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Category Archive:Office 365


Three Things I’ve Learned About Collaborating With My Very Spread-Out Team

My ten-person company is not very traditional. We implement technology, like customer relationship management (CRM) systems. We have no offices. We are very spread out. Our overhead is low. To get our projects done and coordinate effectively, we have to collaborate. This hasn’t been easy to figure out. Luckily technology to help connect disparate teams has improved. And we’ve all gotten a little smarter. Here are three things I’ve learned from running a de-centralized business.

Standardize on one collaboration platform

There are many great cloud-based tools to help teams collaborate. The ones I have found to be the best are those that provide the most options and features. A few years ago we were working with a handful of these tools. But things have changed. Microsoft Office, for example, has significantly changed. What was once a desktop application for word processing and spreadsheets has now evolved into a cloud-based platform of tools that we are using for email, file sharing, presentations, conferencing, scheduling, note-taking and customer management. Slowly but surely, Office 365 has replaced many of our other collaboration applications and has enabled my team to keep everything in one place under one umbrella. Because the interface is consistent and we’re able to do our work from any device, it keeps getting easier to standardize on this platform. The lesson: I’ve learned to pick a good platform that offers all the collaboration tools I need and invest in it.

Balance technology with human interaction

I know I may sound old school when I write this, but I close more deals when I meet prospects face to face. I have better relationships with those people that I see in-person more frequently. I am able to manage people more effectively when I’ve met them. A good collaboration platform is critical for my workgroup because we’re running around everywhere and need that one place to do a data dump. We use the technology to remind of us of tasks, alert us when things are coming due and maintain data about projects that no human being can remember. But in the end, we still meet in person. Sure, we don’t have offices. But we all talk on the phone, both individually and in groups. We meet on Skype for Business, where we have the option to talk or even see each other face to face through video chat. We meet at coffee places and for lunch. We take time aside at client locations to discuss projects and even other clients. I’ve learned that technology can do a lot, but human interaction is still really, really important. Find the technology that allows you to blend both.

Put someone in charge

I’ve found Office 365 to be a very powerful platform to use, and so have many of my clients. But the ones that use this service the best have made an investment in a central person to administer the system. This is not a tech person or an IT firm – it’s usually an administrative person who is smart, confident and willing to learn the software and not afraid to make mistakes. This person is given the responsibility of making sure that all the data in the system is complete and accurate. If you’ve got a workgroup of five or more people this is easier said than done. Minor mistakes are inevitable, but an administrator is tasked with making sure that there are alerts and controls in place to limit these problems and help take action so that they don’t happen again. A collaboration system has many moving parts to it and for it to work effectively one person should be the go-to resource for answering questions and taking responsibility. I’ve learned that investing in this person pays itself back many times over and not having this person significantly increases the risk of my collaboration system failing.

Ten years ago, when I closed my offices, I made a lucky guess. I guessed that I could rely on collaboration technology to help me make up for the fact that I didn’t have an office. Think about how nascent those technologies were back then. It turns out that my guess was right. Given my track record of getting things right, the fact that I predicted this is astonishing. But hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.


Five Office 365 features for 2017

In its continuing effort to make Office 365 the be-all and end-all of enterprise and business productivity software, Microsoft has laid out an aggressive rollout plan for 2017. New features for Office 365 will be released every month during the year, and if your organization is in the fast track program, you’ll be seeing the new features very soon indeed.

Looking over the list of new Office 365 features currently in development, you are bound to find a few to get excited about. Here are five features due to arrive sometime in 2017 that should interest you.

1. Real-time transcription and translation of Skype Meeting Broadcast

Skype Meeting Broadcast is an application within Skype for Business that allows enterprises to host and broadcast meetings to a large audience. With this new feature, enterprises will be able to automatically share the closed-captioning transcript from a meeting with the audience. The audience can choose to have the transcript translated into these languages: English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and German.

2. Bitcoin currency support

In 2017, Excel will be able to recognize, format, calculate, and analyze numbers expressed in Bitcoin currency. The new feature will be available for Excel running under Windows 10, Android, Mac OS, and iOS, and will include Excel Mobile versions as well.

