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Connecting Technology and Business.

Key Yammer Spaces

Key Yammer Spaces

Home Feed, Inbox, Groups, and Profiles are the key spaces / pages.

Home Feed

  • Top: Algorithmic feed that shows different things based on your activity. (Proprietary algorithm which Yammer doesn't share, but is based on user activity)
  • All: Every public message in your network. All company/network + all public groups
  • Following: All messages in groups you belong to (public and private) + conversations that include someone you are following (does not need to be started by them) (except private groups you don't belong to
  • The usage policy contains the guidelines outlined by your administrators or community manager in order to ensure proper use of Yammer. Be sure to read this over and follow it at all times.
  • Messages posted here (to my "colleagues") will go to All Company by default; best practice is to go to the group and then post

Home feed is primarily for discovering what's going on around your company

Inbox

Your inbox is where the most relevant messages to you are, so this is for work mode.

The following messages will show up in your inbox:

  • Announcements (from all groups you belong to)
  • Conversations you were pulled into by an @mention or cc:
  • Conversations you join or Follow
  • Private Messages

You can do two things with conversations in your inbox;

1. Mark as unread and move the messages to the top of the Inbox

2. Stop Following messages in your Inbox. Messages reappear if you are @mentioned or if someone replies to you

Groups

See Conversations, Members, Files and Notes posted to the group.

Groups act as folders and organize everything in Yammer and workspaces for organizing around teams, projects, and any other topics of interest.

All Company/Network is the default group and acts as the catch all.

The groups you belong to can be found on the left and are automatically sorted based on your activity so that your most interesting groups are at the top. The order of the groups gets much better when you are active in Yammer.

Profiles

Review Yammer Profiles to learn who your colleagues are and what they do

  • Review the About, Info and Org Chart sections
  • Encourage your colleagues to complete their Profiles! Department, Location and Expertise are searchable fields and should always be populated.
  • See Conversations, Files, Images, etc., posted by your colleague to groups that you can access (things from private groups you're not a member of won't show up here)

Notifications

Yammer provides the user with Inbox notifications via the mail symbol, general notifications via the bell symbol, as well as network notifications and group notifications with numbers.

Make the best of both - Skype and Lync

Microsoft enabled Lync users to contact people on Skype using instant messaging, presence, and audio calling right from a user's contact list in 2013. Microsoft has now taken the next step by adding video calling between Lync 2013 and the latest Skype for Windows desktop client. Now Lync users can conduct everyday business and collaboration "face-to-face" with customers, partners and suppliers who use Skype. The video calling with Lync requires Skype for Windows desktop client version 7.0.x.100. This latest Skype is available for download in this below link:

http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-windows/downloading/

There are still some issues with some browser versions where an older client is downloaded.  If you've downloaded at the link above, and the version is not 7.0.x.100, please download using a different browser.

The video calling requires an up-to-date Lync 2013 client on either Android, iOS or Windows. It works today with the latest Skype for Windows desktop client only, and requires that the Skype user sign in with their Microsoft account.

Whether you're using Lync or Skype, it's an easy, familiar experience—you make the video call the same way you make any other call, with the same options for starting, stopping, re-sizing and maximizing video.

The best of both

Lync and Skype have always delivered phenomenal voice and video experiences to business and consumer users across a wide range of environments and network conditions. Now, Microsoft has taken the best of both to make both even better. This includes built-in security, with enterprise class encryption of both media and signaling. It includes high quality, scalable video using the industry standard H.264 SVC codec with the SILK audio codec as the default choice for Lync to Skype calls. (SILK is used for billions of minutes of audio calls every day, and provides a phenomenal balance between audio quality, bandwidth utilization and power consumption).

Provision for Lync-Skype connectivity

Based on policies administratively set in Lync Server, Lync and Skype users will be able to communicate using instant messaging, see each other's presence, and initiate audio and video calls. Lync-Skype connectivity is also a feature of Lync Online, and can be enabled for Lync Online customers from the Lync Administration Center within the Office 365 portal.

