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Microsoft’s Plethora of Portals

As I was looking through Microsoft’s catalog of applications, it occurred to me just how many of their platforms are information-centric and seemed to overlap in functionality. Where should I go when I want to get stuff done, find information or produce it? Since the early days of AOL and AltaVista, we’ve seen the awesome power of a “Jump Page” as the starting point for our information journey.

Microsoft, which one do I choose?

From one software vendor’s perspective, we’ve got many options. What’s the best option for me? Seems like there should be opportunities to gain synergies between available Microsoft platforms.

Bing.com

Searching for information on the internet? News, images, encyclopedias, Wikipedia, whatever you need, and more is on the web. Microsoft Bing helps you find what you need regardless if you’re using text or an image to search for like for like information. It also serves up “relevant” information on the jump page, news mixed with advertisements. There is also a feature enabling you to add carousel “boxes”. for example, containing latest MS Word files used, synergy from Office.com

Office.com

Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio, Power BI… If you’ve created content or want to create content using Microsoft applications, Office.com is the one-stop-shop for all your Office apps and the content created using these applications.

SharePoint

Another portal to a universe of information around a centric theme, such as collaboration/interaction with product/project team members, an Intranet, SharePoint site with one or multiple teams. At the most fundamental level is the capability to collaborate/interact with teams, potentially leveraging Microsoft collaboration tools. Just one of many of its capabilities “out of the box” is a document management solution and the use of version control.

SharePoint can also be used for any type of Internet/web platform, i.e., a public-facing portal platform. However, SharePoint, in fact, is a sharing tool in which the authors of the website can share video presentations, shared calendars of public events, and a plethora of customized lists.

Yammer

Engaging your people is more critical than ever. Yammer connects leaders, communicators, and employees to build communities, share knowledge, and engage everyone. I’m thinking synonymous with a bulletin board. The implementation of Yammer looks like Facebook for the Enterprise.

  • Use the Home feed to stay on top of what matters, tap into the knowledge of others, and build on existing work.
  • Search for experts, conversations, and files.
  • Join communities to stay informed, connect with your coworkers, and gather ideas.
  • Join in the conversation, react, reply to, and share posts.
  • @ mention someone to loop them in.
  • Attach a file, gif, photo, or video to enhance your post.
  • Praise someone in your network to celebrate a success, or just to say thanks.
  • Create a virtual event that your community can ask a question and participate live or watch the recording afterwards.
  • Use polls to crowd source feedback and get answers fast.
  • Stay connected outside the office with the Yammer mobile app.
  • Use Yammer in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, or Outlook.

“Yammer helps you connect and engage across your organization so that you can discuss ideas, share updates, and network with others.”

Microsoft Teams

For any team, there is a wealth of information varying from the group or single Chats, Teams, Calls, Files, and practically integration for almost all Microsoft applications and beyond. The extensibility of MS Teams seems relatively boundless, such as integrations with Wikis, SharePoint document folders, etc. From what I can tell, many organizations just use Teams for the group, or individual Chat channels are barely grazing the surface of MS Teams’ capabilities.

Setup of MS Teams, Teams “landing” page is a great place to start constructing your “living space” within MS Teams. From there, you can carve out space for all things related to the team. For example, in the “Team ABC” Team channel, you can add N number of “tabs” relating to everything from an embedded Wiki to specific SharePoint folders for the team’s product specifications. A team could even create an embedded Azure DevOps [Kanban] Board to show progress and essentially “live in” your MS Team, team channel.

Another porta;l overlap, Microsoft Teams Communities, seems to equate to Yammer.

Delve

What is Delve – Microsoft 365?

Use Delve to manage your Microsoft 365 profile and to discover and organize the information that’s likely to be most interesting to you right now – across Microsoft 365.

Delve never changes any permissions, so you’ll only see documents that you already have access to. Other people will not see your private documents. Learn more about privacy.

Delve is a content curation platform for the person it’s most relevant to…you. It gives the appearance of a user experience similar to carousels of video streaming apps. There are “Popular Documents” carousels and other carousels that are based on the most recent access. Based on how files are saved based on who can access content is how the platform gives you a treasure trove of documents you never knew you had access to or existed. It actually paints a potential compliance nightmare if people select the default document access as “…anyone within my organization…”.

Outlook.com / Best of MSN

Another portal of information focused around you: your email, your calendar, your To-Dos, and your contacts/people. It’s not just your communication with anyone, e.g., your project team members; it’s organizing your life on a smaller scale, e.g., To-Dos. You can also access other shared calendars, such as a team release schedule or a PTO schedule.

The Best of MSN is information, i.e., news around your interests, a digest of information relevant to you, delivered in an email format. Other digests of information from other sources may be curated and sent if subscribed.

Mediums to Traverse Information: AR, VR…

The visual paradigms used to query and access information may drastically influence the user’s capacity to digest the relevant information. For example, in an Augmented Reality (AR) experience, querying, identifying information, and then applying it, serving up the content in a way most conducive to a user’s experience is vital.

Users can’t just “Google It” and serve up the results like magic. The next evolution of querying information and serving up content in a medium to maximize its usability is key and is most evident when using Augmented Reality (AR). If you’re building something, instructions may be overlayed by the physical elements/parts in front of the user. Even the context of the step number would allow the virtual images to overlay the parts.

Automated and Manual Content Curation is a MUST for all Portals

Categories, Tags, Images, and all other associations from object A to everything else, the Meta of Existence, are essential for proper information dissemination and digestion. If you can tag any object with metadata, you can teach an AI/search engine to identify it in a relevant query. Implementing an Induction Engine, a type of Artificial Intelligence that proposes rules based on historic patterns is a must to improve query accuracy over time.

Next level, “Information applications” – Improved Living with Alzheimer’s

Next Ecosystem: Google..?

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