CollabTalk Episode #9 Recap

A brief summary of the monthly CollabTalk show on ITUnity

Christian Buckley

by Christian Buckley on 9/24/2015

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Beezy, Benjamin Niaulin, buckleyplanet, Christian Buckley, CollabTalk, Colligo, Marc Anderson, Naomi Moneypenny, Office 365, SharePoint, Social

CollabTalk on ITUnityFor those who missed the 9th webisode of CollabTalk, a monthly talk show co-hosted by myself and fellow MVPs Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin), Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), and Marc Anderson (@sympmarc), here's a quick recap. Of course, it's all from my perspective—so I encourage you to watch the recording. All I ask is that you reach out to 20 of your closest friends and family members, and have them also watch and subscribe ;-)

For those of you not yet familiar with CollabTalk, this monthly online talk show sprang out of my monthly tweetjams of the same name, which I've been running for almost 3 years now. I was talking with IT Unity co-founder Dan Holme about all of the great dialog that happens during these tweetjams (which you can follow at btw) and the side conversation which inevitably happen— because having a meaningful conversation can sometimes be difficult when you’re limited to 140 characters. So the CollabTalk show on IT Unity was formed, and a panel of experts assembled, and we're quickly approaching the one year mark. What makes CollabTalk different is that we cover both business and technology, applying a healthy dose of humor. It's fun producing these webisodes, and we're building a fan base.

Now, as for the topics, we set out to cover 3 or 4 topics each webisode….but we will often inject the latest news of the day. Which is what happened with webisode #9 and the breaking news of Office 365 Planner, which Dan covered in detail in a blog post the same day. The planned topics included:

  • the ongoing discussion around the SharePoint 2016 IT Preview
  • Yammer for Teams
  • Change Management in Office 365

but O365 Planner found its way into the Yammer and CM topics, and then was discussed at the end as part of our "Mixed Nuts" segment where we mention some of the breaking news of the day.

So once again—my goal here is not to repeat everything covered within the recording (go watch it!), but to share some of my own insights and thoughts around each topic.

The SharePoint 2016 Preview

Yes, we talked about this last month. And we're going to talk about it again, because its big news, there's a second preview coming late in Q4, and RTM happening in late Q1 2016 (we believe). A lot of the discussion was around the fact that there really isn't anything "new" for end users to see within this first preview, but that's not the point—Microsoft is trying to improve the level of visibility into the next version, and give IT pros and developers a chance to provide feedback early. There will be a second preview before the end of the year, with another opportunity to provide feedback. Microsoft is encouraging partners and customers to download and install the bits, and start playing with the technology, AND THEN provide them with your feedback.

And here's where we first crossed topics, jumping ahead to the change management topic. The whole point of the preview program is to give us something that is not yet completed, so that we can provide feedback and help shape the direction of the product. As Dan pointed out in a comment from the audience, Microsoft has said that yes, there will be additional features that will help to make SP2016 a more compelling story for end users, as well as the hybrid search and improved security and compliance features already announced. Some relevant links:

A side note: someone commented to me about the fact that Bill Baer is coming to keynote the upcoming SharePoint Saturday Redmond event on October 4th (register for this free event here) and how he's just talking about the same thing again and again, to which I replied that not everyone has heard the SP2016 messaging, however, with each of Bill's keynotes, we hear new information—so they've all been valuable sessions. That's the reality of the new Microsoft, people: an increased release cadence means more frequent updates and information, making it critical that you get your change management processes in order and pay attention to the information flowing out of Redmond. More on that in a moment.

Yammer for Teams

We spent about 18 minutes talking about the broader Microsoft collaboration strategy, including mobility and Office 365 Groups, and barely any time talking about Yammer for Teams. I think if you watch the recording, you'll understand why it went sideways—one of the interesting things about this format is that you never know where the discussion could go. But thankfully Naomi brought us back around and actually answered the question about what Yammer for Teams provides.

Essentially, Yammer is recognizing the importance of the role of Yammer Groups in how people use the platform, making changes to the UI including a wider banner and conversation area, real-time updates into comments or replies being made, and more importantly, making it easier to surface relevant comments or conversations. Yammer is adding some machine learning to the mix to improve relevancy and help those people who feel that important conversations are being lost to surface that content more readily. In my mind, the announcement of Yammer for Teams has less to do with new features, and more to do with forward-leaning messaging that Yammer Groups are becoming a central hub for team conversation, and the features and flow should be improved to meet those evolving needs. Some links shared during this segment:

Change Management in Office 365

One of the topics I speak about regularly—and hearkens back to my startup days working with Rational Software, including co-authoring 3 books on their SCM solutions—is change management, and the frustration of customers who are having a difficult time adjusting from the 3-year platform release cadence to the cloud service model. It seems that every week, if not every other day, there is something new coming out of Redmond from one of the feature teams, with blog posts, Yammer community discussions, tweets, and webinars firing on all cylinders at a steady pace. Welcome to the new normal.

What I tell customers, and what I mentioned on the show, is that Microsoft has also greatly improved their ability to listen and take feedback, but it requires that people go through the proper channels. The panel encouraged everyone to register for (the official Office 365 Network on Yammer) as the primary place to find out details on what is being released. There are groups established for change notifications, and around each individual feature area. Big announcements are made via the Office Team blog, but if you're set up with notifications on the change notifications group on yammer, you'll see all of these announcements, as well. You should be providing feedback through User Voice, and using the Yammer community to ask questions and learn from your peers.

Now, having said all that, Microsoft recognizes that their communications are not perfect, and to expect how they communicate change to also evolve. Some of the Office 365 enhancements coming out are a continued effort to streamline the Admin console, and make it easier for organizations to prepare for upcoming features. If your organization is not yet part of the 1st Release preview program, I encourage you to go and sign up—giving you weeks or months of advanced notice of the changes that are coming, so that you can better prepare your admins and your end users.

Mixed nuts

And to wrap up the webisode, we talked briefly about some of the breaking news out of Microsoft, namely the new Office 365 Planner, previously code named "Highlander," which brings Trello-like list management capability to O365, but with Tasks, Delve, and some light project management capability—all rolled into one. Planner is the latest NextGen Portal "experience" on Office 365 that attempts to deliver robust and intelligent productivity solutions out-of-the-box, helping teams and individuals to get more out of the platform without needing to custom code a solution.

Dan wrote a detailed outline of the new solution, linked below, and we've added this to the top of the list for the October 2015 CollabTalk show, so be sure to watch.

So that's my recap. If you are not yet registered for CollabTalk, be sure to sign up at You may not be able to attend every webisode, but by signing up you'll be added to our mailing list for all future shows, and receive links to the webisode recordings. I'm looking forward to the next show, where we'll be discussing Planner, of course, as well as the increasingly collaborative nature of the Office suite of tools, and the expanded mobility solutions that are here, or coming soon. Be sure to register, and thanks for watching!

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