Yammer and SharePoint: Evolving Together

I am just back from a wildly successful SharePoint Conference North America held last week in sunny Vegas and I’d like to report some news on the Yammer and SharePoint front in case you missed it. While I was bummed at the length of the barbecue line at the B-52s concert held poolside, I was not disappointed at what I heard from Dan Holme (@danholme) and Steve Nguyen (@espnguyen) on the state of Yammer, specifically its better together story with SharePoint.

Yammer

Empower and Connect

Yammer’s mission is to “empower and connect every person across an organization to maximize their impact.” In order to deliver on this, and to maximize their own impact (to steal a phrase) Yammer is teaming with other Microsoft technologies, including SharePoint. This is a good thing. Why? Because Yammer’s core value prop is the conversation modality. The public or private conversation that you can have with people inside or outside of your organization. But it needs friends to extend its potential.

With that in mind, here is what I hear when I read the above mission statement: empower (people) and connect (them through conversations) to maximize their impact (to deliver business value). All the words in parenthesis are mine, put there for emphasis. Yammer can transform an organization when in the hands of innovative, determined change agents. Now imagine that same capability mashed with care with SharePoint goodness and you can see the value it can bring to customers.

Three Key Points

Core Investment Areas

The message is clear: Microsoft recognizes the strong business value for customers by investing in what Yammer does well and lean on SharePoint for its content management strength. Yammer is spending its time and betting on the following areas:

  1. Employee engagement and connections
  2. Being the social layer of Office 365
  3. Being enterprise-grade with security and compliance

Employee engagement and connections

A key focus area is to strengthen that all-important two-way conversation. To make it rich and relevant. To make it live and breathe. if you are familiar with the concept of a YamJam, just note that it is about to get a big boost. Coming soon: the ability for users to hold live townhall events using Stream, in Yammer. This is a big deal. Known as “Broadcast Meetings in Yammer” this road map item can be found here, under the “In Development” area. This is not just for traditional top down meetings; imagine the power of learning among and between colleagues.

The Social Layer of Office 365

This is where we really see that “evolving together” story unfold. Soon, SharePoint file storage will be turned on by default for Yammer. When you store a file via Yammer, that file will be stored in SharePoint. This feature will begin shipping in August 2018. You’ll want to have Office 365 Groups enabled to take advantage of it. This makes a lot of sense. Yammer should be about the conversation among colleagues and making connections. This lets SharePoint do what it does best, hitting on its core capabilities of enterprise-grade content management.

Yammer understands the need to make content in your feed engaging. The Yammer team is working hard to bring rich previews of SharePoint documents into Yammer. No stated timing on this yet, but I plan on keeping on eye on this for the customers I work with over at tyGraph.

Finally, in the works, is a significant improvement to the social experience in SharePoint, a native Yammer feed, described as very much like the feed in Yammer, but in SharePoint. This crossover moment is the strongest signal yet that Yammer is becoming the social layer.

Enterprise-grade Security and Compliance

Along with the splash of live video for townhalls and the social layer in SharePoint, Yammer will continue to invest in being enterprise-grade with security and compliance. Yammer has already done work to provide user management using Azure Active Directory (AAD) and the ability to create dynamic groups based on AAD properties. One further example, the “Erase User” functionality, described as the ability to erase a user’s name and personal information as well as their usage data in Yammer is here, just in time for GDPR.

By the way, the SharePoint Conference in Vegas? That is a thing again. Hope to see you there in May of 2019. In the meantime, I will continue to report on these evolving changes. I’d be interested to hear what new capabilities are you looking forward to?

Microsoft Teams: A Review of What’s New for April 2018

April saw a handful of new features released for Microsoft Teams. In this post, I’ll take a closer look at the uses for four of them and add a brief mention of the others.

First: two ways to get to “What’s New”

In my blog on the command box, I mentioned that a good keyboard shortcut to know is “alt-k”. That will get you to the top of the Teams UI. From there, if you type “/whatsnew” you will see the latest the Teams team has added or changed.

Whats New

A second way: click on your profile picture in the upper right, then “Help” and there you’ll see “What’s New” on the top line.

“Here is the chat I wanted you to see…”

No question, Teams has a strong chat feature, and if you are like me and my colleagues, we can get chatty in a hurry and I often find myself needing to point a teammate to a specific post. New this month is the ability to go to a specific chat message, copy a link and then drop that link off to colleague so they can quickly hop to the linked post.

