Think of the long journey. Slack v Teams

Think of the long journey. Slack v Teams

One of my clients staff just posted the FT article regarding Slack.

It was used to support the argument that Slack ‘is better’ and they should stop trailing MS Teams (which is in pilot).  Slight digress – it’s interesting to read some of the responses to the FT article. It takes me back 20 years when people were saying the same about email!). Anyway – back to the point.

If we look at the experience of other organisations who were early adopters of MS Teams (or Skype Teams as it was then) it’s not uncommon for those already on Slack to find it hard to adjust. Ideally, people already on Slack would be avoided as early pilot users as there are some ‘unconscious basis’ aspects, as there are with most pioneers of new technologies. For those interested in these type of technology developments it’s interesting to see early Slack users now moving to new ‘tools’ such as ‘Riot’ and ‘Mattermost’ (not that I’m suggesting it’s fashion rather than functionality that attracts many of the early pioneers)

As a standalone ‘chat based’ collaboration tool Slack has many advantages. It’s ‘momentum-friendly and the ability to link ‘third party tools’ and its open platform approach makes it appealing but the more you try to link in with ‘enterprise functionality’ the more you see its drawback.

So, I wouldn’t think of it as a matter of Teams v Slack but more a case of how you can begin to seamlessly collaborate using many capabilities. The more O365 capabilities that Shell introduce the better the experience of Teams will be and you begin to see far more advantages of using Teams over Slack.

There is also the risk and security issues. As companies learnt during the NotPetya cyber-attack in June 2017 the advantages of having an integrated enterprise wide chat tool, complying with all security aspects, are paramount. I know of many companies having their MS Teams cleared and restored within 48 hours, while other products took weeks to be fully verified and restored (or in some cases banned completely from ever being used again).

That could be part of the reason some articles now predict MS Teams will ‘overtake’ Slack by 2019 (although I would urge caution with any such reports but you begin to see the trend).

So, while many will still prefer what they use now (a basic instinct which we all have) I feel it’s important to look at the long-term roadmap of where these type of collaboration technologies are heading.

Running at a different pace

Running at a different pace

Been involved in quite a few discussions on how PMO functions in companies use O365 to change the way they run projects. Here is a brief guide (including the addition of some new capabilities) looking at how other companies have used O365 to change the way they run and deliver projects. Generally you would use:

PMO / Project Working
– O365 Groups – individual project team working (shared calendars, Planner, OneNotes etc)
– Teams – persistent chat channel for project teams (linked to O365 Groups – Tip: create the O365 Group first and then link the Team to the group.
– SharePoint Online site – PMO top level site bringing all activities together
– Power BI – creating dashboards from the PMO level

Project Communications / Change for ‘end user’
– Yammer – for enterprise wide awareness, feedback, focus groups, promotion
– Delve / Yammer – finding and recruiting informal advocates for your awareness activities
– Delve – get project members to blog about project progress (or use Yammer)
– Delve – create some promotional ‘boards’ that can be shared enterprise wide
– Forms (new) creating surveys, feedback channels for focus groups / enterprise wide initiatives
– Sway – creating engaging presentations / collateral for digital presentations
– SharePoint Communication Site (new) – formal enterprise wide communication / access to collateral

Big Data on the way YOU work

Big Data on the way YOU work

Totally by accident, something popped up on LinkedIn this morning which turns out was a glorified advert for an IoT/PowerBI dashboard solution which tracks employee performance in relationship to their environment.

Personally (and professionally) these types of ‘behaviour’ tracking tools fascinate me. Tech companies spend millions developing capabilities to help us work better and organisations spend millions deploying them but the expected benefits never materialise. There is a big discussion on the whole change / adoption approaches taken by organisations in nurturing the workforce but these types of ‘employee performance’ tools begin to move us to the next steps by exploring the way we as individuals / organisations work and eventually providing solutions, not just around technology but also on behaviours and environment.

Tools like those mentioned in the article above, and others such as Microsoft My Analytics, can eventually tell us how much time we spend on email, in meetings, creating documents, extent of network etc. It could also look at enterprise wise behaviours – i.e. if you project team are spending most of their days in meetings you may have a cultural issue around decision making; if managers are spending too much time in hastily arranged meetings and email there may be a fire-fighting, hero and devolution issue in the culture; if a leader’s network doesn’t extend far enough across the organisation there may be an engagement issue and so on.

