Introducing D3, our insight-driven Experience Design Agency

As we enter the new year, we’ve been reflecting on everything we have achieved for our clients, employees and partners. We’ve worked hard, delivered real value, and no doubt been a bit lucky, and that’s led to continued success at Engage Squared.

For nearly a decade we’ve seen how digital has influenced the way we live and interact with work life. The pace at which digital brings change will continue to accelerate into this decade and beyond, for better or worse.

One thing is for sure, doing more of the same is simply not enough. As an agency, seeking out new and better ways of delivering value for our clients is at the forefront of our agenda. We have delivered some exceptional work (even if we do say so ourselves!) for our clients and helped them solve complex productivity challenges.

At the centre of our approach has been a focus on employees – we’ve always been looking for ways to empower people to enjoy work, using tech to be more productive, collaborative and connected.

After thousands of projects, launched to more than 2 million employees, we’ve noticed a clear pattern.

There’s a missing link between the employee experience and customer experience. The two parallels are rarely aligned, with brands continuing to build capability across both streams with little consideration for the impact they bring to one another.

With this in mind, we look forward to an aligned future where impact is considered across the spectrum.

To do so, we’ve launched D3, a sister agency with a focus on experience design. D3 will focus on partnering with our clients to help them identify opportunity and resolve friction across the customer journey. By working hand in hand, both brands will be able to help our clients optimise their business for success by tackling experience challenges within the organisation and externally with their customers.

To drive the success of D3 we have partnered with Roy Badawi, who will lead D3 as CEO and Co-Founder.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Roy worked with NEC Computers Australia before moving to the UK and joining Content and Code, a leading Microsoft practice where he led brands such as Vodafone, BBC, Crown Agents and TUI. After 6 years in the UK, Roy moved to Dubai to lead Digitas as Managing Director, a Publicis group agency. During his time in the ME he was responsible for brands such as Mastercard, Johnson and Johnson, Bloomingdale’s, Harvey Nichols, Jaguar Land Rover, Emirates, Daimler and Etihad Airlines amongst others. After 6 years at Digitas, he spent a further 2 years in Dubai as CEO of Revonic, a leading Experience Design agency where he spearheaded the transformation of the agency before returning home to Australia.

Stephen Monk, CEO of Engage Squared, said “I am very excited to bring our approach to the customer experience world with D3. Roy is a trusted colleague and is no stranger to the Engage Squared family, and we’re excited that we’re able to bring his proven skill and insights to solve customer experience challenges with organisations here.

Roy Badawi, CEO of D3, added “I am very excited to be back on home soil and to partner with Engage Squared to launch D3. When we decided to bring to market a new agency, we reflected on our last 20 years in the industry and revisited our successes and failures to create an agency that cuts through the noise and moves with agility and clear focus. I’m looking forward to writing the next chapter in my career and working with some amazing people and local brands.

To find out more about D3 and the range of experience design services on offer please visit www.dthree.com.au

About D3

D3 is an experience design agency that partners with its clients to help them discover opportunity and resolve friction across the customer journey, fusing the experience with digital applications that drive business success. Strategy, UX, Design, Technology.

About Engage Squared

Engage Squared is on a mission to empower employees to enjoy work more – using Microsoft tools to make work more productive, collaborative and connected. We work with large organisations to empower teams and individuals to use new technology to work productively, to help their leaders connect with staff, and to tailor Office 365 workloads to boost productivity.

My Top 4 Microsoft Ignite Learns

My recent visit to Microsoft Ignite in Orlando was a trip of firsts for me. Before last week I had never been to either America or a Microsoft conference; it was a sensory assault to say the least. Everything was big, the coffee was strange and I witnessed grown men do outrageous things just for some free swag. There has been a lot to process in the week following so I wanted to round up some of my thoughts and favorites in a top 4 list of learns and observations.

