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Allowing information to find you: Office Graph, Delve & Clutter

If classifying, sorting and searching for information is taking up an increasingly bigger chunk of your workday, we have some good news for you. From now on, you can do away with classifying all together. Even better: information will be finding you, almost on its own accord, thanks to Office Graph, Office Delve and Clutter. Being a user of Office 365 you already have the necessary technology at your fingertips, but perhaps you were never aware of it.

What you do know is that we are all wrestling with a torrent of information. Every organisation aims to streamline the structural organisation of its data to enable everyone to access it as efficiently as possible. However, there are always people who refuse to follow instructions for data structuring, or who spend too much time classifying information that has nevertheless become obsolete in a relatively short period of time. It’s as if we are fighting a losing battle.

Smart technology

Nevertheless, there are other options available! Why is it that we can flawlessly find information on search engines, while nobody has ever classified this? The answer is: they make use of smart algorithms. Office Graph is a similar technology that was recently incorporated into Office 365. Not only does Graph structurally organise and retrieve data, it also promotes its exchange within your organisation.

Office Graph is a system that runs in the cloud, invisible to Office 365 users. Every time you compile a document and save it online on SharePoint or OneDrive, Graph “remembers” it. It keeps a record of the subjects in your documents, the colleagues reading your documents and the people to whom they are sent. Graph also decides which contacts are important to your work based on your email traffic. It uses all of this information to build up a network of information and contacts for every employee individually. The system also indicates which of your colleagues have expertise in a particular field.

This way the categorisation of information - and therefore the ease with which it can subsequently be retrieved - is no longer contingent upon the efforts or goodwill of every user. Everyone will automatically be directed towards the right information, restricted only by access rights.

 

Personal dashboard

While Graph works as an invisible motor in the background, the end users can make use of all the new applications offered through Office Delve, Office 365’s smart search engine. Delve presents the information for each individual user through his or her very own dashboard, taking into account the “distance” between the user, the information, and the colleagues that are essential to him or her. Finding and sharing information was never as fast or efficient as now!

 

Tidy-up robot for email

Another new application offered by Office 365 is Office Clutter, a tool to keep your Outlook inbox well organised. Based on the same machine learning capacities as Graph, this software decides instantly which emails should be moved to a “clutter” folder for low-priorityemail, where they will simply remain until you have time to address them. This way, you can deal with more important or urgent messages first. Your Clutter Folder will contain emails in which your address is one of many in a CC list, while the emails about a subject that you are frequently involved with will automatically go to your inbox. As this system is intelligent, it can be trained: every time you manually move an email from your Clutter Folder to your inbox (or vice-versa) Office Clutter will automatically remember this for next time.

How can Orbit One help you?

Orbit One helps organisations become more productive, both internally and towards their customers. We are happy to put them on the road to enhanced productivity with Office Graph, Delve and Clutter. We can also link Graph to other applications such as Microsoft CRM to enable the system to retrieve information from here as well.

Contact us for obligation-free advice

Technology Technology

Op 12/06/2015 door Olivier

Backup of the Microsoft cloud

My customers often ask me about the best way they can protect their data in the cloud. How do I back up my files, mailboxes and databases that are in Office 365, Azure or CRM Online? How much does it cost and is it really necessary?

The cloud demands a totally different approach to backup strategy than in the past, when data was stored on your own servers.

Here are my tips and advice:

Think about the situations in which a ‘restore’ is needed

It is important to analyse what can go wrong, because every situation demands specific ways to resolve the problem:

  • An employee accidentally deletes or overwrites a file. A few minutes, days or weeks later, people realise that the file is no longer there.
    A lot of cloud systems have a 'recycle bin', which allows you to restore deleted files with one click. But be warned, this is only for a limited period.
    "Many businesses believe the recycle bin provides adequate backup, but the bins are purged automatically after 30 days for Office 365 and 90 days for SharePoint Online. Once purged, that data is gone forever,”
  • As a result of a virus, hacker or a programming/script error, the data is (partly) corrupt and no longer usable. The data needs to be restored to the state it was in just prior to the incident.
  • A complete mailbox, user, SharePoint site, Azure database … is deleted. Some time later, people realise they still need it.
  • Due to a technical or human error/disaster in one of Microsoft’s datacenters, your entire environment is no longer available or has been deleted.
    At that moment, you’ve lost everything, and you have to wait until Microsoft is able to restore your environment. If this is not possible, and you have not made a backup with another provider, you have lost everything. But this is a highly unlikely scenario.

