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Microsoft Teams is bound to dominate as this analysis shows

Nearly every organization today is somewhere along the path to transitioning to Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. SharePoint was already powering 70% of all Intranets before, so it's only a question of time until Office 365 will as well.

But as organizations are transitioning to the Microsoft Cloud ecosystem there are also a large range of quirks that are seemingly at odds with a modern, digital employee experience.

  1. Microsoft Delve, the intelligent Content Graph only works for documents in the Office365 cloud, not any 3rd parties
  2. SharePoint Search doesn't easily search other APIs or external applications, SaaS or on-premises
  3. There is very little integration between Teams and SharePoint
    • Apps from Teams can't be used in SharePoint
    • Adaptive Cards, that chatbots use in Teams to display pretty data, aren't available as Web Parts
    • Wikis are ugly in SharePoint, but pretty in MS Teams. But you can't access either type in the other platform.
  4. There is no central homepage where you can see snippets of your mail, frequent apps, upcoming meetings
  5. Some Share sheets allow direct Teams chat, others not
  6. Search deserves another mention in that it's quirky depending on where you start your search, i.e.
    • Outlook Search doesn't search Teams,
    • Teams Search doesn't search within Teams' apps
    • SharePoint searches don't search in Teams or Outlook
    • Nowhere lets you search any 3rd party SaaS apps (which, come on, companies use up to 500 applications! 🤨)

Admittedly, Microsoft has the not so easy task of catering to small companies as well as Fortune 100s that have piled on features since their first SharePoint introduction over a decade ago. So, given that, it's not all bad news.

Nevertheless, all this isn't the great digital workplace experience it is hyped up to be. Consequently organizations face consistent issues hindering user adoption when rolling out their Office365:

  1. User confusion
    What should be used when and for what? Are documents going in your OneDrive and you share them, in SharePoint, shared in channels in Teams or a legacy fileshare on the network?
  2. Inconsistent search
    We spend about 36% of our time searching for stuff. And as pointed out above even within Microsoft the Search is disjointed. Nevermind trying to integrate Salesforce, Dropbox or any other 3rd party service. Really a missed opportunity!
  3. App hopping
    Regular users are regularly complaining that they spend too much time hopping between apps. For instance, SharePoint opens most links as a new tab, and it's just adding to the chaos when looking for files, conversations, etc.
  4. Permissions
    Again, due to the breadth of organizations and skill levels using Office365, some find it's not straightforward to see who can access what. Some users therefore revert back to saving documents locally and attaching them to Emails, like it's 1999.

We're fixing this!

adenin is an old hand in the Intranet biz, and we've been making great strides towards creating an integration and UX architecture that is truly a flexible, cross-channel experience for a Digital Workplace Portal.

Here is how Digital Assistant helps IT managers with their biggest challenges, especially when also embedding it into Office 365:

1. Rapid technological advance

The widespread move into the Cloud was undoubtedly fuelled by shadow IT running rampant in many organizations. For a while it seemed like almost every day users are signing up to new SaaS products, be it Salesforce, Dropbox or Slack.

Office365 goes some way towards integrating all the most popular services under one Microsoft umbrella, which is great. But there are still, and will continue to be, new market entrants:

  • HR solutions like Workday have seen recent widespread adoption
  • There are as many project management solutions as their grains of sand on a beach
  • New CRMs and Helpdesks are constantly being tried
  • Marketing is running all kinds of Analytics, web chats and Personalization tools
  • and, so on, and so on...

But: Here is the good news. Almost every new tool on the market is now API-first. That means exchanging data between applications is becoming easier and more standardized.

With Digital Assistant you can choose from many out-of-the-box integrations; Office365 and SharePoint being just two of them. But you can also connect to your own APIs to create custom Cards for your Assistant.

2. Multi-cloud security

Early iterations of APIs were messy in terms of security, just think back to SOAP (if you even ever considered using it). But even earlier APIs relied on complicated manual token copying, Kerberos impersonation or OAuth1 which isn't intended for client-to-server communication.

But with Digital Assistant we have a very strong preference towards OAuth2 APIs and offer a silent authentication SSO service for our SharePoint embedded Cards and the Microsoft Teams chatbot.

We also offer integrations with Okta, PingID or Duo which are dominating standard for 2FA authentication, making their adoption together with Digital Assistant an even more secure infrastructure.

In the bottomline, with Digital Assistant you can securely integrate all Cloud applications with OAuth2 and bring them into your secure SSO workflow, rather than relying on users managing their passwords.

3. Innovation and digital transformation

If you're reading this, you already know that digital transformation is among the chief priorities for any IT department. Not only do IT departments have to concert a huge amount of diverse SaaS apps, they also have to combine them in such a way that employees feel empowered and ultimately more engaged.

Or in other words:

Digital Transformation doesn't come in a box.

CIO

Good thing then that Digital Assistant is an open, agnostic Digital Employee Experience platform that works with any data you already have and can be embedded into any channel you need the information to be available through.

And better yet, the modern portal architecture in Digital Assistant was awarded by the prestigious Digital Workplace Group as one of the best Digital Workplaces.

4. Finding new revenue streams

Revenue generating CIOs aren't an exception any longer. That doesn't mean IT departments directly interact with customers, but we also live in the age where every business, from pizzas to mattresses to ridesharing, has become a tech company.

IT therefore isn't solely providing software and infrastructure anymore, they're also seen as a service center for developing features around a company's main offerings.

With Digital Assistant, IT departments actually gain another revenue stream! Making Cards and chatbots for other departments.

For example: A Legal team would like to build chatbots and Cards that they expose to other users relevant use cases. Say looking up Legal experts in the company or finding common documents.

The IT department can be engaged to build and debug the API integration with the employee directory, train the AI and maintain the serviceability of the Cards.

Legal can provide employees with better access to its resources by having it embedded in all the regular channels users find Digital Assistant. And you just gained internal revenue by making Cards, Connectors and Chatbots for a happy team.

With Digital Assistant, CIOs can play a vital role in progressing their organization's digital transformation footprint, making both internal services more modern as well as catering to digitally native employees who will be happier and more engaged.

5. Big Data and data management

Big data for many organizations means first of all to bust all the silos they have. And companies have a lot of silos (sometimes in the form of over 500 applications). This is where the Digital Workplace Portal architecture comes into its own. Where traditional Intranet-based approaches would try and lard on feature after feature into the same platform; the Digital Workplace portal switches roles:

The Digital Workplace is like the glue that holds all data from all applications together; by integrating all APIs centrally making them securely accessible and searchable.

Diagram showing how the Digital Workplace is the top layer that connects to all other applications

Consuming the data from this central feed allows Digital Assistant to generate instant notifications, aggregate data into Cards or real-time search information through the power of the AI chatbot.

Summary

Digital Assistant is an award-winning platform that agnostically handles all data and APIs to generate notifications and Cards, that can themselves be embedded into any channel the organization uses.

We hope this article was helpful in helping you understand the potential for IT departments to consider Digital Assistant for their team. Did we leave any questions unanswered? Let us know in the comments below.

Article by: Henry Amm

I’m the Senior Director for the Digital Assistant Platform. Prevously gained 6 years of experience as an Intranet consultant. Fluent in German.

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