One of the things I love about doing the CollabTalk broadcast is that its completely unscripted. We go into each broadcast with a list of topics we have mutually agreed to discuss (for the most part, we all agree), but that's it – we don't discuss our thoughts beforehand. Now, there have been a couple times where we quickly found that none of us had much depth into one of the topics we agreed to discuss. Thankfully there are four of us, and we can spread the pain of having nothing to say around a bit.
Of course, we did not have that problem in the most recent (October 2015) edition of the show, where we focused on three primary topics:
- Office 365 Planner
- Collaborating with the Office suite
- Mobility and SharePoint
Office 365 Planner
Yes, we introduced the topic of Planner at the end of the September broadcast during our "Mixed Nuts" segment, but we ran out of time. This month we dedicated more than 20 minutes to the topic, and while the feature is not yet available even to First Release customers of Office 365, there were plenty of opinions within the group based on what we have seen in the growing number of demos being provided by Microsoft personnel in anticipation of its general availability, we assume before the end of the year.
What is Office 365 Planner? Formerly known as Project Highlander, Planner is a new set of features available through Office 365 Groups, and in some way is the much more advanced replacement for the deprecated Tasks capability in the online platform. Planner is a quick and easy way to track activities around unstructured data tasks, using a simple kanban list style that allows the user to create "cards" around tasks, and drag and drop cards into columns or buckets, which can be setup around a deployment or management methodology or process. For example, you might have a column for new requests, one for tasks in progress, and then for tasks completed – helping you and your project team to keep better track of issues and tasks as they come to the team, which are being worked on, and which have been successfully completed.
What's more, Planner comes with a built in dashboard, allowing you to quickly scan a project or Office 365 Group to see what percentage of tasks are open and completed. The SharePoint team has talked for several years now about offering some kind of Microsoft Project-lite or Project Server-lite capability, and to provide more capability than what had been offered with SharePoint 2013 out of the box.
Planner cards can be liked, shared, followed, and eventually you will be able to associate them to workflow and other advanced functionality. We're excited to get our hands on this capability, and anxiously await its availability through the First Release program. For more information, check out the Office team blog, and a great article prepared by Dan Holme that goes even deeper into the functionality:
Introducing Office 365 Planner
Dan Holme's article about Office 365 Planner on IT Unity
Collaborating with the Office Suite
In this segment, Naomi expanded a bit more on some of the latest news, but the main point discussed is how Microsoft is making more investments than ever before in making the collaboration experience within each individual Office application, as well as collaboration scenarios across the suite, easier and more connected. As CEO Satya Nadella states in every presentation, the goal is to help customers improve their productivity.
Features such as the ability to add a Skype for Business meeting or a shared OneNote folder to a meeting notice are great examples of how the collaboration lines are becomes blurred across every Microsoft product. With Azure-based identify services, features such as presence awareness and the Skype for Business calling and instant messaging tools make it easier to connect and collaborate with your team across your SharePoint and Office 365 artifacts.
You can find out more about Azure identity management and Office suite collaboration here:
The fundamentals of Azure identity management
Review: In Office 2016 for Windows, collaboration takes center stage
Mobility and SharePoint
I'll be honest – my usage of SharePoint is limited on my mobile device. I have the Delve and SharePoint apps on my iPhone (don't get me started on my phone – I'd love to be back on a Windows phone, but I am a Verizon user, so my options are nil) and don't use them very often. But the conversation focused less on the apps (although Microsoft is focusing a lot of R&D on iOS and Android solutions – not just for Office 365, but for the entire Office suite) and more on making SharePoint responsive so that your team can access your sites and data anywhere, and from any device.
Of course, if you'd like to know about SharePoint's roadmap for mobility and mobile content management in SharePoint 2016, check out the October 30th session of Tech Talk with Bill Baer (@williambaer) and his special guest Barry Jinks, ceo of Colligo. You can register here.
That's it for my quick update. I'll invite Naomi, Ben, and Marc to add their commentary below, as I am quite confident that I missed two or three important points. Of course, we invite everyone to sign up for our monthly live broadcasts by going to www.itunity.com/collabtalk
See you next month!