Microsoft releases so much new functionality on a regular basis, there is a seemingly endless supply of new opportunities to change the way you communicate and work as an organization. I'd like to focus on some of the newest functionality and features in Office 365 and talk a little about how you can leverage these in tandem with Unily.
Office 365 customers already had a cloud video service called Office 365 Video, but despite being feature rich and built on a fantastic platform (Azure) Microsoft realized they could do more for their customers in this space. Like Office 365 video, subscribers to Microsoft Stream will be able to organize videos by topic in Channels and view trending items based on number of views. Some of the new “killer” functionality includes automatic speech recognition technology for generating captions and deep search capabilities that let users find content within a video using words and facial recognition. If you're using Unily for an Office 365 intranet, you can easily embed any of these videos directly in your stories making it easier for your users to discover the most important video content you create for them.
In my years working with SharePoint and Office 365, the ability to create and manage forms for collecting information has always been the number one request from customers. This makes a lot of sense when you consider that computers exist for the sole purpose of collecting data, processing it, and sharing the results with the user. Any technology that simplifies the collecting of data is worth a lot to organizations.
Microsoft's new forms software is in preview, but it looks familiar to anyone who has used tools like Google forms. You can create simple forms and share them easily via hyperlink or by embedding on web pages. Built into Unily is a form solution that is much more robust with features like branching logic, validation, event triggers, and workflow. If you're unsure which to use it boils down to how complex your forms need to be. Unily forms are more robust at this time and they are already included as part of your subscription. Over time, as the Microsoft product evolves, choosing which to use will probably become a matter of organizational preference.
SharePoint and Microsoft PowerApps
If you need to collect and process data in much more complex ways, but don’t always have the budget or time to engage in a dedicated project with IT, it’s time you had a look at PowerApps. PowerApps is a new-ish product from Microsoft that lets business users create applications via a point and click interface. Data can be read from and stored in applications like SharePoint, giving you easy access to a data storage solution that doesn’t require a full-on database designer. This is great for business users who need to very quickly mockup a solution and also need the ability to modify it on the fly because they are still prototyping or working on optimizing a process. With Unily, you can embed links to these applications in the Apps and Tools drawer, and since PowerApps are mobile-ready, your users can have access to them anytime, anywhere.
Workplace Analytics and Unily Analytics
I’d like to end on something that is very exciting for the data-types out there. Microsoft is slowly starting to make use of the “signals” generated by Office 365 users to deliver data to organizations so they can see how their employees are using the tools to do their work. For those who are unfamiliar, Office 365 is built on a top of something called the Office Graph, which collects data on the actions of users of the Office 365 suite. The data collected is anonymized, does not capture any of the content of the applications, and is owned by the organization so privacy issues are minimized. Unily has also started to provide more robust usage reporting on how users are viewing and engaging with the content on their Office 365 intranet. Suffice it to say, there is a large opportunity for customers to marry the datasets and other resources to measure employee engagement and help discover what matters most to their employees. Stay tuned for more on this in future blog posts.
Contact us to see how you can leverage the power of an Office 365 Unily intranet to do more than ever before.