The future looks like Oslo?

Borgen, The Bridge, novels by Stieg Larsson – it appears that the whole world has Scandimania. Last night, tech behemoth Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon, announcing their new app Oslo at this years SharePoint Conference (twitter hashtag SPC14). In a peculiarly Philomena Cunk style question, we ask ‘What is Oslo?’ and are Microsoft promoting a compelling vision of a socially connected enterprise future.

The future is social

Many commentators, us included, have extolled the values of social intranets, but most enterprises have social in a sidebar rather than fully integrated social features, woven into the intranet DNA. The future is social everything: social communication, social collaboration, social transactions and importantly, social knowledge share and creation. Firewalled social technologies don’t allow these expansive capabilities as they don’t have complete access to the tools and so social becomes an add-on for enterprise communities.

So what’s the Oslo down?


Oslo surfaces content using Office Graph

When Microsoft bought Yammer for a cool $1bn in 2012, it appeared that integrated social was in easy reach but even now, 18 months after the announcement, Yammer remains little more than a sidebar in SharePoint intranets. But yesterday’s announcement gives us a sneaky peak at the future albeit one that’ll only truly available to those in an Office365 environment.

In announcing Oslo, Microsoft have recognised that social connections are not isolated within enterprise social networks such as Yammer. We are social animals and our social interactions, enterprise tech wise, are in an ESN, within email, within teamspaces and within instant messaging tools. Office Graph weaves these social connections together and Oslo is the app that surfaces them.

The vision is compelling. Whatever you’re working on (providing it’s in Microsoft’s cloud), Oslo connects. It allows you to visually see your network and, more importantly, understand what everyone is working on.



Connections beyond the simple hierarchy. It’s a compelling vision.

Culturally, it will be interesting to see if companies are ready for this transparency. We know that sharing knowledge quickly is the collaboration oil, Oslo really only works if employees are open about what they do and that they do it all on Office Graph inputs. No more inbox storage systems, no more hard drive archives: Oslo requires OneDrive storage and use of all of Microsoft’s communication technologies to really connect. Smart move if your business is selling licences.

It’s a tremendous step forward but many SharePoint customers will be nervous of false over-promises of social integration. If you’re an O365 customer right now, you’re at least on step one of the Oslo journey.

What do you think? Compelled by this vision?

There are 5 comments

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  1. Andrew Gilleran

    Nice summary Jonathan. Have to say I am still in the cynical camp regarding social in the workplace. many companies culturally a long way off being transparent and open. These tools are welcome. But they would be. a hard sell where I work.

    • @DigitalJonathan

      I agree. Tools look great — “flipboard for the enterprise” is how they were described in my office yesterday — but you have to have folks ready and willing to share. That’s a huge cultural shift. It’ll be years in creating I think.

  2. Karsten Mottlau

    I’m the type going from Cynical to Evangelist – and then back again. It seems that we cannot analyze us to the answer – sometimes an organization (or parts of it) just flips into a “Social Mode” after a long time of apparent resistance and ignorance . The adaption is so interesting in that way and I think the future will show us new ways of understanding how adaption really happens when it comes to Enterprise Social. Probably not “Build it and they will come” but rather “Build it around the (few) Influencers and the rest will follow”.
    BTW the logic behind Office Graph is far more interesting than the presentation layer #Oslo.

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