Continuing my review of some of the sessions from Microsoft Ignite 2015 the title The Rise of Dynamic Teams caught my attention.
When I saw that the presenters were Alan Lepofsky and Bryan Goode it was definitely going to be one to watch.
This session has an overarching question raised by Alan:
Could you be more effective at work?
Well of course I can.
All I had to do is to think back to the last time I was frustrated at work and there clearly presented was an opportunity to be more effective.
Alan also highlight that we’ve been promised improved productivity for decades now, but in his opinion not really been delivered it.
My personal opinion is that we have improved our productivity, but mostly by doing the same things quicker, rather than working in different way. A good example of this is email where we send far more messages far quicker, but definitely less effectively.
Framing the problem
Many of us can recognise the issue of information overload. We use many different systems and are fed information all the time.
Alan frames a different problem which I also recognise – input overload. This is the problem we experience when we think about creating something and can’t decided what it is we are creating or where we are putting it – Which tool should I use? Where did I post it?
The point is that we now have a multitude of choices of tools so we don’t necessarily need more tools, but we do need to tools to be simpler and to collaborate together.
Best of Breed v Integrated Suites
Alan reflects on two distinct approaches to collaborative tooling – one which focusses on the best of breed capabilities and one which takes a suite of collaborative capabilities.
These are illustrated below:
The key to the suites approach is the content of the centre combined with the ability to integrate third-party capability and have data portability.
I’m not sure I would put everything in the centre that Alan does but I wholly agree with the principal. One of the significant challenges with a suite approach is that by choosing a suite you risk creating a lock-in situation. This lock-in isn’t necessarily one of data lock-in, what’s more likely is capability lock-in.
Alan explains what he means by Intelligent Collaboration:
“This is poised to be the coolest shift we’ve had in collaboration tools we’ve had in 20 years”
“The ability for us to start doing really cool things based on intelligence is really going to dramatically change the way we work”
In the Microsoft approach this intelligence will initially be focussed on the individual, but will then extend to teams and organisations.
The systems that we have today have a very limited view of context and what view they do have they tend not to use with any intelligence. Take the simple example of email build-up during a holiday period. You can set up an out-of-office response, but wouldn’t it be great if something more intelligent happened.
If we take that simple example and add onto it all of the sensors that will soon be reporting on our well-being and location. You can then imagine getting a response from your bosses intelligent assistant asking you to attend a meeting on her behalf because her flight back from holiday has been placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of a virus for which she is show the initial symptoms.
Adding to the context will enable many more intelligent interaction.
Imagine a digital assistant system that made decisions based on – location, time, time-zone, emotional state, physical state and many more.
The Rise of the Dynamic Team
This is the point in the session where Bryan Goode adds the Microsoft perspective. He does this by focussing on:
The perspective defined by Bryan is that teams will continue to utilise many different tools and will be increasingly mobile.
Microsoft are also investing heavily in meeting experiences, something that is in desperate need of improvement for all of us.
In order to enable modern collaboration Bryan talks through the Microsoft view of the need for an Intelligent Fabric.
Two examples of this fabric being built are Office 365 Groups and Office Graph.
Office 365 Groups provide a unified capability across the Office 365 tools for the creation of teams. A group created in one of the Office 365 tools will be visible in all of the other tools – Sites, OneDrive, Yammer, Exchange. Doing this makes a group a fabric entity rather than being locked into any particular tool.
Office Graph brings together all of the signalling information from the Office 365 tools and any other integrated tools. It’s role is to bring together the meta-data from different interactions and activities.
An Intelligent Fabric is one thing, but creating value from it is the important part.
In the presentation Bryan demonstrates Office Delve which utilises the signalling from Office Graph to create personal insights.
The personal insights currently focus on the individual, but they are being extended to provide insights for groups and organisations.
“Teamwork is becoming a first-class entity across our products”
I’m not going to explain the demonstrations other than to say that they are worth watching, as is the rest of the presentation.
Productivity and collaboration are going to be a defining features of future organisations as can be seen from the posts that I wrote on the Productive Workplace.
Microsoft is in a position to generate a lot of innovation and disruption by building on top of the Office 365 ecosystem. Groups, Graph and Delve are just the start of that. Having released themselves from the shackles of delivery by Enterprise IT organisation they can potential move at a pace that places them ahead of the pack.
The presentation and video for this session is here.
The video is also embedded below: