The “Other” Consideration of Collaboration Tools; Welcome to the New World of GDPR

Collaboration tools provide amazing capabilities for helping people work together across time and space, and selecting the right tools for your organisation is important. However, there’s another side to the whole area that I haven’t often written about on this site: compliance. And if you or your organisation does anything with the personal data of European citizens – regardless of where your organisation is located in the world – you need to know about GDPR – the “General Data Protection Regulation” released in May 2016 and due to go into force from late May 2018. Given its wide scope, as the white paper below points out, it would be better to refer to it as the “Global” Data Protection Regulation. Seriously. And it has implications for how your organisation uses collaboration tools too.

Osterman Research recently published a new report on GDPR – exploring what it is, and the types of organisational and technological responses that will be required:

GDPR Compliance and Its Impact on Security and Data Protection Programs
Protecting personal data has been an important issue in the European Union (EU) for more than 20 years, and the recently ratified General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes data protection to an entirely new level. In addition to a new set of legal requirements that necessitate both organizational and technological responses, the GDPR is applicable to almost every organization around the world that collects or processes data on residents domiciled within the EU, including permanent residents, visitors and expatriates.

It’s worth a look … because it is likely to cause a lot of soul searching (data analysis, policy formulation, technology considerations) for organisations across the world. Including yours.

See: The Impact of the GDPR on Your Business

BlueJeans Huddle

BlueJeans Network announced the introduction of BlueJeans Huddle, a new way of setting up meeting rooms for video conferencing:

The BlueJeans Huddle system is a combination of standard hardware and BlueJeans proprietary software that can turn any room into an interactive meeting space for a fraction of the cost of legacy in-room systems. Currently an average of eight to 15 minutes of every video meeting is wasted getting participants connected. BlueJeans Huddle democratises video by freeing employees from difficult to navigate systems and giving them an in-meeting experience they will love.

Group video conferencing usage throughout the enterprise will increase 400 percent by 2019, with huddle rooms showing particular momentum, already doubling in market share since 2015, according to leading research firm Gartner. Yet while huddle rooms and video meetings are in growth mode, businesses have been plagued with adoption hurdles. BlueJeans Huddle eliminates these obstacles, including the hassles of set up, dial in, connection, and meeting management– the issues that equate to a sort of “tax” on the use of live video in the enterprise. BlueJeans Huddle users are automatically recognised and can initiate live video conversations simply by walking into a room, and the video solution delivers the same great user experience powered by the BlueJeans Enterprise Video Cloud™, regardless of whether people are using their desktop, mobile device, or are in a video-enabled room.

Thinking of it as a “tax” to be reduced is an appropriate metaphor.

Read more: BlueJeans Network Eliminates the ‘Video Tax’ with Introduction of BlueJeans Huddle

Surface Studio – the Surface Hub for Professionals?

At its reveal event in New York yesterday, Microsoft introduced the Surface Studio, its first desktop computer under the Surface brand. Basically it’s a very large Surface Pro or Surface Book (with a 28″ high-resolution display), made in such a way to enable “creative professionals” to draw and create … plus do everything else you can do on a desktop with a large display. The Surface Dial adds a new way of interacting with application controls – e.g., when drawing it can control colour and brush width/type.

What I’m wondering about though, is whether the Surface Studio can provide an answer for individuals or small groups (2-3) joining an online meeting where one of the meeting rooms has a Surface Hub – the 55″ or 84″ version. While you can do screen sharing already from a Surface Hub to a Surface Pro or Book, there’s quite a difference in physical screen size between the two ends. And yes, you could connect an external display to the Pro or Book, but the Surface Studio would give quite a large touch-capable display that would make such a meeting a whole lot more natural.

Interesting. I look forward to seeing where this goes, and how the Surface Dial can be utilised in other applications – like Skype for Business and OneNote.

Where were we again? Re-starting that last meeting


I’m sure you’ve been in a meeting where you had to pick up where you left off from last time … and the quick questions are “What were we talking about again?,” “Where did we get to?,” and “What is unresolved?” There might be a mad scramble for photos of the whiteboard from the last session, or a glance in email or a team site for any previous meeting notes.

