Friday, July 17, 2015

Delve should be the center of your Office 365 universe

How do you get Delve?

Delve is currently only available to Office 365 subscribers. Delve is included with all Office 365 suites that include SharePoint Online (Business Essentials, Business Premium, E1, E3 and E4). Users who are assigned a SharePoint Online license as part of the suite will also get Delve.

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What is Delve?

Under the covers of Office 365 is something called Officegraph. It monitors interactions between people and the information they use. It then applies machine learning to these interactions in order to determine what is most relevant.

One of the ways that the results of this machine learning is surfaced to Office 365 users is via Delve (Clutter is another place). As you can see from the above video, Delve is simply another location users can navigate to in Office 365 from their App Launcher.

When a user navigates to Delve they are presented with information from Office 365 that is most relevant to them at that moment. This means they could see documents from Team Sites or OneDrive. They could see emails or conversations in Yammer or content from Skype for Business.

Delve does not change or negate permissions in Office 365, a user can only see in Delve what they can see elsewhere in Office 365. If they don’t have access to it elsewhere, Delve will not show it to them.

The more important the information that the machine learning in Officegraph determines something is, the higher it will rank in a users Delve.

Why use Delve?

If you think about the way most people work in a business these days, firstly, they dive into their emails, then they may jump across and access some files. Maybe they then have a phone or Skype call with some instant messaging thrown in. Then maybe they go out to a social network to catch up on what’s happening. They then of course repeat this process over and over again during their day.

Delve alleviates a lot of this service switching by providing a single ‘pane of glass’  at which a user can get an overview across all their information locations arranged in a manner that is most relevant to them. This means that documents they have recently been working appear at the top of the list in Delve.

From Delve, users can then simply select the information they want and be taken directly to that location where ever it is in Office 365. So let’s say that you are working on a document and you save it somewhere quickly to get on with other tasks. When you want to come back to that document later you may have forgotten exactly where you saved it. Was it in OneDrive? Maybe this Team Site? No. Maybe that Team Site? Now, what did I call it again so I can search for it? By using Delve instead, you’ll see that document listed near the top of your feed and by selecting it you’ll be taken directly to that location.

Inside a business it is important to remember that we do not work in isolation. We are generally part of many teams, large and small as well as many interactions. We therefore also need to collaborate with others, share information and gain insight from understanding what others in the business are working on. Once again, Delve provides benefits because it allows you to not only see what information is most relevant to you but also what information is relevant to others in your team. In essence, if you select a colleague in your Delve you’ll see their Delve (again remembering Delve respects security and permissions).

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So if I login as a user and navigate to Delve I see something like that shown above, which is information about Me.

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But if now select someone else under People menu on the left hand side you’ll that I see their Delve activity feed which is different to mine.

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If I now select their Profile instead of their Activity I get information about them as shown above. On this page are direct links to their email address, phone and chat.

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If you look closely at a Delve card you see that it has information about the user at the top of the card, which you can select, that will take you to their profile. If you click on document in the middle of the card, a new tab in browser will open and you’ll be taken directly to the location for that document wherever it is in Office 365.

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At the bottom of the card you’ll see the location of the document (here in a SharePoint Team Site called Demo) as well as links to collaborate further on this document via email, or share it with others (like you do in SharePoint but here directly from Delve).

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However, what I believe is a better way to share documents to gain feedback is via document conversations in Yammer. This occurs when you select the Yammer icon below the document. When you do this a pane will slide out from the right hand side of the window and you’ll we prompted to post a link to the document in Yammer as well as see any existing conversations around this document already in Yammer as shown above. This document conversation feature used to be part of SharePoint Online directly but has been deprecated as I indicated in a previous post here:

Document conversations deprecated

The final option available when it comes to sharing are Delve Boards.

Delve Boards basically allow you to ‘pin’ information from Delve to an ‘interest’ or topic. Imagine that your business is doing a project, you could create Delve Board with the project name and then ‘pin’ information to it

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When you create a board and add something to it you are sharing that across your organisation so that everyone (with suitable permissions of course) can view what is on the board and pin their own stuff to it.

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You will see, just under the board name you can elect to Follow/Unfollow the board as well as send a link to the board via email.

Why is Delve important?

The more that I see of Delve and the more I understand the direction Microsoft is taking with Office 365 the more important I believe Delve is to every business using Office 365. It’s ability to function as a ‘single pane’ of glass across all your content. It’s ability to show you what is most important to you, along with the ability to access and share information directly from there points to the direction your business should be heading with Office 365 I believe.

Yes, it is probably a very different way of working from the way you currently do BUT I am very confident that using it would provide major productivity benefits across any business if utilised appropriately. Remember, you don’t have to abandon the way you do things now to use Delve, you can start using it today and then judge for yourself, which is exactly what I’d encourage you to do. Try and see before making any judgement.

Too many times we become locked into a routine, into a comfortable way of doing things for purely emotional reasons. After we embrace something new that really works we wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. I think this is very much the case with Delve base on my interactions with resellers and users (more resellers tho’).

The common mentality is, because I don’t understand it I won’t use it, whereas a true business mentality should be let me see if this can provide me business benefit. Yes, Delve is a different way of going about your work but just because its different doesn’t mean it is worse, in fact I’d pretty much wager that it will make things better. A lot better.

Can I disable Delve?

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Each user can disable Delve if they so desire. The do this by navigating to Delve and selecting the Cog in the top right corner. From the menu that appears they then select Sharing Activity.

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They will then be given the option as shown above to disable Delve.

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If you want to disable Delve across you whole organisation you’ll need to login as an administrator and visit the SharePoint admin center. There under Settings you find the above option for Officegraph which when disallowed will also disable Delve.

Conclusion

I certainly see Delve becoming more and more the center of the Office 365 universe. It will be the central place to access all your information. It will be the place to stay up to date with what’s happening across you whole organisation. It will be the place you go to share information with people inside and outside your business. And that is just for starters.

in short, it will make you and your business more productive and that’s why you should start using it today, because from what I have seen of the roadmap for Delve and Office 365 it is only going to get better and more powerful. (see Hey, workaholics: Microsoft Delve will track your ‘work life balance as an example of what’s coming).

References

What is Office Delve?

Office Delve for Office 365 admins

Are my document safe in Office Delve?