This is the capstone entry for the extravaganza that was Microsoft Ignite 2017. First, top five observations…
- GRE should have had about a dozen people here. I realize that such mass attendance is not realistic, but the information that I was able to absorb myself (approximately 0.09% of all the information presented at this conference) pertains to every group in IT. The exception being the telecom folks and the possibly the PMs.
- Microsoft blew me away! I’ve likely been to 20+ conferences in my 22-year IT career–this one was in a league of its own.
- Microsoft is rolling out new features based on community feedback at a rate no other technology company is going to be able to match. At their current pace, Microsoft will put all of the vendors on the Expo floor out of business within five years by incorporating and improving the services they are currently hawking into the Microsoft 365 platform.
- Nearly every aspect of this event was done with a level of thoughtful professionalism that I couldn’t help admire, envy really. There is a chasm between Oracle and Microsoft in terms of forethought, strategy, and ability to execute.
- And most importantly, we’re doing it wrong.
What Did We Do?
It is understandable that when we set out to move from one ECM platform to another, we used history as our guide.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.
–Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
And so we set out to build a an information taxonomy in SharePoint based on the GRE org chart; just like we’ve always done; just like in OCS. Except, if we use past adoption/use/success of OCS/CTD/ETC as a gauge, it would appear we are again striving for mediocrity by taking the approach everyone is expecting.
This is illustrated by my presentation to senior staff last year. I showed them the Transmission Contracts migration in SharePoint and the chief “innovation” I touted was better search capabilities. In essence, we copied what we had in OCS (down to the metadata fields), moved it to SP, and announced that the search would be better.
Honestly, if we did deliver a better search experience, it would be a welcomed “innovation” from the user community, and we all would have marked this as “mission accomplished”.
Well, it turns out MS365 is so much more than enhanced search, so, much, more. And it’s possible that we will not achieve MS365 greatness at GRE to the same extent other companies will/have. But if we roll out what we piloted for transmission contracts, we’re not even trying. And that’s not just my humble opinion, it’s a lead pipe cinch.
What Should We Do?
Gang, I’m here to tell you that the world of Microsoft Three Six Five, the one that Most closely aligns with where Microsoft will drive future vision, strategy, and enhancements, starts with the Groups tile. This was the clearest message throughout the conference. It perfectly aligns with my idea of a personal dashboard approach (as opposed to a corporate taxonomy/portal) I have been pitching since the release of the new UI Collaboration and Communication sites, but it’s more centralized (in a decentralized way) than that.
Conventional wisdom dictates that IT knows best when it comes to technology. But when it comes to this idea of enterprise collaboration…
- content management
- digital asset management
- the list goes on forever
Effective search and discovery needs to know what information that is relevant to you, your colleagues, the work you do and your context right now. Find out how we have used insights across Microsoft 365 to create such a personalized search experience. A new search UX has been developed focusing on simplicity and performance enabling the user to quickly interact with a more personal and semantic organization of data. Find out how search now also supports multi-national corporations and all the improvements inside the Microsoft Graph. Also learn about the roadmap for enterprise search in SharePoint and Office 365 for new experiences, and the convergence of FAST and Bing search innovations.
The presenter is advocating for using the SharePoint tile as your starting point for all of MS365. Search is being engineered with a lot of AI to “learn” how you use it and customize and fine tune your experience.
Searching for people will soon bring back results based not only on their AD information, but on the activities they’ve being doing inside of MS365 (documents updated, groups accessed, etc.). The use case was that you heard a colleague was working on a travel document that you wanted to look at, but you don’t know the title other than it probably contains the word “travel”. They demonstrated how it would found faster by searching on the colleague’s name rather than a generic search for “travel”. It came up as the first result for that person under files.
The search preview has been further refined in that it does not leverage the native app to preview a document. Instead, it brings up a viewer with full application capabilities but no hassle of openeing the file in the native application…
So the Graph is the key to everything cool. It is heavily leveraged for search improvements…
The search they are designing is an enterprise search only if we are able to drive the users work tasks into MS365. Then, all of that becomes discoverable–the enterprise becomes discoverable.
