Technology

Sharing Minds' Lead Trainers - What Makes Them Tick

 
Above: Owen Huth and Ben Creamer delivering a training session to a client

Above: Owen Huth and Ben Creamer delivering a training session to a client

 

Who are they?

Ben Creamer (BC): I joined Sharing Minds in January 2018 as the General Manager. Over the last 20 years, my career has taken me around the world supporting a range of businesses on Microsoft technology. I have experience in a wide array of skills from my early technical days in IT, to managing and growing teams and building businesses. I love advising customers and partners on the most appropriate use of cloud services and technology but it’s training and change management that really excites me.

Owen Huth (OH): I joined Sharing Minds in June 2019 as a Change Manager to support an existing team of IT professionals. During my career, I have had the opportunity to work in organisations that have various sized footprints, which has given me great insight into various IT ecosystems. Through working and living through the range of technology lifecycles, I have developed a passion for enabling organisations and their people to embrace the challenges these changes bring about.

Best part about the job?

BC: It is fantastic to work as part of a close-knit team of knowledgeable, fun-loving people who are passionate about what they do. I really enjoy the days when I’m out visiting our clients and get the chance to show and teach them how their new online environment works and what they can achieve with it. Recently, I was on a client site in the middle of outback Queensland delivering training on Office 365, which is a testament to how easily accessible the product is, even from the most remote places.

OH: Working with a team that supports one another to achieve a delivery that exceeds the expectations of our customers. This has been achieved by working with highly motivated individuals from different backgrounds banding together. A recent project required a very quick turnaround of a deliverable that I was able to share with my peers, get and action feedback to confidently deliver to a customer (collaborated through Microsoft Teams).

 
Above: Ben Creamer onsite delivering training to a client in regional QLD

Above: Ben Creamer onsite delivering training to a client in regional QLD

 

Favourite moment at Sharing Minds so far?

BC: I was delighted to be a part of Sharing Minds’ 10-year anniversary celebrations in mid-2018. Building a business and growing it over a 10-year period is a significant milestone and credit for the guys before me in making this possible. We made sure to celebrate with the team and stop and smell the roses!

OH: Watching the team band together to face a recent resourcing issue with a deliverable. It was a proud moment to watch as team members came in to assist on the project. This was a favourite moment as I know if I were facing the same issue, the team would have my back.

Why do you love training?

BC: This may sound a little cheesy, but I will never get tired of watching someone’s face during a training session when they realise how much more productive, they can be with their new solution. Whether it’s that taxing task they would usually dread doing everyday now being automated, or the moment when all the dots connect and they discover a new way to do something. That’s the best part about being a Trainer.

OH: Everyone has a different way of working and approaching a task, sometimes the approach works, other times it does not. What I love about training is the delivery of ‘wow moments’, where users realise that something that has been giving them grief for a long time is now resolved.

 
Above: Owen Huth presenting a training session on Office 365 to a client.

Above: Owen Huth presenting a training session on Office 365 to a client.

 

What’s the best training you have received?

BC: I have sat in on many courses over the last 20 years when mentoring and growing my trainer’s capabilities. I always look for energy in the delivery of material, subject matter knowledge and the ability of the trainer to build trust so participants can get involved in discussions and ask questions. I once saw a junior trainer deliver a course to a dozen experts in their field and rather than lecture them, he used their knowledge to facilitate the course and share the info between students.

OH: Throughout my career, I have attended many sessions to achieve a level of professional development. While everyone has a slightly different delivery method, I have found the best deliveries to engage and incorporate the participants. One method involved participants of a lecture in forming groups before delivering their theories on a concept; the trainer then used these theories to expand and enrich everyone’s idea of the concept. This method has always resonated with me when training users, as understanding where a user has come from allows you to deliver much more value.

What do you get up to when you are not in the office?

BC: Living on the beautiful, Sunshine Coast, nothing is better than getting out and about and enjoying the region. I keep busy by playing any sport I can as I love exercising and spending time with friends. My kids love taking their dog down to the beach so that means plenty of weekends by the water.

