Viva la Collaboration Revolution!

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Sitting through the vision keynotes yesterday at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference taking place all week in Orlando, my thought was that Microsoft is finally – visibly – moving in the direction of end-to-end solutions for their customers. Which is not to say that Microsoft has not had a comprehensive vision for any platform or product family, but as I live blogged on IT Unity yesterday around the 3 tenants of Microsoft’s strategy, more than ever before this vision stretches across platforms and product families, creating “mashups” (for lack of a better word) of features and capabilities with the sole focus on achieving Microsoft's vision of “mobile-first, cloud-first” by connecting tools and activities that better match the way in which people work. This is not just semantics at play, but a fundamental shift in how Microsoft is approaching the evolving customer footprint.

Another fundamental shift underway is how we think about social collaboration. In a blog post today, Beezy CEO Jordi Plana announced that an “enterprise collaboration revolution” is underway, and made some very salient points about the state of the Office 365, SharePoint, and overall collaboration space. His first point: that “social collaboration” is redundant, because all collaboration is social. He states:

“End users expect their collaboration tools to be social in nature, which is a huge shift in thinking away from the old document-centric views on collaboration. Social has become ubiquitous in the enterprise. The typical information worker uses several instant messaging platforms, co-edits documents, uses presence awareness to identify availability of their peers and then create instant, real-time meetings to work with them. We have moved from “enterprise social” to “enterprise collaboration,” where everything we do is social.”

I’ve written about how people are becoming fatigued by the word and the category of “social” because it so poorly defines such a large body of tools and solutions and approaches to collaboration. In fact, some are getting tired of the over-use of the word “collaboration” as well. But when you strip off all of the platitudes and labels, what is left? Underneath all of that, information workers need to get work done. They don’t care what you call it – they just want to be productive. Which brings me to the second point Jordi made in his post, and which builds on Satya’s redefined company vision: that Beezy’s focus is to develop solutions that support “mobile-first, cloud-first, user-first” collaboration.

Adding “user-first” to Microsoft's own vision is not just window trimming: its at the core of the solutions we’re bringing to market. It’s the difference between a beautifully defined UI yet poorly adopted platform, versus one that end users actually embrace and use. I love this concept of “developing revolutionary solutions for the evolving workplace” with a sole focus on making end-users happy. Because collaboration doesn't work if nobody shows up.

Speaking of a collaboration revolution, two other links to point you toward this morning: the first is a press release: Beezy Announces Two-Way Integration between Yammer and SharePoint, immediately followed by a blog post by product lead Maximo Castagno, entitled Yammer and Beezy – Better Together.

Maximo does a great job of explaining this news:

“Why is this announcement important? Because Beezy enhances the Yammer stack with enterprise collaboration capabilities that are fundamental to social within the SharePoint world, including blogs, wikis, Idea Elevation, Q&A, Town Halls, and more. Organizations that have built out communities in Yammer, but that struggle to integrate these community efforts with their extensive SharePoint environments, can have the best of both worlds, whether hosting SharePoint on-premises or in the cloud via Office 365. Beezy not only enhances and enriches Yammer by taking Yammer to the level that enterprise customers need (and demand), but Beezy also connects all of the Microsoft collaboration dots — integrating Skype for Business, Yammer, Outlook, and the entire Office 365 platform — through one seamless user interface.”

For those familiar with the space, you know this is a huge gap in the current features, and has been a concern for many organizations – especially those who continue to use on prem SharePoint but who also want to take advantage of Yammer and other cloud assets. We now have the best of both worlds: your organization can continue to use SharePoint, whether on prem or in the cloud (or anywhere in between), and you can link your existing Yammer communities in a seamless way, pushing activities and conversations from Yammer down to your SharePoint newsfeed, and your SharePoint activities to your Yammer newsfeed in the cloud. User have been asking for this since Day 1 of Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer, and now they have it.

I’m headed back over to the convention center for Day 2 of WPC, but be sure to take a look at the blog posts from Jordi and Maximo, and to read through our press release.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.