3. Conditional access policies for locations and apps

As the collaborative aspects of Office 365 continue to grow and develop, IT pros are rightly becoming more and more concerned about security. Microsoft is therefore adding several new and updated administrative features for Office 365, including the ability to establish broad policies limiting access to the enterprises’ Office 365 applications based on location. There will also be more options for limiting access to specific Office applications based on the user and their permission status

4. New data gathering and shaping capabilities for Excel4. New data gathering and shaping capabilities for Excel

Just about every enterprise, big or small, has at least one employee who is considered the Excel power user for the company, the department, or the team. Well, that person is going to be pleased with Microsoft’s plan to add capabilities to the Power Query section of the Excel Data Tab. For those who don’t know about it, Power Query provides an intuitive and consistent experience for discovering and connecting to a broad range of data sources, such as Azure databases, Hadoop, Salesforce, Facebook, and even third-party websites.

5. OneNote improvements for classroom and collaboration

OneNote will be getting a lot of attention from Microsoft developers in 2017. One of the more interesting uses for OneNote, and one that Microsoft seems to be promoting heavily, is as a classroom tool. To that end, Microsoft will be adding several new features that make transferring access control between staff easier. This could have implications for enterprises too. There are also plans to make it easier and more intuitive for users to share OneNote notebooks

The year ahead

Judging from the plethora of features on the horizon in 2017, Microsoft appears determined to provide the only productivity software any enterprise will ever need. Hold on to your hats and enjoy the ride.


Microsoft adds real-time collaboration to PowerPoint and Outlook cloud attachments

Four new Microsoft Office 365 updates aim to help enterprise users collaborate better. The most useful one may be a powerful new capability in OneDrive.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced four new features that will allow for easier collaboration among users—especially those in the enterprise.

OneDrive for BusinessThe updates, which include real-time collaboration in PowerPoint and the ability to move attachments to the cloud in Outlook, follow a number of recent steps Microsoft has taken to enhance its enterprise offerings. Earlier this month, it announced a new chat-based workspace, Teams, as a Slack competitor for Office 365 users. It also recently released a scheduling assistantfor Outlook on iOS, and a Power BI data visualization toolset.

The new updates allow Office 365 users to do the following:

1. Collaborate in real time in PowerPoint

Users can now share a PowerPoint slide deck with others, and update the document together in real-time, said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, in a blog post. This means you can see what a colleague is adding or changing in a slide deck as it happens.

This addition does not come as a surprise: When Office 2016 launched last year, Microsoft said it was committing to expanding real-time co-authoring to each of the company’s native apps over time. Microsoft Word and Excel have already rolled out this feature.

Real-time collaboration is currently available for PowerPoint on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program, and for PowerPoint Mobile on Windows Tablets.

2. Move attachments to the cloud and share with others in Outlook

With this update, Outlook users can “easily transform a traditional document into a shared cloud document right within Outlook,” Koenigsbauer wrote in the blog post. While Outlook previously allowed users to attach cloud-based documents to an email, this marks an easier way to send large files and collaborate on those files with others.

Users can upload a file to their own OneDrive or a document library as part of an Office 365 Group, the post stated, and then designate sharing permissions for the email recipients.

This feature is now available in Outlook on the web, as well as for Outlook on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers.

3. Receive mobile notifications for changes to shared documents

With this update, users will receive mobile notifications when changes are made to shared cloud files in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. “Notifications let you know when changes are being made while you are away from a document, so you can stay connected and know when you need to act,” Koenigsbauer wrote in the blog post.

This feature joins the integrated activity feed available on Windows desktops, to help business users improve collaboration. Users will receive notifications when documents are shared with others, and when they are edited. Koenigsbauer wrote that Microsoft will continue working on this notifications feature “to provide more detail and transparency around activity in shared documents in the future.”

Sharing and editing notifications are currently available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users on Android and Windows Mobile for Office Insiders. This feature will be available for iOS users in December, and for commercial users in all Office mobile apps in the coming months.