To copy a link is super simple, just click the ellipsis of the desired post and click “Copy Link” and you’re set.

Once you post the link, you’ll see the name of the OP (original poster) followed by a colon and a chunk of the message plus the Team name, Channel, and date time stamp of the original post. See example below:

CopyLink feature

Two new ways to get chatting

Speaking of chatting, Teams added two ways to kick off a chat with a teammate. Have you ever been reading through a channel and wanted to chat with a specific person in a thread? All you have to do is mouse over their profile picture and their contact card will pop up. Message box is at the bottom of the card. Type your message and hit reply. The message will show up in either a new chat or an existing chat with that person, (re: Chat area in the left navigation pane).

The second way is to use the command box. As mentioned above, you can get there quickly with an alt-k. Once in the command box, at mention them, by typing the “at” key, “@” and their name; hit return and you’re ready to message.

The key to both of these shortcuts is that you don’t lose context. An important concept that the Teams team and other product folks are getting a handle on is the critical nature of keeping you, the user, contextually close to your current task. Losing context means having to endure the “switching cost” of leaving one task and picking up another. Like leaving email to fact check something on the web only to lose a half hour catching up on the Kardashians.

Team Owners, show the team where to start with favorite channels

If you are a team owner, you can auto-favorite up to ten channels for your team. So, let’s say you have eight channels in your team, but three of them are critical for teammates to have. You can auto-favorite them so they show up for all team members. Just know that your teammates can unfavorite them later.

One more new feature worth noting

You now have the ability to get a reminder if your team is expiring. But, I’m jumping the gun a bit here. You first have to have the Azure Active Directory policy that allows an expiration date to be set, turned on. This is a premium feature of AAD. There are two references you should check out if interested. Here is one on the Office 365 Group Expiration Policy  and you might want have a look at this one too, the quickstart on AAD Premium.

Finally, as I usually mention, I am interested in how others use collaboration tools like Teams and Yammer. If you have something to share, drop me a note. Thanks for checking out my blog.

 

 

 

Key Takeaways: Microsoft’s Employee Engagement Summit 2018

The recent Employee Engagement Summit, hosted by Microsoft had a galvanizing moment for me, an old school social collaborator with links back to the early days of Yammer, Jive, and Newsgator. That moment came in the opening frames as host Andrew Anton, of Microsoft, laid out the key themes:

  • Leadership and Clarity of Purpose
  • Open Communication and Teamwork
  • Sustained Engagement through Empowerment

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It all sounded so familiar…so right. As I listened, the themes of working out loud, transparency and trust began to coalesce. Yes, I had heard it before and that isn’t a bad thing. The messages I was hearing today reminded me of Responsive.org, a group of forward thinkers who created a manifesto that said, in essence, there has to be a better way of working, and here it is.

What was so galvanizing for me was that so many organizations are figuring it out and some of the companies represented this day, were using an old reliable friend (Yammer) and the new kid (Microsoft Teams). And they are nailing it. I will discuss three examples in this article.

I have to tie up a loose end first. There are strong Yammer (and Microsoft) genes in the founders of Responsive.org: Adam Pisoni and Matthew Partovi to name two. The cool thing, the thing that makes me smile, is that they were right and now we are seeing it mainstream. Forgive me for glazing over a decade or more of enterprise social network (ESN) history (I am leaving out a long list of amazing and relevant thinkers) but these are exciting times to be a believer in ESN and organizational change at scale. Not saying perfect, but exciting to see the progress we are making in this space.

KFC’s Colonel was real and you should be too

People aren’t going to trust a brand just because you say they should. According to Jonathan D’Souza, People Capability Director at KFC South Pacific, people want real stories from real people. They took an “inside out” approach to getting brand trust. When employees are authentic about themselves and what the brand promises, then you’ve got something.

As KFC in Australia worked to discover what it meant to be engaged, they found employees wanted these two things above all else:

  • To have a voice
  • To feel connected

D’Souza and team saw that Yammer could help them do that. They also saw the need for team members to engage with each other and to not count on the head office to always drive it. D’Souza’s message: trust your people. A data point, they have had to take down only .03% of posts from their Yammer network.