Agree with your management team on the degree of certainty that is required.

Before you can decide on how far you want to go – and therefore how much you need to invest for backing up your data, you must first achieve consensus on the impact of losing data, and therefore about the business continuity or liability.

  • How many days/weeks/years must data be stored? (= Back-up retention period)
    =
    the number of days/weeks that the backup is kept, in other words how far back in time you can go if something goes wrong.
  • The maximum number of minutes/hours of data that is allowed to be lost when a problem occurs.
    =  if an employee is booking in invoices the whole time, and something goes wrong with the software at some point, what is the maximum number of minutes of work that has to be done again? (= Recovery Point Objective)
  • What is the maximum amount of time allowed between the request for a recovery/restore and the moment that the file/data is restored? (= Recovery time objective)
  • What risk do I want to take of my data no longer being able to be restored in the case of a disaster?
    There are three options available here:
    • Geographically Redundant: indicates that a copy of your data is maintained in various geographical zones, several hundreds of kilometres apart, for example in Dublin and Amsterdam. This way you are sure that if a disaster occurs in one of the locations, a copy will be available at the other location.
    • Zone redundant: several copies of your data are stored in at least 2 separate datacentres, but within the same geographical zone/province.
    • Locally redundant: several copies of your data are stored within the same datacentre/building

Read the small print, what does Microsoft offer?

The Microsoft Cloud already provides a lot of security that is available to you at no extra cost.

The first step is to see whether the security is adequate for your requirements. In many cases, the standard Microsoft data protection will cover 50-80% of your needs.

In the areas where this is not adequate, you can look for alternatives.

Take extra assurances

When the standard assurances offered by Microsoft do not appear to be adequate, you have 3 options:

  • Upgrade to a higher level of services from Microsoft.
    For example, by upgrading from AzureSQL Standard to Premium, so that your retention period is increased from 14 days to 35 days.
  • Make use of an external cloud back-up service provider.
    This will duplicate the data of your Office 365 or Azure cloud to another environment, for example in the Amazon Cloud. A lot of companies are coming up with solutions in this area. It is advisable to look for a strong partner that is Microsoft-certified and experienced in these matters. Keep an eye on the prices, Office 365 backup quite easily costs EUR 4 to 6 per month per user, which is a lot compared with Office 365 prices. Here are some well-known players in the market:
  • Copying your data at regular intervals to a local hard disc or cloud storage via scripts or manually.
    I would only recommend this approach for one-off backups of data that hardly ever change, because if you forget to do it, or it has failed on one occasion, you will not be protected.

A few examples:

 

Example

I was with a client yesterday that has 250GB of files on a local file server.
The aim is to migrate to Office 365 in SharePoint Online. The client makes it known that it is legally obligated to keep documents for certain periods of time.

After digging a bit deeper, it appears that bookkeeping documents are required to be kept for 6 years, and signed financial contracts for 10 years. These make up just 2% of all the documents.

The standard Microsoft data protection policies will adequately cover the other 98%.

For the other 2%, we will make use of SharePoint record centre, where, via policies, you can define for how long a document must be kept (and therefore cannot be deleted or modified).

Would you like to start making use of Microsoft Cloud?

Orbit One can help you take the right decisions, as well as assisting in the technical migration and advising you on optimal use.

>> starter pack O365 roll-out plan

Technology TechnologyWorking efficiently

Op 09/06/2015 door Olivier

How to combine self-service and personal customer contact?

How can you use self-service to create a more personal customer service?
This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but taking a closer look, it isn’t!

Nowadays, customers make use of a wider range of channels to contact you than ever before: Skype, web forms, and email, to name just a few. The telephone has long lost its status as our most important channel of communication.