4. Find, open, and save documents in a Shared with Me and Recent Folders tab

Microsoft added a Shared with Me Tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to make it easier for enterprise users to find and open documents that colleagues shared without leaving the app you are working in. It will be similar to the feature in OneDrive, the post stated.

Users can also find a Recent Folders list in the Recent tab to help find files faster.

The Shared with Me feature is currently available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on Windows desktops and Macs for all Office 365 subscribers, as well as on iOS and Android. It will soon be available on Windows Mobile. And the Recent Folders feature is now available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program.

Office 365 is now available in 150 markets worldwide, the post stated. Other November updates include built-in accessibility with Learning Tools in the Office apps, and PowerPoint Onlineupdates for education customers.

Want to get started with Office 365? Contact Dorset Connects.


Thanks to Alison DeNisco


Office 365 Delve: Your Top Questions Answered

Learn about Office 365 Delve and how it can streamline document sharing in your organization

If your organization uses Office 365 you’ve likely heard of Delve, but may not fully understand its functionality. In this blog we’re going to answer a number of questions we’ve received from some of our enterprise customers related to this new and versatile productivity tool built right into Microsoft’s platform.

What is Office 365 Delve?

Delve is a tool that helps you quickly find the information that is of most value to you, regardless of where it’s located within your organization. It also enables you to easily access data about people within your organization and in turn, those people can find out more information about you.

Gone are the days where you had to know the exact name of a document that you are interested in finding. With Delve, you can quickly see relevant files stored across both OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.

Are there any security concerns related to Delve?

Users are only able to see documents that they already have access to. In addition, other people won’t have access to any documents that are marked as private. For further information about the security of your documents in Delve, Microsoft has published a blog focused on squashing any privacy concerns.

To see what public documents other members of your team are working on, simply:
Click on someone’s name or picture while in Delve
When you locate a document that you’re interested in, you can add it as a favorite or add it to a board to look at later

How do I remove content from Delve?

If you store documents in either OneDrive for Business or SharePoint, they’ll automatically show up in Delve for you, as well as for any of your colleagues who have access to them.

If you’re interested in keeping a specific document private, you can still store it in OneDrive for Business, but you should simply choose not to share it. These documents will not show up in Delve for other people. If you look closely at your private documents in Delve, you’ll see they are marked with a padlock indicating that they’re not accessible by others.

How does Delve know what’s relevant to individual users?

Microsoft has dedicated an entire blog post to explain how Delve assigns relevance, but in short, it’s determined by the Office Graph. This artificial intelligence tool constantly collects data and analyzes all sorts of signals to determine what should be most relevant to you, based on your work habits as well as the habits of your colleagues.

Stay better connected to colleagues with Office Delve

We hope this foray into Office Delve has piqued your interest and will have you exploring this innovative tool within Office 365. For more information about how to use and customize Delve as well as any of the other Office 365 apps, feel free to reach out to Dorset Connects today at 484-845-1600 or email Neal@DorsetConnects.com.


Your Data is Safer in Office 365

As we start accepting the thought of the cloud and Office 365 for our businesses, security and privacy are still on our minds. Though many security breaches happen from within, we often worry when we hear that our content will be somewhere other than our own servers. Especially in the “cloud” somewhere. So what does the Office 365 data protection promise for both security and privacy do to help appease these worries?

The top 10 reasons why your data is safer in Office 365:

1. Physical security on the Office 365 servers


If you can get into the servers where any of our content is stored, I’d be extremely impressed. More than impressed in fact. Let’s see…

“As a standard policy, Microsoft does not disclose the location of its data centers. Microsoft operates between 10 and 100 data centers located around the world.”

First, try to find the location for these facilities. They’re not disclosed to the public and finding them will be your first challenge. Let alone finding the one that has the content you’re looking to breach. And if somehow you’ve found them, here are some of the things you have to get through.

You need to be identified as authorized personnel and get passed the multiple layers of physical security… Oh and bypass the biometric as well as motion sensors all under constant video surveillance. I think this sounds closer to a new “thief” movie called “Ocean’s 365” than a likely scenario.