He gave two examples of engagement within their network. Feeling connected comes from being recognized, like when you’re recognized on Yammer by the CEO, Nikki Lawson (by the way, she is a top ten contributor on their network). Having a voice means being able to ask the Chief People Officer, Rob Phipps, questions via their #ASKROB campaign – and get answers back.

All good stuff, but the compelling part of  his talk came when he tied engagement to business outcomes. He gave the following example. Safety is a topic that is very important to all organizations and a serious one. To get team members to engage in safety awareness, KFC Australia took a somewhat comedic approach with good results. They created a corporately funny video of safety do’s and don’ts. Result: after the video was released organization wide, they saw a 28% increase in safety incident reporting.

Microsoft Teams coming of age

Having just passed its one year birthday, Teams is making significant headway in organizations of all sizes. Accenture, the mega-firm of consultants, is using Teams in a variety of ways. Jason Warnke described its use as a “digital cockpit.” I see where he’s coming from but not my favorite Teams descriptor. Makes it feel like we’re all flying our own plane. Teams is about what we can do together.

Farren Roper then took the audience through one of their Teams use cases, recruiting on campus. He briefly showed:

  • A planning channel to share documents
  • Using chat for messaging and key for them: inline message translation
  • Co-editing documents and having conversations in the same context
  • Starting an online meeting and bring those docs and conversations with you
  • Recording the meeting for colleagues who weren’t able to meet on the fly

More about their Teams journey can be found here.

Turns out, the folks that make Oreos are big Yammer users

Russell Dyer, the VP of Global Communications at Mondelez International, the makers of Oreos, Cadbury and many other foods I can’t seem to avoid, had the line of the day about Yammer. He was describing, that part of their competitive advantage was their diverse, geographic footprint. Good, but presents challenges. With a base this diverse and wide, there is an increase of virtual relationships of all types that develop, virtual reporting lines, teams, etc. Yammer helps with this challenge: “Yammer shrinks our world and enables those human conversations on a level that no other tool provides.”

russell

He went on to say that, “There is nothing more powerful than arming a colleague with a tool with which, they can tell their own story.”

Dyer gave a Yammer use case that will resonate with anyone in retail. Their sales folks are rarely in offices and often find themselves in stores or with suppliers. They found Yammer really helpful in sharing photos of displays. This sharing has led to new conversations and has started dialogues that didn’t happen previously.

One more takeaway

There was much more in the one hour event than I have here, so I urge you to go watch the whole thing, especially the interview with Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan of Microsoft. She described the cultural changes that have been occurring at Microsoft. In short, her messages were: focus on a growth mindset, be customer obsessed, and be diverse and inclusive. If you want to know more, here is a link to an article Hogan wrote  on cultural change.

I am always interested in hearing about how organizations are using Yammer and Microsoft Teams. If you have an experience you’d like to share, by all means, comment below.

 

Notifications in Microsoft Teams: Understanding Your Options

Part of being productive is knowing what you need to know, when you need to know it. Microsoft Teams has a healthy list of notifications to help you with that, but the options can be overwhelming. In this blog, I’ll break down those options so you can see what makes the most sense for you.

Where are they? 

Notifications are easy to find. First, click your profile picture. Then select settings, then notifications. Your choices begin there.

Notifications

Three Categories

Notifications are clumped in three categories: messages, mentions, and the catch-all, other. There are thirteen features that you can tinker with and decide what notifications to receive. Each of those come with variations, which I will explain soon. But first…

What can I just turn off?

There are nine that can be. Here they are:

  1. Channel Mentions
  2. Team Mentions
  3. Chat Messages
  4. Replies to conversations I started
  5. Replies to conversations i replied to
  6. Likes
  7. Team Membership changes
  8. Team Role changes
  9. Sound

What are my options? 

Most of your choices come down to these three. You can be notified:

  1. In the banner and email
  2. Just via the banner
  3. Or just leave it to be shown only in the feed

Those scenarios cover the nine I mentioned previously plus Personal Mentions and Followed Channels.

Three from “Other”

There are three features or options that don’t fit that pattern.

  1. Sound
  2. Email Frequency
  3. Chat with Skype for Business

Sound can be just call, mention, or chat or it can be all or off. Frequency of email can be as soon as possible, every ten minutes or every hour. Finally, Chat with Skype for Business can either be enabled or disabled. If you change that one, you’ll need to restart the app.

