Make no mistake, most organizations and government agencies are—at least in part—software companies. The backbone of the services and products they sell, the internal business processes they use, and the customer feedback mechanisms they rely on are all built on software. Even in the age of software as a service (SaaS) – a modern organization’s portfolio of applications and the specifics of how these apps are used influence its most important decisions.
So while it’s easy to understand that software is a foundational component to modern business, often the decision to invest in building or offering software to users must also be accompanied by a more specific, anticipated return on that investment. That process can go like this:
In my previous post, I proposed an example application that leverages the resources available to us in Office 365 development platform and Azure Active Directory, as well as the in-application integration of Office 365 Add-ins.
Now we’ll take a deeper look at the Graph API and some of the implementation points.
Build Your Enterprise Graph
The Graph API empowers developers and enterprises to build new relationships and interactions between resources in Azure Active Directory, Office 365, and other applications and data assets.
As Microsoft’s enterprise cloud offerings continue to expand, so will the opportunities to weave these resources together in new and innovative ways. Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn will help it expand its social network graph, so it will be interesting to see how it plays into its Graph API in the future. Read More…
Enterprises have a trove of business resources and data that are often under-utilized – users, calendars, contacts, emails, tasks, documents and other files. Often there are redundancies between what users do with Office applications and other enterprise applications, and a painful lack of integration.
In prior posts, I discussed the compelling new Office 365 development platform and introduced Matter Center to demonstrate how integrating web-based add-ins directly into Office applications like Outlook can lead to productivity gains and happy users.
In this post we’ll introduce a sample application to show a practical example of how we can use these technologies to bring enterprise applications together with these valuable resources.
In my previous post, we looked at the exciting new possibilities of Office 365 as a development platform, including Add-ins implemented as independently hosted web applications and programmatic access to enterprise assets in Office 365 via APIs like the Graph API.
Today we’ll look at a rich example of leveraging the Office 365 platform: Microsoft’s Matter Center.
As a full-stack software developer with a penchant for UI/UX, I must admit I was a little skeptical when I was recently tasked to investigate Office 365 as a development platform.
What I found surprised and impressed me.
The Office 365 Development Platform
We’ve gotten really good at spinning up web applications that help users solve problems and increase productivity. That’s great, but it can also leave users with all sorts of disparate applications and stand-alone tools to interact with throughout the day. This contributes to a common productivity disrupter: context switching – that is, the need to frequently switch between different applications and user experiences.
Office 365 offers new compelling ways to integrate external services and custom functionality directly into the Office applications people already use.
Users can do more without having to alt-tab their way through the day, and developers can leverage a rich set of features and functionality without re-inventing the wheel.
Imagine being able to perform many of your day-to-day tasks without ever leaving Outlook. Or accessing external content directly in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Users can do more without having to alt-tab their way through the day, and developers can leverage a rich set of features and functionality without re-inventing the wheel.
What’s more, the functionality you add is available from anywhere, on any device. Office 365 provides rich browser-based web apps as well as native apps for Windows, iOS, and Android.
Like every business that’s dependent on consumer sales to fuel growth, you and your team members are probably constantly thinking about how you can make your organization’s sales processes fast and efficient enough to support the growth and customer retention that your executive team desires.
Well, we’ve figured out a way to do just that – our client organization is in the highly competitive insurance industry, and needed a way to increase sales volumes. Enter AIS; we were able to provide our client with an automated method of providing customers with a quote for insurance rates via a self-service web portal solution…resulting in the higher sales volumes they were seeking, while also reducing costs. Read More…
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an interesting and powerful business application. A core out-of-the-box (OOTB) benefit of Dynamics CRM is the ability to extensively tailor the application to address business needs, and here there are two approaches to consider: development or customization. Determining which approach to take is the key to maximizing the benefits of Dynamics CRM while keeping costs low.
Dynamics CRM is a basic web user interface fronting a SQL Server database that manages relational data. However, it is flanked by a built-in array of basic analytical tools and extensive administrative features, such as auditing, which give it enterprise-level credentials. Throw in a customizable user interface (UI), and you have a tool that is capable of supporting both small businesses and multinational corporations. So it would be logical to assume that Dynamics CRM has a developer-friendly, structured architecture to support customizations.
However, the reality is a little more complicated and brings up some curious paradoxes about Dynamics CRM. Read More…
2013 was a great year for AIS — we worked on exciting projects for our terrific clients, built some cool apps and won some cool awards. We were honored with the 2013 Microsoft Mid-Atlantic Cloud Practice Award and are among the first Amazon Web Services partners to earn a “SharePoint on AWS” competency. And throughout the year, we wrote and blogged about our passion for cloud computing, SharePoint, going mobile, and doing “more with less” for our government and commercial clients.
Here’s a round-up of 2013’s most popular posts and series, in case you missed them:
We have big plans for the blog for 2014 — more posts, more events and more compelling content from the entire AIS team. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out our Events page for details on our free presentations and webinars.
Happy holidays, and thanks for reading!
My decision to join AIS six years ago was a revelation. After almost seven years spent working as an embedded IT analyst for various government customers, I joined AIS to support a customer who was implementing SharePoint. I soaked up everything I could about this (at the time) brave new world of SharePoint. I loved it.
SharePoint 2003 had been available for use in my previous office where I had initially set up out-of-the-box team sites for working groups to support a large department-wide initiative. I found it empowering to quickly set up sites, lists and libraries without any fuss (or custom coding) to get people working together. Working with my new team, I gained insight into what we could do with this tool in terms of workflow, integration and branding. It got even better when we migrated to SharePoint 2007. We made great strides in consolidating our websites and communicating to those who were interested exactly what the tools could do in terms of collaboration and knowledge management.
This ability for a power user to quickly create a variety of new capabilities exposed a deeper customer need – easier communications with IT. While we had all this great expertise and firepower to create and maintain IT tools and services, our core customer base did not have an easy way to quickly and reliably communicate their needs in a manner that matched their high operational tempo. It was a problem. We needed a way for our customers to quickly and easily communicate with us in order to really hear what they needed to meet their mission goals and work more effectively. Read More…
I vividly remember the iconic scene from the 1995 box office hit Apollo 13 where a team of NASA engineers gathered around a table with a collection of mishmash spaceship junk. From this collection, the team had to create a square air filter to fit in a round receptacle so that the astronauts would not asphyxiate on CO2 in space. It’s an intense, life-or-death scenario of literally making a square peg fit in a round hole, where “failure is not an option.”
Working as a business analyst for our federal government clients means that budget, time, and resource constraints almost always play major role in any development effort. This challenge requires our team to use bit of ingenuity and a mixed bag of tools to create a solution for our customers. Read More…