The advent of PCs and the Internet have transformed the way we seek and find information. A new service from Microsoft — Office Delve — promises to shake things up again by having the information find you instead.
Microsoft unveiled a service codenamed "Oslo" at its BUILD conference earlier this year but didn't share any specific timeline for when users would get to actually use it. Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management for Microsoft, revealed in a blog post that it is beginning to roll out the service — officially named Office Delve — to Office 365 business customers.
Office Delve is the next logical step in the evolution of information. We've gone from printed files crammed into cabinets to digital files stuffed onto hard drives, and we've matured from printed information on shelves in encyclopedias to "Googling" becoming a verb for finding virtually any information you can think of out there on the internet. Delve goes a bit farther by proactively determining the information that will be valuable for you, and putting it in front of you before you ask.
White describes it in her blog post. "Office Delve is a new way to discover relevant information and connections from across your work life. Delve displays information that is most relevant for each person based on the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging. With Delve, information finds you vs. you having to find information."
The Office Delve platform is powered by Microsoft's Office Graph. It surfaces personalized content for you from across Office 365 and the broader Microsoft ecosystem, and Office Delve also learns which information is valuable to you over time. The more you and your business colleagues communicate, collaborate, and share files, the more useful Delve will be. It learns how you work and what information you use, and it tailors the information displayed for you to meet your needs.
Office Delve promises to make finding information much simpler. You don't have to remember the name of a file or where you saved it. Delve makes it easy to find all files you've worked on or accessed recently. You can also view data specifically related to your work or the files that have been shared with you, and you can click on individual co-workers to see what documents they're working on or what is trending around them.
It also helps you keep in touch with information you might find relevant, even if you're not directly involved. It keeps track of who you work with frequently, plus the files they're viewing and sharing. Office Delve will surface documents with you, and content cards associated with the file will explain how that information is relevant or connected to you. For example, a content card might inform you that 15 of your colleagues have recently viewed a given document, and that is why Office Delve decided you might want to be informed about it as well.
Microsoft's Office Graph currently includes content from email, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Yammer. In the near future, Microsoft plans to include additional sources, such as email attachments, OneNote, and Lync. It's important to note that Office Delve does not violate permissions or privacy. Only data you are authorized to see will be surfaced for you by Office Delve.
If you're an Office 365 enterprise or government subscriber, keep your eyes open to see when Office Delve rolls out to you, and start playing around with it. Subscribers to Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business are not expected to get access to Office Delve until January of 2015.
Remember, the more you collaborate and share with others, the more Office Delve can learn about what's important to you, and the more valuable it will be.
What do you think about Office Delve? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Tony Bradley is a principal analyst with Bradley Strategy Group. He is a respected authority on technology, and information security. He writes regularly for Forbes, and PCWorld, and contributes to a wide variety of online and print media outlets. He has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Unified Communications for Dummies, Essential Computer Security, and PCI Compliance.