New Social Collaboration Tools Added to Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft announced Monday that it was adding new social collaboration tools to its Office 365 suite. The tools are designed, the company said, to allow people to "work like a network."
In a posting on the company's Office Blogs, Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper described what he called the Office Graph. It's an enterprise version of the Social Graph that Facebook and others cite as the network of interests and connections between friends and relatives.
The Office Graph, he said, is "the power of social, cloud, big data, and machine learning coming together" to create "many new personalized and contextual experiences for people using Office 365." Teper has told news media that the Office Graph is the combination of big data analysis with social networking to improve collaboration, by such techniques as analyzing frequent recipients of communication and intelligently setting up groups.
One of the first applications to leverage the Office Graph is code-named Oslo. In addition to serving as Office 365's search engine, it provides an interface that contains personalized insights gleaned from meetings, people, conversations, documents and other data about what that person is doing in Microsoft's key applications -- Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint, Office, Lync, and Yammer. Pricing for Oslo, if any, is not yet determined, and it is expected to be released in the second half of this year.
By helping users navigate, discover and search people and information across an organization, Oslo is intended to help get work done. For instance, content that Oslo considers the most important to you will be surfaced and marked as to whether it has been presented to, shared with, modified by, trending around, liked by, or viewed by you.
Teper described Oslo as "something game-changing -- building digital memory across applications to create a highly personalized experience that helps people get more done."
Microsoft is also more extensively Yammerizing its Office 365 environment. Yammer, for which a simplified login from Office 365 was released last month, can now be entered directly after login without having to re-authenticate. In the summer, an Office 365 navigation bar will be displayed in Yammer for 365 users, to help with unified navigation.
Additionally, Yammer's small-groups capability will be offered across all of Office 365's applications.
In another posting on the official Office Blogs, Microsoft General Manager of Enterprise Social Jared Spataro wrote that "creating a group anywhere in Office 365 will automatically provision a corresponding inbox, social feed, calendar, and document library that group members can use to get the job done." The Yammer feed and inbox for that group will show the same conversation so that users can choose to participate through the feed or e-mail.
Yammer conversations are also being added to documents in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, and the company said that video communication apps Lync and Skype will be added at some point to Yammer to enable those kinds of interactions.