Thursday, October 4, 2018

Microsoft Search gets serious

Search is one of the key technologies we have at our disposal today. It is often overlooked and under rated, but without it we’d be drowning in a sea of data rather than being able to find what we want in an ocean of information.

Search is pervasive throughout the Office 365 suite but it has been implemented in a rather haphazard way across the many different services over time. One of these key services that you can really take advantage of tenant wide search in my books, is Delve as I have said:

Delve should be the center of your Office 365 universe

because it allows you to easily and quickly search across a number of Office 365 information repositories. However, now there is better way.

At the recent Ignite conference, Microsoft demonstrated a willingness to align all it’s search abilities in a consist way and under a single banner being Microsoft Search.

Microsoft Search—cohesive search that intelligently helps you find, discover, command, and navigate

Some, like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott, in fact think this is the biggest news from Ignite as the above video attests.

So, with all that said, how you you start using this more unified approach to search in your Office 365 tenant today? Easy, enable “Bing for Business”. Here’s how.

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Login to your Office 365 tenant as an administrator and go to the Admin center. Locate the Services & add-ins section and from the list that appears there, select Microsoft Search.

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Then turn on the option for Company access as seen above and Save the settings.

I’d then visit the following URL to set up Bing for Business.

https://www.bingforbusiness.com/admin

if you need to, login using an Office 365 administrator account.

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You should then be stepped through an initial setup wizard,

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that asks you the various places that you’d like to have included in you unified search as shown above.

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You can also provide the feedback email address for users as well as logo if you wish.

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You SharePoint Best Bets will be imported if you selected SharePoint in the list of items to include.

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With that complete, you should now be good to go.

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You can return to this search console at a later stage to view statistics and provide better control over your user’s experience. I’ll take a look at more of that in an upcoming article.

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Now, if a tenant user logs into, and uses Bing search, you’ll see an extra banner at the top of the page as shown, for Microsoft Search. Here you can select to see the results from inside your Office 365 environment at the top of the page.

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Selecting to see these results will display an expanded set of cards as you see above. It is important to note that these search results are ONLY visible to people inside your tenant, who have logged onto Bing with their Office 365 credentials. It doesn’t mean your complete Office 365 information is available on the public Internet!

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As I search for different items I get different results as shown above, including results from places like Yammer and Teams.

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If you select the Conversations option at the top of the page, it will show you matching chats from Microsoft Teams as shown above. That is pretty powerful when you stop and think about it.

This is only the beginning of what Microsoft has planned for a unified search experience. We should see this make it’s way down into the Windows 10 desktop search box as well, meaning you can get results across your whole Office environment directly from you Windows 10 desktop. Now, that is really unified search!

Search is something that we use just about every day. Making this easier, more relevant and more consistent is really going to boost people’s productivity and reduce frustration. It is also going to provide people with a more familiar search experience and truly be a single place to go and find “everything” inside and outside you tenant.

So, go and turn this unified search option on in your Office 365 tenant today and start using the power of search to improve that way that your business works.