Bosch and harmon.ie Star on Microsoft’s Intrazone Podcast
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, all IT folks. In case you missed it, you must absolutely check out this week’s Microsoft Intrazone podcast, featuring our own Chief Product Officer, David Lavenda, together with Daniel Stuch, Senior Project Leader Application Development and Rollout at Bosch, the global engineering company. The pair discussed Bosch’s email management and IT governance project, which uses harmon.ie and SharePoint to ensure Bosch’s millions of business email records are 100% compliant with the company’s IT governance regulations. The Intrazone podcast is hosted by Mark Kashman, Microsoft Senior Product Manager and Chris McNulty, Microsoft Director of Product Marketing. This week’s episode is titled “Drag and Drop: Outlook to SharePoint.” In the podcast liner notes, the hosts describe harmon.ie’s capability to “drag and drop within an app, without switching context and being compliant" as ‘a game changer action for employees.’ A game changer action for employees… What’s the big deal? Well, to dig into the story, let’s take a look at the Bosch email management and IT governance journey with harmon.ie and SharePoint. The Bosch Email Management Journey with harmon.ie and SharePoint Like all organizations, Bosch relies heavily on email to conduct its global business. In fact, 9-10 million business emails are exchanged across the company on a daily basis. And like many companies, at Bosch, business records and other important information are frequently exchanged via email. Emails related to company activities in sales, purchasing, accounting, engineering, quality assurance, and human resources are just a few examples of critical email uses. SharePoint was selected as the repository for centrally storing important email records because SharePoint dovetailed with Bosch’s plans to migrate its infrastructure to the Office 365 cloud starting in 2020. With a broad and heterogeneous user community, Bosch realized it would need an additional product to make it easy for typical business users to capture and classify important business emails in SharePoint, as well as easily locate important emails, which is an important element of Bosch’s information governance and compliance program. harmon.ie to the Rescue After a rigorous product selection process, harmon.ie was selected to assist business users to capture, classify, and find email records, as well as support future audits and e-discovery. By making it easy to use, harmon.ie has increased the adoption rate of SharePoint. Stuch explains, “harmon.ie makes SharePoint more accessible for people, and with improved adoption rate and increased use of SharePoint, we also have attained those benefits that we wanted from SharePoint in the first place.” A side benefit of the SharePoint solution is that Bosch sees a reduction in documents sent as email attachments. This not only decreases data volume, it also prevents document versioning chaos. As a result, productivity has improved. harmon.ie has also proved to have an economic value – “we found that although the financial gain was not the primary reason to purchase harmon.ie, you simply save up to 70% of the steps, or gain 70% of productivity when you drag and drop emails.”, says Stuch. During the podcast, Stuch summed up the business value that harmon.ie brings to Bosch: “harmon.ie gave us the opportunity to create an internal, win-win situation between [associates and] the company that has formal requirements and wants good information, lifecycle management or records management, and wants to be 100% compliant with all regulations to fulfill our duties. It's part of our value set and we live up to it… harmon.ie helped us make access easier, and make the process easier by enhancing the associate user experience.”
February 2021 | harmon.ie Team
Microsoft Viva Needs an Email TeamMate
Microsoft’s recent announcement of Microsoft Viva puts new focus on the daily experience of remote workers. “Viva is the first of Employee Experience Platform (EXP) built for the digital era,” says Seth Patton, General Manager, Microsoft 365 Next Gen Productivity & Employee Experience. Specifically, Viva is intended to help remote workers become more self-sufficient by using the following four new Teams modules: Insights, Learning, Topics, and Connections. Insights is a dashboard that provides information about how people work and feel, including how teams are collaborating and who is in danger of burnout. It includes some intervention tools to prompt workers to take breaks and to meditate. Learning is a hub through which employees discover training and other learning content in a single place. It integrates content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, edX, as well as from custom sources. Topics is the next step in Microsoft’s Project Cortex journey, which is designed to organize information into terms that are familiar to workers. Cortex’s first step was SharePoint Syntex, which employs AI to extract topics from SharePoint documents and assign them as document metadata. In Viva, Topics “use AI to automatically organize company-wide content and expertise into relevant categories like ‘projects,’ ‘products,’ ‘processes,’ and ‘customers‘". Connections is a personalized employee (SharePoint) portal accessed from Microsoft Teams. It surfaces individualized information from SharePoint, Yammer, and Streams. While the idea of a personalized portal is certainly not new, Viva’s special sauce is using AI and signals from the Microsoft Graph to present the most relevant and interesting content for each worker. What’s the Big News? Viva is an ambitious undertaking because it, for the first time, seeks to provide a single interface, using Teams. Through this interface, remote workers can access all the information they need in order to be productive, whether that information is contained in documents, solicited through collaboration with close team members, or is found by searching for expertise in the organization. It is important to note that Viva is not only intended for ‘at home’ workers. It is also suited to serve workers in satellite offices and other remote locations, places from which people will work in the post-pandemic era, as organizations have realized significant cost savings and productivity gains by reducing commute time and centralized office space. What’s Missing? Viva will be a boon for internal collaboration as it helps workers focus by spending an increasing amount of time in a single app, Teams. But it won’t help the millions of remote workers to manage external parties, like customers, suppliers, and partners. Communications with external parties will continue to take place in email because email is the only universal standard for written communications that leaves both parties with a persistent record of all correspondence. As such, remote workers working in Teams who need help from colleagues to answer customer requests and inquiries, will need a way to pull important customer emails into Teams conversations. Email TeamMate to the Rescue Email TeamMate is just THAT app. Email TeamMate is the first Teams app that allows workers to get help from colleagues by bringing important customer emails into a Teams conversation, without leaving Teams. With Email TeamMate, a colleague can even answer a customer email directly, without leaving the conversation. Staying in the conversation is critical to remaining productive, as constant toggling between apps drains energy and lowers productivity.