Top 4 product learns at Ignite:

Yammer: There were lots of exciting updates, but Yammer stood out for me – and not just because of the radical facelift. They doubled down on the core use cases for an enterprise-wide knowledge-sharing platform. This explanation of the ‘how’ provided a clear link to the ‘why’; connecting leaders and employees, which was great to see. The integration story was another strong focus, promising a consistent Yammer experience across Teams, SharePoint and Outlook. Hopefully, this will finally quell the rumors that Yammer is going to be culled from the O365 stack. My top updates:

  • Modern look and feel – Simple, less cluttered and more ‘social media-esque’.
  • Communities replacing groups – Following the updates, communities will be better able to brand themselves and define their purpose.
  • Community manager tools – Filtering and closing questions in communities
  • Refined Feed – Enhanced by AI and machine learning to further personalise the experience; showing you what’s important, driving discovery and open sharing
  • Video on the go – Instantly capture, trim, apply filters, and publish with a new video experience
  • Outlook integrations – Participate in Yammer conversations without leaving your Outlook inbox

Teams: There wasn’t any one stand out announcement for Teams for me – rather, a wave of useful and much needed improvements to experience and functionality. It’s great to see how closely Microsoft are listening to feedback. The abundance of some of the less sexy administrative updates show that they are continuously building out this tool into a powerful teamwork tool for enterprises. There are so many updates, but here are my top picks:

  • Live captioning in meetings – Captions for speech will be available, appearing in real time
  • Meeting options – Introducing the ability to clearly define presenters and attendees, allowing you to take back control of speaking arrangements  
  • Tasks in teams – Provides a new, unified view of your personal and assigned tasks within Teams
  • Private Channels – Enable users to create channels within existing teams that can be viewed and accessed only by select members
  • Pop out chat – Easily manage chat windows by popping them out of your
  • Outlook integrations – Users can move an email conversation from Outlook, including attachments, into a Teams chat or channel conversation
  • Echo avoidance – Detects another endpoint and automatically mutes. No more echoes!  (Probably my favorite)

Project Cortex – Coined as the biggest announcement since Microsoft Teams, there was certainly a lot of buzz around Project Cortex. As a non-technical consultant, I will attempt to describe it (albeit crudely). It is an artificially intelligent knowledge network that automatically connects and defines information so that users don’t have to.
It is was borne out of the difficulty of connecting the information in your company to the people who need it. The three core outputs are:

  • Organize knowledge across teams and systems
  • Empower people with knowledge and expertise “just-in-time”, in the apps used every day
  • Intelligently manage and protect content with built-in security and workflow

Fluid framework – I can best describe the fluid framework (again, a non-techy so bear with me), as a deconstructed collaboration framework that takes the principle of document co-authoring and simplifies it down a level to specific data sets. This allows users to collaborate on sets of content that live in numerous locations at the same time, without going into each document to modify. This will help to ensure that only the latest content is displayed and will be invaluable to critical and sensitive information. I think this graphic does a great job of explaining it:

Yammer will now use the Office 365 profile

Yammer profiles are about to change. And for many, this is long overdue!

From late September, profile pages in Yammer will synchronise with your Office profile – which means that staff will no longer be able to have different personal information in Yammer and Office 365.

What does this mean?

After September’s update, Office 365 profiles will become the single source of truth for contact information, ‘about me’ bios and profile pictures across all applications. This has long been true in most of the Office 365 apps – but Yammer has always had a separate profile system.

Sometimes this has been desirable – savvy Yammer members were able to change their display names to include additional information (such as indicating that they were out of the office or travelling).

But more often than not, having different profiles led to confusion. The disconnect between Office 365 and Yammer profiles meant that Yammer often had outdated or inconsistent information. It also meant that staff could (unintentionally) contravene HR policies – like changing their job titles. The disconnect also occassionally led to technical problems, with official profile pictures showing up in Office 365, but completely missing in Yammer!

Moving forward Yammer profiles will automatically sync with Office 365 profiles to ensure parity.

*If a Yammer member does not have a corresponding Office 365 identity, they will not be affected by this feature.

After the change takes effect, Yammer members who wish to change project, education and skills information will have to navigate to their Office 365 profile. Get there by selecting the profile picture in the top right and corner after signing into office.com and then update profile (see below). Depending on your settings users may have to contact their IT administrator to update their name, job title and profile picture.

 

Office 365 profile

How to access your Office 365 profile

 

How will this affect your users?

Office 365 user profiles will soon override Yammer profiles. When this happens anything that has been added to the Yammer profile will be lost and any non-AAD profile properties (profile fields that are only found on the Yammer profile) will disappear, for example, custom ‘about me’ information, or a link to a staff member’s Facebook page.

Next steps

There are a few steps that you may want to take to ensure minimal disruption when this update comes into play:

  • Update training content, materials and onboarding processes

It’s handy to get in quick and update any reference materials so that users can self-serve any issues and add Office 365 profile population to the onboarding process.