2. Encryption of data at rest and transmitted


Whether you’re communicating with the various Office 365 experiences or looking at the data being at rest, you’ll see that it’s always encrypted. Disks using BitLocker encryption, SSL over HTTP and even IRM on Document Libraries are a few things that ensure no unwanted eyes can peek at your data.

3. No mining or accessing your data for advertising purposes


In Office 365, the way you and your users use the platform isn’t mined for advertising purposes. Though many cloud platforms will use this information to target ads like Facebook and Gmail as examples, this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about here.

With the many preconceived worries on the cloud and security, Microsoft takes a safe approach by making sure none of your data can get exposed.

4. Office 365 customer data only used to improve the service


From an administrator’s perspective as well as an end users’, you can manage what can be seen and by whom on your content. But privacy goes beyond the extensive options we have come to expect from most of these cloud platforms, it’s also about the data collected on the usage of the platform.

Microsoft may use the data to improve the overall experience, but the data will not be shared. And when I mean the data collected, it does not mean they’ll access your actual content. Your mailbox or OneDrive for Business files will never be accessed without your permission. Only data on how you use features to improve the service, not unlike when you look at Analytics of people visiting your website to improve it over time.

On top of that, the Admin Center allows you to audit all access to your tenant information by a Microsoft Employee so you know what’s going on.

5. Regular back ups of your data


Microsoft employs multiple layers of redundancy and backups of information at the datacenter level, so in a rare event where data may be lost or corrupted on Microsoft servers, it can be restored.

Though there is no link I can point you to with a service description for backup and recovery, it’s important to know that it may not be ideal for all organizations. The platform comes with many capabilities from Versioning to Recycle Bins as well as recovery options. However, they are not indefinite. Meaning it may be too late for you to recover the data or the recovery method may not be ideal for you in your scenario.

6. You won’t lose all your data simply because your subscription is over


I know what you’re thinking, “That’s horrible! I don’t want them to keep my data even after I no longer use Office 365”. To give you time to take your data away from a terminated subscription, you have a timeframe which allows you to do so.

“Upon expiration or termination of your Office 365 subscription or contract, Microsoft will provide you, by default, additional limited access for 90 days to export your data.”

More details on data portability can be accessed in the Trust Center.

7. In-Region Servers to host customer data


Though still a concern for some due to legal and regulatory requirements, Microsoft will keep your data in the region specified when the subscription is first created. A region doesn’t necessarily mean a country however, if this is a concern for you then you should look at the details in the Trust Center.

Keep in mind that many worries we have about this are misunderstood. Be sure to understand your requirements before.

8. “Hard” Passwords and multi-factor authentication


Identity is very important in this digital age, it proves you are who you are and often that’s through a password. To make sure a simple brute force attack doesn’t lead to a security breach, Office 365 makes sure users require a strong password.

If you’d like more protection, especially for those users that have a little more power over the tenant or access to extremely confidential information, you can also enable multi-factor authentication. With this turned on, users will have an extra layer of security other than just the password.

9. Manage privacy settings to meet your needs


Both as an administrator and as a regular user, you can control what is seen and by whom it is seen in your organization. Depending on the organization and culture, not everyone within will be ok with sharing the same data about themselves or on their usage.

The data is often imported from Active Directory or entered manually by users to create a complete profile. It’s often valuable to have as it enabled you to build rich solutions that interact with the data as well as Office Graph to make better connections.

10. Contractually committed to promises made with the DPA


“Microsoft just announced that it is the first major cloud provider to adopt the first international cloud privacy standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)” – Microsoft on the Issues

Even privacy authorities across Europe approve Microsoft’s cloud with an official stamp. It’s hard to beat, independently verified, Office 365 is without a doubt much more secure than you could possibly even allow your own servers to be.

It’s unlikely the security breach will happen from the outside

Security concerns will never go away, just change as we transition to a new work model. We use the cloud, experiences from Office 365 to do what we need to do. Recently, I talked about how granting access to External Users combined with a human mistake almost cost us quite a bit if we hadn’t found it in time. And that will continue to be the case regardless of whether it’s On-Premises or in the Cloud.

