Office Delve: have you heard of it? Are you using it? Should you use it?
Delve rolled out in 2014 for Office 365 for Business, powered by Office Graph, its internal machine-learning technology. Microsoft calls it “a new way to discover relevant information and connections from across your work life. Delve displays information that is most relevant for each person based on the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging. With Delve, information finds you versus you having to find information.” (Source)
This description sounds great, but to really understand Delve, you have to use it. Access Delve from your Office 365 app launcher:
The first time you launch Delve, you’ll see several pop-up tips introducing you to a few features, and then you can explore. Information appears in the style of “content cards” sorted into different views (more on views below). You’ll see files from OneDrive for Business and/or SharePoint sites, as well as files that have been shared with you as email attachments. If your organization uses Office 365 Video, you may see those files as well. You won’t see documents stored in private folders unless they have been intentionally shared with you.
Delve is divided into several views where you will find different collections of information. Home is your personalized tab where Office Graph surfaces the files that are most likely to be interesting and relevant to you, including both documents you worked on and files that are popular/active among your colleagues. My work and Shared with me (which will eventually be replaced with a single Me page) contain files you’ve created or modified, as shown in the image above. Boards will contain your Delve boards–more on that below. If you click on an individual’s name under People, you will see his or her Delve page, with (public or shared) documents they’ve worked on.
The visual representation of files in Delve will be familiar to you if you use other social networks, like Pinterest. The information on the card will show you what the file is and why it would be relevant to you, including details like: who modified the document and when, a picture extracted from the document’s content, the folder in which the document is stored, and which board it appears on.
Boards are a place to group content by subject, and can be shared with a group or kept as individually owned. Content cards have an Add to board button which will allow you to pin files to a particular board. Files on a board still appear elsewhere in Delve, so you can think of adding a file to a board similar to tagging or labeling a file.
So why use Delve? There are a few key benefits:
- From an end user perspective, using Delve is simple and straightforward. It doesn’t take long to learn how Delve is laid out and how to view and sort files.
- Office Graph’s machine learning capability takes over some of the content management and organization that would otherwise need to be done manually.
- Delve never changes any file permissions, so private documents stay private. Viewing activity on Delve is also private.
What are some downsides of Delve?
- There’s no admin UI, so it’s difficult (or impossible) for administrators to control or report on any Delve activity.
- Content can become disorganized quickly since there’s no ability to enforce a certain set of tags or taxonomy.
For us here, the positives of Office Delve outweigh the negatives, and we’re pretty excited about using the new technology. But Delve may offer more challenges at a larger organization.