  • Let your users know

Communicate the change to your staff, explain that their Office 365 profile is now the single source of truth and let them know how to edit it. This is important as it may affect keyword searches and results on Yammer.

And if your staff have created custom information in Yammer – let them know that this change will cause that data to dissappear.

Preferred Parterner Announcement

Engage Squared Recognised as “Microsoft Preferred Partner” for Business Applications

Microsoft Preferred Partner for SharePoint Business Applications Microsoft SharePoint Business Applications Partner Program Charter Member PowerApps Flow SharePoint Microsoft Teams

Joins exclusive ranks as a “Charter Member” in the Microsoft 365 Business Applications Partner Program – one of just 37 companies worldwide and the only Australian consultancy to make the list.

Engage Squared is excited to be recognised for our innovative work with PowerApps, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Flow.

As a preferred partner, Engage Squared has access to Microsoft resources that will help us deliver even more effective digital workplace solutions to our customers. These resources include connections to Microsoft advisors, access to product roadmap information that informs the technology strategies underpinning our implementations, and exclusive technical knowledge bases.

We’re particularly excited by this program because it reinforces the value we see in Microsoft’s holistic approach to technology solutions – deploying the power of Microsoft 365 to achieve easy to implement automation, applications and knowledge management.

Seen from a product perspective, these three things map to Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Power BI (which create the “Business Applications”, in Microsoft parlance) and SharePoint (which provides the knowledge management). When we combine these approaches into a single solution, rather than leaving them siloed within distinct projects, we can fuel transformative business change.

Case Study: ATO

Productivity soars as ATO wins back 55,000 hours a year with “Intranet Accelerator”

In the words of our CEO, Stephen Monk: “It’s gratifying to be recognised by Microsoft for our innovative work with business applications.

We believe when you make people’s work lives more enjoyable and productive, you make their organisation stronger and more effective. It’s extremely rewarding to work with Microsoft’s app technologies because they can solve so many different problems so quickly. 

We’ve helped our customers implement solutions ranging from a PowerApps engagement that saved more than three days of effort every week, to more holistic solutions streamlining a diverse range of business processes—such as front-line health and safety, procurement and the project management and delivery of portfolios worth billions of dollars. 

It’s exhilarating to be part of this program and to continue working closely with Microsoft in solving new business problems as they emerge. Having exclusive access to the Microsoft product team is particularly rewarding. 

“Combining powerful technologies to solve problems for people is why we’re here. It’s about bringing people and technology together.”

Case Study: Aboriginal Legal Service

Connecting and Empowering Community Legal Workers with Office 365 


“Our community teams now have a system that will radically improve their efficiency as they deliver services and work with Aboriginal community members in our 26 locations across NSW and ACT”

– Michael Higgins, Chief Operating Officer, Aboriginal Legal Service

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Event recap: “Bots in the Real World: Truth, Hype and Demos”

A lot of us long for the day we can kick up our feet and let Cortana manage our professional lives. Or we worry that our jobs will be stolen by bots.

This month at the Melbourne Office 365 Business User Group (BUG), they took a shot at cutting through the hype and getting to something practical.

Facilitated by Engage Squared and hosted at Microsoft’s office at Southbank, they had 90+ registrants and a full house on the day.

Host Jack Hendy (an adoption specialist at Engage Squared) kicked off the session with…

“What’s new in Office 365”:

  • Cortana can be tagged in emails to help arrange meetings (Your personal assistant, just @Cortana)
  • New Q&A functionality in Yammer (Lets you mark answers to questions)
  • Microsoft Whiteboard App (Allows you to add reactions, integrates with SurfaceHub and has “ink beautification”: Bad handwriting? No worries)
  • PowerPoint-designed slides (Make your company’s branding consistent using custom templates and automated suggestions)
  • New customisable and unified Microsoft Search (A reason to use Bing)

AnswerBot: Going with the Flow

Their first presenter, Jason Soo from law firm Hill and Wilcox, introduced us to the basic Question and Answer (QnA) bot, enhanced with Flow. The bot solution leveraged Flow’s approval workflow, allowing the bot to update its QnA knowledge base with new answers to new questions.

