We’ve been writing about graph search here in eWEEK for more than five years, reporting that large and very successful companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft were using it to build and grow their businesses.
Now the technology is finally trickling down, so to speak, so mainstream users can also take advantage of it.
Here’s one newsy example: harmon.ie, which builds user-experience tools for the digital workplace designed to deliver information by topics, has joined with Microsoft to use that company’s graph search engine to power its frontline product. The news was announced May 21 at the Microsoft Sharepoint NA conference in Las Vegas.
Harmon.ie’s flagship solution is one of the first enterprise applications to use the Microsoft Graph to identify topics from Office 365 apps, thereby creating natural workflows that increase productivity. By focusing on topics, harmon.ie (the official name of the company is lower-case) is able to provide the most important information directly to a worker’s top digital workspace, Microsoft Outlook. (See image above; for a larger version of the app image, right-click on it and select "View Image.")
Harmon.ie serves as a gateway to Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and the Graph surfaces intelligent insights that Microsoft builds in the cloud by bringing together smart machine-learning algorithms with a wealth of data and user behavior, including Office data and intelligence. Some of the most recent iterations of this can be seen through the Graph announcements made at the recent Build conference.
Shows Relationships Among People, Apps and Other things
“Using harmon.ie, a business person comes to work and literally sees a topic graph that he’s able to use to navigate relevant related topics,” harmon.ie co-founder and Senior Vice-President of Product Strategy David Lavenda told eWEEK. “The app shows the relationships between people, companies and other entities, like documents, invitations and email messages; it stores them, and then allows the user to choose the most important topics to handle for the day.”
Harmon.ie is also a way for various business applications to be funneled into one or two key aggregators (Outlook and SharePoint, in this case) so that employees have all their key daily work right at their fingertips and don’t have to keep opening and closing apps to do it.
Microsoft has seen a significant increase in Office 365 and SharePoint users in the past few years due to the company’s focus on the cloud and its app ecosystem including Teams, OneDrive, Calendar, SharePoint and others. The Graph creates a unified infrastructure for these apps’ data that enables harmon.ie to enable Topic Computing, which is the ability to present critical information to workers with context and by subject.
The Graph’s intelligence rates content based on a person’s role and the data they regularly create and share with colleagues. This enables harmon.ie to deliver highly relevant information in an intuitive interface within Microsoft Outlook to enable people to deliver deep work, Microsoft Director of Office and SharePoint Ecosystem Marketing Mike Ammerlaan told eWEEK.
Why Graph Search is Growing in Influence
There are more than a few reasons why graph search has matured into a hot enterprise IT item here in 2018: It just works, and it's fast and efficient to boot.
Graph search, an open-source database project built on all the networking people around the world do online every day, is the most far-reaching search IT to go mainstream since Google started storing up and ranking Websites 19 years ago. Basically, a graph search database anonymously uses all the contacts in all the networks in which you work to help you find information.
Anything you touch, any service you use and anything people in your networks touch eventually can help speed information back to you. It avoids anything non-relevant that would slow down the search.
A graph database uses graph structures for semantic queries with nodes, edges and properties to represent and store data. Graph databases are used for storing, managing and querying complex and highly connected data. Moreover, the graph database architecture is particularly well-suited for exploring data to find commonalities and anomalies among large data volumes and unlocking the value contained in the data's relationships.
Hugely popular cloud services such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and Web-based email all use graph search. Thus, they have not only improved the way people interconnect, socialize and do business, they also help improve our search for information on the Web, because they are massive holders of these connections.
Employees ‘Overloaded’ with Apps?
“Employees are overloaded with too much information, coming from too many channels. This leads to inefficiencies, inconsistences, mistakes and frustration,” said Constellation Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Alan Lepofsky. “One of the ways to overcome these issues to aggregate content from multiple sources into a single user experience, then prioritize and personalize that information.
“Harmonie 10 is a great example of this, and I’m impressed by the way they are leveraging the Microsoft Graph to create a visualization of the top items people should be paying attention to spanning across Office 365’s email, calendar, documents and more.”
The False Promise of the App Economy research study found that knowledge workers are increasingly frustrated by app overload at work. The study found that an average person uses nearly 10 apps a day to perform his/her daily tasks, which makes it difficult to focus due to context switches and distracting alerts.
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