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Posts from the ‘Strategy’ Category

4
Sep

Case story – Enterprise Search with SharePoint Server 2013

It’s not a completely new presentation, this one. But since it was one of the largest search implementations I have been involved in (as Lead Platform Architect and Technical PM) on SharePoint 2013, it might be relevant.

The presentation is made by my good friend, Petter Skodvin-Hvammen, who was driving Search Architecture in the project and is one of the most skilled Search experts I know.

2
Sep

Prepare for JIT / collaborative knowledge…

As always companies rely on knowledge to be competitive and innovative. This image has only gotten sharper and nothing indicated that this will change – ever. Having (Owning) knowledge has become a powertool in many ways. We have invented the Knowledge Worker years ago; employees whose main capital in the workplace is their knowledge. This has driven higher education and given the individual employee in a special position, in terms of negotiating individual deals, practicing loyalty to the employee etc.

But all this is changing and it is changing fast! My inspiration to writing this comment, is an article on CMS Wire, where BOX’s Whitney Bouck explains how she sees knowledge not being “power” anymore, compared to the ability to share information and knowledge. This is an exact way of pointing put that companies in the knowledge-centric business will have to change their way of thinking about knowledge.

The essence of this change is that we are getting used to a mode of operation where we can get to the knowledge when we need it, instead of having knowledge “in stock”. I call it “JIT Knowledge” (Just In Time). When identifying an issue or challenge, today we have experience and knowledge available through social platforms and the internet, enabling us to solve more complex tasks with less resources. A lot of people are doing this every day and looking at a younger generation entering the workplace, this becomes the default behaviour.

The future of knowledge work is driven by a culture of sharing information and experience and as a company you need to support these workers by nurturing this culture and enabling employees to be succesful by providing the right tools to share knowledge and consume shared knowledge.

And the availability of new tools is obviously the reason why this change is happening in the first place. We have talked about the impact of social on business for years and still quite a lot of businesses – and even organization I have worked with in higher education (where the entire business is built on the concept of sharing knowledge) – have not entirely embraced the opportunities in social platforms yet. Where – in recent years – the social revolution was driven by companies wishing to be more agile and innovative, in the future it will simply be necessary to survive. Market conditions are changing rapidly and no business can survive without continiously maintaining the access to new knowledge and information. But enabling enterprise social capabilities in just a part of the solution.

Recently very sophisticated search technologies have become broadly available to companies.  I am thinking about technologies like “Delve” in Microsoft Office 365, where signals – based on individual users interactions, combined with enterprise search, proactively deliver a personalized corpus of information to future knowledge workers. Now I have technology that intelligently will help me maintain the required scope knowledge – and help me identify where I need to focus to stay in sync with my peers, my organization and my market. My contribution is sharing my knowledge and my thoughts on any specific topic. And from there on new social and search technology is taking over.

When working in the Knowledge Worker and Knowledge Management space, we need to realize that “collaborative knowledge” is becoming so much more valuable than individual subject matter experts. Not that SME’s are not welcome anymore – by all means. But the first thing we need to learn our SME’s is to share what they know, and management need to drive Sharing as the new power, where Knowledge used to be…

21
Sep

SharePoint Governance has always been about: Managing Risk

 

SharePoint Governance has always been about MANAGING RISK! After talking to many companies – around the world – about governance, it still surprises me how hard it is for us to get to a point, where we have a common understanding of what SharePoint Governance is really all about. Therefore I am putting together a new set of articles pre-titled:

“SharePoint Governance has always been about…”

A continuing lack of common understanding of what governance is all about, is what is making most governance implementations of SharePoint fail. This article talk about the aspect of Risk in SharePoint Governance.

Risk Management is at the heart of SharePoint Governance

Risk is at the very heart of governance. If you don’t have any risk, you don’t need governance. It’s that simple. I read a recent article on CMS Wire stating that adding Risk to the SharePoint governance equation is something quite new. I don’t entirely agree with that point for several reasons. First of all because – as stated – governance is all about managing risk and there is really no other way to look at it. And also because I have been working with the companies implementing SharePoint Governance Framework for many years now, and it have had the notion of risk built-in right from the beginning. On the other and; a lot of companies have no way to attach risk to governance policies and controls, and therefore can not react accordingly, when something goes wrong.

It’s really quite straight forward. The value of an it system comes from one or more of the following:

– New ability to be productive
– The limitation of cost
– The limitation of risk

What I find interesting about Risk is that with SharePoint, implementing good governance practices is becoming more and more about managing the risk of using SharePoint technology to exploit the other two value-propositions.

There are quite a few risks to manage with SharePoint and the application of SharePoint technology to any new process will introduce new risks. This is not something that is special for SharePoint but is shared by any kind of technology implementation.

Ty to ask your self these questions. What is the risk to the business;

– if the system does not deliver the expected productivity gain?
– if the system does not deliver the expected cost reduction?
– if the system is unstable and goes down (the data becomes inaccessible)?
– if the data in the system becomes accessible for users that was not intended to see these data?

When we are implementing good governance practices, these are the concerns we have. They are real risks that must be managed proactively across the lifetime of the SharePoint platform or service.

In the application of a methodology to run governance, you will eventually have to get into more details. As a part of a governance practice, you define rules (policies) and apply them to the daily use of SharePoint (including apps and information stored in SharePoint). What are the risk to the business, if these rules are not controlled – meaning that you are not compliant with you own rules and don’t even know it? Compliance is a big word in governance – and you should be aiming to maintain a complete set of relevant rules/policies and a practice that ensures that you are always compliant with them.

In the cases that you are not compliant – and there will be cases like that – you need to understand what kind of risk that exposes to your business, to be able to solve the issues in the most efficient way. It’s #SharePoint for business

 

11
Sep

Office Graph and #Delve – Gamechanger…

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.

27
Aug

Video experience in Office 365 / SharePoint Online – still in the pipeline

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.