This bot/Flow duo:

  • Captured questions from a Yammer group (this could be any ‘front door’/entry point, such as an intranet or website)
  • Answered questions parsed through the Azure QnA Maker
    • If the question is “like for like” or the answer has a high degree of confidence (an adjustable setting in QnA Maker), the response is posted in Yammer
  • If the confidence score is low or no match has been found, an approval flow is triggered which then presents a subject matter expert with the question, a potential answer and an option to submit another answer
    • This can be extremely powerful for enterprise-wide bots, as subject matter experts can be tied to different knowledge bases (owned by different portfolios/organisational groups), all connected to one bot
  • The answer, once accepted in Yammer, is automatically added back to the associated knowledge base

Apart from the ‘learning’ AnswerBot is capable of, she can be used to drive uptake and draw audiences to platforms like Yammer.

Jason also showed how he was able to set up AnswerBot (Flow not included) in 5 minutes using an Ignite video found here.

Codee: Journey from FAQs to Teams Governance

Next on deck was Adrian Tan and Sarah Aquilina from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Codee started her journey as an Office 365 FAQ assistant and is currently on the road to becoming much more, starting off with Teams Governance.

How do you transition an organisation of 13000 people[1] off Lotus notes and onto Office 365 while keeping up with basic (but necessary) queries?

The answer was Codee (formally known as BAE).

Codee is a basic QnA bot (living in Teams) that also leverages the Azure QnA Maker. Sarah, a non-technical stakeholder, showed how she was able to use the QnA maker to manage and improve the bot without needing help from the rest of her team.

The related cost of Azure consumption and virtual machines in the cloud was also discussed. The group agreed that different business problems called for different levels of investment and the free options provided by Microsoft to trial bots made it easy to get started. Generally, the ROI associated with the automation of answers to high-volume, repetitive questions was seen to pay for the initial outlay quite quickly.

Adrian, the program manager at DHHS concluded that paying the monthly cost to maintain Codee allowed his team to focus their efforts on activities more impactful to the business.

Codee is currently being developed to have the ability to create Teams at DHHS and asking for Teams names, owners and settings during the provisioning process.

ZELA: The Truth and the Hype

Elaine Van Bergen finished off with the (not so cold) hard truth: bots are just apps.

They’re apps that can be used to supplement other content in areas such as websites, Yammer and Teams.

In its more advanced stages, a bot:

  • Can be used to greet and attempt to assist users (and refer them to humans if sentiment analysis or the specificity of the questions warrant it)
  • Can be used with voice recognition or integrated with IVRs to provide feedback and activate workflows

While these examples are exciting, Elaine emphasised that while it’s easy to create bots and get immediate returns, any complexity or customisation will find you needing developers. It was also recommended to run basic bot projects before delving into more technical projects.

Elaine then introduced ZELA to the group.

ZELA is Microsoft’s internally built bot that assists with high-volume, low-risk queries to the legal department which previously lead to bottlenecks. ZELA helps with:

  • Answering self-help queries such as “where can I find…”
  • Client requests for support
  • Answering general, front-line questions from clients

The group agreed ZELA was a good example of fast value-for-effort and was intrigued by its use in a department as critical as Legal.

 

The session concluded with a prize giveaway, thanks to sponsorship by Logitech.

If you’re in interested in future Business User Group meetups, please join them and us at the next meeting!

Melbourne: https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Office-365-Business-User-Group/

Sydney: https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Office-365-Business-User-Group/

 

 

[1] DHHS, ‘People Strategy 2020’, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria, 2017, p 15, https://dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/201708/People-strategy-2020_2017-07-03.pdf, (accessed 4 July 2019).

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Doing UAT Right

Of all forms of testing, user acceptance testing is often the most essential to get right. Why? Because it saves you money. Too often I find organisations underprepared for the task of doing UAT properly and I believe this is largely due to the organisation not knowing the true impact of NOT doing UAT properly.

In 2017, IBM found the cost to fix a bug found after a build was 4 to 5 times higher1 than if the bug had been found in the design phase. More alarmingly, it was 100 times higher if the bug was found after deployment to production.

