Microsoft Ignite The Tour | Sydney Wrap-Up

L-R: Shannon Carey, Ben Creamer, Adam Clark and Geoff Boddington.

L-R: Shannon Carey, Ben Creamer, Adam Clark and Geoff Boddington.

Now that Ignite Sydney has come to a close for 2019, I’d like to share some of my experiences throughout the two days of the event. Firstly, I’ll start out by acknowledging everyone that made it such a special event for us - from mingling with our fellow industry colleagues, to our network of partners we were able to catch up with in and around the event, and of course the many, invaluable, one-on-one conversations we were able to have with the Microsoft experts.

To set the scene, The Hub is where we met with different vendors and partners showcasing their vast array of products and capabilities. AvePoint’s ‘The Claw’ vending machine was a favourite, as was, Logitech’s Microsoft Teams Meeting Room devices and Vive’s headsets.  

SM Ignite Sydney 2019 2.jpg

As always, it was great to see our partners Rhipe and Nintex at their separate booths and the team at LiveTiles roaming around the exhibition floor. There were so many others we managed to catch up with over the two days; it’s always great to see so many familiar faces in the crowd.  

Adam Clark with Nintex Sales Engineer Mathew Johnson at the Nintex booth. Photo credit: Nintex.

Adam Clark with Nintex Sales Engineer Mathew Johnson at the Nintex booth. Photo credit: Nintex.

Of all the sessions, my favourite was a presentation from Brian Holt, all about designing resilient cloud applications. It really made me think about all the different possibilities when designing solutions. Brian is proficient at building out applications using node.js and showed how the infrastructure can be stood up in Azure in just a matter of minutes.  

He then showed how this could be made globally redundant and efficient using a new feature in Azure Front Door which was a highlight for me.  

It also got me thinking about how to incorporate Cosmos DB into applications, rather than relying on SQL. 

Logic Apps made its way into most of the sessions that I attended. Generally, this was spoken about as the glue that wires up application in Azure, or even to spin up Azure infrastructure. I hopped into a session on custom connectors that can be consumed in Logic Apps or Power Apps and was surprised by how easy this process is. Drop me a line if you would like some more information on this.

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It was refreshing to hear stories around how AI is being used for good and solving complex problems, never before possible.  

case study about the counting of rare fish using underwater drones and AI, which enables government policy to be written in a timely manner to protect the fish in the Northern Territory, really stood out as a perfect example of AI being embraced in a new and innovative way to help society.  

Finally, I’ll leave you with a learning which has really stuck with me since returning to the office after Ignite: 

Traditional monitoring and alerting are built from the server level up, modern monitoring and alerting happens from the client down. 

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Cheers

Shannon
Shannon.Carey(at)sharingminds.com.au

LiveTiles Featured Article: Three intelligent transformation tools for your business

A featured article originally written
by Kane Grose, LiveTiles

The phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’ has been around since the 1930s, but it’s something we’ve taken to heart here at LiveTiles. So much so, that even our workplaces are intelligent now!

The intelligent workplace, as we see it, is the natural progression from the digital workplace. It allows us to work more efficiently and creatively and progress into a realm of genuine ideation, instead of just mindlessly trudging through our daily tasks.

This is done through the infusion of simple artificial intelligence, usage analytics, and informed design iteration into our online work environments.

Three intelligent transformation tools for your business

We’ve built our intelligent workplace platform using a combination of three elements. These are LiveTiles Design, Bots, and Intelligence. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:

LiveTiles Design is the foundation of our intelligent workplace. Instead of jumping between a bunch of disparate apps and sites in order to do your work, Design allows you to pull all your tools together in one mobile-friendly interface, making your workspace more efficient and easier to navigate.

(above) LiveTiles Design-built Human Resources Portal

(above) LiveTiles Design-built Human Resources Portal

LiveTiles Intelligence takes the design platform to the next level. Gone of the days of ‘close enough is good enough’ when it comes to our collaborative workspaces.

Intelligence provides ongoing usage analytics and feedback that designers can use to inform their redesign choices. This means that the intelligent workplace can evolve to be precisely what users need it to be, instead of collecting a bunch of stale, redundant pages that no-one uses.