If you have Surface Hub, Microsoft has a new possibility for you, courtesy of the just released (but not fully rolled out) update to Windows 10 on Surface Hubs:

One of the most loved features of Surface Hub is the ability to send whiteboards to meeting participants via e-mail as image or OneNote file. Now, we’ve added the ability to sign in, to save and recall Whiteboards directly from OneDrive. This helps people pick up right where their last meeting ended with a simple and secure sign-in experience.


Other updates include inking support in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, enhanced multi-touch, and support for third-party peripherals.

Report On Intranet Analytics – Required Reading for Collaboration Teams and Analytics Vendors


At the end of 2011 I published Collaboration Roadmap, and then faced a decision about what to do regarding User Adoption Strategies. That first printing had sold well, and with only 50 copies left to sell, I could just order another print run or alternatively write a second edition. The second edition option won out for a couple of reasons, with adding a new chapter on measuring and evaluating user adoption (Chapter 11) high on the list of reasons. At the time I was concerned that collaboration service owners, collaboration strategists, intranet managers, and other people focused on delivering great tools and content were too focus on the easy numbers that came out of their analytics tools, and weren’t getting to the heart of what measuring adoption was all about.

In light of my research above and the advice I give in the User Adoption Strategies workshop around measurement and analytics, I was pleased to see the new Intranet Analytics report from ClearBox Consulting in the UK. In describing the purpose of the report, Sam Marshall (Director) says:

We want to move the focus away from reporting about platforms and onto reporting about how an intranet is being used from a business perspective: Who is engaged? What content is working well? Are people creating and collaborating or only consuming?

That intent very much aligns with the type of interest I have in the subject too, and I spent some hours yesterday reading the report and then talking with the report’s author (Dorje McKinnon, Vajra).

A couple of things to note about the report:
– it provides an indepth evaluation of seven major players in the market – HarePoint, CardioLog, NGAGE, Piwik, Webtrends, Adobe Analytics, and Google. The first four vendors provided interviews; the last three did not.
– in order to move away from reiterating a list of features or capability areas, the report runs the products through eleven scenarios, including intranet / enterprise social network / email, site-based activity, content and contributions, and collaboration. Using a scenario-based approach for exploring a topic is one I’m very supportive of.
– Dorje and Sam have provided multiple easy-to-scan tables, summaries, and visual dashboards for comparing and contrasting the tools.

For internal collaboration and intranet teams being asked for analytics information, the report presents the state of play – and will give useful insight into which tools would make most sense given the purposes (scenarios) sought. This is required reading for anyone reporting on or commenting on how their collaboration / social business / intranet / digital workspace is performing.

For the included vendors of analytics tools, the report shines a light on the weaknesses of current analytics products, and will be very useful in planning future capability areas in order to address the real-world scenarios examined in the report. For products not included in the report – such as Kudos Analytics, the brand new Panagenda ConnectionsExpert, and Nintex Hawkeye Workflow Analytics, among many others, the report will give an expert and informed view on what’s needed. This is required reading for every product manager of an analytics tool.

After reading the report yesterday I spoke with Dorje (who is also mentioned in my recent book) about the key message that he wanted people to take from the report. He said:

Thinking about what you need from analytics is the critical place to start. Until you know why you need analytics information – the purposes, the decisions to influence – you won’t get maximum value from analytics information, regardless of the tools you use.

Interestingly, Sam writes the same thing on page 3: The real art to digital workplace analytics is knowing which questions to ask – which requires a clear strategy and a set of goals.

So here’s what I think after reading the report:

  • If you have anything to do with analytics on how your collaboration spaces, social network, intranet or digital workplace is performing, you need to get a copy. It’s available for no charge, although registration is required.
  • As a consequence of this report, Sam and Dorje have established themselves as leading experts on the topic. Once reading the report, you should get their advice in a consulting engagement so as to optimise your internal efforts. Sam is in the UK (giving good coverage of the top half of the world), and Dorje in New Zealand (great access for customers in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia). Internal teams would get a lot of value from securing that consulting support – whether as an outside expert to guide and advise for a few hours a month, or securing Sam or Dorje to facilitate an internal workshop on planning an intranet analytics strategy that makes business sense.

Get your copy of the report
Contact Sam Marshall
Contact Dorje McKinnon

Integrating Alfresco with Office Online in Office 365 – Options?