This vast choice of communication channels is slowly making it more and more difficult to efficiently manage and follow up on all your customer queries. Nevertheless, these are also the best moments to convince your clients of the outstanding quality of your products or services. If you miss this opportunity, your prospect or client may switch to another provider with a quicker response time before you know it.

Clients are demanding: they expect prompt service, whether acting as individuals or as representatives of their company. Also, they like to find the answers to their questions by themselves. And you, in turn, prefer not to waste any time on useless or manual administration.

Self-service portal for routine questions

What could be better for efficient communication than a self-service portal where your clients can find information, view the status of their budget or request, and fill in forms? Your staff will no longer need to spend time answering routine questions. This will not only help you save costs; it will leave you more time to invest in personal contact with your clients when this really is necessary. After all, self-service doesn’t mean that personal contact with your clients has become any less important!

Low threshold for personal contact

This is the ideal situation: build a self-service portal where your prospects and clients have easy access to all the information they need. Of course, there will always be questions that cannot be answered in this way. The answer is to integrate Skype into your portal so that your clients can reach your staff at the click of a mouse, who will then be able to speak to them directly. Thanks to this online integration, your staff will be able to see directly what your client was looking for and will, in turn, be able to help him or her much faster.

Flexible and affordable

Before today, customer service at this level was accessible only to big companies. Nowadays, this is available for smaller businesses by adding the Parature self-service module to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This module precludes virtually any need for customisation and you will have a solution on hand that is accessible via the cloud (read: flexible and affordable).

You will, of course, have to digitalise all the underlying processes and integrate them into your customer service platform. If you use an application for file management, for example, you can link this to your customer service platform. This will enable you to get the very most out of your communication with your clients, and ensure the continuous improvement of your service.

The benefits of a self-service customer portal

  • Your clients will have access to round-the-clock support and information.
  • You will create a knowledge network to enable clients to help one another independently.
  • You will have a source of information that will generate direct feedback from your market and that you can use to improve your products.
  • You will be able to measure client satisfaction at every intervention.
  • You will have more time for personal follow-up.

What can Orbit One offer you?

Are you looking for a solution that will let you manage and administrate all your customer queries in and from one central location? Orbit One offers customer follow-up based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and can also establish a link between your self-service portal and your internal communication applications such as Lync (Skype4Business). This will enable your clients to get in touch with the right person at the click of a mouse. Combine the best of self-service and personal contact! We will also be happy to integrate this into your existing business applications and databanks, such as ERP, accounting, CRM, ticketing systems and telephone switchboards.

Contact us for obligation-free advice

Working efficiently Working efficiently

Op 16/04/2015 door Olivier

Four steps to an affordable, reliable and faster network

IT managers struggle with hard choices: the demand for high bandwidth between office locations and the internet is huge. Users have High-Definition video meetings and download large files on the corporate network. This puts the company network and internet connections under high pressure. Your employees are used to their superfast internet connections at home and they don't understand why the internet is slow at the office.

Get rid of your servers

Many companies use expensive network links between their office locations: MPLS offers a dedicated, guaranteed connection. As IT managers need to cut costs, upgrading to a higher bandwidth is simply not an option.

If you move everything to the cloud, you don’t have servers, data or applications in your office. Today, any location with good wireless internet allows your team to work efficiently. Good coffee, fast reliable WIFI and well-equipped meeting rooms are all you need to make your workforce happy. Expensive and complex network systems are technologies from the past.

Four steps to a better company network

1. Replace your expensive MPLS connections by fast and affordable internet connections such as Telenet Fibernet.

2. Choose a solution that includes a backup internet connection, allowing your team to work efficiently in case of downtime (VDSL or 4G backup).

3. Invest in a smart and centrally managed WIFI system, such as Meraki, allowing your team to work from anywhere in the office. This WIFI system offers extra services such as bandwidth policies, firewalling, content blocking, mobile device management, …

4. Migrate your on premise applications to the cloud: Office 365, Azure, CRM Online, Windows Intune ….

Step by step

Usually, cloud migrations are done in steps, starting with the migration of mailboxes to Exchange Online, followed by OneDrive and SharePoint. This means you will need to provide your users access to your company data that have not yet been moved the cloud.