February 2021 | harmon.ie Team
The Role of Email in the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace
As we clean off the kitchen table and get back to work from a much-needed holiday respite, it is time to re-assemble our ‘at home’ office and kick off 2021 with a resolution to make this year even more productive than last year. With the COVID vaccine rolling out at what is predicted to be a faster-than-anticipated pace, it won’t be long before we will regain (at least some) freedom for face to face interactions. Make no mistake, we won’t be sweeping everything we learned during 2020 under the rug and going back to the ‘old normal.’ During 2020, in an effort to remain successful, workers and organizations learned to adapt. Some major changes that occurred in 2020 include the following: Many people upgraded their home Internet connection, under the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which was largely supported by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). People upgraded computing equipment and work environments, even renovated their homes to make working from home a more comfortable option. In fact, US home renovations were up almost 60% in 2020, at least partially to support ‘work from home’ arrangements. Organizations realized huge savings in a reduction of office space, utility costs, taxes, travel expenses and many other costs ‘At home’ workers realized enormous cost and time savings by eliminating commuting. One industry survey found that the average employee saved $4000 by working from home, while another estimates a daily savings of $758M in the US alone. However, it is not all good. Despite the productivity gains from ‘at home’ work, there are still business activities that can’t be performed ‘from remote,’ including the following: Face to face interactions to build trust between business partners Networking at industry events to form important business connections ‘In room’ intimacy for creative and ideation sessions Team building - working shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in an office to build esprit de corp Because these activities are critical to a business’ success, we will need to find a balance between ‘at home’ work and ‘face to face’ time. But with companies shuttering offices, the new normal will likely involve more work from regional, satellite offices. This arrangement will help optimize the savings realized from reduced commute times and reduced office space with the opportunity for face to face interactions. New Challenges in the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace There’s no doubt that in this new Digital Workplace, people will continue to spend much of their time working independently and collaborating with colleagues remotely. Because communications with external parties like customers, suppliers, and partners will continue using email, telephone calls, and virtual meetings, workers will face two main challenges: Finding information – as communications spread across Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams, it becomes difficult to find information. For example, a critical document could be stored in a SharePoint location, a Teams channel (and which one?), or in OneDrive. Important emails shared between colleagues and external partners like customers, suppliers, or partners are impossible to find unless they are stored in a centralized location, like SharePoint. Getting help from colleagues – sending a chat message to a colleague is easy, but getting help with a current business problem, like answering a customer’s inquiry is more complicated. The reason is severalfold. First of all, your colleague probably needs to reference background documents and emails to weigh in. And finding those takes time. Which leads to the second problem: context. Answering a request for help necessitates leaving what we were doing and focusing on the new task. This task switching demands cognitive energy that saps productivity.
The Secret to Productivity in the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace The good news is that you already have what you need to deal with these two challenges; it is called Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 includes many apps that address the problem of finding information and getting help from colleagues. If only there was a way to get them to work together? For example, when you communicate with a customer using Outlook email and then want to discuss the customer’s questions with your colleagues, you need to switch over to Teams and re-orient yourself. The result is disconnected conversations that become difficult to follow. How do you get Outlook and Teams to work together seamlessly, so you can find information when you need it AND reach out to colleagues in context, so you can remain productive? To view the answer for yourself, I invite you to view this week’s webinar entitled “The Role of Email in the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace” that demonstrates a new streamlined user-experience for Microsoft 365 that enables ‘at home’ and ‘in office’ workers to be productive with Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint, by focusing on the business task at hand rather than toggling between tools looking for information and for help from colleagues.