OH: When I am not in the office, I am spending time with family and enjoying trips out to the family farm. I enjoy playing team sports and am an active Volleyball player. I enjoy drinking coffee, listening to audio books and am a big fan of the Marvel and DC universes.

Are you interested in Office 365 training with Sharing Minds? Please contact us to book your session or for more information.

SharePoint Conference 2019 Wrap Up

SM_BC.jpg

This year, I had the pleasure of attending the annual SharePoint Conference (SPC) with one of our Senior Consultants, Shannon Carey, in tow. SPC is the premier SharePoint event offering sessions with expert tips on how to best utilise the platform and updates about the product roadmap as well as providing opportunities for networking with colleagues across the industry. This year was no exception as it was the 20th year since SharePoint’s humble beginnings running on an old server under Jeff Teper’s desk.

 
SharePoint Home Sites. Image credit: Microsoft

SharePoint Home Sites. Image credit: Microsoft

 

SharePoint Home Sites

The keynote session opened the conference with a range of speakers from Microsoft, and so too came one of the biggest announcements of the event, the launch of SharePoint Home sites. Through leveraging Communication sites, Home sites combines news, events, content, conversations and video which will emphasise organisational priorities and branding. Home sites are intended to be used with one per Office 365 tenancy and will eventually become the Home page on the SharePoint mobile app. 15 SharePoint Home sites launch partners were announced to coincide with the release and we were proud to hear Sharing Minds partners LiveTiles, Hyperfish and Wizdom are part of this cohort.

SharePoint Search Updates

There are many improvements to the Search functionality rolled out across the Microsoft 365 suite. In December 2019 custom refiners and verticals, display templates, more extensibility, more scalability, more content types, inline @Office help assistance and many more updates will be made available. As a result, content will be searchable within 15 seconds of an addition or change.

Multi-Geo Capabilities. Image credit: Microsoft

Multi-Geo Capabilities. Image credit: Microsoft

Multi-Geo Capability

New multi-geo capabilities have been announced for Office 365 Groups and SharePoint, which will enable users to store data in one or more locations they have selected. These capabilities satisfy data sovereignty requirements in each location and the user requirement has been lowered to organisations with 500+ users. This makes this feature available to more businesses that before and provides enterprise functionality for mid-sized organisations.

SharePoint Admin Centre Site URL Rename Functionality. Image credit: Microsoft.

SharePoint Admin Centre Site URL Rename Functionality. Image credit: Microsoft.

SharePoint Admin Centre - Site URL Rename

A host of improvements and updates to the SharePoint Admin Centre were announced during Jeff Teper’s opening keynote address. The most notable of which, site URL rename, was met with a raucous applause by the room of SharePoint devotees. This change will allow for the URL address of a site to be updated simultaneously when the site name changes and all future requests redirected to the new URL.

OneDrive Updates

Rolling out later in 2019 will be OneDrive Differential Sync, a new functionality which will only sync changes to files within a OneDrive, avoiding the need for the whole listing to be synced. This will save data and time usage for OneDrive users on the move.

Between sessions, I managed to find a few friendly faces around the exhibition, including Sharing Minds partners AvePoint, LiveTiles, Nintex and ShareGate. Keep an eye out on the Sharing Minds social media channels for some exclusive interviews I recorded with each of the partners about their product roadmaps and exciting updates.

Ben Creamer with Jeff Teper, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Office, OneDrive SharePoint and Office Media Group.

Ben Creamer with Jeff Teper, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Office, OneDrive SharePoint and Office Media Group.

A personal highlight of the event for me was meeting the legendary Jeff Teper. Known in the industry as the Godfather of SharePoint, it was a real honour to meet with Jeff and have a quick chat about the journey of SharePoint and where its headed in the future.

Already looking forward to next year’s SPC!

BC 2019.png

Cheers,
Ben
Ben.Creamer(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.

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

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...