As we continue to learn more about Microsoft’s yet-to-be-released new Office suite, the Next Office blog reveals Outlook integration with LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as other tools to make business tasks more social.
“We recognise that companies often need to secure and manage social interactions, just as they do other forms of communication,” said Ben Wilde, SharePoint programme manager, in the blog post. “Our social investments in this release are designed to accomplish both goals.”
One of these new social tools, Outlook Social Connector, will allow LinkedIn and Facebook members to sync their accounts to Outlook without the need for an additional download. Users merely need to enter their username and password once and then profile information, photos and activities from LinkedIn and Facebook connections will appear within Outlook.
This information will also sync with People Card, a feature mentioned by Microsoft previously, which provides access to contact information across the Office suite. With this integration, users will be able to view a person’s past activities across social networks, whether they’re free or busy and where their office is, all within a pop-up without leaving Office. This feature also offers instant communication with these contacts.
For example, if a user comments within a document, another user can click their name to see their activity and information and instantly chat with them without having to leave the document.
Recognising the social needs of business
Overall, Microsoft appears to be focusing on the social aspect of working online and allowing users to collaborate in a way they are now familiar with due to the popularity of social networks. SharePoint brings together most of these features, such as a social news feed showing posts and activities from people, documents, sites and tags that users are following.
Following a person means users can see not just their posts but also documents they interact with. Following a document lets users know when a file has been changed or shared.
Alternatively, the ‘Everyone’ tab provides users with a company-wide feed while community sites serve as discussion forums for more in-depth online discussion.
Social tools in the works
In his post, Wilde reminds us of Microsoft’s acquisition of social enterprise network Yammer, and integration with this service is still in its early stages, so more social tools are yet to come.
LinkedIn has also revealed it’s working with Microsoft on a new LinkedIn for Outlook application that will launch in the Office app store.
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