Ng: Office collaboration

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


ABOUT 18 years ago, we set up our internal email system and this has served as our communications center. It has served its function well and for many of our employees, Outlook (which hosts email, tasks and calendars), served as the nerve center for the things that they do, as well as keep in touch and collaborate with people - either suppliers, customers and employees.

However, just as email encroached into fax and snail mail, new technology is also coming. We started using Skype, instant messaging, WeChat, WhatsApp, SnapChat and then social networks like Facebook to keep in touch.

Microsoft Office has evolved from being a personal office productivity solution into a collaborative platform. Our company has started to get a lot of inquiries on Office 365 and its availability has sparked interest also in the other productivity tools of Microsoft – Sharepoint, and Lync.

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Sharepoint is a powerful platform but it needs expertise in programming, operational flow, SQL server and multiple servers to function. So it being embedded into Office 365 makes it something that is not only powerful but easy to use.

However, something came in with Office 365 that since we started using it is creating a bigger impact – Yammer.

Yammer is an enterprise social network known as the Facebook for Business. Microsoft bought it last June 2012 for $1.2 billion. It is now used by millions of people in thousands of companies, including 85 percent of the Fortune 500 company.

Obviously, everyone has Facebook and it is almost an addiction for hundreds of millions of people who log into it daily. This is a big issue in corporations, who are increasingly buying firewalls just to prevent their use during office hours. However, instead of fighting this, we decided that it would become a tool for engaging our employees on how to work and enjoy the work together.

Yammer has been a hit. Obviously, it is easier now for workers to communicate as they will know if somebody is online, and can just pull them to a chat ( just like Facebook). They can choose to follow each other’s post, so we make it easier for each to share knowledge, photos, and news.

We put up a news center where they can read about latest news and technology updates, links to educational videos, and books, and also put in a “water cooler” where they can share the latest gossips, or projects, or events.

For people with similar interests or those belonging to the same department, they can create their own private or public groups. In conjunction with Sharepoint for file sharing, and Lync, we expect that we will cut down half of the emails and will collaborate better.

Yammer is becoming one of the tools I think that will really engage companies. Today’s reality is that people will work long hours and personal and business concerns are already mixed up. Employees expect to support and do work at home and expect also to keep up to date with their friends even during work. Instead of having them spend time engaging friends outside the company, Yammer is a good tool to have them update their friends inside it.

(www.twitter.com/wilsonng)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 11, 2014.

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