With regular announcements of new enterprise collaboration tools and services, many organisations are embracing social networks to promote strategic collaboration amongst employees.
Since acquiring Yammer in 2012, Microsoft has released a steady stream of updates aligning the enterprise social network with Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft has now launched a new feature called Document Conversations in the US, embedding the social networking capabilities of Yammer with cloud-based platforms, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.
Kareem Tawansi from the Solentive Technology Group believes the integration between social and business applications will create a more productive workplace, allowing people to collaborate on files without breaking their concentration or interrupting others.
“Document Conversations will definitely change the way we work,” claims Tawansi.
Document Conversations enables Office 365 users to share ideas and expertise from within the documents, image files and videos they are reviewing. When a file is opened in the browser from SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business, users see a file on the left and a related Yammer conversation in a pane on the right. The new Yammer capabilities enable users to collaborate on Office files such as .doc, .xls, and .ppt in real-time, plus around 30 more file types including PDFs and .mp4 multimedia files.
As well as being able to join a conversation, employees can post a message, mention co-workers, and publish to a Yammer group. In addition, the history of contributor comments will allow people accessing the file to understand previous changes in context without having to seek further explanations.
“It’s a smart idea to take a model like Facebook and integrate it with a business application,” explains Tawansi. “At the moment, I have to leave what I’m doing to use Yammer, so integrating Yammer with other Microsoft products will make it much easier to access.”
Whilst Tawansi is confident the functionalities of Microsoft’s Document Conversations will open a whole new dimension of Microsoft Office 365 and change the way people work across an organisation, he advises seeking the expertise of a consultant before converting to SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business.
For organisations considering implementing SharePoint in their organisation, consulting an expert to develop a strategy is critical in obtaining the best that SharePoint has to offer.
“It requires a good amount of planning and information architecture to roll out a successful software implementation for an enterprise,” says Tawansi. “An experienced SharePoint consultant will ensure a seamless transition, and maximise your opportunities to harness the benefits of SharePoint for your organisation’s unique requirements.”
Whilst there is little doubt Microsoft’s Document Conversations will become an essential part of enterprise collaboration, the SharePoint environment must be configured efficiently to maximise communication and document management across an organisation.