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In today’s app economy, we all use a huge number of apps to get our work done. Along with the increase of entertainment, banking, travel, health and fitness apps in our personal lives, there’s also been a massive increase in the proliferation of apps in the workplace – for messaging, projects, collaboration, and more. That’s fine in your personal life, where you can add and remove them when you want. But at work, where you may need to use apps selected by colleagues and you have less flexibility, are there too many apps?

Too many apps, too little happiness

We live in a world of ‘credit card IT’, where teams across organizations are increasingly in charge of selecting their own tools. This kind of development can be a very positive thing for many organizations. Giving a team autonomy over the tools they use naturally leads to a better adoption rate and, as we know, better adoption usually leads to a higher level of productivity. And isn’t that the point of using technology to get our work done? To help us do it better, faster and more efficiently?

However, the proliferation of apps in the workplace means many workers feel there are too many apps – and they must deal with ‘app overload’. App overload occurs when the number of apps we use to get our work done is so great that constantly switching between them becomes a distraction.

The enterprise app paradox

When your employees must continuously hop back and forth between different apps, clients, and windows, they are naturally going to get confused, distracted, and frustrated; it becomes difficult for them to focus on what’s important in all the noise.

So, we enter a work productivity paradox where the convenience of enterprise apps and their productivity value causes productivity barriers because there are just too many apps.    

It’s for this reason that harmon.ie’s Collage technology was created. It makes it easy for people to get their work done across all their apps, without leaving Outlook—the place where they spend the bulk of their work time.

Turning Outlook into a complete work hub

Collage uses artificial intelligence to bring together important information directly to your users from the apps they work with, saving them the effort of constantly moving between apps to do their jobs. Whether the information they need is in Office 365, Salesforce, Zendesk, Yammer or other popular tools, Collage allows for a smoother working experience.

When an item is clicked on in Collage’s information stream, the important related information is opened in the same window, so your users can instantly see links between different sources.

What does this look like?

harmon.ie’s interface sits neatly within the Outlook window where, on the right side of the same screen, they see the harmon.ie sidebar with the Collage tab open. When a user selects an email message, Collage employs natural language processing to analyze both its structured data and content to extract important topics, which is what is shown on the right side of the screen.

Included here will be information about the person who wrote the email. This information is extracted using, among other sources, the Microsoft Graph API. So, when users are looking at a topic—say, an email from a particular client—they will also see all the up to date information about that client.

But then, if it’s an important topic (in this case a key client) you likely will have a large volume of notifications. So, how do you determine the very important from the less pressing? This is where Microsoft Graph API really does its job.

Collage uses the People API and the Items Trending Around Me API to factor in a person’s affinity and the importance of items, like documents. These APIs develop a score for relevancy by applying various metrics like frequency of the topic, the number of apps where the topic appears, time decay factor, as well as machine learning to calculate which notifications are most relevant.

These relevant notifications are also fully actionable items, meaning your users can, for example, open a SharePoint document directly from Collage and edit the document and afterwards go back to the original email or location of notification without losing context or being distracted. Their focus remains on their most important task at hand rather than wasting time navigating between too many apps. Collage works in the same way for apps that are not part of the Microsoft family.

harmon.ie and Microsoft share center stage

harmon.ie was recently featured as one of the top technologies using the Microsoft Graph and UI Fabric and was showcased as a luminary partner by Microsoft at this October’s Ignite conference. Luminary partners are considered as one of Microsoft’s highlights of new innovations—organizations that take Microsoft tools and solutions and make them go much further.

As part of this recognition we were invited on stage with Microsoft to take part in the Microsoft “Build smarter apps with Office using the Microsoft Graph” session. It shows that in today’s world of app overload, there is a need and recognition for a solution that helps workers focus on the big picture rather than navigating between tools searching for information.

At Microsoft Ignite, 2017 in Orlando, FL, David Lavenda presented the issues discussed in this post and demonstrated the value of harmon.ie’s Collage as the go-to app for extracting insights from the Microsoft Graph. On stage in front of hundreds of attendees, he shared harmon.ie’s vision to put the user at the center of enterprise technology. You can watch the presentation here.

To find out more about Collage or how harmon.ie can help your business get the most from its Microsoft investment, get in touch with us today.

Ram Tagher
Product Manager