My First Impressions of Office Graph and Codename Oslo in Office 365

One of the highest points and pleasant surprises of SPC14 for me was to get insight on work Microsoft is doing with Office Graph and codename Oslo and how it can change Microsoft’s space in personalized work spaces. There was no news of Oslo prior to the conference and even Microsoft kept it secret prior to sharing updated conference schedule around Day 1 keynote.

While introducing Oslo first time to the attendees during SPC14 keynote, Jeff Teper mentioned Oslo is one of the best innovations they have done since SharePoint. With that statement, little he knows, he must have set the high expectations among attendees. With the little demo during keynote, I was intrigued but it didn’t sync in until I attended “Introducing Codename Oslo and the Office Graph” session later on same day. What I saw at this session can be considered as jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, and awe-inspiring contents Microsoft planning to bring to corporates and their customers as personalized workspace experiences. While many organizations are still catching up Social Intranets, it’s good to see Microsoft is staying ahead in futuristic personalized workspaces game. This was game changer for me and reason for this was only one – I tried to build similar personalized experiences in past without much success on SharePoint 2013 platform.

Ever since SharePoint 2013 came out and FAST was integrated with SharePoint Enterprise Search and all the new innovations with SharePoint 2013 Search, I was in the quest of building personalized interfaces on top of Search engine around Q4 2012. I had several ideas of personalized social intranets which required custom solutions with the assist of Search, User Profile, and Managed Metadata APIs. As I deep dived into architecting personalized experiences, I was well aware that SharePoint 2013 platform wasn’t mature enough to build personalized interfaces with ease. Integrating User Profile APIs with Search and Managed Metadata, capturing user interactions with the system, capturing social interactions among users, and presenting intellectual personalized information required much more sophisticated foundational framework within SharePoint.

As I was watching Codename Oslo and Office Graph sessions, it was evident that I had found my answer and I was blown away with all the innovations Microsoft has done with Office Graph. Although this is great and I am on bandwagon, only time will tell if Office Graph is real game changer in personalized workspaces as it promised at SPC14.

Session Title

What is Oslo and Office Graph?

Oslo is a code name for new people-centered personalized & contextual experience and proactive insights in Office 365. Users will get information through personalized insights that are created by analyzing content, interactions, and other activity streams across Office 365.

Oslo’s secret sauce is Office Graph. The Office Graph maps the relationships among people and information. Office Graph is a visualization of relations between users, groups, files, conversations, and other contents through machine learning and captures information the way it can be used to intelligently connect people each other and consumed as personalized experience to surface the most relevant content to the user as “Me, Myself, and Mine” interface. Office Graphs is nothing but mix of search, machine learning and gathering data about everything you do (“signals”) based on your personal network. Office Graph brings content what is relevant to you and who is relevant for you.

Although Office Graph is based on Yammer Enterprise Graph, both the Yammer Enterprise Graph and Microsoft Office Graph are two separate frameworks. According to Jared Spataro, they are extending Yammer’s concept of the Enterprise Graph across Office 365 to create something they are calling the Office Graph to map the relationships between people and information by simply recording likes, posts, replies, shares, and uploads. This will allow Microsoft to capture signals from email, social conversations, documents, sites, instant messages, meetings, and more to map the relationships between the people and other objects in the organization.

While Office Graph is underlying technology & brain power, Oslo is the first scenario to showcase true power of Office Graph and how Microsoft can create flipboard-like tiled experience with rich visuals to display plain SharePoint information in much more eye appealing way. Office Graph insights surface through Oslo. As initial implementation, Oslo is focused on documents but it can be easily extensible for Yammer conversations and other Office objects in future. By tapping into the Office Graph, Oslo serves up in a single user interface for personalized insights based on meetings, people, conversations, documents. Oslo surfaces what might be most relevant for each individual based on what they’re already doing in Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint, Office, Lync, and Yammer.

Additionally, it is important to note that Office Graph and Oslo are NOT SharePoint Search. Although Office Graph underlying architecture hasn’t been shared with general public apart from Microsoft has revealed that it’s a collection of analyzed signals via machine learning (might require very complex infrastructure to support signaling and machine learning for on-premises), Office Graph is more proactive & about discoverability while Search is reactive & about findability. Office Graph is all about information comes to me and discovering information while Search is all about information I am looking for. These are fundamentally two different things and at the end of opposite spectrum of information consumption.

Questions and Answers

I had a privilege to stop by Microsoft booth for “Discovery and Personalized Insights Center” and ask few questions to Oslo & Office Graph engineers.

  • What is underlying architecture for Oslo and Office Graph? – Office Graph is underlying framework powers Oslo. We can’t share much information except its more proactive and based on signaling framework to capture user activities. It compliments Enterprise Search and Usage Analytics workloads for personalized insights.
  • Is Oslo available only as windows app? – No, Oslo comes in two flavors – Windows App and Office 365 web interface as new workload.
  • When does Oslo available for customers? – Oslo experience will be available by second half of 2014 in Office 365
  • Is Oslo available for On-Premises customers? – No on-premises roadmap available for Oslo.
  • Are Office Graph APIs available for developers and partners? – Yes, Office Graph APIs will be available for partners and customers and extensible to build intelligent experiences
  • How can I participate in customer program for Oslo and enable on my tenant? – Plan to visit Office 365 Pre-release program to sign up for preview – http://prereleaseprograms-public.sharepoint.com/

Community Impressions

Office Graph and Oslo has been interpreted many different ways at the SharePoint Conference but some of the best impressions (including mine) and quotes I had captured during SPC14 from twitter feed are below:

OsloTwitter3

OsloTwitter2

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OsloTwitter1

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oslotwitter8

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Additional References

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2 Responses to My First Impressions of Office Graph and Codename Oslo in Office 365

  1. Pingback: What I Learned at #SPC14 | David Lozzi's Blog

  2. Pingback: My Top 5 takeaways from the SharePoint Conference 2014 #SPC14 | Jeremy Thake's musings

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