diagram cost of bug fixing over stages

4 Steps to getting UAT right

  1. Define your UAT team
    It’s important to avoid restricting your UAT team to project team members. The most important group to include in UAT testing is the “real” end users of your solution. And the key word here is ‘users’. This is crucial because they’re the people who will use the solution daily. Every persona and stakeholder group should be included, which means that people from each group should be selected to join the UAT team. Prepare that UAT team early and enable focused UAT to happen by booking in the UAT resources ahead of time. Consider booking time in your UAT team’s schedule to enable them to adequately perform UAT.
  2. Confirm test cases and acceptance criteria
    Agree upon user stories and their acceptance criteria during the design phase of your project. Each user story should cover a specific use case or scenario of the solution and therefore lends itself to being turned into test cases for your UAT. The test cases are normally a set of actions which the UAT team member can carry out to verify if the solution has worked as intended. The acceptance criteria define what is considered to be “working” in the solution.
  3. Develop a UAT plan Consider the following when writing your plan:
    • When will UAT start and finish?
      – It is important that a finite date is applied to the UAT period to avoid perpetual testing.
    • How will the test results be collected?
      – Write down how the communication between your project team and your UAT team will take place while testing. Doing this prevents the project team from the nightmare of receiving emails, word documents, spreadsheets, screenshots (or no screenshots) and endless discussions through email and other channels.
      – Collecting and managing bugs in a central repository will also mitigate the risk of duplication of bugs, as well as assist with the management of bugs through the correction and retesting process.
    • How will you label any bugs found (bugs, feature-requests, usability, training, etc.)
    • Who will triage the results?
      Remember: the triage process can bury you. Plan ahead and appoint someone to manage the triage and confirmation of defects.
  4. Conduct UAT
    Provide the UAT team with the list of test cases (as demonstrated in table1 below) as well as for instructions about how to log a bug well (i.e. the bugs should include the account used for testing, the device used for testing, screenshots, URLs, description of how to reproduce, etc.). Consider holding a UAT ‘briefing session’ to take the UAT team through what is expected of them throughout the UAT period.
    With the UAT plan in place and the UAT team readied for the task, the UAT can begin with the tests being performed and the results recorded. Were the tests successful, or did defects result? Any bugs raised then need to be triaged, confirmed as defects, corrected and re-tested.

    Table1 – Sample UAT test caseSample test case:
    As a user, I can see news on the home page
    ID Acceptance criteria description Pass/Fail/other Comments
    1234 Verify that you can see a news carousel on the homepage
    1234 Verify that the news carousel auto rotates
    1234 Verify that you can click on a news image and be taken to the news page
    1234 Verify that when you click on the navigation arrows in the carousel, the image displayed changes.
  5. Close and sign off UAT
    Once all testing is complete and all bugs are corrected, the project team should conduct a UAT closure meeting. During the meeting, you should look to tie up any loose ends, and formally close the testing period. Signing off or closing the UAT period means that you can move your solution into production.

Many development teams, including Engage Squared, apply an agile approach to projects with continuous integration and continuous testing. Agile’s incremental approach allows more feedback, flexibility, and of course testing, so that every time a feature, fix, or function is added or changed in the code it’s checked for bugs. In turn, we have found this helps avoid preventable bugs – ultimately saving time and money.

 


1 https://www.researchgate.net/figure/IBM-System-Science-Institute-Relative-Cost-of-Fixing-Defects_fig1_255965523

Office 365 Matter Center

Update to SharePoint Lists and Libraries

I thought it is important to let you know about an announcement Microsoft have made this month about changes to Office 365, particularly with SharePoint online.

 

“Starting April 1, 2019, it will no longer be possible to restrict an entire organization (tenant) to classic mode for lists and libraries.” (Announcement here)

 

What setting are they referring to?

If a SharePoint admin has selected that the default lists and libraries experience to be Classic for the tenant, this will no longer apply. Here is the setting in the SharePoint admin console:

SharePoint Admin Setting

What is the impact to the end user?

Any list or library that is currently being displayed to an end user using the classic experience as a result of this setting will switch to the modern experience:

 

Classic experience

Classic Library in SharePoint

Modern experience

Modern Library in SharePoint

 

Can I still restrict lists and libraries to the classic experience?

Yes you can, Microsoft have provided a number of tools to assist. You can still disable modern experience for specific site collections via a PowerShell script. This can be for a single site collection or for a list of site collections. List owners can use List Settings to configure that list to use the classic experience for all users. Users can still use the “return to classic” option on modern views of lists or libraries to temporary return to classic.

 

Microsoft has also provided a tool called the SharePoint Modernization scanner which identifies sites and lists that have customisations that are not supported by modern experience (all unsupported features of modern experience).  Although many of these lists will automatically remain in classic experience even after this change, you may wish to keep some sites running entirely in classic to avoid users switching between different experience modes within a single site.