On their side, Microsoft has put everything into place from regular backups to ensuring your data stays in-region as well as enforcing strong passwords to help you stay protected. Concerns from moving to the cloud in terms of Security and Privacy are normal as we are not used to it, but with the Office 365 data protection seem unfounded. It’s more likely we will cause a breach with our configurations or human errors than someone gaining access to our data.

Download the infographic

This Infographic is based on the “Top 10 security and privacy features of Office 365” provided on Microsoft’s website.


Office 365 – New Skype for Business Features

If you have an Office 365 business subscription that includes Skype for Business, then you already have richer online meetings capabilities, such as the ability to conduct large group meetings for up to 250 people and the ability to Instant Message anyone in your organization at any time—not just during meetings. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conferences in Toronto earlier this month, the folks from Redmond unveiled some exciting new features coming to Skype for Business:

1. Translation

Automatic transcription and translation in Skype Meeting Broadcast should arrive by the end of 2016.
While Skype Meeting Broadcast lets you produce, host and broadcast meetings to large online audiences; these new services will provide live closed captioning of presentations and allow viewers to choose translation into their preferred language from a list of supported languages

2. Skype for Business experience in Office

While co-authoring a Shared document in OneDrive or SharePoint, users will soon be able to chat in real-time using Skype for business. A new chat icon will appear (next to co-authors in the document) that will let you contact the other co-author in real time. The feature can be tested in personal OneDrive for now

3. Upload Meeting Attachments in advance

Files you attach to a Outlook 2016 or Outlook on web meetings automatically load into the Skype Meeting document bin as soon as participants join in. Cloud attachments also automatically assign permissions to meeting attendees so as to allow everyone to collaborate during the Skype Meeting

4. Retrieve User Session data

Now Office 365 admins can retrieve user session data for Skype for Business Online using a PowerShell Cmdlet. The new Get-CsUserSession Cmdlet for Skype for Business enables all Skype for Business Online tenant admins to retrieve user session data as it exposes user activities and modalities including registration, Instant Message, Audio, Video, Application sharing, and conference events

These new features make collaboration and communication with your team members quicker and more robust to further enhance your teams’ productivity.


Why Secure Email is Essential for Your Business

Malware most commonly reaches your business through email. As attacks become more sophisticated, your business could be vulnerable. A malware attack means more than just a security risk. If attacked, your business runs the risk of lost intellectual property, productivity, business reputation, time and money. The average total organizational cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million, and an average of 250,000 malware variants are detected every day.

070516 blog post image

Malware is any software created to cause damage, but there are different types and considerations when looking to protect your small business. What types of malware are threats to your small business?

  • Spyware is software that gathers information on a user or organization without their knowledge.
  • Trojan horses are malicious programs that trick victims into installing on their computer.
  • Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by posing as a trusted entity.
  • Worms are standalone programs that replicate themselves to spread to other devices.
  • Ransomware restricts access to system data, demanding ransom to remove the restriction.
  • Viruses are malware that replicate by inserting copies of themselves into other programs, files or hard drives.

Unprotected emails open the door to attacks. Most viruses, Trojan horses and worms are activated when users open attachments or click links in email messages. Without proper protection, you’re opening the door for costly and damaging attacks. The right preventative measures, however, will guard your business against the loss a malware attack brings. These include secure email hosting, email encryption, using a secure email server and anti-virus protection.

Malicious or criminal attacks are the primary cause of data breaches: 49 percent involved a malicious or criminal attack, 19 percent concerned negligent employees and 32 percent involved IT and business process system glitches. Businesses can build up their defenses by using a paid, hosted cloud. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365’s Exchange Online cloud-hosted email for business fortifies your IT defenses with a variety of tools like robust antivirus protection, automatic patching and anti-spam filtering.

As attacks become more sophisticated, advanced security, privacy, encryption and anti-virus technologies from Office 365 can be your best defense. To learn more about the protection that Exchange Online can offer your business, check out the infographic, “Guarding against email attacks.

Thanks to the Microsoft Office Team for this contribution.


What Does the Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal Mean for Your Business?