Take a look at Microsoft Direct Access or Azure AD Application Proxy. These solutions are inexpensive, reliable and fully transparent for the end user.

Need advice?

Orbit One helps you understand the way cloud works, and assists you in making the right choices.

Contact us to book an ‘IT strategy of the Future workshop’.

Working efficiently Working efficiently

Op 09/04/2015 door Olivier

The advantages to minimising your IT Infrastructure

 

Your office should always be a pleasant place to work, with good coffee - and not merely the location where all sorts of IT infrastructure is kept. There are several ways to enable a system to run in the cloud, with plenty of options in the way of control and flexibility

.

The numerous benefits offered by the cloud with regard to cost savings, efficiency and IT management make considering a cloud-based approach every time you embark on a new IT project a must. A local installation is only an option if it cannot be avoided. Even suppliers like Microsoft have jumped on the cloud-based band wagon, so to speak: updates are available in the cloud before locally installed versions are released.

Pros and cons of possible set-ups

 

On premise

The infrastructure/servers are located physically at your company and maintained by your own IT department or supplier. The environment is used solely by you (dedicated). Considering that you are solely responsible for maintenance, updates, security, back-ups and so on, the costs of such a local infrastructure can be substantial, to say the least. Additionally, these high costs are also one of the obstacles preventing an on-premise infrastructure from evolving as rapidly as a cloud-based environment. Opting for local installation is only useful for specific applications or it this involves technology that is developed in-house

Partner-hosted

The environment is run on a supplier’s servers and offered as a service paid for through on a monthly or annual basis. The partner takes care of everything, including licences and maintenance. The environment can be used by multiple organisations (shared) or exclusively by your company (dedicated). An environment like this is always more expensive than a public cloud because of the limited number of users. Some projects do, however, require a partner-hosted model. Replacing a telephone switchboard by Lync in the public cloud is, for instance, not yet possible and neither are tailor-made adjustments (e.g. in SharePoint or Dynamics CRM) supported in the public cloud. If you prefer not to invest in custom work, a partner-hosted or on-premise model may still be the best choice for your present situation

Public cloud:

The user has a software subscription at a leading supplier. Infrastructure and servers are relegated to the background. As, in this model, you share the environment with thousands or even millions of users, the ensuing economies of scale will enable you to take advantage of low prices and numerous options. These often include Microsoft applications such as Office 365, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online, Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Intune, Visual Studio Online, Azure, and many more.

Choosing the public cloud as a standard solution is highly recommended, but the downside of the model is the ‘greatest common factor’: it is, after all, a standard solution adapted to the needs of many different users. You cannot always choose how and when you would like something changed. Still, there are many options that can be selected, such as adapting the standard software to the needs of your organisation or deciding when you want updates to be installed.

The hybrid cloud: step-by-step

Fortunately, there is no need to choose ‘everything or nothing’! Many companies are undergoing a transitional phase and gradually switching from an on-premise to a public cloud or partner-hosted model. Unnoticed by users, technology allows for specific applications to migrate to the cloud and others to remain local. This is the ‘hybrid cloud’.

For example: you email migrates to the cloud in Exchange Online via Office 365, while your file servers and SharePoint remain on-premise. The end users all log in through one channel.

How do we do this at Orbit One?

Orbit One resolutely opts for ‘cloud first’: we aim to launch every new project from a cloud set-up. If a client already working in the cloud wants to start using new technology, this approach will enable him to focus on the essentials straight away: providing the necessary support to his operating processes, staff, customers and partners. To support this process, Orbit One provides workshops for the users with the aim of placing as little infrastructure as possible on the clients’ premises. Not only does on-premise infrastructure slow down currently running IT projects, it also needs to be maintained, which takes up a lot of time and money!

Previously, we offered hosting services in our own data centre. Nowadays, we prefer to use the public Microsoft Cloud, as this enables us to provide a more comprehensive package of services to clients with a smaller budget.

Contact Orbit One

Would you like to work more frequently via the Cloud?

Are you interested to know more about the advantages offered by the Cloud for your organisation?

Contact sales@orbitone.com for a free inspiration workshop.

Working efficiently Working efficiently

Op 24/03/2015 door Olivier