on-premise installations of SharePoint in later releases. But that will take time and Office365 will – without a doubt – stay functionally ahead.
With Office 365 it’s not a big bang roll out. Enterprise plans (Office 365 licensing) will get these first and if you have set your Office 365 tenant to receive updates first, you might be getting them early. If you are running a small business model, you will have to wait unti early 2015 to get these, according to Microsoft. Why? the obvious answer is that Office Graphs makes more sense in environments where there is a lot of data and information to work with. So large enterprises with tens of millions of documents and high activity on Yammer (social) will get the immediate value, is my guess. But you can also say, that this is something only Microsoft is offering currently. So if you have some of those information flood issues talked about in the videos, Office 365 is the only place you can really get this type of solution. With collaborative cloud marketplace becoming more competitive (Google, Box and Amazon offerings are available among others) I would expect Microsoft to use Office Graph – and applications using it – to create some distance to competition. As I said – this can become a game changer.