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The confusion around Office 365 services

From Delve to Sway to Yammer and Power BI, Office 365 features a startling array of enterprise productivity tools. Users need clarification on the daunting set of features.

As companies prepare for the release of SharePoint 2016, there are enduring questions about the best strategy to exploit the capabilities of Office 365 and SharePoint. SharePoint is still relevant, but it is most certainly reimagined, with a collection of services residing outside the application and in Office 365.

Originally, SharePoint served as the go-to application for collaboration, document management, enterprise search and social networking, but as Office 365 services enhance these capabilities, SharePoint capabilities have been tailored. Today, enterprise social networking is part of Yammer. And while SharePoint has an enterprise search feature, the new tool, Delve, is a kind of enterprise search "on steroids," with the ability to combine information from a worker's calendar, email, document retrievals and even meeting history to create more meaningful search results. Delve is just one example of how Office 365 is overlapping with traditional SharePoint to create new capabilities.

SearchContentManagement sat down with contributor Shawn Shell, vice president at Dallas-based Hitachi Consulting Corp., to discuss some of these services and how they are changing the nature of traditional SharePoint.

Shell discussed some of the challenges for users in understanding how these Office 365 services fit into their daily activities.

"I think they are ready for prime time in the sense that the technology is baked," Shell said. "But where they may not be ready is in customers' understanding of where this particular tool fits in the grand scheme of their collaborative services," he said.

"Delve is a radically different mechanism to collaborate," he continued. "Delve uses a lot of existing services: It taps into Exchange for email and OneDrive for personal content. It looks at your calendar and it looks at other people's calendars. And then, it uses search as a way of weaving together a composite view of all the interactions you might have across the enterprise."

Shell suggested that, in some cases, users are still figuring out the best ways to exploit Delve's innovative visualization capabilities.

"In the end, I think it's ready for prime time, but what may not be ready is the use cases," Shell said.

Shell also discussed the significance of Power BI and its potential to democratize analytics for business users.

"Power BI represents Microsoft's next step in that BI-for-everyone approach that they took back in SharePoint 2007," Shell said. "MSFT has a history of trying to create or commoditize these elite services like BI … It is giving individual business users the tools necessary to view data sets in a way that is very accessible. I can build a dashboard very easily by asking a natural-language question about the data. And Power BI responds with a visualization."

For Shell, Power BI not only enables nontechnical users to view and manipulate data in easy-to-digest visualizations, but it enables them to share that information with others through Office 365, which is a "super compelling proposition," he said.

For more, check out this podcast above. And check out part one here.

Next Steps

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This was last published in November 2015

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Are you trying to determine which Office 365 services have value for your company?
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What I am wondering is, when we decide to use an Office 365 service that has value for our company. How easy will Microsoft stop a service when it has no longer value for Microsoft?
That would be one of the reasons to stick with on-premise. Control over changemanagement on your documentmanagement.

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