Here is a link that will help the administrators to provision connectivity:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn440173.aspx

Lync Skype connectivity.png 

Add a Skype contact to Lync 2013 

  1. From Lync, click Add a Contact, Add a Contact Not in My Organization.
  2. From the list of available contact providers, select Skype.
  3. In the IM Address field, enter the Microsoft Account (MSA) of the Skype user.
  4. In the Add to contact group dropdown box, select a contact group to add the user to.
  5. In the Set privacy relationship dropdown box, select the appropriate contact setting and then click OK.
  6. The user will now appear as a contact in Lync. Select the user, right-click the user name, and click See Contact Card to view the user properties. You can now establish an audio or video call with the newly added Skype user.

Add a Lync contact to Skype 

  1. Sign in to Skype. The Skype user must be logged into their Skype client with a Microsoft Account (MSA).
  2. Select the Add Contacts icon.
  3. Enter the SIP URI of the Lync user. For example, bob@contoso.com.
  4. When Skype finds the match in the search results, look for the word Lync below the Lync user's name. This indicates Skype successfully located the Lync client's SIP URI. Click the name.
  5. In the top right corner of the window, click Add to Contacts.
  6. The new contact is now added to your contact list, but you'll see a question mark instead of their status icon until they accept your request. When your new contact accepts your request, you will be able to see when they are online, initiate IM conversations, and make audio and video calls.

Here is a link for more guidance on using this Lync – Skype connectivity feature:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn440175.aspx

What's next…

Microsoft has promised that they will extend support to the Skype clients on additional platforms, starting with Android and iOS in the coming months. They will add support for SkypeIDs and make it easier to find and add contacts from the worldwide Skype directory when the next version of Lync becomes Skype for Business in the first half of 2015. These planned improvements to Lync Skype connectivity are just one example of how Skype for Business will keep and improve on all of the capabilities of Lync.

- Inputs from Office Blogs and TechNet

Power BI enabled by Microsoft Online services

​While MS Excel frontends the Power BI offering from Microsoft, the Microsoft Online services extends the Power BI experience to the cloud by providing a platform for sharing, collaborating and searching for information. It also adds mobility to the information by making the business intelligence information accessible from mobile devices through an app.

Power BI 2.png 

The Power BI platform is built on SharePoint technology and as a result brings with it the collaborative flexibility and added security of information with control in the hands of the business decision makers.

BI Sites

BI Sites are built with additional features that will be required by the analysts who build the data models and visualize the data mined using the queries that they have discovered from the databases. Excel workbooks containing the queries and the power views can be easily uploaded (a drag and drop is all that is required to upload a file) and featured visual reports int he form of tables and charts and Powerview dashboards can be presented on these sites. Queries that were used to build the data models can be shared with others on this platform so that they can also use these queries to design other data models related to the queried data. A dynamic relationship can be established between the datamodels on the site with the source databases using a Data Management Gateway (DMG). This will add a touch of real time capability to the BI information presented in the site.

These sites also have features required by the stakeholders of the information so that the BI experience becomes seamless. The HTML 5 enabled web pages make the featured reports interactive. What if? scenarios can be visualised instantly. Forecasting (predictive analysis capability) is built in and the alforithms that come into play for this forecasting feature can be tested for its accuracy (to add to the confidence of the user on the reliability of this forecast) using the hindcasting feature. Animated visual reports using the play axis feature can make the BI info come alive on the web page.

Q & A

One of the outstanding features of the Power BI sites is the Question and Answer feature. This allowes the users to ask any question on the featured data models on the site in plain English and receive answers instantly - whether it be in form of plain individual facts and figures, tables or a choice of charts. This completely eliminates the learning curve (that might come as a deterrent for many as in the case of other complex BI applicaitons) and provides the decision makers with a simple tool to access the BI information.

Mobility

The BI information for the BI sites are accessible to users from mobile devices like tablets (coming soon to smart phones) eliminating the need for carrying heavy devices of larger form factors to access realtime information. The Power BI Mobile app brings rich BI information to the mobile devices eliminating the need for loging in to a browser all the time afresh everytime some info is required. Also, the BI info made available to the users is visually uniform across any of these devices making it more user-friendly and providing them a seamless experience.

The Power of Power BI

Business intelligence (BI) is the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.

