Microsoft Office Delve and the Future of Software

Office DelveOffice 365 clients are starting to see a new feature called Office Delve.  It’s been heavily teased for about a year now, originally as the Oslo Project.

Delve uses the Office Graph, (“An intelligent fabric that applies machine learning to content and interactions occurring in Office 365”) to anticipate what content will be interesting to a user.  From a user interface perspective, it looks a lot like Pinterest, with individual cards advertising content.

The content is selected from everything the user has permissions to see on the SharePoint site.  Your most frequently accessed documents, recent content by colleagues, popular content on the site, and content related to things on which you are working are ranked in an infinite scroll interface.

Delve Boards

Microsoft recently announced Delve Boards, a way to manually tag and group delve content- similar to the way this blog is tagged and organized with a Word Cloud. Delve Boards adds another way for users to tell the system what content is, and how it should be organized.

Tagging content in Delve after having saved it in a specific document library with specific metadata feels a little… redundant.  As the system’s intelligent consideration of the Office graph improves, hopefully, the need to explicitly tell the system what the content is will decrease.  In that sense, Delve Boards is a step backwards, away from intelligent software.

The Future of Software

Steve Ballmer said a few years ago, “”You ought to be able to say to your computer… ‘Get me ready for my trip to the Imagine Cup.’ That ought to mean something to these systems.”

I think Delve is a step in that direction.  Delve suggests information that it thinks you’ll find useful. A step down the road, Delve (or its successor) will organize related information into pages and sites. One day, it may help to set the agenda too- notifying you of predictable work requirements or even new opportunities.

Computers now do a wonderful job of storing information.  (I’ve joked that my Outlook sent items folder is the third lobe of my brain.) One day soon, they may be able to interpret the information and even take action on it.

I’m looking forward to the future.

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