Yesterday I had the pleasure of being able to speak together with my coworker André Krijnen at SharePoint Connect 2014 in Amsterdam. An annual event that with it’s 500 attendees is visited by many from the SharePoint community both in The Netherlands and from abroad. With a broad spectrum of sponsors and lots of great international speakers this event is a definite must go for those interested in SharePoint in the Benelux area.
Although I’ve been speaking at conferences for more then a few years now doing it here, for a SharePoint audience was a first and I hope we managed to struck a chord. Our slide deck is added below.
“SharePoint is the complete solution for collaboration, document management and sharing knowledge across our organisation, and even beyond. It will drive our business!” For the last ten years it was this message IT-departments used to get budget-approval to implement the platform we all know and love (and yes, sometimes hate). The reality is though that lots of companies struggle to get beyond using it as an intranet or document file storage. What happened to our promise to cover not just the ‘sharing’ and ‘storage’ part but really enhance our business processes with specific functionality tailored to the collaborative working? Like HR who needs functionality to support annual reviews, quality control who wants to monitor key performance indicators or the support departments who want to gage customer satisfaction? “No problem!”, most IT departments standard Pavlov reaction to these request was: “we’ll build it …!” But that takes lots of time, money and can cause massive delays which often also begs the question: isn’t there another way? Aren’t we inventing the wheel when others surely have already done so?
As Silverside has recently become a partner for harmon.ie I've been testing their harmon.ie plugin for IBM Notes. A plugin that allows organizations running SharePoint as well as IBM Notes to have access to their SharePoint content from within their mail environment. I must say I’m enthusiastic!
Originally developed to allow access from within Outlook it was also adapted to run in IBM Notes. Making it possible to seamlessly use most of the SharePoint features without having to leave the collaboration/mail environment.
“…More than a file navigator…”
What harmon.ie does is to show you your SharePoint sites and site contents in the widget bar of your IBM Notes environment. Allowing you access to your sites, files and profiles and giving you the option of easily ‘dragging & dropping’ files, emails or individual attachments to or from your SharePoint site. A great way to collaborate with your colleagues and share information if SharePoint is your chosen platform for team work or document storage.
Dragging & dropping files between your mail and SharePoint environment enables your users to collaborate by sending either links (internal users) or the actual files (for external recipients) by simply selecting the [ALT] button on the keyboard.
Harmon.ie is however much more than just a ‘file navigator’ for SharePoint. It also allows you to surface and edit your SharePoint team calendars in your IBM Notes agenda, browse and access profile information from the SharePoint MySites and integrates with Sametime instant messaging.
“…Bringing together both worlds…”
Seeing as more and more IBM Notes organizations have SharePoint running too, bringing together the two worlds really makes for a better and more connected way of working. Leveraging both the power of SharePoint as well as the capabilities of the IBM Notes environment. And as it supports both Outlook as well as IBM Notes it offers benefits to mixed environments as well.
Gives you access to one or more SharePoint sites from within your IBM Notes environment
Allows you to ‘drag & drop’ files from your mail to SharePoint & vice versa
Brings content types, meta-data, version history, workflow and check-in/check-out from SharePoint into your IBM Notes environment
Allows the attachment of links to files in SharePoint or actual files themselves
Leverages Sametime awareness and IM
Allows incorporation of SharePoint team calendars in your IBM Notes agenda
Enables access to MySite profiles for searching, updating and interaction
Shows recent SharePoint activity for profiles and files
But the reason I think I like it most is that harmon.ie offers organizations and users a practical way to use the platforms their organization requires and prefers without being forced into a vendor lock-in or costly migrations. Bridging the gap and at the same time expanding the way users can work with their SharePoint data. So if your organization is using SharePoint then check out this video for a more detailed overview and download a trial version. It's definitely worth trying out.
Apart from IBM products our company also delivers Sharepoint solutions and adoption. So when I learned that Yammer integrates with Sharepoint it intrigued my interest. Especially as Sharepoint isn’t exactly known for it’s social capabilities and the other way around I must say I wasn’t really impressed with the document sharing/collaboration options Yammer had to deliver. Combining the two together however could offer an interesting alternative to Sharepoint customers willing to invest in driving adoption and or adding a social layer within their existing Sharepoint platform.
I must say that from what I saw today I was impressed. The integration is done through web parts, making it possible to leverage and engage in conversations with Yammer streams and groups displayed seamlessly in Sharepoint sites, adding private streams to MySite profiles, exchanging profile information, doing two-way activity alerting, allowing for simultaneous searching of Yammer & Sharepoint data and (most importantly) sharing content directly from Sharepoint without having to take it out of the Sharepoint environment.
Why is this last thing important? Well because not every company wants their files uploaded into the cloud. In fact it’s a Yammer option to disable Yammers own file sharing capabilities completely to force users to use the onsite Sharepoint environment for file sharing.
So while the conversations around for instance a document happens on the Yammer environment the actual documents themselves can remain safely stored and accessed in the Sharepoint environment. The user won’t even realize this as SSO and the seamless integration displays everything from within the Sharepoint environment itself.
Still there are some things to keep in mind when doing this.
By using Yammer as a social layer and integrating it with your Sharepoint environment you more or less disengage the ‘conversation’ from the ‘content’ as one is Sharepoint (on premise or apparently also on Office365?*) while the other is in Yammer (cloud). The user might not notice this but taking it out of Yammer and maintaining a relation between the two might be impossible lateron while archiving
EU based companies which have stringent requirements on data storage locations might have a problem with Yammers US based server park.
But overall certainly an option worth investigating when you are on Sharepoint and want to drive adoption or engage it as a social platform. Yammers proposition for driving the social ‘conversation’ with #hashtags, groups and @mentioning really has an edge on a lot of other products out there and definitely has something to offer to any Sharepoint environment.
*The Yammer rep that gave us the demo mentioned Office 365 integration as a possibility but I haven’t been able to find much about that online so not sure whether this is already in place or something being developed/under investigation