Business Data might be structured like database tables or unstructured like emails and IMs. This data might have been collected over long years. This might have been stored in various data stores like Database management systems (Oracle, SQL or Access DB), Exchange servers or SharePoint servers or even Social media Apps (if the business has a page in Facebook or a handle in Twitter).

The purpose of storing this data might vary from business to business but there is one common purpose – for compliance purposes. The government might require businesses to retain data for a certain number of years for audit purposes or the business is forced to comply with some regulations dictated by a certain agency for certification or business continuity.

Little do the business know that the data stores that they are maintaining are treasures troves of information that can help them grow their business, compete better and lead their respective vertical in terms of scale and profitability. These data stores also contain information as to why a certain business unit is not showing desired results or why even after enough effort has been put a certain group of people have not been able to attain their targets.

There is no limit to the amount of information that can be pulled out of these data stores. Very valuable information that can transform business can be made available to the Business Decision Makers from these data so that they can make very informed decisions that might lead to cut expenditure and lead to revenue growth and profits.

Even though this data is available in the business, it does not reach the decision makers in the right form at the right time. Many times, the DBAs or the system administrators put rules, policies and procedures in place for stricter security reasons that the data is far out of the reach of those to whom it really matters. People who have skills to analyze data are not able to do it because of data inaccessibility.

On the other side, even if the data is accessible, there are no proper user friendly "tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information". Tools so far available were designed with the skilled analyst in mind. A BI professional had to know the complex analytical technics that are far from the grasp of the decision enablers or decision makers. Even he had to adopt to the tool running through a long learning curve. So, the BDMs could not appreciate the value of the data that was lying in close proximity. The potential that underlay the dormant data remained unexplored.

Enter Microsoft and its Power BI tools. Suddenly, the scenario has undergone a sea change with the power of Business Intelligence brought to the end user. BDMs don't have to depend on analysts to provide them with BI info anymore. They can have access to databases through the powerful querying and importing tools, create data models themselves using the familiar Microsoft Excel and visualize the data to arrive at informed business decisions. They can also share BI information and collaborate on a common platform enabling other decision makers to arrive at informed decisions towards common goals of the enterprise.

More about this in a later post…

Power BI from Microsoft

Microsoft's Power tools are designed to be Self-service BI as anybody who is familiar with MS Excel can start using it right from day one and can use it with little or no dependence on system administrators, DBAs and skilled BI analysts. Microsoft's Power BI also brings the power of the cloud to the end users so that users can remain in the familiar SharePoint platform to exploit its features.

There are currently over 1 billion MS Office Excel users who can now put to use the capability of Excel to discover, analyze and visualize data using Power BI. Already feature-rich Excel that has been catering to the needs of business through its data import capabilities and various analytical features like pivot tables, "What if "analysis has been enriched today with add-ins like Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View and Power Maps all available for free for those who want to enhance their analytical experience using Power BI.

Also, 1 in every 4 enterprise customers is a user of Office 365 online services from Microsoft. What this means is that they are already using the SharePoint platform to collaborate. So, Power BI will be a natural extension of this experience in the cloud for these users. They can now share BI info, search and find relevant information that can be of vital importance to them. What more, they can access these info from anywhere using their mobile devices so that real-time information that is critical to their business can be put to use at the right time to win a deal or avoid a loss of revenue or opportunity.

Power BI by Microsoft is also a highly scalable feature that can help people to begin small but move up to complex data models that will require higher computing power and space to store data and the resulting information.

As this also has cloud integration, it can be managed by the enterprise. Enterprises can provide a secure atmosphere for their users to work on critical data that would remain confidential but still enable them to access data from various data stores in a secure way and share info only with the stake-holders form who the BI info is crucial.

Microsoft, being a trusted technology for decades and having established itself as a dependable online service provider for even a major chunk of the Fortune 500  companies worldwide, todays corporates and business houses can jump into this bandwagon of cutting edge Power BI technology and start capitalizing on its offerings.

