Microsoft offers new way to laud your co-workers with Delve Web app

Updates include the ability to praise co-workers and write blogs

It can be hard to keep track of all the great things individual people do in a fast-paced work environment on a day-to-day basis. Sending a quick thank-you note can be nice on a person-to-person level, but that doesn't always translate into an understanding by the powers that be about what people find praiseworthy.

Microsoft is aiming to ease that process with a new feature for its Delve collaboration tool in Office 365 that lets users praise their co-workers digitally. To use the feature, users just have to navigate to the profile of someone who's worthy of recognition, and click the Praise button. After that, they'll be able to enter a short message about what that person did and send it off. Praise messages sent through Delve will be delivered to the person for whom they're intended as well as that person's supervisor. This way, supervisors can recognize people for jobs well done.

The message (along with a digital sticker) will show up on the recipient's Office Delve profile, where other users can like it. Over time, praise will accumulate on a user's profile so that they have a record of all their celebration-worthy work achievements. 

Right now, Praise is rolling out to Office 365 First Release customers in the U.S. At first, it won't be possible to turn the feature off, though organizations will be able to shut it down in the future. 

In addition to the Praise news, Microsoft is also rolling out a new Authoring Canvas meant to let users easily create richly designed pages in SharePoint Online from Delve itself. It's possible to easily embed documents in the page from OneDrive for Business, and videos from the Office 365 Video Portal. Microsoft has designed it as an internal blogging platform, so employees can share their thoughts in a rich manner with co-workers. 

It's interesting to see all of these capabilities come to Office Delve, especially since this sort of social functionality seems well-suited to Microsoft's Yammer enterprise social network, which the company acquired in 2012. Social collaboration in the enterprise remains a going concern, with products like Slack becoming increasingly popular. Yammer itself, however, has become de-emphasized as a one-stop shop for Microsoft's collaboration efforts, as the company has moved some of the ideas that underpin that product into Office 365 itself. That attitude is reflected in updates like these and other features such as Office 365 Groups, which provides users with the ability to create groups of co-workers inside Office 365 with shared messaging, calendar and other functionality.

Finally, Delve users who are on the First Release track will also get access to a new Favorites feature that lets people mark certain files and posts inside Delve as favorites. The favorites won't be shared with colleagues, but users will be able to browse them  privately. The feature makes it easier for people to track important files they need to keep an eye on without relying on the machine-learning algorithms that power Delve.

All of these enhancements make Delve a more appealing product at a time when Microsoft is pushing it as a cornerstone of Office 365. The core product is designed to help people see what files and projects their co-workers are working on, using data from the Office Graph. In the future, Microsoft will also use Delve as a place where people can go to understand how they integrate with their larger organization and how their work metrics stack up with other people from the company. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

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