Saturday, March 26, 2016

Office 365 Connectors

A while back I wrote about how Microsoft was bringing PowerApps to Office 365 to provide improved automation and connectivity with information outside Office 365. Microsoft has now extended those options further into Office 365 with the new Office 365 Connectors which it has announced here:

Announcing Office 365 Connectors

Here’s how to set up a connector for Twitter.

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From the app launcher navigate to Outlook.

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From the options on the left locate the Groups heading. Under that locate the Create option as shown above to create a new group and select.

You can add a connector to an existing group but in the list case I’m going to create a new dedicated group. This allows people to work with this specific information rather than mixing it in with other stuff. However, if you perhaps already have a marketing group, it makes sense to connect these to your favourite external service.

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The Office 365 Group creation option now appears on the right. Give the new group an appropriate name (here ‘Twitter’), set the Privacy and finally whether messages from the Group will be sent to members inboxes. Beware of using this option if you expect a lot of information to flow from the external source.

When complete, select Create to continue.

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Next, add the desired members to this group by typing their name.

When complete, select Add to continue.

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The new group will now be displayed on the screen.

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Across the menu at the top of the group select Connectors.

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This will open a new Connectors window as shown above.

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Scroll down the list until you locate the connector you wish to add. In this case, the Twitter connector is located. Select the Add button.

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You’ll now be prompted to login to the external service. Select Sign In to continue.

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Enter the details for the service and select Sign In to continue. This authorisation page may vary slightly depending on which external services you are connecting to.

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The next configurations will vary depending on the external service you connect to. For Twitter, you can select Twitter accounts to follow (@office365) as well as hastags to follow (here #office365).

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You then set the Notification options as well as the Frequency.

When complete, select Save.

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You’ll then be returned to the Connectors page where you should see the connectors you just added at the top of the page.

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If you select the My Accounts option at the top of the page you will see all the external connectors you have configured as shown above.

You can now close this window and return to the Office 365 Group.

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You should now start to see the configured external information start to flow into the conversations for that group as shown above.

So, Office 365 Connectors are a way of bringing in information from external applications into an Office 365 Group. Once there, they can be shared with members of the group as well as being used a source of information to drive conversations. All of this information will also be available on Office 365 mobile apps.

Microsoft’s blog post also mentions that a similar ability to this will soon be brought directly to users inboxes and then to other Office 365 services.

Now combine these new Office 365 Connectors with Delve and you’ll see how rich an information source Office 365 will be, especially as Delve provides a single pane of glass across everything in Office 365, now including these external sources brought in via Office 365 connectors.

Delve should be the centre of your Office 365 universe

Office 365 Connectors is currently only available for those configured for First Release but will soon be standard across all tenants. More connectors to other external sources will also become available.

So go forth and connect I say!