More about Power BI in later posts…

Office 365 software downloads and apps

Enterprise E4 or E3 plan users can download the entire Office 2013 suite (Office 365 ProPlus) and the Lync 2013 and OneDrive for Business 2013 and install them in their Desktops and Laptops (maximum 5 active devices) by going to the Outlook Web Apps ->Setting -> Office 365settings -> Software. The Office suite is available for Offline access for this subscribers.

Enterprise E1 Plan users can download and install only Lync 2013 and OneDrive for Business 2013 in their systems. This will of course get installed alongside the existing licensed MS Office 2007/2010/2013 if at all installed already in the respective systems.

The Lync 2013 app and the OneDrive for Business app are available for free downloads from the respective mobile phone stores that one is using - Google store for Android phones, iStore for iPhones and Windows store for Windows phones. These apps give the user a better experience than just accessing the features using just the browser.

Yammer also has an app for download from the respective stores. This is applicable for both E1 as well as E3/E4 users.

Lync software / app brings to the users the presence, IM, audio meeting and conferencing and video meeting and conferencing and live meeting capabilities.

OneDrive for Business software installs as a folder in the user's local hard-drive that syncs with the cloud automatically. It also becomes a favourites folder in the Windows explorer (File explorer). Just  a drag and drop of the files or folders from the local drive to the OneDrive for Business folder under Favourites creates a synced copy in the cloud. The app instals as Office mobile in the smartphones  and enables access to the files here from anywhere you are.

Find What You Want Quickly using AQS in Outlook Web Apps

Searching for content in your mails is sometimes a challenging task - more so when you use only Outlook Web Apps to access your mails. But, you can use Advanced Query Search, or AQS, to refine your searches in Outlook Web Apps. To use AQS, type a keyword followed by a colon, and then what to search for in the search box. For example, to find any message with a subject that contains "tomorrow", enter subject: tomorrow in the search box. 

AQS keywordDescription
FromSearches the From field.
ToSearches the To field.
CcSearches the Cc field.
BccSearches the Bcc field.
ParticipantsSearches the To, Cc, and Bcc fields.
SubjectSearches the subject.
Body or ContentSearches the message body.
SentSearches the date sent. You can search for a specific date or a range of dates separated by two dots (..). You can also search for relative dates: Today, tomorrow, yesterday, this week, next month, last week, past month. You can search for the day of the week or month of the year.
ReceivedSearches for the date received. You can use the same search terms as for Sent.
CategorySearches the Category field.
AttachmentSearches for the specified attachment by title. For example, attachment:letter.doc will find any message with an attachment named letter.doc.
Has

Use has:flag to find items that are flagged.

Use has:attachment to find items that have one or more attachments.

 

When you use AQS, you can search on multiple search terms. When you enter multiple search terms, you can search on any, all, or an exact phrase. 

  • Subject: product plan will find any message with "product" or "plan" in the subject.
  • Subject: (product plan) will find any message with both "product" and "plan" in the subject.
  • Subject: "product plan" will find any message with the phrase "product plan" in the subject.

Remote Desktop Services Support for Office 365 ProPlus

Microsoft has announced that support is on the way for organizations using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or shared computers. Shared Computer Activation for Office 365 ProPlus is targeted to release in the second half of 2014 and will support Office 365 ProPlus installation on Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer with the RDS enabled. It will also work in cases where users share computers with unique Windows user profiles.

If you use RDS (aka "Terminal Services" before the name was changed in 2008) or have shared workstations, it can be difficult to use the current Office 365 ProPlus subscription activation model. With RDS, there are technical blocks preventing admins from installing or running Office 365 ProPlus on a Windows Server with the RDS role enabled. For shared physical or virtual clients, because subscription activation assumes and assigns a PC/Mac to a primary user it can become challenging to manage as users enter or leave an organization.

Shared Computer Activation will be enabled during the installation of Office 365 ProPlus using the Office Deployment Tool. Once enabled, Office installs without being activated. When a user signs in to a computer with Office installed via Share Computer Activation, Office will check to see if the user has been provisioned for Office 365 ProPlus and temporarily activate Office 365 ProPlus until that user logs out. If a second user signs in to the same computer, the activation does not persist from the first user and the process is repeated. This is effectively how Office on Demand activation works today, but using Shared Computer Activation the Office installation is permanent and can be updated. Because this uses the same activation logic as Office on Demand, it does not count against a user's five total installations of Office 365 ProPlus or Office for Mac.

