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Stay up-to-date with the biggest changes in Office 365, SharePoint and Kira with our monthly plain-English round-up.
Microsoft continuously update their Office 365 roadmap with new and changed features. But there’s often so much going on that it’s hard to tell what’s important, or how you use the information. That’s why we’re launching this, our regular monthly round-up of key updates. Our expert team will hand-pick the updates to Office 365 – and particularly modern SharePoint sites – that are most relevant to our customers.
We’ll also occasionally include news about updates to Kira, our SharePoint intranet platform.
If you’re a CompanyNet customer, we’ll notify you each time we publish a round-up. If you’re not (yet!), then you can follow us on Twitter to make sure you get the latest news.
So, without further ado, here are this month’s key updates:
If you would like to find out more about these changes, or would be interested in help getting more out of Office 365, get in touch with CompanyNet.
Change the Look
There’s now a single menu for changing how your SharePoint sites look. This menu includes:
This menu can be accessed on each of your sites by clicking on the settings cog and then ‘Change the Look’.
Note that the new menu also has a ‘megamenu’ option. Kira comes with its own, more advanced mega menu which you should continue to use, so you can ignore this option.
This new menu gives you more control over how your sites appear, including the highly-anticipated compact headers, which give you back more space on the page, and the ability to quickly change branding for one or more sites.
The feature is being rolled out now.
You should inform your intranet team that they now have this menu, and if you have different sites/hubs with different content owners, make sure you’re all consistent with how you’ll apply the new options.
Think about whether there are any sites or hubs which you think deserve their own branding. How should they be different? What elements of the experience should be kept consistent across your intranet?
Get creative with more options for page layouts
Kira and SharePoint are gaining additional branding features in the form of customisable headers and footers, page titles, and section background colours.
You can now have a customised header on each site. Choose from a selection of four different colour schemes, and whether you want a standard, minimal, compact, or ‘colour block’ header (the latter is shown above). You can also add a footer to your site, with an optional logo and footer name.
There are also now several different styles of page titles, so you can customise different areas of your site with different looks. You can also centre page titles, and add optional information such as page author and publication date.
Page sections gain the ability to have a background colour. A choice four colours is available, based on the current site’s theme.
This update lets you get more creative with page layouts.
By using different heading styles, emphasising particular sections and grouping together related items, your page authors can introduce more clarity and improve your colleagues’ browsing experience.
This feature is being rolled out now.
Do more with new components
New and improved web parts are being added to Kira and SharePoint. These include:
These new components will enhance the experience for your users, and offer content authors more opportunities to get creative and share your organisation’s message.
These features are being rolled out now.
Find anything instantly with Microsoft Search
You can now find Office 365 search results integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, as Microsoft rolls out the new Microsoft Search experience.
Bing search results will now show people, sites, documents, calendars and conversations from Office 365 at the top. These results are private to you and your organisation, and you must be signed in to see them.
Microsoft Search provides a unified interface for finding corporate information. For the first time, you can search your OneDrive, SharePoint, Active Directory and Yammer all from one interface.
The feature is being rolled out now.
You can read more about this change in our recent blog post.
Two new Site Design options are becoming available on Modern SharePoint sites.
If you use a SharePoint Hub site, you can now determine what site design all the sites associated with that Hub will use. This option is available in the Hub site settings panel.
Secondly, you can now apply a new site design after your site has been created directly from within SharePoint. Previously, this could only be done by an IT administrator using PowerShell.
The ability to apply site designs was only applied on site creation from the SharePoint home site or via PowerShell for existing sites – allowing site owners to apply a template after a site has been created allows more flexibility.
Allowing Hub sites to specify the design associated sites should use will create consistency throughout your intranet.
These new options should already be available within your tenant, as they were rolled out in December 2018.
The new feature will be added without you needing to do anything.
Bringing LinkedIn data to Office 365
Microsoft bought LinkedIn at the end of 2016. Now the option has been made available to connect your LinkedIn account to Azure Active Directory (AAD), the user directory used by Office 365.
A new LinkedIn icon shows that the accounts have been linked and lets other users on the same Office 365 tenant view this information.
Connecting your LinkedIn account to your Office 365 profile increases the information displayed when people view your Profile card.
In addition, linking the accounts enables users to email LinkedIn 1st-degree connections directly from the web version of Outlook without needing their email address.
The organisational LinkedIn integration setting is currently being rolled out to tenants and will be enabled by default.
Let your users know that the feature will soon be available. For privacy reasons, each individual user can choose to connect their LinkedIn account with their Office 365 profile. You can start the authorisation process by viewing any profile card within Office 365 and clicking the LinkedIn icon.
Administrators can check or disable the organisation-wide setting within the Azure Portal User Settings panel.
Further details are available in these Microsoft articles:
Exploring the IT industry’s problematic relationship with change management, understanding why effective user adoption is more important than ever in a cloud-ready world, and looking at some methods and techniques available to those enlightened souls who wish to deliberately and positively deliver change and user adoption.
Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three were definitely onto something back in 1982, when they joined forces to record their version of Sy Oliver and Trummy Young’s 1930s classic ditty. What they probably didn’t realise was that almost 40 years later, the song’s central message would be used as a lighthearted device to illustrate effective ways of managing change in the IT industry.
Build it and they will come?
You see, the IT industry has always had a bit of a problem with change management. “Build it and they will come!” has been the prevailing attitude of IT departments through the years.
It’s been fuelled by a misguided belief that users will simply use the solution put in front of them. And all the evidence points to the fact that, unless they simply have to use it, they won’t. Instead, they’ll seek out an alternative route as the ‘path of least resistance’ – and you’ll have a failed implementation on your hands, thanks to poorly-managed user adoption.
Erm, no they won’t
The ‘build it and they will come’ adage betrays a fundamental arrogance which has been prevalent in the industry for decades. It fails to recognise that IT exists to provide a service to the business; that the business contains users of technology, and that users are very adept at knowing what they need, and what they don’t need. IT departments simply haven’t been providing the tools and technologies their user bases demand; if you need any further evidence, witness the rapid growth of ‘shadow IT’.
Continue reading this post »
The customer is always right. Right? Wrong. A supplier-side perspective on ‘the intelligent customer’.
In May 2017, Audit Scotland set out a number of principles to follow for customers in pursuit of a successful digital future. One of the principles was simply to:
“Be an intelligent client.”
The target audience for the recommendations was the public sector in Scotland. But the recommendations apply much more broadly than that – in the private sector, and way beyond Scotland’s shores.
In 2012, Audit Scotland had set out the main attributes for being an “intelligent client”. These were:
But these attributes all feel very dry, functional and transactional. They speak nothing of the customer-supplier relationship, of the emotive connection – a meeting of minds, mutual trust and professional respect.
Continue reading this post »
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