A number of companies I have talked to recently are investigating video as a way to communicate more efficiently internally. The scenarios where video makes sense are many. It’s everything from management and strategy communication to employee guides in usage/training related to it systems and more of that sort. But also – with the widespread availability of video cams (primarily in smartphones) companies are looking for ways to enable employees in many different roles to communicate and share knowledge and experiences using video.
There are a number of solutions available for supporting these scenarios. The only trouble is that they have a tendency to become somewhat complex and expensive. Most vendors of these solutions are setting the price of the solution based on the amount of video in the portal. This has to do with the need for storage as well as streaming and conversion services. But the customers are struggling to come up with solid estimations on what their needs.
Based on these experiences it was a pleasant surprise to see Microsoft present a new Video experience to come out as a part of Office 365. I saw this in the keynote at this years SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas for the first time. This was early march, but until now it has still not been released.
But it looks like Microsoft is still working to deliver this video solution to office 365. It is “in development” in the official Office 365 product roadmap, and the messaging about the new Office 365 video experience was repeated in TechEd a few months back.
To give you an intro to what this is all about, here is a video of the TechEd presentation. It’s also available on Channel9, but the comment section here is closed, so I moved it here so you can comment on this cool feature again. It’s not released yet, so I personally think comments from the community is still relevant 😉
Added sept14: Microsoft still do not have a definite timeline on the release of the new Office 365 Video portal. This question has been asked several times, but unfortunately there is specific information available at this time. See http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/154/t/237939.aspx.
Is evident that Office 365 has been a huge success for Microsoft already. No matter where I look inside the community that I spend most of my time with, it’s there. And for a good reason – it’s a brilliant solution.
But, I have made it a habit of mine to investigate much broader than inside the typical Microsoft and partners circles, and the picture I see there, is quite different.
This week I read an article called “100 great subscriptions that will streamline your business“. The title sells the message pretty good, isn’t it? This article has a long list of difference cloud offerings / subscriptions in many different categories. Including some categories where Office 365 – or at least SharePoint Online – is quite a significant player. like Collaboration. But – and this came as a surprise to me – Office 365 is not on the list, but both Google Apps, Doodle and Box is there. Why?
Any information worker knows the difficulties of finding content and information. The majority of search solutions implemented in companies today require that you – as a user – have some sort of idea that what you are looking for, and that it is there. Well, not anymore..
At the 2014 SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft announced a new product – codenamed “Oslo” – that is going to find the information that is relevant to you, and present it to you in a modern and clean interface.
The “Oslo” User Interface looks a bit like some of the other social clients you can find out there. But the difference with this, that is sits on top of your Office 365 identity, and “listens” and learns from everything you do. Overtime it will know exactly what you – as an information consumer – is all about and it will get what ever is out there to you.
I remember that Microsoft had something of the sort in an earlier version of SharePoint, but that feature got dropped before the final product was released. I don’t remember exactly what it was called, but the name “Knowledge…” something keep coming back to me. But this new product is built on the Fast Search technology Microsoft acquired a few years back and have integrated nicely into SharePoint Server 2013. The Fast technology have brought so much more to the capabilities of Search in SharePoint, opening up many new search driven usage scenarios and the “Oslo” product is just the latest one.
Now “Oslo” is a client App, but when it ships in a few months (no exact date is available from Microsoft at this point) it will also have a web version, so users can get it when they are working in SharePoint. Currently it’s not clear to me exactly how this will be brought into the UI, but since the standard SharePoint social functionality – with MySite Newsfeed etc. – is kind of up in the air, you could think that “Oslo” may replace the newsfeed as you know it. That still leaves the interface to Yammer a bit unclear to me, but will be interesting to watch…
Behind the “Oslo” app, there is another brand new technology, that deliver all the “machine learning” capabilities to the SharePoint Online platform. This is called “Office Graph” and will be open to other application – not only “Oslo”. In fact, Microsoft are also working on a new Video Portal for Office 365, where they are using the Office Graph to show “Other videos that might be relevant to you”. Even if this is a simple suggestion engine (that functionality have been available in the Fast engine for some time) using Office Graph may be able to make even more relevant suggestions, based on a lot more parameters.