 

If you have any questions please get in touch! help@engagesq.com 

Banner - Working with AI

Working with the AI Spark partner program

Engage Squared recently had the opportunity to spend two days in Hobart with our partner LiveTiles, as part of their AI Spark Partner Program.  

AI Spark is a Microsoft and LiveTiles accelerator program for partners working with the LiveTiles Bots platform. Through the program, Engage Squared will be able to build AI capabilities that we can use to help customers develop and deploy AI solutions. 

LiveTiles Bots is a ‘no-code’ bot builder powered by Microsoft Azure’s bot framework and language understanding intelligence service. It takes a huge amount of the complexity and required technical know-how out of the bot-building process, allowing users to quickly create an AI tool relevant to their needs. 

We’ve been hearing more and more of our customers talking and asking about bots and AI, and it’s clearly an area set for a huge amount of growth, with enormous opportunities for businesses to take advantage of the technology to transform the way they and their people work. 

We’ve learned so much about bots and artificial intelligence over the past few days, being able to work with a no code solution that integrates with so many SaaS based applications, utilising complementary technologies such as Microsoft Flow has clearly outlined why AI is of great focus to Microsoft. 

Using the LiveTiles bot platform means the approach to building bots becomes less about investing technical effort and navigating technological boundaries, and much more about understanding what our customers are trying to achieve and supporting them with the design thinking process that is necessary to deliver a successful bot scenario, and the creation of custom connectors to the services and platforms they use.  

This flexibility is a testament to how LiveTiles have made it so easy to configure a bot and connect into an enormous number of data sources – basically any that have exposed API’s. 

The wide-ranging two-day AI Spark workshop started off with a review of the underlying Microsoft bot framework and suite of AI services, followed by a detailed walkthrough of the LiveTiles Bot product, and how it overlays the technology to provide a far simpler interface for users.  

We talked about the value of bots and some of the many real-world use cases that they can help with, from HR Bots returning your leave balances, to a public facing bot that helps customers check the status of their order and answer complex questions instead of calling a dedicated support number.  

Through this process, it became apparent that the quality of data and inputs in a production scenario was something that needed to be reviewed and be given thought to spend the time working on retrieving quality data, and putting it into a format that works well for a bot interface.  

We also discussed some of the many lessons that LiveTiles have learned from working with customers to develop bots. For example, often there is a temptation to want to jump straight into building an “uber-bot” that can do everything, but typically a much more successful approach is to start by thinking about your most valuable use cases and starting with one or more simpler, targeted bots that do one thing well – this approach is quicker, more reliable and more likely to be a success. From there, we can start to build on this success and look to more advanced things like starting to combine bots’ abilities. 

We also got a sneak peek of some of the many enhancements and innovations that LiveTiles are continuing to work on to make the platform increasingly useful and powerful for users. Bots and AI are set to be a major growth area and both Microsoft and LiveTiles have made clear that this is an area they will continue to invest in heavily with native integration with different systems and an evolving language model. 

The second day of the workshop was spent rolling our sleeves up with LiveTiles Bots and getting into some rapid prototyping. We brainstormed some use cases that would be valuable internally at Engage Squared, and after settling on two examples started to build our custom bots. This was a great experience to put what we had learned into practice and get us practicing design thinking, solving problems and building our familiarity with the product and everything it can do. We’re looking forward to putting some finishing touches on our working bot prototypes and sharing them with the team back at Engage Squared! 

If you think your organisation could use a bot to help your staff, or it’s something you would like to know more about, we would love to chat to you about how bots can help to drive productivity and bridge gaps between systems and users, contact us to arrange an overview of LiveTiles bots. 

 

Written by Thomas Lalor & James Di Blasi

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Yammer & Skype for Business integration

Another week, another round of Office 365 updates and of course, they’re awesome!

Recently Microsoft released the ability to open the Skype for Business chat module through Yammer. The browser based chat isn’t exactly a new feature available in Office 365, it was originally released to Outlook Online quite some time ago.

However, what is new is the ability to open the Skype for Business chat module while working in Yammer and this is fantastic news! The recent release further aids in collaboration, allowing you to connect with your colleagues in a consistent and familiar way.

 

So what does it look like?

If you receive a message whilst browsing Yammer, a pop-up display message will appear on the top right hand corner. You are then given the choice to either respond or ignore the message. By choosing to respond, the Skype for Business chat window appears as an overlay on the page.

