June 4, 2019, by Chris Finch
Understanding Delve with David Valentine-Hagart
In the same way that the tea is probably the most important aspect of the great British institution known as ‘a cup of tea’, the containers in which we choose to hold our information are mostly secondary – it’s information, or tea in this analogy, that ultimately matters most.
If we consider how our organisational systems hold information, we do put a lot of emphasis on the containers. Perhaps a carefully constructed and, possibly long, hierarchy of folders, with maybe a Word file at the end. There’s often a lot of cup before we get to the tea.
We might do that because the folders create the “story” via which we find the information. Clicking through them is a marked trail, a journey, which we can follow to a particular file. All good until we find we need to remember more and more different journeys, in order to get to our various data destinations – or that there is more than one trail to get to the same destination. I don’t know about you, but I can only remember so many journeys before I’m in need of a map.
In this digital age the information we consume is increasingly just “out there” – we “Google it”. Any web search that throws up what we required is regarded as success; we get the information we need. The sense of a container or a journey is almost absent.
Now we are creating more and more content. Files in folders, plans and notes which are distributed in various O365 places. Our own OneDrive, shared documents from a colleague’s OneDrive, membership to a Team (or several) and SharePoint sites. The data we use inside the organisation is becoming very distributed. How can we approach navigating this level of distribution?
If “Googling it” mostly works well, can we apply search more often? Office 365 employs hugely powerful tools (including Microsoft Graph) which index and catalogue everything we do in O365. This includes machine learning that not only records the ‘static’ details; filenames, keywords etc. but also the more dynamic relationships between data and people. Who you are working with and the data you are sharing. This supports a more dynamic approach to the data that is current, relevant, being created and worked on. It helps us navigate work and the data that is in flow.
Microsoft also provide a tool of their own for us to use in O365 and it’s called Delve. Delve gives us a single page, where all the file and folder based content we are working on, have worked on, and perhaps will work on, is displayed. It shows the files we have access to and where they are stored. It shows how those files are shared by us and with us. It does this via the same very powerful Graph search engine that pervades O365. We can search for and find content, just like Google, based on what we are working on, with whom, when and where in the O365 ecosystem of OneDrive, Groups, Teams and colleagues.
Delve moves you from being “application-centric” to being “content-centric” and “relationship-centric” and it does this through its understanding of who you are working with and what you are working on. I have now made Delve my O365 homepage. It’s almost removed any need for me to maintain mental maps of where my content is in O365 because I know Delve shows me what I need to see and finds what I search for. It’s a change of model. I’d encourage you to try it.
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