Microsoft LinkedIn DealWith the recent announcement of Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, many businesses that use on Microsoft products are wondering how the union of the tech giant and the world’s largest professional social media network will affect them. Here are three ways that this partnership could benefit your business:

Selling will become more social than ever

Many salespeople who currently use LinkedIn for generating leads and closing deals can only see potential opportunities via their individual connections and networks. Microsoft Dynamics CRM users will be able to connect with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which will enhance their ability to build more meaningful relationships with prospects and customers through user data, leading to better sales results.

Mega marketing

The acquisition will offer marketers more opportunities to engage directly with LinkedIn’s 433 million (and counting) users. One such potential way to do so is with the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, which could be used to maximize retargeting results for Bing ads. Advertisers who use LinkedIn ads and other offerings from the network’s Marketing Solutions services may be able to expand their reach to other areas of the Microsoft suite, including Outlook, Office365, and Skype.

Making it easier to get the job done

In his email to Microsoft employees about the LinkedIn acquisition, company CEO Satya Nadella said, “This combination will make it possible for new experiences, such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.” LinkedIn Learning (based on the acquisition of educational site Lynda.com in 2015), will also be integrated into Office365, which means that employees who want to learn new skills could find courses without having to leave Office and search the Internet for e-learning opportunities.


The future of video conferencing—3 trends breathing new life into a decades old industry

The future of video conferencing

For decades, video conferencing has been a nice-to-have feature for most businesses, but not a necessity. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software—as well as the growing demand for visual communications among millennials in the workforce—that’s all about to change.

Despite the decrease in bandwidth costs, both hardware and software continue to improve video quality while using better compression methods that eat up even less bandwidth. This has helped reduce the costs of video conferencing services and devices, which has led to a widespread adoption in the workplace. Today, virtual meetings can be held in large video conferencing rooms dedicated to cross-team collaboration, on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones or while simply sitting at a desk using VOIP or a conference phone.

As technology continues to improve, here are three trends to expect for the future of video conferencing:

A younger workforce will expect high-quality video conferencing services

The future of video conferencing 2

Cisco recently reported on a growing trend in video conferencing with younger employees stating the stark difference between today’s leaders and leaders of the future. Those in leadership today are very enthusiastic about technology and want to use it where possible, whereas leaders of the future will be dependent on technology and therefore will expect to utilize it throughout their daily lives.

A joint survey performed by Redshift Research and sponsored by Cisco provides context for this statement. According to the survey, 87 percent of young respondents would prefer to work for a more “video-enabled” organization over one that limits its investment in video conferencing. In addition, 84 percent of respondents believe that they would rely on virtual meetings with video for one out of every four interactions at a minimum.

In addition to expecting video as an almost default collaboration tool, 75 percent of young professionals surveyed say they will not settle for low quality. This expectation stems from growing up with technology that continues to improve at warp speed.

Video conferencing will be used for more than the traditional virtual meeting

The future of video conferencing 3

In a recent Q&A session, Lovina McMurchy, general manager of Skype Advertising, stated that Skype averages 8 billion hours of social video calls each year—this has been the case since 2011, when Microsoft acquired the company. The growing trend of video calls will continue to change how people interact with one another and combat some of the stigma associated with choosing video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.

In addition to the growing social use associated with video conferencing, it is now becoming more commonplace during the modern interview process. Global companies often seek global talent, but traveling out-of-state for a job interview isn’t always the best approach. Because of this, a recent study conducted by PGI suggests that 66 percent of job candidates prefer video interviews over traveling to meet a potential employer. This is even becoming more common with local candidates that might need to meet a large team whose schedules do not align.

Video conferencing has also become a popular feature of quality enterprise business solutions. By integrating video conferencing services with enterprise systems, employees are finding new and unique ways to run virtual meetings that go beyond traditional methods. In the same Redshift Research survey about video conferencing, respondents were asked about future features that would help them improve meetings with enterprise integration. Fifty-four percent of respondents showed interest in customizing the viewer’s experience with social media sharing tools. Twenty-one percent would prefer real-time language translation and pop-up bubbles that provide LinkedIn and Salesforce information on meeting participants.