Full Options List for Notifications

Here are all the options for notifications as they relate to the feature listed.

All Notifications

 

For your most productive self, how do you set your notifications? I’d love to hear about your Microsoft Team experiences, drop me a note below!

Using the Command Line in Microsoft Teams

“Once you know what you are doing, productivity becomes your one true competitive advantage.” David Allen, the Getting Things Done guy said that. For our purposes, I am going to assume you know what you want to get done. My purpose here is to talk about productivity shortcuts coming out of the Microsoft Teams team that I find particularly useful. In my last blog, I wrote about five favorite Teams tips. Today, I’ll focus on the command line, that open box at the top of the Teams UI.

Slash and At ( aka / and @ )

There are currently seventeen slash commands. I am not sure that is their official name but to invoke them you type a “/”. According to the documentation, there are two such “commands” – the slash and the “@” command so a distinction is required.

commands

Let’s get right to my five favorite slash commands and how they will help your daily Teams productivity.

/activity

When I am trying to find something one of my colleagues posted, I can often recall who posted, I just can’t remember where. That is the scenario this handy command covers. I type in /activity in the command line and the name of my team member and Teams will list me their recent activity, including where, what and when they posted.

/call

Yes, Microsoft Teams has speed dial. It is the /call command. Try it. type /call then the name of your teammate and hit return. You’ll start ringing them immediately. Faster than you can say “butt dial” you’ll be connected. This is a serious power tool.

/saved

You know that moment where you need to just dog ear the corner of a book so you can pick it back up later? Teams can do that for you with the bookmark feature. To retrieve those bookmarks, invoke the /saved command. It lists your bookmarks lickety-split and provides navigation back to those posts in context.

/files

Similar to my scenario for using the activity slash command, I can usually recall a file that I worked on recently, I just can’t remember where (again). Hitting /files returns me a list of recent files that I can choose from and dive back in.

/org

When you need to find someone, try /org. Type it in and then start typing the name of the person you’re looking for. This slash command has the comfort of the old company phone book, but faster and with the person’s place in the organization in an easily navigable form.

Keep in mind…

There are a dozen more slash commands. You can get to the command line quickly by using the keyboard shortcut, “alt-k“. These commands are desktop and web features and not yet available in the mobile app. The Teams team is very open to ideas, so if you have a thought for a command, drop them a note.

I’d be interested in how you use the command line. Please leave a comment or send me a note with your ideas. Thanks!

Five Tips for Using Microsoft Teams

I work for a software company and we took the plunge with Microsoft Teams as an experiment to better understand what the platform had to offer (we create reporting and analytics solutions). Since that day, some nine months ago, we have settled in as daily users, leveraging Teams as our primary comms and collab tool.

Here are five quick tips for getting more out of Teams. This is by no means a “Top 5” but rather five tips that have helped shape our adoption and ongoing engagement.

Learn One Keyboard Shortcut a Week

Keyboard shortcuts can be hard to learn, but learning a few as you go, can pay big dividends. Do you have a weekly team meeting? Set aside 10 minutes before or after to learn a new one. Start with Alt-H. This gem gets you help and not your Dad’s WordPerfect manual kind of help. You are now a click away from starting a chat with T-Bot, perusing online help, release notes, an FAQ and my favorite, videos. By the way, T-Bot can help you with “keyboard shortcut a week” goal, too.

tbot

Become a Headline Writer

One of our most quickly accepted best practices was agreeing to start new chats with a headline. This helps you identify what a thread is all about without having to go too far in the text. When I say write a headline, I really do mean, put yourself in the shoes of the reader. What would help someone get the gist of the conversation? Resist the temptation to be clever (save that for choosing memes).

headline

Spend Time on your Teams and Channel Naming Strategy

Some of us are secret taxonomists. We love curating content and we KNOW our way is the best. Unfortunately, the Lone Wolf approach can lead to confusion among your team. Sense-check your structure. Since my company creates software, we have a Product team and each of the channels within it, are specific products. This way, the team knows exactly where to post to maximize the chance for a response.

Fine tune your notifications

Fine tune your notifications before you start and then every once in a while to ensure you are getting the pings you want and none you don’t. Super easy to do. Just click on your face in the upper right hand corner (as of this writing) and you’ll find Notifications under Settings.

Need to let the whole team in on something?

