By Umang Shah
The call for more choice in enterprise collaboration tools has been answered. Depending on your objective there are many different apps/tools within Office 365 that have very different functionality. First, let’s list of all the existing collaboration tools within O65 for individual analysis. From time to time we’ll publish an insightful article regarding each of the tools we identify today. We’ll call the series “O65 by ISM, Inc.” These Cloud-based, all-in-one tools are available with rich client (Apps) and can be accessed on almost any device.
Several apps are integrated with Office 365 enabling a seamless and secure work environment. From Yammer to Groups to Team Sites, Microsoft has done an excellent job packaging the ultimate tools for collaboration. Remember when porting an object from Word to Excel to PowerPoint was new? Now, Microsoft has extended those capabilities, allowing users to embed apps from OneDrive to SharePoint to Exchange or Teams.
To begin, let’s list all of the existing collaboration tools within O65 for individual analysis. From time to time we’ll publish an insightful article regarding each of the tools we identify today. We’ll call the series “O65 according to ISM, Inc.” These Cloud-based, all-in-one tools are available with rich client (Apps) and can be accessed on almost any device.
- Exchange: The majority of internal collaboration is conducted via email. It is a three-decades-old technology that’s not going anywhere any time soon. Exchange is O365’s Cloud-based email that enables easy access to built-in apps and categorization of incoming streams. Exchange is not going away, but as other collaboration tools surface, we may see a slight decline in its usage. Response times may be longer but it’s a good tool for structured, one-on-one communications.
- OneDrive for Business: This is not a replacement of your website; it’s actually a replacement of the “My Documents” folder on your desktop. It is a great tool for external sharing and synchronization for offline viewing. Commonly used for sharing drafts with dispersed team members. We suggest starting OneDrive for business with limited people, and then moving to a more flexible SharePoint document library.
- Office Groups: Think of Office Groups as a container of user permissions (both internal and external). Confusion arises because our imaginary container has a user interface under office 365 Outlook, Yammer, and other 0365 services. Once you create a group it enables additional integrations such as conversations, files (OneDrive), calendar (Outlook), and personal notes (OneNote). Some people compare the experience with Yammer, Teams, and others. In the long run the use of Office Group will probably remain as a container for all Office services. Office Groups can be created from Outlook and Yammer to quickly collaborate with internal/external users. Users receive a dedicated email address for the group.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is one of the latest collaboration tools for teams. Its Slack-like (persistent chat) tool integrates well with other apps in the suite such as Planner, Outlook, and Calendar. Throw in a little video conferencing capabilities and you’ve created a great way to increase team productivity and engagement. It’s not a replacement for Group, it’s a component of Group (Actual Azure Security framework). This tool is commonly used to quickly connect with specified contacts in a closed setting. Teams are able to plan, chat, share documents, and conduct a video calls in the secure app.
- Skype for Business: Most commonly used for impromptu web meetings and instant messaging. This is the quickest way to communicate one- on one or in a team setting. You can even extend it with Cloud PBX for peer- to-peer voice calling. The Skype app continues to outclass its competitors, and at a much more attractive price. Commonly used for daily stand-up meetings in which teams are geographically dispersed. Very useful for quick brainstorming sessions and informal communications that don’t require a saved record.
- Yammer: As an enterprise social network, Yammer has carved a niche for itself in helping internal/external teams stay connected. Its user experience and ability to engage large audiences is a huge advantage. It is non-structured and can be focused on large or small teams. The most common use is crowdsourcing ideas across the organization. Ideas can be shared and assessed within Yammer before any action is taken.
- SharePoint Site: The quintessential tool for managing lists and metadata, custom workflows, news, and more. Some components of the core site will be integrated with other office 365 tools. All of the other tools use the core concept from the SharePoint framework. Best for solving business issues quickly, creating lists with metadata, and using PowerApps and Flow for small business-centric apps. It has a good user adoption rate due to its popularity, and the SharePoint activity feed helps visualize activities across other office 365 tools.
- Delve: Delve is an intelligent, personalized site that uses Machine Learning (Office Graph) to discover and serve up content most relevant to you in real time. It is a secure tool with some borrowed featured from SharePoint for profiles and contacts. The biggest advantage is its Office Graph API. It’s intelligent enough to guide you along your content journey and it continues to get more accurate as you increase use. Good for informal research and understanding organizational structures.
- Co-author (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote): We can use the Office application in the Cloud and even in rich clients. We can co-author the documents simultaneously and see each other’s changes quickly. Great for collaborating seamlessly without worrying about version control.
- Planner: Planner provides a simple way to work together and organize tasks. It is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Teams are able to keep their projects separate and run visual status reports. Its integration with Teams and SharePoint ensures a seamless and transparent process for completing tasks and meeting objectives. Planner enables quick and efficient planning and management of multiple tasks. Teams can track progress, create sub-tasks, and access robust reports. Can be compared to Trello or Wunderlist.
Imagine you are participating in an active Yammer group to brainstorm ideas about a new product. Someone mentions a new technology that might help speed up the process, and the idea took off. There are several participants located around the world and you need to rally everyone for a quick huddle.You start a quick Skype meeting to discuss the details. During the Skype session, one person keeps close track of the conversation in OneNote. In the span of 10 minutes, a decision was made to move forward with the technology. As project lead you create an Office Team to initiate the project.As time goes by all of the original Yammer participants were invited to the new Office Team to plan the project. You also add Kartik, an independent consultant, to the Office Group and organized all project tasks in Planner. You measure the project’s progress using the charts within Planner, and then share them with your teammates in PowerPoint. I could go on but I’ll stop here. The possibilities for enterprise companies are endless. Office 365 E5 enables greater control of your communications process and ensures that you are operating in a secure environment with all of the bells and whistles at your fingertips.