2020 has been a memorable year, marked by the impacts of the pandemic. Everything we do has substantially changed – work, travel, shopping and human interaction – and it’s also been a year of tremendous digital transformation, unity and resourcefulness.
As we continue forward, we asked Tim Brady, Colligo’s new CEO, and Roland Reddekopp, our Presale Engineer, to share their top 2020 insights on Microsoft 365 cloud adoption, and modern shifts in how businesses are using Outlook and SharePoint Online for information management as we continue with remote work.
Tim BradyChief Executive Officer, Colligo
Roland ReddekoppPresale Engineer, Colligo
We saw the pull-forward on cloud-adoption really take off within the first few weeks of the pandemic as businesses shifted to working remotely. Are you surprised at how fast the pace of Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online cloud adoption accelerated?
Roland: I would say yes, and no. Early in 2020, we observed companies would talk about their plans to move to the cloud “one day” but as the next most important project arose, the move would get delayed. Although the migration plan was created in great detail, it was not executed, because that’s the hard part. Making the plan is actually pretty straightforward.
For those companies who had plans ready, the sudden shift to the cloud when the pandemic hit was straightforward. What does surprise me though, was how so many companies that had no pre-existing plans and had to make it up on the fly, were also able to jump two years forward in their digital transformation strategy in less than a month. There was a rapid mass migration because people had no choice to delay. Successfully migrating came down to the built-in drive of human nature to survive. It’s amazing what an organization can accomplish when everyone in the company is pulling in the same direction.
2020 is looking to be a work from home year for most non-essential/frontline workforces. What do you think that’s going to mean for organizations using Microsoft?
Tim: We’ve seen the rush to rapidly deploy cloud solutions.
For organizations already using Microsoft 365, they will continue to find ways to leverage the solutions they have access to. That’s part of why we’re seeing the uptick in Teams adoption and usage. Greater adoption within the workplace. Then, you’re seeing the organizations who had access to Teams, but hadn’t lit it up, begin adopting it more in their workflows.
The third bucket is really companies newer to cloud are deploying M365, also pushing adoption of collaboration tools like Teams. The next step is Microsoft’s very timely introduction of new solutions, like Project Cortex.
So we will see further adoption of Microsoft’s existing cloud solutions, with richer and deeper features coming to market, in addition to new solutions, which will ultimately continue to bring new users to the platform and see greater adoption for those already on Microsoft.
We’ve seen the rush to rapidly deploy cloud solutions. For organizations already using Microsoft 365, they will continue to find ways to leverage the solutions they have access to. The next step is Microsoft’s very timely introduction of new solutions like Cortex.”
Does the enterprise world shift to fully cloud or some form of hybrid?
Roland: Ultimately the cloud will be where everything goes but the security concerns need to be addressed. A lot of the security concerns aren’t necessarily real, they are imagined. Many administrators naively think they’re well protected as long as they’re behind a firewall. In fact, the local network is where they’re most vulnerable.
Having a partner like Microsoft, whose firewalls are always up-to-date and always looking for the latest attack can’t be beat. I think that’s where everything is going to go ultimately.
I’m only talking here about a cloud that’s supported and hosted by a well-established enterprise player like Microsoft. If you’re putting your information into cloud XYZ by some startup, well that’s a different story.
Tim: Roland, I actually have a slightly different view on this one. I do agree that even greater than 90% of workloads and transformations will go to the cloud. But I think we’ve realized that over the last couple of years, even with the recent surge in adoption of cloud strategies and cloud implementations, I do think there are some workloads (albeit less and less) that will be resistant to going fully into the cloud. A lot of the government’s workloads might be a bit slower to move. Inevitably, there will be some that just never move.
Roland: Well, it’s hard for me to say I had 100% percent as well. Maybe I can revise to 99.5%?
Tim: Ok, we’ll settle on that one.
Does knowledge management and sharing happen as much from Teams as Email? Do you think that will that change?
Tim: As much as we’re seeing the uptick in Microsoft Teams usage, I don’t think it’s weighing on email. Email is still the primary source of communication, especially with external parties. They’re used for different forms of communication and collaboration and serve different purposes.
I was on a webinar this morning and I noticed a stat that 100% of the IT leaders on the webinar still use email as the primary method of communicating with suppliers, customers, partners, other external parties. And 94% said it was that it was critical to their communication strategy.
As much as we are seeing the conversations that take place on Teams, they aren’t quite as deep as they would be on email. Sometimes they ultimately get trapped inside that organization’s tenant. There’s no record of it for the external communication piece needed for governance, and that’s what email brings to the table.
While I am a big fan of Teams, ultimately you need both Teams and the email component for a complete knowledge management and record management strategy.
Some organizations found that when employees scattered to home offices, information management practices got kind of scattered at the same time. What do you think can be done to support records capturing knowledge management as organizations work remotely?
Roland: The disruption that most companies experienced during the March and April time frame has mostly been addressed by the deployment of cloud-based access and tools. But information hasn’t necessarily been stored in the same organized way that it was previously done. This is because creating an effective organizational strategy is a very incremental process.