You can “at mention” the whole gang by typing @team within a channel. This is a powerful command so best to use sparingly. On the other hand, individual “at mentions” is the obvious way to help our team find chats aimed at them. That big white @ symbol on a red background that sits astride chats, is a nice visual clue as well.

at mentioned

I’d be interested to hear what you’ve found that works for your team. Drop me a note below!

(Blog notes: While Microsoft Teams is our front and center tool, we are equally big Yammer users. Our tyGraph Customer Network is Yammer-based. Gifs in this blog were made with Screentogif).

Libraries, Lynda, LinkedIn and Learning

As I sat in a We Work Unbound session this past Friday, I got some knowledge dropped on me that was so intriguing, I woke up early on Saturday morning and drove to my local library so I could get my check-out privileges back.

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Here it is. If you are a resident of just about any county in Minnesota, and you have a library card, you also have access to lynda.com, the online learning home of over 6,000 courses for free. Yep, free.

No matter what your current gig calls for, you should always be feeding your brain. Not only to cover off “just in case” but to get your mind right for whatever your day brings. Getting outside of what is warm and cozy for you and pushing on should be a muscle in continual practice. Which is why I found myself in a conference room with people not from my company to occupy the same space for most of a random Friday (again, see We Work Unbound).

As our host, Melanie Hohertz (@Hohertz3) was establishing the baseline for LinkedIn profiles, she casually mentions this lynda.com deal. If you’re not familiar: lynda.com started in 1995 by Lynda Weinman as a way to support her books and the classes she taught. It has grown to a massive learning enterprise, which led to a LinkedIn acquisition back in 2015.

The critical bit here is two-fold. Libraries remain as awesome in 2017 as they were when Andrew Carnegie was building over 1,600 of them here in the US at the turn of the previous century. Libraries are important public spaces, especially as public spaces are becoming more rare. This leaves libraries as Donald Barclay states, “…perhaps the last remaining indoor public spaces where an individual can remain from opening until closing without needing any reason to be there and without having to spend any money.”

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The second critical piece: maintaining skills and learning new ones is on me. Can’t put that on my boss or my company. I gotta show up and learn. Lynda.com is going to help me do that.

My first stop, my friend Steve Nguyen’s (@espnguyen) Lynda course, “Getting Work Done in #Office365.” This is a course that runs just under two hours and was co-authored with Steve Somers (@ricksteve) on being more productive using Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.

Time to feed my brain.

Yammer Meetup: Recap from Minneapolis

As the snow fell, I knew it might impact folk’s ability to get downtown Minneapolis for our Yammer meetup. The first snow of the season can throw a “hard no” into your desire to drive anywhere. Cortana might as well said, “Estimated time to your destination is…never.” While I am sure it crossed the minds of some, the twenty-eight or so Yammer users who braved the drive found themselves alongside some of the most inquisitive and helpful group of social collaborators I know.

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A diverse crowd of users, the group included mature social collaborators and some that were just getting their networks off the ground. A good mix to be sure. This meetup was structured around the simple, informal idea of crowd-sourcing the asking and answering of  Yammer questions while enjoying the very best of Chino Latino‘s fusion food menu. As guests arrived, my co-host Steve Nguyen (@espnguyen) and I pointed to the two whiteboards in the back and asked them to take a moment to jot a question down or to tell us about a Yamwin they’ve had.

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Once we reached critical mass, questions and answers started flowing. While Steve and I were in our official capacity of co-hosts, we really felt the room was full of co-hosts. Great thing about Yammerites, much like a lot of the Microsoft eco-system, people were more than willing to offer insights and not afraid to ask questions.

Like they often do, questions ranged from granular security functionality to broad, baseline social networking questions like, “How do I engage my leaders in Yammer?” I always dig this question because, doing social means being social and the responses reflected that. Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Find a part of the business strategy that really matters to the leader and seeing if Yammer can help in its execution.
  2. Get to know the leader’s administrative assistant. They can help get you access but they have to know you first.
  3. Encourage the leader to take pictures during their next site or plant visit and teach them how to upload to Yammer.

