We, as consumers, intentionally hand over our data and behavioral patterns to commercial entities like eBay, Google and Facebook. We derive value from this exchange through easy access to personal email, quickly connecting with friends, and identifying products that relate to our lifestyle.
Now that Microsoft is entering the data collection business, how will it use our data?
When Office 365 entered the productivity stage a few years ago, there was a concurrent focus on creating social enterprises. Customers were asking for the equivalent of "Facebook for the Enterprise" (mind you, this preceded the launch of Facebook at Work). Not only did they want look-and-feel changes, but also increased intelligence into how employees interacted with information. Microsoft is starting to achieve this goal today through the cloud processing power of Azure Services and Office Graph.
These services — which are part of Office 365 — gather, store and transform your data and behaviors into productivity enhancing tools. As opposed to other commercial services, Microsoft promises in its Trust Center that this information will never leave its hands, and will only be used to increase the efficiency of knowledge workers.
It's All About Connections
With these services you can log into any device (PC, laptop, tablet, smart phone) and immediately be connected with the content that you have been working with. It’s small, but I’ve found it a great time saver.
Search becomes easier as well. Say you want to find a document that was shared during a meeting. By going into Delve, the first App created that directly uses the Office Graph, you can search for information that would only be relevant for you. Only you would have access to this same grouping of information. Office Graph takes your personal information, the content of documents you've searched for, created or viewed in the past, and combines it with the information from users you are connected with via hierarchy and interactions such as meetings and co-authoring of documents.
These are the same kinds of connections that Google and Facebook make to enhance your experience with their tools. However this brief glimpse demonstrates how Microsoft uses these connections to focus on knowledge worker's efficiency rather than advertising revenue.
We’ve reached the time that social enterprises are possible, through the scale of storage and computing power cloud processing provides and the utilization of multiple collaboration methodologies within one ecosysytem.