If you click the Skype for Business icon, located on the top right hand side of the suite bar the yammer module loads, it allows you to get in contact with your colleagues and external organisations/users using Skype for Business.

The great thing about this feature is that it isn’t limited to desktop devices either, allowing for a feature rich instant message experience across mobile devices too.

Using Mobile devices

Not only does this show the commitment Microsoft have to enhancing and supporting Yammer, but this is another show of strength by Microsoft that you don’t always need a desktop computer with software installed to work out loud and collaborate effectively! Remember anywhere, any device, any time!

Go give it a try today, and let me know what you think!

Office 365 Matter Center

6 tips to deploying Office 365 Matter Centre

What a busy, and exciting time it has been over the past few weeks full of new releases into Office 365. Today, I’m focusing on something that may not be new and something that isn’t really an ‘official’ Microsoft product either. Introducing: The Office 365 Matter Center.

The Office 365 Matter Center was developed by Microsoft’s Corporate, External, Legal Affairs (CELA), it’s a SharePoint based document management tool making it easier for both Legal and Business Professionals to organize files by matter.

This blog article will focus on some of the key learning’s and top tips for deploying the Office 365 Matter Center.

 

Tip #1

Use Visual Studio 2015, by using 2017 the solution isn’t totally compatible and requires the solution to be upgraded. The results by upgrading aren’t very consistent and will most likely lead to a failed deployment. So for now, keep using Visual Studio 2015!

Tip #2

While the documentation lists the following as pre-requisites, it doesn’t really explain how to do so.

Make sure Visual Studio has the following features installed:

  • Microsoft Office Developer Tools
  • Microsoft Web Developer Tools
  • PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio

Download and Run Microsoft Web Installer

Once the Web Installer loads, ensure the following are also downloaded and installed;

 

Tip #3

Filling out the excel spreadsheet for the first time.

One of the pre-requisites to deploying Office 365 Matter Center,  is to fill out a spreadsheet that adds pages to the root tenant url, content types to the content type hub, and configuration lists to the app catalog.

 

Config

TenantURL

https://contoso.sharepoint.com
ContentTypeHubURL https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/contentTypeHub
CatalogSiteURL https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/apps (this is the app catalog site, make sure an app catalog has been provisioned)
TenantAdminURL https://contoso-admin.sharepoint.com

 

Client_Config tab

With the owners group and Visitors group column, add a user full name to each (example, james.diblasi@engagesq.com)

Alternatively, write NA as you cannot leave this column empty.

 

Tip #4  –

When you run the Deploy-AzureResourceGrop.ps1 you will be requested to provide a few pieces of information, these are pretty straight forward but there are some gotcha’s with names, spaces and capitalization. Below I’ve explained a few of the important bits of mandatory information.

ResourceGroupLocation – this is the location that you would like to deploy the Azure Resource Group to, for those in Australia I’ve been using “Southeast Asia”

ResourceGroupName – Obviously a simple one, but is important to get right. Choose a name with no spaces, ensure that the name you chose here is the same you choose for the next step WebAppName, completing this provides consistency.

WebAppName – The webapp name is to be the name of the web application, this will be used in the url of the Azure App, again keep this consistent with the Resource Group Name if you can.

CentralRepositoryUrl – This is the url of your app catalog, it’s not documented anywhere so this can may be confusing.

Don’t get bogged down populating the  Sample data, you can create this through the system later.

Tip #5

Not ideal, but depending on the version and when you download the package there may be a hard-coded reference to ‘Microsoft’, this does cause issues with creating matters and having matters roll up to display on the Home page. This may not be valid at the time of reading but be sure to check the createMatter.controller.js located at –

“\tree\master\cloud\src\solution\Microsoft.Legal.MatterCenter.Web\wwwroot\app\matter\createMatter.controller.js” for a hard coded Microsoft reference.

Check line 2232 if you see a reference to Microsoft, change this to cm.selectedClientName

Tip #6

I’ve only seen this happen once, but on occasion you may have an issue with provisioning matter’s and an error referring to content types. I’ve found that it’s because the content types are either not published or because the because the managed metadata fields are not mapped to a term.

If the error you are receiving is referring to managed metadata.  Browse to your content type hub, go into the site columns and make sure that each managed metadata field under the “_Matter Center” group has a term selected.

There is so much business benefit to deploying the Office 365 Matter Center, it’s definitely worthwhile the invested time to deploy.

Thanks for reading.
James Di Blasi