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I haven’t been in a public forum on Yammer without these two questions:

  1. Yammer is still not dead, right? Tough one to control my eye roll on. Some folks just want to hear the answer. The roadmap and commitment on this one is clear. Why I think this is worth mentioning: I love to ask, “where did you hear that?” without putting people on the spot, I am just always curious. Inevitably, the response is something like, “I heard it from this guy…I don’t know where he heard it.” A lesson of this Yammer meetup and meetups in general, don’t presume people know what you know and answer their questions sincerely and best you can.
  2. Teams and Yammer, what to use when? One of my favorites. Steve walked us through this with the fairly well-known analogy, “Inner loops and Outer loops.” What was fascinating about the discussion on this night was since the Ignite conference, our audience of Yammer pro’s, had begun to develop stories, and company-fitting analogies of their own. These analogies were very much in the spirit of Inner loop/Outer loop, but customized to match company culture and therefore more likely to resonate with their users.

While we didn’t get to all the questions, the night came to a close after a good many chunks of Yammer wisdom were passed among the attendees. There was that familiar vibe of Yammer helps business when business engages and as our guests walked into the wintry night, they had a few more stories to share back at the office.

 

When Business and IT Collaborate Instead of Collide

She stood watching over the IT guy’s shoulder as he made the final switch to throw them from Basic Yammer to Enterprise. As the slider choice took hold, Becky Benishek (@bbenishek) took the steps back upstairs to her office two at a time to see for herself that nothing was amiss with her thriving Yammer network. Of course nothing was. Worked as advertised.

As she came back downstairs to celebrate their launch, Dan Pankonen, the IT guy in this story, said, “That was quite the sprint. You know, you have a laptop, it does travel.” Just another friendly jab in what has been a great collaboration between Business & IT to roll out Yammer.

Yammer Kickoff Cookies

But I’ve started this story midway. Let me go back to the start.

Becky is the Social Media & Community Manager for a company that has been helping organizations like schools and hospitals create safer work environments for over 35 years. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) provides safe de-escalation training for behavior management as well as person-centered dementia care. Serious, real world stuff. The folks they train then train others. These trainers—Certified Instructors–are CPI’s customers. And from the first time she saw Yammer, she saw a clear use case for CPI’s customers. A community that could share, contribute, and continue collaborating long after their training was complete.

Tip #1: Divide the duties and trust. This is widely known but hard to practice!

With the business challenge firmly in her grasp, Becky knew that she needed a partner from IT to ensure that any tech hurdles could be addressed. Dan, the Network Systems Manager, became that partner. For Dan’s part, he has many opportunities to try out new solutions but has to make choices where he and his team spend their cycles. He recognized that Becky understood the business problem and could handle the change management while he focused on issues related to infrastructure and security.

A timely SharePoint conference provided the opportunity for Becky to get Yammer Power User certified and for them both to attend sessions on Yammer implementation and effective collaboration. They brought this back to CPI and began to take steps on their social journey, first establishing CPI’s Yammer Home Network. Around the same time, Becky built a Yammer External Network for CPI’s customers, and named it the CPI Instructor Community.

Right away, there was a challenge.

CPI’s instructors are not a 9 to 5 bunch. One of Becky’s key requirements was that she wanted instructors “to experience no waiting on nights and weekends” to become members of their Instructor Community. External Networks have a built-in manual approval which is great for business hours, but what about after hours? She needed an auto-approval process.

Tip #2: Use the “discuss, decide, support” model for effective decision-making.

Becky, Dan, and their team faced a common dilemma for IT and Business: Do we buy or build? Dan was quick to recognize that this was a one-off problem so he recommended they seek an external solution. About that time, Microsoft’s Yammer Customer Network was moving its own members to a different Yammer network (the Office 365 Network). Figuring they weren’t manually approving thousands of customers, Becky contacted some folks she knew in the network and they put her in touch with a solution provider from New Zealand.

Once they were down the “buy” path, Dan and team’s only involvement was to ensure the auto-approval app met their security standards and that it was built in such a way that CPI’s dev team could make modifications as needed. Becky finalized the sourcing and purchase, and the auto-approval process for CPI’s External Network became a successful part of their onboarding of instructors, regardless of time of day, day of week, or holiday.

Months later, the CPI Instructor Community continues its growth, and the partnership between IT and Business is equally strong and working together to make the most of their investment in solutions like Office 365.

Tip #3: Have a plan to measure and demonstrate the value of your network.