January 2021 | harmon.ie Team
harmon.ie Announces 2020 Banner Year Results
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in the year, it was clear that 2020 would be markedly different than other years. But, like everyone else, we didn’t know what to expect. The first thing to happen was a universal move to ‘at home’ work with the advent of COVID-19 lockdowns. Sheltering in place, information workers turned to Microsoft Teams in record numbers to connect to remote colleagues using virtual meetings. While keeping people connected, the shift to Teams introduced an unexpected consequence for workers who struggled to find information and get help while isolated from colleagues. 2020 at harmon.ie Because harmon.ie's products make it easy for information workers to collaborate using SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, and Outlook, harmon.ie was uniquely positioned to help ‘at home’ information workers be productive with the Microsoft 365 tools at their disposal. As such, the company experienced a renaissance with the emergence of a new type of remote worker who needs to be productive with email, SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive while isolated from colleagues. The results speak for themselves… harmon.ie realized an impressive set of corporate achievements during the year: In addition to having a banner year in sales, harmon.ie preserved a customer retention rate of over 90% for the third year in a row, and signed an impressive set of new enterprise customers, including Camden Properties, the Israel Ministry of Defense, Environment Protection Authority Victoria (Australia), as well as a series of UK public sector agencies, such as the Financial Conduct Authority, the Office for National Statistics, with an expanded deployment at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. In 2020, harmon.ie launched Email TeamMate™, a new Teams app designed to help remote workers get work done by seamlessly connecting Teams with Outlook. With Email TeamMate, ‘at home’ workers can now ask for help with email-based customer requests, directly in Teams conversations. During the year, harmon.ie expanded its long-standing partnership with Microsoft. Already a Gold Developer Partner, in 2020 harmon.ie was selected as a Charter Member of the prestigious Microsoft 365 Content Services Partner Program, working together with Microsoft to help accelerate customer success with Microsoft 365 Content Services, powered by Microsoft 365, Project Cortex, SharePoint, and SharePoint Syntex. The program is geared to support partners delivering solutions that make the transformation of content management practical and attainable. Looking Forward “As we start 2021, harmon.ie will continue to support our customers and partners on their journey to the Post-Pandemic Digital Workplace,” says Yaacov Cohen, harmon.ie co-founder and CEO. “During 2021, harmon.ie will be releasing exciting new products to help workers working from home or satellite offices be even more productive with Microsoft 365.”
January 2021 | harmon.ie Team
harmon.ie Chief Product Officer David Lavenda Named CMSwire Top Contributor
While toiling away designing harmon.ie’s next generation products, harmon.ie Chief Product Officer, David Lavenda, somehow finds the time to share his insights on information-related topics facing tomorrow’s business leaders. For his achievements, Lavenda has been recognized by CMSwire as a Contributor of the Year for 2020. CMSWire is a leading press outlet that focuses on the digital customer experience, the modern digital workplace, and the latest big data and information management practices; it is read by over 3 million influential digital and marketing executives every month. Conferring the award, CMSwire managing editor Siobhan Fagan said, “David Lavenda is a one-man force working to make sure we learn from technology’s past. An international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology, David brings this same perspective — as well as his knowledge gained from his 30-odd years in the technology industry — to bear for the early-stage technology companies he advises.” Lavenda’s 2020 articles explored timely information-related issues like ‘work from home’ challenges, how to get the most from new collaboration tools, and what is ‘really behind’ key Microsoft announcements. Some of his top articles for the year include the following: Why Salesforce Really Bought Slack SharePoint Syntex: The First Stop on the Road to Project Cortex What Positive Lessons Can We Take Away From Our Time Working From Home The Recent Spike in Collaboration Tool Adoption Doesn't Mean Productivity Spikes Too Microsoft’s Project Cortex Wants You to Hire a Knowledge Manager A New Generation of Collaboration Tools: Is it Really Different This Time? “I am honored to be recognized by CMSwire as a 2020 Contributor of the Year,” said Lavenda. “With the devastating changes in the workplace caused by the COVID pandemic, 2020 introduced many new challenges related to information management. I hope my articles helped people and organizations cope with the new reality.” One of Lavenda’s favorite topics is exploring what can be learned from experience with past information technologies, so we can better plan for the future. He is currently working on a project to explore the future of social media. As governments consider regulation, now is the time to ask, “is our current experience with social media different than past generations’ experience with revolutionary information innovations like the printing press, the telegraph, the television, or the Internet?” This analysis is particularly timely because a similar process is playing out in the workplace, where ‘at home’ workers struggle to take advantage of new social networking technologies like Microsoft Teams. Have we been here before? What can we learn from the adoption pattern of past information innovations like email, the telephone, and even the fax, so we get it right this time? Insights from this research will be applied to building innovative products that help workers collaborate effectively… so they can be more productive wherever they work.” In addition to his over 80 articles published in CMSwire, Lavenda has published over 200 articles in Fast Company, Business Week, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur, The Next Web, and other leading press outlets.
January 2021 | harmon.ie Team