Alfresco is an enterprise content management and business process management vendor. In the early days, Alfresco cut through the noise due to one of the founders being ex-Documentum, one of the players-to-beat in the ECM space at the time. Over the years, the firm has matured its offerings, and of specific interest in this post, has inserted itself into firms as a SharePoint replacement (for some SharePoint functions). The latest version of its integration is called Alfresco Office Services, which:

… provides a fully-compatible SharePoint repository that allows Microsoft Office Suite applications (for example, Word, PowerPoint and Excel) to interact with Alfresco as if it was SharePoint. AOS enables online editing for Office documents within Alfresco Share and allows users to modify Office files without checking them in and out. Alfresco locks the file while it is being modified and releases the lock when the file is saved and closed.

So here’s the question: in the new world of Office 365, how does Alfresco provide an integration with Office Online? If there is no app installed on the client’s computer which can be intercepted for saving into an Alfresco repository … what then?

This video from Microstrat shows a way of doing this:

What’s of specific interest to me in the video is that the document is pushed out from Alfresco to OneDrive for Business. That is, another copy is created in the current user’s OneDrive for Business account. From OneDrive for Business the document can be shared with others, or opened with Office apps or Office Online. When the user has finished editing or co-authoring the document, the person who pushed the document to OneDrive for Business must then check the document back in – bringing the updated copy from OneDrive for Business. So yes, Office Online has been used, but there is now a second and separate copy floating around in OneDrive for Business. That’s a weakness … perhaps fundamentally so.

What other possibilities are there?
– Searching for “office online” on the Alfresco web site returns zilch.
– Searching for “office 365” on the Alfresco web site returns nothing helpful.
– Pratyush at Algoworks says that integrating Office apps and Alfresco can be done (as noted above), but that “integrating Alfresco and Alfresco Cloud with Office 365 is a different game altogether and a topic of another post.” I look forward to reading that post.
– Some Alfresco partners are working to enhance the SharePoint and Alfresco integration options, such as Zia Consulting and SeeUnity. Partners may provide something of an answer.
Technology Services Group says they can deliver an integration between systems like Alfresco and Office 365 in order to support the use of Office Online. They too use OneDrive for sharing the file, but critically also state that “when a document is checked in from Office 365, our integration deletes the document to prevent any confusion.” That’s good.

Unless Alfresco joins the Cloud Storage Partner Program – to enable “cloud storage providers the opportunity to integrate Office Online into their web-based experiences …. [so] users will be able to view and edit PowerPoint, Word, and Excel documents stored in third-party cloud storage,” I don’t know of any current better approaches.


Unleashing Meeting Go on the Enterprise (aka Pokemon Go Enterprise Edition)

Somewhere in a meeting room of a collaboration software vendor around the world, I imagine the following brainstorm is currently taking place:

“Have you heard about this new Pokemon Go game? It’s making people get up and move in the real world.”
“We already provide great tools to enable virtual collaboration across the enterprise. But we’re not getting people to turn up to meetings too well.”
“Yeah, they’re late. They come unprepared.”
“They zone out.”
“Why don’t we take the Go phenomenon and apply it to meeting scheduling.”
“Exactly! It’s about catching your meeting, and you have to be there in time for it to happen.”
“And as each agenda item comes up, there’s something else for you to catch in the room.”
“We could feed this into the gamification analytics engine, showing real-time stats of meeting attendance based on Go! ratings.”
“Indeed. You get points for turning up, staying engaged, catching the stray monsters, and more.”
“And if there is a particularly nasty discussion going on anywhere in the building – we could analyse that by listening in to tone of voice by hacking the microphone on smartphones, we could issue extra monsters to encourage the right people to spontaneously turn up.”
“You mean like an unorganised flash mob, but instead a meeting mob to get the right outcome?”
“And we could use it for town hall meetings too. Have a particular monster that looks like the CEO to catch at that one.”
“Let’s call it Meeting Go.”

Please … let’s not do this.

Taking a Toshiba Z20T to a Meeting


I met with a client earlier today to discuss running one of my workshops with his team so they could understand the possibilities (and warnings) of Office 365 in advance of unleashing the new tools on the firm. When we sat down in the coffee shop he put his tablet on the table … and it wasn’t an Apple iPad. I’m used to seeing those in meetings, but he had one of the Toshiba Z20t hybrid tablet/laptop devices instead. I hadn’t seen one in the wild before. He’d left the keyboard behind, and just carried the tablet head down to the meeting. I hadn’t realised that was what he was carrying when we walked down the street.