Becky added reporting and analytics to her Yammer toolbox because she knew it would be difficult to show progress without it. “But eyeballs aren’t enough,” says Becky. “You need to show the value of your network with data. I can’t make good business decisions without that.” While there a number of options available, I am grateful they chose tyGraph for their reporting and analytics needs. All of us at tyGraph are amazed at the work they do with their customers.

 

Note: Want to know more about analytics for Yammer? I was very fortunate to share the stage at Microsoft Ignite 2017 with Becky. Our session, “Mining Yammer Data for Gold” includes information about what is available for reporting and analytics for Yammer and why it matters to community managers, business stakeholders, and IT pros.

Key Office 365 Reporting Announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2017

Lots to like coming out of the announcements on Office 365 Reporting last week in beautiful, warm Orlando. There is a little something for everyone with the importance of signals being recognized. What I heard: customers and partners want better data and critically, more accessible data. Here are a few key announcements from the show.

IgniteNews2017

Rolled out: The Reader Role

Conventional wisdom dictates that you should limit the total number of admins in your organization. Hard to argue that. There are four types of admins for Office 365: Global Admin, Exchange Admin, Skype for Business Admin and SharePoint Admin. You’ll note that list doesn’t include your Yammer Verified Admin. While not the only one, this was one of the factors that played into the feature request for Reader role access to reports. Admins and community managers who care about what is going on, need reporting. Enter the Reader role.

The capability for Office 365 admins to grant regular ol’ users the ability to consume all the reports in the Admin Center was announced by Anne Michels (@Anne_Michels) and others from her team at the show. There was much rejoicing. Available now, all you have to do is convince your admin to give it to you. If you do, you’ll also be able to instantiate the Adoption Content Pack (ACP) just like an admin. One thing to look out for though: in our testing, if you are granted Reader role and you instantiate a Content Pack and then your role is revoked, you still have access to the ACP in Power BI. Just a data point on early testing. If that changes, I’ll report back.

Coming Soon: ACP to go GA Early Next Year

The ACP will be generally available early in the new year. The exact date was not announced. In fact, a look at the slide I saw indicated a Q1-ish, Q2 feel. But, when it does, it will have a new name: Office 365 Usage Analytics. I quibble a little bit over the analytics part as I am believer in drawing a distinction between reporting and analytics as described in this informative blog  by John White (@diverdown1964).

Coming Sooner: Teams Reports in Admin Center

If you want to talk about a Microsoft product that is hotter than flapjacks in a mining camp, pick Microsoft Teams. Two reports were announced that should show up in the Office 365 Admin Center by mid-October: Teams Activity report showing what’s popular and an Apps Usage report. This is good news but please, some signals via APIs would be nice. And some flapjacks.

Good tip: Message Center

This immediately got the Captain Obvious award but when Anne mentioned it, I made myself a note. If you want to know what is coming, keep an eye on the Message Center. That is the straight goods.

Yammer Group Statistics

The Yammer team announced group level statistics are now in the UI at the group level and will begin rolling out soon. These stats are based on Likes, Reads, and Posts and are available in three set date ranges: 7 days, 28 days, and 1 year. The key here is that the Yammer product team is listening to its user base. The level of these allow for some insights but leave room for third parties like my team at tyGraph to go deeper, if and when community managers, business stakeholders and IT professionals need it.

UPDATE: The roll out is set to begin on November 2nd. Here is the wording of the announcement as it appears in the Message Center:

On November 2, 2017, we’ll be rolling out the group insights feature in Yammer. Group insights will provide group admins and members with a comprehensive view of group activity and engagement. This message is associated with Office 365 Roadmap ID 20504.

How does this affect me?

Some of the feature highlights are:

1. Users will be able to see insights for each of their groups. – For public groups, any member of the Yammer network can access the insights. – For private groups, only members can access the insights.

2. Visualization of activities by group members and non-members across 7-day, 28-day, and 12-month periods.

3. Composition of how many group members and non-members posted, read or liked messages in the group.

4. Trends for number of posted, read and liked messages.

5. Data available for download as a csv file.”

While not a comprehensive list of all the reporting announcements, the above indicates that understanding usage and adoption is an important business goal and should be part of an overall collaboration strategy.

What thoughts do you have on what was announced for Office 365 reporting? I’d love to hear them!

(Blog notes: I sketchnote exclusively on a Surface Pro 4. The “holding newspaper” doodle is derived from a similar work by Jessica Esch (@jesch30).