The presenter is covering the difference between consumer search (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and enterprise search (where no one can find anything). So consumer search is all about popularity. Enterprise search may not be best if it’s based only on popularity, because corporate content isn’t exactly “popular”.
MS search is shifting from matching and popularity to \people and behavior. Also, scannability of search results is a focus. Other features being refined are search within and scoped (faceted) search.
Rich people driven search results are sourced from Delve profiles. The more of the profile that is filled in, the richer the results.
Visual Content Intelligence – indexing of special content (images specifically) by extracting text or context and making the data available via search. This will be an upcoming feature. This might be totally groovy for PDF drawings.
The example they gave was of a scanned receipt that had “Ribeye” on it. The presenter recalled having a really great ribeye steak, but couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant. She searched on “ribeye” and found the receipt, which had the restaurant listed.
Again, they are stressing the office.com experience. The new search features are available there as well as in the O365.
Here is a cool MS Graph graphic…
Multi-GEO search is also a new feature that we’ll never use. It is important for companies that are global and have data residency regulations.
The much anticipated future of search slide:
But seriously, they are REALLY focusing on search. I still feel like search, especially enterprise search, is the killer app in this heaping pile of apps.
For SharePoint site owners provisioning a site is only the start. Come learn all the best practices for managing your SharePoint team sites including how to get started, drive and measure engagement, and manage access.
- Pin most important document, so that those documents appear at the top of the list.
- Pinned documents can be unpinned if they are no longer “important”
- Quick view allows mass metadata updates
- Create views for quicker access to focused content
- Making site columns/metadata required prevents users from adding content w/o filling out metadata
- There is a view called “Files That Need Attention” that brings up files with missing required metadata
The last year has been an exciting year for Office 365 admins. Office 365 administration has been evolving at a rapid pace, making more features and functionality available to admins on an almost daily basis. Attend this demo-heavy session to learn about improved capabilities that make it easier, and more efficient for you to manage Office 365.
So a REALLY long analogy is being unrolled between the Nokia 6021 and O365 administration. And the punch line was predictable: phones evolved, O365 administration tools evolve. Like we’re seven minute into this, and the presenter is still working the phone analogy.
There is a feature to “offboard” a user with one click. This effectively blocks access to all O365 assets (Outlook, OneDrive, etc.). In addition, the blocked user’s O365 assets can be partitioned out to other users for clean-up, content recovery, or whatever.
Just out of curiosity, I wonder how this will be handled at GRE? Who? It gets into the realm of everything in O365. When we move Outlook to the cloud, this will have to be addressed.
“Metadata is super valuable” – why? The degree of random hyperbole at this conference is spectacular.
According to Microsoft’s research, forcing users to change passwords every 90 days actually reduces security. When users have to come up with new passwords on a regular basis, they make poor choices for passwords, because they choose something easy to remember. When users don’t have to change their passwords, they choose better (and harder to hack) passwords. Interesting…
They are continuing to hammer home the idea that the entire MS 365 experience should start in Teams. They just added Teams stats into the site usage reports. THey will be available to everyone in about two weeks.
The site usage stats can be anonymized, so that stats do not list users by name, They are again touting the “Report Reader” role to give access to the site usage reports in the admin center w/o being granted the admin role.
The new Office 365 Usage Analytics functionality is coming in Q1 of 2018. It is considerably more robust than what is available today. Instead of just surfacing statistics, it surfaces concepts like adoption, popularity, activities. It looks pretty fantastic and useful for all the analytics we’d ever need.
There is also an API for MS Graph data if we wanted to create custom analytics.
There is a health notification email service being launched. We can opt in now if we want.
They are also revamping their release updates in the admin message center. “Major” updates will be called out in large boxes at the top of the list of updates.
So they have a thing called the Office 365 Training Center. It looks rather promising as a training resource for our users.
They also just launched the Microsoft Virtual Academy. It contains free training for the geekier folks.
They both look quite useful, I have to admit.
The all-important roadmap…