Office Web Apps is Office Online - Now With New Features Added

New features allow user to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop.

Excel Online

In Excel Online, users can now insert new comments as well as edit and delete existing comments.

Power users will appreciate that Excel Online now has improved support for files that contain VBA. One can now open and edit VBA-enabled spreadsheets without removing (or corrupting) the VBA contained in the file.

The "Tell Me" feature allows the user to ask Excel how to do something, and presents the relevant commands in a simple drop-down list so one can perform their action right away.

Word Online

Reviewing and providing feedback on documents is a key requirement for users of Office Online. The ability to add and view comments in the View mode was already available. And this is being extended to editing mode, so one can make comments and changes at the same time as others.

Those using Word Online for the creation of research papers and reports can now simply add footnotes and endnotes inline with the text.

Word Online is now smarter when it comes to list making, too. For example, when one is making a list, if they are directly below an existing numbered list and if they start typing, their next line automatically becomes part of the list—just like in desktop Word.

PowerPoint Online

A re-engineered text editor shows a high fidelity view of slides at the time of creation so that the layout of the slides looks more like the final result.

Some performance and video playback optimizations have been made by speeding up advancement of slides in the editor and by adding the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.

OneNote Online

A One click printing has been added for easy printing of pages.

Multi-column section or page navigation has been added, so that users can maximize reading and editing space regardless of what device or browser they using.

Internet Explorer 11 knows what device you are holding in your hand now!

On April 3rd, Microsoft announced an updated version of Internet Explorer 11 available with the Windows 8.1 Update and for Windows 7 customers as well as the debut of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone 8.1. The automatic updates will bring this to the devices right away.

People browse the Web on many devices, switching between their laptop, tablet, and phone throughout the day. This update to IE11 means that whatever device one picks up, the tabs and favourites are there for them, right where they left off. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 share the same experience and underlying Web standards. This helps developers build interoperable sites and apps that just work across many browsers and devices. (That includes updates to the latest specs for hardware-accelerated (and stable) WebGL as well as professional quality rich media like HTML5 video including closed captioning, adaptive streaming, and rights management).

Introducing IE11 for Windows Phone 8.1

With Windows Phone 8.1 users now have access to the most modern and full-featured phone browser ever with IE11. In addition to the same underlying engine across device experiences, and roaming favourites and tabs between devices, Windows Phone now offers many of the same features as the modern IE users experience on Windows. With IE11 for Windows Phone and Live Sites users can now pin thier favourite sites directly to their Start Screen for information from the Web at a glance. Reading Mode helps users optimize the view of articles like they were reading a digital book on the phone. Voice Commands get users quickly to their favourite Web sites by speaking naturally to their device. IE11 for Windows Phone also includes InPrivate to keep users' browsing private. And to help users better manage their phone's data usage, the new High Savings Mode can be enabled to reduce data consumption by 60-80% through reducing image downloads and only loading elements of the page relevant to the content you want to view.

Updated IE11 for Windows 8.1

With this update, IE11 adapts users' browsing experience by detecting their Windows device and input type – whether an 8 inch tablet in portrait mode or a 24 inch desktop with mouse and keyboard. The Web is still front-and-center but new design enhancements make their browsing experience feel like it was made just for their device – like the number of tabs on-screen and the size of the fonts and menus. They can also now control when the browser remains on-screen or hides away for full-screen browsing depending on the type of device one uses.

Enterprise Mode helps organizations progress toward modern browsers

Available for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11 provides improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility for specified sites. Enabling enterprises to safely update to Internet Explorer 11 while maintaining great backwards compatibility for specific sites that were developed for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Organizations can designate that Enterprise Mode be enabled for specific sites so they can benefit from modern Web standards, better performance, and increased security of a modern Web browser, while reducing upgrade costs and extending legacy Web app investments. By improving backward compatibility for older versions of Internet Explorer, this also helps organization stay up-to-date with services such as Office 365 and deploy devices like the Surface Pro 2.

-Inputs from the IEBlog