(above) LiveTiles site wide Intelligence Visitor Overview dashboard

(above) LiveTiles site wide Intelligence Visitor Overview dashboard

To truly have an intelligent workplace, though, you need one that will learn how to work with you. That’s where our bots come in.

Essentially, LiveTiles Bots will be your digital personal assistants that can help you with a wide range of repeatable, mundane tasks. This gives you more time to concentrate on the tasks that need genuine human cognition to complete.

(above) LiveTiles Bots’ ability selection menu

(above) LiveTiles Bots’ ability selection menu

Don’t be daunted though – the UI of our bot design platform makes it simple to update your helpers, meaning that they can evolve at the pace your workplace requires.

Through a combination of these components, you can create a dynamic and engaging workplace that has the capacity to grow and change to meet all your user needs.

Request your own LiveTiles demo here.

Find out more about how Sharing Minds can help you explore the world of LiveTiles’ technologies by contacting us here, or give us a call on 1300 611 359.

2018 Projects Update

Our 10-year anniversary aside, 2018 has been a wonderfully busy year for us, with opportunities to work on some challenging and really exciting projects.

2018 Projects Update

Here’s a snapshot of a few things we’ve done:

  • Development of an Office 365 intranet and collaboration portal utilising LiveTiles, with training sessions provided to aid the deployment and adoption among staff.

  • Creation of a staff portal for a 10,000-seat organisation using SharePoint Online to provide project management, support and strategic advice for the release and post go-live stages of the project.

  • Sharing Minds assisted a leading Queensland Government agency to migrate years of data from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Online. The migration process was via SharePoint 2013 and utilised Sharegate.

  • A full end-to-end SharePoint Online intranet design and deployment, including project management, provision of a change management framework, train-the-trainer services and remote support.

 
2018 Projects Update
 
  • Migration, using SkyKick, of 200 staff to a new email system, with train-the-trainer services and advice for the change management and communication strategy.

  • Development of a new intranet for a large education client, combining LiveTiles and Office 365. Content from the original intranet was migrated using DocAve.

  • Creation of a SharePoint Online application, for a health industry client, to manage ideas from users. The app provides users with the ability to view ideas, search ideas, vote for ideas, view total votes and comment on ideas.

  • Migration to Office 365 and development of a members’ portal for a leading national retail organisation.  A marketing forms application was also developed using PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.

  • Development of a job seeker portal completed by integrating an existing web application with Azure Active Directory for authentication. Azure AD allowed session-based pass-through authentication to SharePoint Online which was embedded into the web application and permitted users to utilise Word Online.

  • Design and implementation of a best-of-breed government solution that combined a leading records management solution (RecordPoint) to manage a wide variety of content. This project also combined the cloud governance features of AvePoint’s governance and automation product to manage the creation and administration of information within the corporate environment.

  • Sharing Minds developed an apprentice mentoring solution using Dynamics 365 for a leading career training organisation. This solution helped our customer manage a wide variety of information about their customers. 

  • Migration of petabytes of data within a large document management system, using AvePoint, to SharePoint Online and On-Premises.

  • Creation of a fully automated and highly secure end-to-end incident reporting solution using Nintex’s Workflow Platform.  

2018 Projects Update
  • Global information and document management solution integrated with multiple document sources including SharePoint Online, Aconex and ProjectWise, to deliver complete security and reporting capability around the full document lifecycle.  

  • Development of an app to manage tasks assigned to resources from managers based in various locations, using LiveTiles. The app also provides the ability to see task history, add comments and to re-open completed tasks. 

  • Development of a governance application, using Azure multi-tenant authentication and Logic Apps, that controls the assessment and implementation of a trial IoT feature deployed within a regional council. The application also provides a register of IoT devices and their respective deployments.  

  • A leading national education provider commissioned Sharing Minds to build a best-of-breed intranet to manage a wide variety of training courses. This solution involved a series of category-based training schedules that could be overlaid to create a “master” calendar for all events nationally. This solution extended the out of the box capabilities of SharePoint Online through custom development to provide a unique solution for our customer.

Meet Geoff - our Business Development Manager

Geoff Boddington, Sharing Minds’ new Business Development Manager reveals a little bit of his journey into sales and his time at Sharing Minds so far.