So, technology that tracks the way you work and can present remedies from both an individual and an organisation context can be a very valuable capability for companies undergoing digital transformation. You sense its part of the reasoning that companies such as Microsoft are buying training and learning components and LinkedIn so they can begin to link ways of working to job families, skill sets, organisation culture and beyond. It will begin to dramatically change the way organisations look at design, recruitment, technology and the physical environment.

Technology is a people business

Technology is a people business

Interesting article about digital workplace trends. Interesting for me is that 5 years ago these type of trend articles were almost entirely focused around technology. Now the shift is towards the people, cultural and behavioural aspects. That’s reflected in the disciplines within the consultancies that produce these type of reports. They are no longer published by the technology streams but from Human Capital Management and Org Design areas of the consultancies. Technology is becoming a people business.

Facebook at Work or O365

Facebook at Work or O365

Anyone who is involved in discussions with colleagues over Facebook at Work (I imagine many of you are the same ones that deal with the Slack discussions) here is an informative article around progress on the product.

I echo the authors comments around building relationships and community as a driving force for new ways of and Facebook at Work does have nice features.

However, no communities or relationships within an organisation sit in isolation from the way work gets done or linked to its strategy, processes, workflows, campaigns or initiatives. You could spend time integrating Facebook at Work with search but eventually you will need to leave Facebook at Work to deal with the outcomes of the communities and relationships.

The benefit of O365 is the increasingly ‘seamless integration’ with other capabilities that may be needed as a result of the community outcomes. For example, files uploaded on Yammer will be hosted on SharePoint. Conversation on Yammer could bleed into a Skype Teams call. Videos displayed on Yammer will play through Stream. There is linkage to Office apps, O365 Groups etc. All activity will be understood and surfaced via Delve. The need to leave O365 becomes increasingly unlikely within the collaborative process.

The compelling narrative behind O365 will be the seamless integration with the way people collaborate, not just building community and relationships, but in group work, file sharing, communicating and other collaborative activities.

One things I strongly agree with thought is “It’s not the tool but the people and programming that make enterprise social a success.”

My bias comes from a people centric perspective (rather than document or process centric) so I’ll be interested to hear other folks opinions, especially if you have been involved in a Facebook at Work trial.

Yammer and LinkedIn

Yammer and LinkedIn

I’m sure Microsoft brought LinkedIn with a specific purpose in mind although it wouldn’t be the first time they know something is good, buy it and they figure out what to do with it!

It sometimes reminds me of some of the mega-rich English Premier League clubs who buy in talent that have very little to do with the current style of play, sit them on the bench and wait for a situation to arise when it becomes clear why they brought them in the first place – or just serendipity!

I would like to think that Microsoft see the future value of collaboration around new ways of working is not to just support the current hierarchies and structures of an organisation. In essence that’s what most of O365 does in supporting this structure of group working around file uploads, storage, document production etc. All important stuff but does nothing to drive innovation and new wealth / value creation.

Where the value creation comes is from building networks, relationships and communities, nurturing new behaviours and processes and blending diversity to create new ways of working.

Yammer and Delve begin to achieve this inside the organisation and adding something like LinkedIn gives an organisation the opportunity to source content, connections and resources far beyond their current network.

I’m thinking of an example where a project manager can initiate a new project and Yammer / Delve (whatever these channels would be called in the future) to source ideas, content, connections and resources from within the organisation and then get seamless connectivity to a LinkedIn type resource (professional and educational) to source gaps or enhancements to the knowledge they have within the organisation. It changes not just the potential reach but also the relationships organisations have with professionals. It would also increase the diversity of thought that an organisational begins to call upon, ideally making it far more social, transparent, agile and democratic.

Still a future for Yammer despite Skype Teams

Still a future for Yammer despite Skype Teams

Microsoft are now looking to compete with Slack.

In the article it mentions how they fail to see what the future of Yammer would be and they struggle to see where it fits in. In my eyes they have completely different capabilities.

Yammer is about networking, relationship and community building. It enables discovery, innovation, crowdsourcing and engagement that potentially involves hundreds and thousands of colleagues.

You would struggle to do that with Slack or Skype teams. The key word here is teams. Skype Teams would work well with defined, identifiable colleagues – in essence building around existing hierarchy and structures.

With Yammer you discover and network with people and groups you never knew existed before, creating new ways of working through the diversity that can be attracted through discover.