Office Delve and the Office Graph are officially released and are being deployed into Office 365 tenancies worldwide. So it’s time to catch up with what these technologies do, what they mean to business, and what they reveal about the new Microsoft.
Delve—formerly known as "Codename Oslo"—formerly known as "Pulse"—was unveiled by Microsoft, along with the Office Graph, at the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas back in March.
At the time, most of us in attendance were stunned. We were stunned at the potential power of Office Graph on the back end and Oslo on the front end. And we were stunned that Microsoft actually managed to keep something that big a secret!
In a nutshell
In a nutshell, Office Graph is an engine—powered by Office 365 and the Microsoft cloud—that tracks what Microsoft calls "signals" and uses those signals to understand the relationship between users and the interactions between users and information.
Office Delve is a user-facing application that surfaces information that is determined as relevant to the user based on the information in Office Graph. Delve presents its content using a card metaphor, making content easily consumable across device form factors, and earning Delve regular comparisons to a “Flipboard for the enterprise.”
Some simple examples
The two products are tightly linked. For example, Office Graph receives signals from users who save or read documents, and relationships between users. Therefore it can "recommend" documents that might be of interest to you based on what other users close to you have been saving or reading. Delve acts to surface those trending documents to you, with the goal of helping you both find and discover content relevant to you.
In a Microsoft demonstration of these technologies, it was suggested that Delve will recommend documents related to an upcoming meeting, because it has received signals related to the meeting's attendees (from Exchange's calendar invitations) and the documents that have been prepared for the meeting. Later, if you want to review a presentation that was made at a meeting, Delve can surface that presentation as one that was shown to you, because Delve knows you attended the meeting and that the presentation was shown in the context of that meeting.
As Julia White—General Manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management—wrote in a blog entry announcing Delve, "information finds you versus you having to find information."
Office Graph: Machine learning & ambient intelligence
Office Graph is like the love-child of search, (what can truly be called) enterprise social networking, and big data. It uses machine learning to map the relationships between people, content and activities—those "signals" which are called “emergent connections” by social media and machine learning experts. Office Graph represents one of Microsoft’s efforts toward its vision of “Ubiquitous Computing & Ambient Intelligence”—specifically toward ambient intelligence, where machines learn by watching us, rather than simply follow instructions.
Delve: The first “search and discovery” application for Office Graph
It’s helpful to think of Office Graph as the global “engine” that is capturing and analyzing signals to find emergent connections. Delve, on the other hand, is the first application to present Office Graph intelligence to you. Delve puts you in the “center” of the graph and presents everything around you. Whereas Office Graph understands everything about users, content, and activities in the entire organization, Delve surfaces the information from your point-of-view. Of course, these technologies respect security policies (permissions) and won’t surface information you do not have permission to view.
We are already hearing both experts and customers express hope that Delve will become the “portal” for a user. It will surface information that is relevant. It will provide a place for users to search for information.
Delve also provides a way for users to both search for and discover each other in an organization based on shared interests and activities, common colleagues, work on similar content and projects. This will prove exceptionally valuable to larger organizations, where finding expertise is challenging and where “reinventing the wheel” is all too common.
Microsoft is positioning Delve as its solution for “Search and Discovery” and that applies to both content and people.
By the way, if Delve sounds to you like a revolutionary leap in existing Microsoft search, there’s a good explanation for that and for why it was called Codename Oslo—a lot of the former FAST team was heavily involved in developing Delve and the Office Graph.
Extending and developing Office Graph
Currently, Office Graph receives signals from email, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer. Microsoft is currently working to add content from and signals related to email attachments, OneNote and Lync. They've also committed to creating interfaces (APIs) for third-parties to send signals to Office Graph in 2015. That’s exciting stuff!!
In addition to extending the signals that can be fed to Office Graph, Microsoft has developed the first specifications for Graph Query Language that you can use to query the Graph in your custom apps. Delve is one (VERY powerful) application built on the top of Office Graph, but you can write your own if you want! We believe this presents huge opportunity and potential.
For more details, see: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/richard_dizeregas_blog/archive/2014/09/15/developing-apps-against-the-office-graph.aspx and http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn783218%28v=office.15%29.aspx
Office Graph and Delve are currently “version 1.0” services. There’s a common joke—based in common experience—that Microsoft gets things right in “version 3.” The current offerings are extremely promising, but there’s plenty of work that needs to be done to reach their full potential.
What’s different now is that instead of a three-year release cycle and therefore six years of waiting for Microsoft to “get it right,” Microsoft is now innovating agilely in the cloud, so release cycles and versions can be measured in months, not years.
Furthermore, Microsoft is now disclosing some of its vision and roadmap, so we know what’s coming—in this case, more sources of signals, hybrid support, and APIs for third-party signals—and when.
If Microsoft can deliver on the promise of Office Graph and Delve, it’s going to herald a tipping point in the relationship between enterprises and the cloud.
What does it mean to you?
What are the most important potential benefits of Office Graph and Delve in your organization? What do you need to know more about? What content and guidance can we provide you here at IT Unity to help you make the most of Office Graph and Delve? Let us know.