Geoff Boddington, Sharing Minds

“I fell in love with sales because I like to help people. It’s fantastic when you have an amazing team who has your back and the confidence that this brings when you walk into a room filled with executives. When I'm in meetings, I love the penny-drop moment.  Seeing a client's eyes light up when they see the value, the vision, the fact that this WILL make their lives better… that makes it all worthwhile.”

Prior to his appointment at Sharing Minds, Geoff worked for some of Australia’s fastest growing technology companies.  For over a decade he has gained valuable insight, working across data centres, tech start-ups and leading software companies. ‘I have a real passion for helping customers use IT to realise tangible business outcomes.

“Attending the Breakfast Event Series has definitely been a highlight of my time at Sharing Minds so far. I had only been with the team for a couple of weeks before I went along to the Microsoft Teams event co-hosted with AvePoint, so it was an excellent introduction to the Sharing Minds network of clients and partners for me.”

Geoff (on far right) with the Sharing Minds and Nintex teams at a recent breakfast event.

Geoff (on far right) with the Sharing Minds and Nintex teams at a recent breakfast event.

Geoff is based in our Brisbane Head Office but is often out meeting with our wonderful partners and customers. “I get to see behind the scenes, and beyond the days when I’m racing between my seventh and eighth meetings, it's a really funky and invigorating place to work.  It's amazing to watch these stupidly-smart project managers and technologists running around, saving the world.  You might laugh, but in actual fact the work they’re doing every day saves the hypothetical forests of many, many business ecosystems.  It's saving the sanity of users, it’s generating new ideas, and they’re inspiring users to make an impact in their workplaces with some of the amazing tools that Microsoft are bringing out.”

 

What tips would you share from your first months at Sharing Minds? 

  • If you want someone to believe in you, you've got to put yourself in their shoes.  Being in sales does NOT resemble a one-way street. 

  • Take teamwork to the next level and don't just trust your team but take pride in them - they've got your back, they often know better than you, and you’ll need to know when to let them take over. 

  • And lastly, for now, believe in the power of a cold Friday-brew.

 

To get in contact with Geoff, send him an email at sales@sharingminds.com.au

Key Takeaways from Sharing Minds’ 2018 Breakfast Series

Did you miss any of the events? The presentations slides are still available! Please contact sales@sharingminds.com.au and one of our friendly team would be more than happy to send you through a copy.

Sharing Minds Breakfast Series

Sharing Minds recently concluded the final event of our 2018 Breakfast Series – a collection of events designed to empower you with the knowledge to create an intelligent digital workplace which fosters collaboration and productivity.


Event 1 | Microsoft Teams Workshop: Governance and User Adoption Made Easy

Ben Creamer presenting

Ben Creamer presenting

The first event, held on Wednesday 19 September, focused on managing governance and increasing user adoption in Microsoft Teams.

The first session of the event was a tour through Teams, where the audience was provided tips to best engage with the tool to encourage user adoption.

Paul Olenick, AvePoint’s Product Strategy Director, led the second session with a presentation centered around the importance of maintaining governance of your organisation’s Teams environment. Paul emphasised the importance of “right-sizing” governance mechanisms and the key areas to balance when managing the usage of Teams.

Ben Creamer and Paul Olenick

Ben Creamer and Paul Olenick

Paul Olenick presenting

Paul Olenick presenting


Event 2 | Microsoft and Nintex Workflow: An Industry Leading Analysis of Workflow Tools

Workflows was the topic of the second event on Tuesday 9 October, with our partner Nintex at the Microsoft Brisbane office.

Sharing Minds’ CTO Adam Clark explained the criteria upon which each workflow technology was judged and the overall process which led to Nintex being chosen during a recent customer engagement. Adam then gifted the audience with his Top 10 Workflow Selection Tips.

Request the slides to find out what Adam’s top tips are.

Nintex Sales Engineer Mathew Johnson demonstrated the ability of the Nintex platform to connect with Microsoft systems including Azure Cognitive Services, Dynamics and Office 365. The demonstration showcased the capabilities of Nintex, including Advanced Workflow, Connectors, Modern Forms, Mobile App, DocGen and Process Intelligence.

