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Digital Disruption - Microsoft misses again with Office Graph and Delve

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“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Sound familiar?
It should. In 1997 when Apple wrote it, they were the underdog, the company that was appealing to the edge, to the people who were prepared to shake things up.; the ‘wild ducks’.  To those who weren't prepared to accept the status quo because “things have always been done that way”.
Now some 17 years later everyone is striving to be the next Apple and digital disruptor -  the next ‘wild duck’ that actually changes the market the way Apple did, rather than provide what everyone else does.
Microsoft are trying to reposition themselves as today’s major disruptor to the way things are done, and their latest launch of Office Graph and Delve with Office 365 are their key drivers.  To me it is clearly Microsoft’s latest attempt to win back clients from Google search’ through providing ‘cloud’ search based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Microsoft’s Office Graph and Delve
Microsoft Delve is the ‘sexy’ front end to the Office Graph search engine that they promoting as their Office 365 Cloud tool, working in real time for every employee in prioritising their tasks and of finding the information - files, colleagues, documents, and data. The information returned via the Delve ‘dashboard’ consists of Public data stored on Office 365 elements, a user’s own private data, and information shared with them through the Office 365 product set.  The output provided via the underlying Office Graph analysis, is mapped to user behaviours from Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer. Microsoft has also announced their future plans for integration into email attachments, OneNote and Lync Online.
The first thing you notice is the interface and layout as being very similar to the “Flip Board” concept with notifications laid out supporting ‘swipe’ and ‘tap’ actions familiar to tablet users.
You got to give Microsoft credit. They certainly make very attractive ‘sexy’ user interfaces these days, and Microsoft Delve epitomises the end result of their consist hard work.
How Microsoft missed the mark
I believe that Microsoft missed yet another opportunity to reset the market's expectations of them as an innovator and major digital disruptor. 
1.  Microsoft Office Graph and Delve are based upon Proprietary Technologies - to intelligently automate the of prioritizing of tasks and then present the required information to individual employees via Delve, Microsoft needs to go far beyond their Office 365 product set and extend the API’s into the non-Microsoft Cloud world as well.  This will require an enormous amount of investment in resources and time to extend the API beyond Microsoft, and willingness from other vendors to cooperate with the effort. The world does not revolve around Microsoft and to date, no other vendors have committed to investing with MSFT in the proprietary API’s needed.
2.  Microsoft is only backing Microsoft Cloud elements – Understandably the Redmond’s monoliths greatest threat has been Google, drawing first blood in eroding Microsoft’s traditional On-Premises business.  But Microsoft’s continuing focus upon Cloud-ONLY has seen a serious level of doubt being raised about directions taken and the investments made, by many in their On-Premises products.  Whether Cloud or On-Premise is the right direction is irrelevant in this discussion. The fact is Office Graph and Delve DO NOT support On-Premises products.  Without this, Microsoft’s ability to deliver an all encompassing, intelligent platform for knowledge workers is but a pipedream. Instead, Office Graph and Delve will likely be relegated to being a nice dashboard for your Office 365 elements and not much else.
3.  Without strong permission based file security, sensitive information will be displayed publicly – A current limitation with Microsoft One Drive for example is that everything stored there is publically shared by default, so unintended exposure via Office Graph and Delve of sensitive data is currently a very real probability. This only needs to happen once in an enterprise for all faith to fall away in using these tools.
4.  Microsoft have completely ignored the fact that email today is massively unproductive , has a massive impact on everyone in business and the way it is used today MUST change – Here’s a few facts as to how Microsoft has completely missed the boat while ignoring the need to ‘go beyond email’ and towards more productive manners of working with their new tool set.
·  Microsoft has done nothing to try and reduce the overload of emails. Fact: In the corporate world, we will continue to email more, not less; Microsoft seems to have ignored this fact.
o  The total worldwide email traffic, including both Business and Consumer emails, is estimated to be over 182 billion emails per day by year-end 2013, growing to nearly 207 billion emails/day by the end of 2017 (Source: http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Email-Market-2013-2017-Executive-Summary.pdf ).
o  On average we receive 304 weekly email at work (Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3030659/less-is-more-why-youre-saying-too-much-and-getting-ignored ).
·  Microsoft has done nothing towards providing a evolutionary path to using more productive social practices. Fact: Mail dwarfs social and mobile messaging today by over 10 to 1 in volume and will not change unless an evolutionary path is provided from using email for collaboration. Microsoft Office Graph and Delve totally ignore this.
o  Facebook users shared 4.75 billion pieces of content per day (Source: https://zephoria.com/social-media/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/ )
o  Twitter users posted 500 million tweets per day (Source: http://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/ ).
o  Users of social messaging app What’sApp sent 14 Billion messages per day while worldwide SMS messages sent were 20 Billion per day. (Source: http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2013/11/5/mobile-is-eating-the-world-autumn-2013-edition),
·  Microsoft Office Graph and Delve are separate tools to Microsoft Outlook yet 40% of mail requires an action to be taken. People will continue to use the inbox as it has been used for decades. If you get 100 emails a day, that is 40 actions to take, to track, to follow up on, to see to conclusion. I can see Office Graph and Delve being a separate Search Engine tool that does nothing to enhance the way mail is used.
Wrapping it all up
Whilst Microsoft Office Graph and Delve are both very appealing and dare I use the term again, ‘sexy’ looking interfaces, all they do is add an additional layer of complexity to an already complex environment. To me, Delve is first and foremost a great front end to a Search Engine, that at this stage, is very incomplete as it cannot search across all Enterprise sources for information.
It seems that Microsoft has provided yet another tool, and instead of looking at merging this technology into an existing user interface, like the email client, they've added to the already growing number of tools that a Knowledge worker would use.
·  What the business world needs now is simplicity and a convergence of technologies; not another separate tool.
·  What we need are Search Engine tools that are based upon Open Standards, not in house developed proprietary protocols, so that interoperability is assured.
  • As knowledge workers we also want a clear sense of where to focus the time we have.
  • We also want an easy way to collaborate with the people that matter to us most.
  • Most importantly we want a way to take back control of our day, and ignoring the existing productivity issues brought through email is not going to make those issues go away.
Giving credit where credit is due;
Microsoft Office Graph and Delve will provide a very attractive front end search for the contents of Microsoft Office 365 elements, but;
As a Knowledge worker productivity tool that provides all the enterprise information required to drive productivity, capture organisational knowledge and evolve people beyond the unproductive use of email for collaboration, towards more productive, social work practices, it misses the mark!
Chris
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