If Microsoft has its way, big data is coming to your Office 365 environment very soon.
In March of this year Jared Spataro, general manager of Enterprise Social at Microsoft, introduced Office Graph and challenged us to “work like a network.” Office Graph — which derived from Yammer’s Enterprise Graph concept — analyzes user metadata from the Office 365 environment (Yammer, SharePoint Online, Lync and Office Online) to identify signals, trends, relationships, social connections and content that relate to each other to form patterns that can be used to deliver a more relevant and rich contextual end user experience.
This rich set of metadata is meant to provide a more comprehensive picture of who you are connected to, who you interact with and how you interact within the enterprise. This is a new frontier for Microsoft and this technology will significantly change how you collaborate, work, connect and engage within the online enterprise going forward.
Social Graph - Enterprise and Office Graph's Predecessor
Social Networks have been using Social Graph concepts for years and have applied the big data concepts to how they engage with the user community on the platform. Facebook is an early pioneer in using Social Graph to enhance how it interacts with the 1.3 billion global users.
Facebook uses Social Graph to suggest new people to follow, show how you are connected to your friends and most importantly (for Facebook) push relevant ads to your Facebook page. Have you ever noticed that once you like something on Facebook your advertisements change accordingly or new suggested pages or people to follow appear? This is Social Graph in action; Facebook has a rich profile of your user data and it captures and mines this information using Social Graph concepts.
If this doesn’t ring a bell, you may have (inadvertently) heard of the Social Graph during the recent blowback over the Emotion Manipulation Study run by Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer in 2012. This "big data" experiment used data mined from the test subjects using the Social Graph algorithms.
LinkedIn uses something similar to the Social Graph to suggest new colleagues and jobs that you may be interested in based on your Profile, Education, Job Title, etc. Because all of this social activity is based in the cloud databases that run the social network, the vendor can mine the data for signals, trends, relationships and other useful metadata elements that can be used in determining how everything relates to each other. Microsoft’s Office Graph uses these same concepts and applies them to Office 365, Office Online, Microsoft Dynamics (CRM) Online and more.
Yammer developed Enterprise Graph to do similar things with the Yammer network. The concept of mining metadata stored in the Social Network databases is not new to social platforms, but Microsoft has taken this concept one step further as it integrated Enterprise Graph concepts into the Office 365 platform which provides access to this metadata. Rich metadata about specific users and their activities in Office 365 exists across all Microsoft products (SharePoint Online, Lync, Office, CRM, etc.). Oslo brings all of this together into a cohesive picture of what you do and how it relates to others to provide a richer user experience — the connected enterprise.
Codename Oslo - The First Office Graph Based Solution
Update: Microsoft announced the official name of Codename Oslo today — Delve.
Microsoft acquired FAST in 2008 to augment its enterprise search solution in SharePoint 2010. FAST has significantly enhanced enterprise search in SharePoint 2013 by improving its ability to find and present information of all types in ways never before possible. One of the biggest issues with enterprise search is that users have to enter a search term to allow the engine to find the content they are looking for.
This pull model, having to pull the information to you, is a major sore point with SharePoint search. Users want content and information to follow them based on their role in the company, what they are working on and who they work with. Microsoft has tried to solve this problem with the social features in SharePoint and the “follow” concept. You can follow a document, person, site, blog or any other item in SharePoint but this only goes so far in tying all of the related elements of social, documents, content, conversations, connections and other related signals together.
The FAST team used the experience they developed with advanced Search and applied Office Graph algorithms to Oslo creating a solution that brings content, people, relationships and items that may be of interest to you based on your role and your relationships in your organization to your browser. The solution essentially shifts the direction of search from a pull model to a push model thus making it easier for the end user to sift through email, social conversations, documents, sites, meetings and other content that help map the relationships between you and the people you work with in a new and profound way. In essence, Oslo surfaces content based on how it relates to you through various filters.
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