We did talk about that device a bit before and after the core discussion, but the key points for him in choosing the Z20t were:
– it ran Windows, which was better for him for running Microsoft Office.
– it was his “one device.” He connected back to the keyboard in the office.
– it had a large screen – about the same size as an A4 size of paper – enabling him to read documents in portrait mode.
– it connected to a real (sturdy) keyboard, unlike the “flimsy” Surface Pro 4 tablet/keyboard which he had seen and tried (and like the Surface Book, which he had not seen).

His notes for our discussion were in OneNote.

Before I met Eric Mack I had only ever purchased Toshiba laptops. After meeting Eric I switched to IBM ThinkPads / Lenovo ThinkPads, and haven’t gone back (yet). Interesting to see what people are using and getting value from.

Half-a-Call More Per Hour

A group of colleagues listening to their team leader

A study of call centre workers by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found that workers with standing desks made about one half additional successful call per hour in comparison to co-workers who sat while working. The workers with standing desks alternated between standing and sitting, and on average, sat down for 1.6 hours fewer than co-workers who sat all the time.

There were various outcomes, including:
– feeling fewer body aches during the day, and
– making half-a-call more per hour

Half-a-call more per hour. Four more calls per day. 20 more calls per week. 1000 more calls per year. From standing up to work for part of the day.

What’s going on here? Standing for part of the day changed something in the body so mental functioning was better, fatigue was less, and the drive to continue was still in place at the end of the hour. Compared to sitting, the workers with the ability to stand while working didn’t feel the need to “stand up and take a break” to stretch … they could just keep going.

Some clever wordsmith pointed out that the difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary is that little bit extra. In many of the world-class performances on the field we see incredibly well-matched teams or individuals, with just that little bit extra on one side that clinches a win – even if it is but just milli-seconds in the pool or one point on the court.

What’s your performance metric? It’s easy to understand in a call centre world – calls per hour. Could your key performance metric be changed … even just that little bit extra … by standing to work more during the day? That’s the question I take from the research above.

It’s a far less significant change than the recent #Brexit vote, but it would appear that breaking up with your sit-only desk could usher in significant changes for you in the coming months and years.

Read about the study:
Inc., Your Productivity Will Increase by 46 percent if You Stand at Your Desk, Says Study
Vital Record, Boosting Productivity at Work May Be Simple: Stand Up
IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk Intervention

Google vs. Microsoft on Mobile Productivity Apps (US Data Only)


Gregg recently wrote on ComputerWorld about the comparative monthly active user base for Google’s mobile productivity apps versus the Microsoft offerings. The underlying data was provided by SurveyMonkey Intelligence:

Microsoft’s core Office apps — Excel and Word — badly trailed their rivals from Google, Sheets and Docs, respectively.

Google Sheets boasted 2.9 million monthly-active users in April, more than double the 1.4 million who ran the Excel app. Meanwhile, Google Docs monthly-active users outnumbered Word by more than five to one: 24.6 million for Docs, 4.6 million for Word.

Other app categories were just as unbalanced. Gmail, for example, was used by 96.7 million people last month, while Microsoft’s Outlook app — praised by many reviewers — sported just 6.3 million. In online storage, Google Drive bagged nearly 10 times the number of monthly-active users than did Microsoft’s OneDrive: 47 million to 4.9 million.

It is unclear exactly how SurveyMonkey Intelligence derived its figures. The article says (emphasis added):

SurveyMonkey is an online survey firm whose customers use the platform to craft customized surveys. Yu works with SurveyMonkey Intelligence, an arm that mines data from those surveys to provide information to clients on topics like device and software usage, market research and demographics.

Yu had pulled data for Computerworld on U.S. usage of Google’s and Microsoft’s productivity apps on mobile devices, expressed as monthly-active users, or the number who ran each app at least once in April.

Does that mean …
(1) SurveyMonkey Intelligence queried the mobile devices people were using to fill out SurveyMonkey surveys to see which apps had been used during April 2016? If so, wouldn’t that be a violation of consumer privacy?
(2) SurveyMonkey Intelligence used and aggregated survey responses from its customer’s surveys on this topic to provide its own data? If so, wouldn’t that be a violation of customer data? Also, how would that create comparable data sets, given the questionable approach?

I’m confused. The methodology is too unclear to trust the results.