Adam Clark and Mathew Johnson

Adam Clark and Mathew Johnson

L to R: Ben Creamer, Amy Degnan, Mathew Johnson, Adam Clark, Geoff Boddington

L to R: Ben Creamer, Amy Degnan, Mathew Johnson, Adam Clark, Geoff Boddington


Event 3 | Office 365 & LiveTiles: Enabling a Modern Workforce with Intelligent Design

The final event of the series took place on Tuesday 23 October with our friend and partner LiveTiles at the Brisbane Microsoft office.

Toowoomba Catholic Schools’ Kevin Berry and Bill Medill walked the audience through their recent project with Sharing Minds to overhaul their corporate intranet site and encourage each of their schools to design their own intranet sites by embracing the capabilities of LiveTiles.

LiveTiles’ Director of the APAC region, Damien Neale, announced their Roadmap for 2019 and Dennis Drover, LiveTiles’ Innovation and Experience Specialist, rounded out the event by demonstrating LiveTiles’ functionality, showcasing the drag and drop design and search bar features.

L to R: Bill Medill, Ben Creamer, Kevin Berry, Damien Neale

L to R: Bill Medill, Ben Creamer, Kevin Berry, Damien Neale

Ben Creamer presenting

Ben Creamer presenting


Thank you all for joining us!

Keep an eye out on our Events page for more upcoming events. To receive your personal invitation, please contact events@sharingminds.com.au

Meeting the QGCIO Panel on Best Use of Teams

As part of my role at Sharing Minds I’m often called on to discuss various topics with our customers, particularly when it comes to features and use cases of various Microsoft tools.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking to the Queensland Government CIO Panel about Microsoft Teams.  I walked the panel through a series of advice and tips in guiding their usage and implementation of Teams.  It’s one of Microsoft’s hottest products at the moment, and careful management and guidance of any roll-out should be considered before implementation.

For any further information or for a chat around your implementation of Teams, please feel free to fill in the form below or give me a call on 1300 611 359.

Ben Creamer - Sharing Minds

Cheers,

Ben
Ben.Creamer(at)sharingminds.com.au


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TableFilter.JS - Part of a SharePoint Solution

tablefilter.jpeg

What options do you have when you’ve got several lists of data in SharePoint, and wish to present them as a merged, contiguous data set?

THE SCENARIO

Our client had developed several lists of contractor related information on licenses, technical and safety certifications, and medical/vaccination states, all with attached copies of certificates etc. Every time the HR Team needed to check someone's status or current qualifications, they needed to check each of these lists and download the files to desktop or a folder, before they could forward them to prospective clients.

THE REQUIREMENTS

Sharing Minds was approached to assist in developing a SharePoint-based solution to display a single consolidated view of the contractor details, and to allow the selection to be downloaded in a single archive of selected certificate files.

There was also the requirement for a ‘light weight’ solution with few or no libraries to be installed on the server.

OUR OPTIONS

Some of the default options such as a content query web part or search results were not suitable, as apart from 2 fields per list (e.g. ID  and Name) there wasn't a common content type or data structure.  

With no common content types, or other centralising elements that we could use it had become a custom solution, as we did not want to show tuples (i.e. repeated row caused by joining dissimilar lists). 

In a database, we could create a query using unions and joins and flatten it out.  

But we're using SharePoint.  

Using a client-side approach we were able to leverage JavaScript to create a common data structure of nested objects populated by a REST call per list, before pushing the compound list of objects into a table for display. 

Add in the further requirement to sort, search and filter by the many columns imported from the lists, and our first trial was with TableFilter.JS.

TABLEFILTER.JS 

Available from GitHub, well documented with great examples, Max Guglielmi has provided a great framework which takes our humble HTML table and puts a very handy HTML5 spin on it just by pointing it at the table ID.  

Starting out with simple text search on each field (Fig.1) it was able convert selected columns into multiple-checklist, drop down selectors.(Fig.2)

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

LIMITATIONS

Now there are caveats here.   

While it can do cascading filters based on selected column, multi-selector cascading filters (think Excel) are still on the feature request list (or we can recommend Chosen.JS if you want program it yourself). There is some limitation to the functionality of the library.  

