Microsoft's Office Delve Develops a Personality

Microsoft updates the collaboration platform with people-based search and discovery features and new native apps for iOS and Android.

Office Delve

Microsoft is taking a slight detour from Office content and communications and focusing instead on people for the latest update to Office Delve.

"Today's enhancements to the Office 365 personal profile experience, within Delve, deliver a richer people-based search and discovery [experience]," said Mark Kashman, senior product manager for Microsoft Office 365, in an April 15 announcement. Powered by Microsoft's cloud-based Office Graph machine-learning technology, Delve analyzes a user's work relationships along with the documents, emails, communications and other signals generated by an organization's Office 365 environment. The app then presents users with personalized cards that display relevant updates.

Borrowing a page from LinkedIn, the professional social network, Microsoft has created new mobile-friendly profile pages that allow users to get to know their colleagues better.

"The look and feel of Delve has been updated to be cleaner and more action-oriented, and designed to help you find, connect and collaborate with the right people," said Kashman. "The entire profile page is now responsive for a great experience across devices, from 4-inch screens up to the very largest displays."

It's also easier to determine an employee's role within a company, he added. "In addition to core profile information, each person's organizational structure is now prominently displayed and easy to navigate." Delve profiles also display contact information, skills, education, Yammer and blog links, and an "About Me" pane. In a future update, the company plans to add a "Working on" section that lists current projects and an area for "Praise" doled out by fellow co-workers.

Also new is a built-in blog that supports in-line document embedding, photos and Office 365 Video files.

"This internal blogging tool is the first Office 365 experience to use the authoring canvas, a completely new page authoring platform for Office 365," said Kashman. "Today, the authoring canvas helps you create engaging blog posts, and in the future, it will be enabled for use in creating various types of pages in Office 365, including those for individual profiles, Office 365 Groups and future NextGen Portals."

Although Delve now provides self-service blog publishing tools, businesses don't have to worry that it will devolve into a free-for-all, hinted Kashman. "And the authoring canvas will be backed by enterprise-grade, content management capabilities such as scheduling, versioning, compliance and taxonomy," he said.

Finally, Microsoft also released new Delve mobile apps for Android smartphones and iPhone. "These mobile apps can notify you about updates to files you are actively engaged with at any given time," Kashman said. Owners of select wearables "can even receive notifications on your connected Android Wear."

More features are in the works, some of which the company will discuss at next month's Ignite conference in Chicago. In addition to polishing the Delve profile experience, Microsoft plans to "introduce a method to nurture your network via public kudos, provide ways to pull in additional profile information from trusted sources and machine learning insights, and enable customization of the profile experience via Add-ins and public APIs," Kashman said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...