It has to be methodical, thoughtful and requires plenty of discussion and interaction with stakeholders to get it right. This kind of methodical, careful process is not compatible with the accelerated changes that most companies experienced in the recent crisis.
Now that we’re past the panicked shift to Microsoft 365 at the start of the pandemic, we’re beginning to see companies pick up the pieces and locate the data that fell between the virtual cracks. Two things are still in a bit of a disarray, record capture and knowledge management.”
Organizations need to capture and accurately label certain data so they can be reliably found later. This type of data may not be valuable right now or in the short-term, but do have longer-term value. You need to be able to separate your key documents from the noise of the less important documents. You can do this either by having a special repository, such as all the billings go here or all the invoices go there, or you need some special method to tag the documents so that they’re searchable and also protected from accidental deletion or otherwise.
We know that Microsoft has two basic solutions for that. The first solution to retain the data is retention labels. Labels are especially good for records. These labels have been designed so they can be applied in place. You can even apply a retention label inside your own mailbox. But realistically, these types of documents, including emails, should be moved to a common repository so that they can be accessed by those who need to use this information. Of course, Colligo software like Email Manager for Microsoft 365 can help with both moving and applying labels in transit.
The other solution that Microsoft has for categorizing things, which is especially important for knowledge management, is metadata. Metadata is powerful in combination with content types. Content types are distributed to the SharePoint document libraries and Teams Sites used within your organization, providing a consistent data architecture.
Again, Colligo helps capture these documents and move them not only to the right repository where they can be stored and accessed later, but also labelling, and tagging them properly so that they can be more easily searched and consumed whenever required.
Colligo is in the interesting position of being a partner to Microsoft and on the frontline with customers that may struggle to get employees to use SharePoint. How do you serve both groups?
Tim: At the end of the day, our focus is providing value with our applications. We support the products Microsoft users use most, whether that’s Outlook, SharePoint or Teams. Ultimately we are the bridge to make sure users can use them in the most rational, logical way.
To add to that, we always say “Colligo brings SharePoint into Outlook.” Many of our users are using SharePoint and Outlook as part of their content and compliance strategy and record management strategy. We allow you to do that in the easiest way possible, save you time and improve efficiency by allowing you to access that SharePoint in an easy-to-use way right from Outlook. With our new product, Content Manager, we do it in a much more attractive UI as well.
Our challenge is to bridge that gap between the familiar user-experience inside Outlook and SharePoint. Then we can bypass their reluctance to change and empower the employee to get the benefits of SharePoint, but stay within the familiar home base of Outlook. That’s what our goal was for Colligo Content Manager and I think we did it quite well”.
What book are you reading?
Roland: Practical Microsoft Azure, which sounds really exciting I’m sure, but it’s valuable insight as we stay reliable advisors and active Microsoft Partners. I’m also taking what I learned from the book to archive my family’s home movies, not just my own files but my parents and grandparents. So there’s 50 years of video that I’m archiving to Azure to protect our memories from any natural disasters, fires and even technology changes that could block us from accessing those movies in the future.
A book you recommend for anyone looking to enter our industry?
Roland: For those who are looking at the implementation side or looking to figure out solutions in SharePoint and Microsoft 365, there’s a book called Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online Cookbook. It’s easy-to-read, compiles solutions, and demonstrates how to use different components of Microsoft 365 to accomplish process goals. It’s especially great for those who may not be familiar with Microsoft 365. If you’ve been stuck in the G-suite or some other collaboration platform but need to get up to speed with Microsoft 365, it’s an awesome resource to consider.
Tim: I would actually recommend a podcast for this one, the Microsoft Intrazone podcast – it’s one of my go-to weekly or bi-weekly sources of new information profiling hot topics and key Microsoft partners related to Microsoft 365.
Favorite gadget so far in 2020?
Roland: For the last six months, I’ve been using this really great set of headphone technology from AfterShokz. These bone conducting headphones transmit sound from my iPhone (audio, podcasts, etc.) through vibrations on cheekbones. These headphones sit comfortably on your cheekbones not on your ears.
I would recommend it for biking or any activity where you don’t want your ambient hearing to be totally obstructed.
Tim: You should be getting a referral fee for those ones. I’ll look them up on Amazon to try and get a pair myself.
I’ve got a new power meter for my road bike. It’s the Garmin Vector 3 pedal-based power meter and it’s been fantastic. It gives me both data that is encouraging but also humbling as I strive for new goals.
About the speakers
Tim joined Colligo as CEO in February 2020 after acquiring the company through Olbia Software Inc. He is passionate about Colligo’s mission to improve the productivity of modern workforces and helping organizations with content management. Prior to Olbia Software, Tim spent many years both covering and investing in the Canadian and US technology sectors with Picton Mahoney Asset Management and RBC Capital Markets. Tim holds an HBA from the Ivey School of Business.
Colligo’s North America customers know Roland as the technical frontline helping to understand and serve their needs. Roland is a senior technology manager with over 15 years of experience supporting businesses in best utilizing SharePoint and Microsoft Office. He provides proven and consistent skills to drive complex projects forward, helping organizations to break down silos to better collaborate and continuously improve performance and innovate.