However, given it is on an MIT license, it's a very generous framework and Mr Guglielmi has a set of commercial extensions available as well.  

So instead of a relatively static table or form which passes filter values back to a second, third etc. REST calls and data refresh, we have a large dataset which we can load, sort, filter and reset quickly and easily

Some of the limitations we encountered were time to load with very large data sets (20K+ items), especially when using Internet Explorer due to its rendering engine and loading dynamic content, as well as the default 5000 item list threshold on REST calls.  

If you’re having similar issues with your SharePoint environment and would like assistance, please contact our Service Delivery Team to arrange for a consultation.

Phone   1300 611 359
Email    info@sharingminds.com.au

Rob Bayly - Sharing Minds

Cheers,

Rob
Rob.Bayly(at)sharingminds.com.au

Microsoft Gold Partner: What does it mean to us?

Sharing Minds - Microsoft Partner - Gold Cloud Productivity

You might have recently seen our announcement about becoming a Microsoft Gold Partner in 2017.  It’s something that we as a solutions provider put a lot of effort and pride into as it distinguishes our business from others.

When you see the Microsoft Gold Partner badge, you'll instantly know that the Partner has met the rigorous requirements of technical examination grades, customer references and the stringent business competency requirements of Microsoft.  We invest time in our staff to study and to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and even to certify them to make sure they carry a Microsoft qualification. 

It means we are officially endorsed to provide the highest level of expertise, strategic thinking and hands-on skills.  It also means we can offer our customers insights into Microsoft and their vast array of products and services. We are connected into behind-the-scene discussions and roadmaps so that our consulting services can guide you on the right technology path. A Microsoft Gold Partner can help you make the best choice with the greatest confidence.

The Gold Partner title also provides significant benefits to Sharing Minds, including accessing the full benefits of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) including unlimited technical support from the Microsoft technical engineers and Signature Cloud Support team

It means we’ll have the best minds on the job, at all times.

Sharing Minds - Ben Creamer

Cheers,

Ben
Ben.Creamer(at)sharingminds.com.au

Why are we excited about SharePoint 2019?

Sharing Minds - Jordan Bell - Why are we excited about SharePoint 2019.png

Some exciting news has been coming out of Microsoft's latest edition of the Ignite conference (Sept 2017), where more than 25,000 customers and partners converged to talk all things Microsoft.

Sharing Minds - SharePoint 2019

A great deal of announcements were made, including interesting applications of AI and mixed-reality into various products. As you might expect, the announcement we found the most exciting is the pending release of SharePoint 2019, expected in preview as soon as June this year.

Further announcements included big plans to better bridge the gap between on-premise environments and the cloud. While today only 35% of licenses are on-premise (reducing steadily from previous years), Microsoft is clearly still focused on providing businesses with both online and on-premises versions and supporting these with updates and improvements.

Reports from Microsoft MVPs give hope to the future availability of the modern experiences seen in SharePoint online in SharePoint Server 2019. This support could include the availability of modern Team and Communication Sites as well as the new Sync Client, which is said to be a vast improvement over its predecessor. SharePoint 2019 will also bring support for PowerApps, another tool which has become increasingly useful and powerful in SharePoint Online.

Communication Site

Communication Site

Team Site

Team Site

Broad plans also encompass the forthcoming Office 2019 productivity suite, as well as Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019 alongside the release of SharePoint Server 2019, outlined in a Collab365 Global Conference keynote talk hosted by Collaboris.

All of this means the next stage of releases will lay the groundwork for a better, more fully featured SharePoint experience no matter whether you are operating on-premise or online. With these platforms right around the corner, now is the time to begin planning how your organisation will evolve alongside.

Would you like some advice on your SharePoint 2019 roadmap?  We'd love to help, so please get in touch today.

Sharing Minds - Jordan Bell

Cheers,

Jordan
Jordan.Bell(at)sharingminds.com.au

The Six-Month Milestone

Congratulations!  So, you’ve made it to six months, time to give yourself a pat on the back.  But before you pop the champagne, let’s take an audit of your first six months at Sharing Minds…

In such a short amount of time, we’ve achieved some pretty significant milestones.  I’m filled with a satisfying sense of...