Software

Office 365 expands Delve features for organizing collaboration

Microsoft has released a new feature for Office 365 Delve to simplify organized team collaboration. But is it too much of a good thing?

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Image: Microsoft News

One of the touted benefits of having a Microsoft Office 365 subscription is that the suite of available apps is periodically updated with new features. Many times these updates and upgrades are small incremental changes that your employees may not even notice. However, sometimes these updates are actually completely new application features.

On January 7, 2016, Microsoft announced that it had rolled out a new feature for Delve called boards. The boards concept gives your employees a new way to organize and share content with fellow employees and even the enterprise in general. Whether your employees will take advantage of Delve and the new boards feature, well, that is a different matter completely.

Delve

In Microsoft Office 365, Delve is the app that tracks and stores your activity. With the addition of boards, Delve can now also be the app that lets you organize your activity. For example, let's say you and your team are working on a specific project. By creating a board dedicated to that project, you can attach every document, video, meeting, and image your team creates.

From that board, you can share everything with the entire enterprise if you want and everyone in the enterprise can add to the board for the project, depending on what permissions you establish. We are talking collaboration and document sharing on a grand scale.

And that is where I start to worry about the usefulness of Delve and its new boards feature.

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In Microsoft's vision of a global mobile workforce, where collaboration comes in the form of sharing documents and easy Skype meetings, Delve boards shared amongst team members makes sense to me. But sharing that collaboration, with all its fits and starts, with the rest of the enterprise seems like more of a distraction and much less useful.

And from the rest of the enterprise's point of view, do we really need or want to know what some small team in marketing is working on for a particular client? Most of us have enough trouble tracking our own activity, let alone everyone else's.

Bottom line

Microsoft Office 365 Delve is an interesting application. On the one hand, it could be a great tool for teams working on specific projects. It could be particularly helpful if those teams are part of a mobile workforce. The addition of boards gives teams another tool to help organize and coordinate their collaborative activity. Kudos to Microsoft for keeping Office 365 fresh with new features.

On the other hand, I think the idea that employees will be willing to share their work with the rest of the enterprise using Delve and the boards system ignores engrained human nature. The people sharing the content that represents their hard work will not want to widely disseminate that information—and the greater enterprise really doesn't want to see it anyway.

Perhaps this is the observation of a cynical man and not reflective of a new mobile, always collaborating workforce, but I don't think so. Collaboration between and amongst small groups working in teams is the backbone of any enterprise. However, vast dissemination of that small group collaboration sounds like noise to rest of the enterprise, so I'd be careful.

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Your thoughts

Am I wrong? Should the results of team collaboration be shared with the rest of the enterprise in an app like Delve? Or is that a recipe for more distractions?

About

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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