On a high level, what the Office Graph does, is to register every single “signal” (social interaction that goes on around an object) and saves that into a database. From there, Office Graph analyze what went on with documents you wrote, has access to, was written with someone in your network, meetings, yammer etc. to find out exactly what is most relevant for you in a given context.
This technology can have a major impact on information worker productivity in companies. If you are in KM or responsible for collaboration, this is something you need to watch. There are still questions unanswered; like how will this work with companies in hybrid or all on-premise architectures? Jeff Teper announced a new version of SharePoint in 2015, so perhaps Office Graph will become available on premise as a part of that? From talks with people inside Microsoft I get the impression that the product teams are exploring different ways to support customers with on premise SharePoint already, but we just have to wait and see what comes out of that.
“Today we are pleased to announce that SkyDrive will soon become OneDrive.”
We have just gotten used to the “SkyDrive” and “SkyDrive Pro” brand(s) – but now they are getting rebranded. Microsoft have announced “OneDrive” as the new brand for SkyDrive. In a new blogpost (http://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive-for-everything-your-life/) Microsoft talks about having ONE drive for everything, which kind of makes sense. But if you have followed the press in the last few months, it’s more likely that the name change has something to do with the fact that Microsoft got sued for using the “Skydrive” name, by a company that apparently are using the same name for satellite TV equipment.
If you are using SkyDrive today, this transition is going to be transparent to you, Microsoft promises. If you log on to Onedrive.com to days, you are logged into your recent Skydrive content, so no problem there. Some of the Microsoft websites are still using the SkyDrive name, but that will probably change soon. If you are using the desktop or mobile app, you may notice that nothing has happened there yet, but I would expect the name to be updates through an app update in the near future.
But what about SkyDrive Pro? It looks like SkyDrive Pro is renamed to “OneDrive for Business”. Microsoft currently only talks about the Office 365 delivered SkyDrive Pro (the one where each user gets amazing 25 gigs of storage space!!! try to beat that on premise!) in the OneDrive announcement, so it’s a bit unclear what is the future name for the on-premise version of personal file storage in SharePoint 2013.
The new word is OneDrive! Get used to it!
The top SharePoint event is now less than one month away. The SharePoint Conference 2014 will open in Las Vegas on March 3rd and thousands of SharePoint users and professionals will join this event.
It’s not been that long since the last SharePoint Conference. Last one was November 2012 as far as I recall, and if you think about the size of this event – and the significant impact it have had on the SharePoint community and market – it’s remarkable that Microsoft is throwing another conference early in 2014 – only 14 months after the last one.
The agenda has been out for a while now, and if you are reading it, you can see the main topics;
- moving SharePoint into the cloud – preferably Office 365
- embracing the wonders of Yammer
But at the same time, Microsoft is making a bit thing out of positioning the executive and business track. The most visible investment is the opening keynote that will be delivered by fromer president of the united states, Bill Clinton. I wouldn’t expect Mr. Clinton to talk about how SharePoint helped him “run the factory” when he was in office, but then again…? No – the presence of bill Clinton will attract the attention of a more business oriented and executive crowd – including end users. The Executive and the End user audiences share 62 sessions out of a total number of 146 sessions announced. This is about 44%!
For governance & compliance there is a special track this year, with 6 sessions. Surprisingly enough, 4 out of these sessions are Level 300, meaning that they are highly technical which may be a bit off target, in relationship to the real challenges companies have with SharePoint governance. Still the sessions in this track are very interesting, but there is not a lot there for the people who are looking for best practices on building a governance practice for their SharePoint service. I think that this is letting users down a bit; the shift towards cloud driven SharePoint platforms and especially hybrid architectures, is introducing lots of new governance challenges. But these challenges don’t seem to be clearly addressed at SPC14.
One session that I will be going to, is the #SPC106 session, called “A comprehensive strategy to drive business value with SharePoint“. Strategy is something we need to talk more about with SharePoint, and this is the foundation for any functional governance practice. This session is a part of the Business Value track – where you will find other sessions that are relevant for governance practitioners.
We are running a few side meetings with new partners, about building and implementing SharePoint governance practices with impact. If you want to know more about methodologies, tools and experiences, connect with me and we can set it up.