Virtual reality will take video conferencing to the next level

The future of video conferencing 4

Video conferencing services let participants communicate on many levels beyond a traditional conference call. Through viewing facial expressions and body language, participants are able to experience different non-verbal cues, which often make up 93 percent of standard communication. Through virtual reality, participants can take virtual meetings even further.

By wearing a headset like the HoloLens, which combines both virtual and augmented reality into one experience, meeting participants can all sit in the same room together, no matter where they are physically located. This is accomplished via holograms that can be viewed through the headset.

With traditional video conferencing, participants only look into a camera and onto their screens to see one another. This often leads to missed eye contact and a continued feeling of separation. With technology like the HoloLens, participants can turn their head to the left to look at the hologram of the person sitting on their left. They can turn to their right to interact with the person on their right. In addition, they can share projects and manipulate them in real-time as a team. All of this can be done in a virtual environment set in the physical world.

These are just three trends of many set to change the way we interact with one another through video conferencing. As technology continues to evolve, virtual meetings will quickly become the norm and the board room conference phone will become nothing more than a retro paperweight.

Thanks to the Microsoft Office Team for this contribution.


Is that SharePoint in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

What SharePoint’s Mobile App Means for You

By Daniel Cohen-Dumani | May 25, 2016

During “The Future of SharePoint” event Microsoft held earlier this month, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive and SharePoint, Jeff Teper unveiled a very exciting concept — an “intranet in your pocket” — with the announcement of a SharePoint mobile app.

Why did this announcement excite the SharePoint community so much?

To understand what the announcement means, you need an understanding of how intranet solutions — and SharePoint — have evolved.

Desktop-Bound in a Mobile World

Businesses have reaped the benefits of SharePoint deployments for many years, but the emphasis has always been on desktop users, rather than mobile.

At a time when employees increasingly expect mobile capabilities from their work applications and more IT departments are embracing mobility apps for all lines of business — not just fields services and sales teams — being bound to a desktop no longer cuts it. So while Microsoft has made incremental improvements to the SharePoint mobile experience in previous iterations, it still left a lot of room for improvement.

The SharePoint Mobile App

Microsoft’s announcement of the SharePoint mobile application at the Future of SharePoint event was a step in the right direction. This is a first for SharePoint, which previously offered access via a mobile browser, but not a mobile app. The app is available for both online and on-premises deployments.

The SharePoint mobile app offers users full access to SharePoint team sites. They can use the app to check the progress of their group projects, look up people on the company intranet and communicate with their co-workers. It also includes an Office 365 Groups integration, and is available on Windows, iOS and Android.

Mobile App or Not to Mobile App

Putting the intranet capabilities of SharePoint “in our pockets” is exciting, but businesses still need to take a proactive approach to adoption and implementation. The recently announced changes will come in waves, each of which will require oversight and management. So if your business uses SharePoint, you will need to plan for each rollout independently in order to avoid being caught by surprise. This should include alerting your users to upcoming changes and providing training to help them stay up to date.

And it should go without saying, but just because an app is available doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. Determine whether or not the SharePoint app will meet your business needs. Compare the features to the features your users need while on the go. The speed and ease that the app promises makes it sound like a good fit for many businesses, but check before you leap.

A few other newly announced features could have big implications for businesses. Microsoft PowerApps will allow you to easily create and share business apps with your teams. Microsoft Flow automates workflows between Microsoft services and apps, improving efficiency and productivity within your organization. A public preview of PowerApps is already available for those who can’t wait for the full launch later this year.

SharePoint’s Future Looks Bright

This is an exciting time for the SharePoint world. Whereas not too long ago SharePoint seemed to be on the brink of obsolescence, Microsoft has brought it back by reinvigorating the mobile user experience.

We’ve also seen a flurry of turnkey intranet solutions over the last few years, that offer the rapid deployment, simplicity and high-quality user experience which businesses crave. With these latest SharePoint announcements, Microsoft is sending a clear message about its commitment to providing an excellent out-of-the-box intranet solution for its business customers, including those for whom mobile accessibility is a priority.