Behind every good garage is a great shed
What belongs in a garage? Well, anything and nothing.
The average room in the average house has limited adaptability. You can use a bedroom as a study or a sitting room, but no-one uses their living room as a bathroom or their kitchen as a lounge. But there is one room you can use for almost anything. It usually starts out as an empty box, with one big door, one small door and perhaps (but often not) a window. You can put a car in it. Or a boat. You can use some or all of it as a gym, or a tool shed, or a beer-pong stadium.
here's a better garage idea
You can keep your tax returns, your boots, your dormant suitcases and your Christmas lights in it. Things on their way in – stocks of printer paper, cases of beer – can share it with things on their way out – empties, hub caps, op shop donations. It’s a great place for Old Guys to store their Broken Things. It is of course the Garage, which, thanks to Herr Benz, superseded the cold, inaccessible attic as the place to keep your stuff. Beware of people who only keep vehicles in their garages: they are OCD enough to clear your drink before you’ve finished it.
maybe don't do this though...
You can tell a lot about a household from its garage. What it likes, what it does. Many of its contents came from inhabited rooms. But one very specific and important type of activity rarely happens there – mental activity. Broken Things end up in the garage. But where were they dreamed up? Where did their maker, bruised but not defeated, retreat to to analyse the failure and develop the better mousetrap? Somewhere out the back, at the bottom of the garden, beyond the rhubarb and the abandoned treehouse, stands the Shed. Visitors rarely see it, almost never enter it and certainly wouldn’t ask about it. But the Shed is the intellectual engine of domestic engineering. It is a place of making and mending, thinking and tinkering, and sometimes just reflecting on life. A random scatter of information goes in, a slightly less random scatter of ideas comes out. If you struggle to see the value of introversion, get a Shed.
And thus, as I’m sure you’re already thinking, it goes with Office 365.
Whether by accident or design, the folks at Redmond equipped Office 365 with both a Garage and a Shed. As you park in the driveway, square ahead of you is Microsoft Teams. You can’t miss it. It’s more or less full of, well, Stuff. Stuff from SharePoint. Stuff from OneDrive. Stuff from all over Office 365. Things you filed on purpose. Things it kept for you, just in case. Tabs of things outside Office 365. Up to a point, it’s very handy to have a place for your Stuff at work. Just as with a Garage, you can relax in the certainty that it’s All In There Somewhere. But just as with a Garage, this does not give these accumulating contents structure or purpose. We know a few early adopters of Teams who have fallen foul of “letting it find its own level”. You need to do more than just open the connecting door from the kitchen, throw in the next cardboard box and slam the door shut again.
Graph - a better way
Meanwhile, out the back of Office 365, unmentioned and unlit, is the secret Shed of Graph. Graph is, at one level, just a bunch of APIs filtering usage patterns out of Office 365 components. It’s smart, but its power is its scale. When your statistical population is the entire Office 365 community, your interpretative guesses are likely to be good. “We recorded your Teams meeting this morning, transcribed it and analysed the text. When you said, ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’, are we right in assuming that’s an action minute?” Damn it, yes you are. This is where Office 365 does its thinking, and where it is perfecting the AI which will knit into its users’ stream of consciousness. Whilst Teams attracts your attention with the fanned-out cards, Graph is quietly slipping the one you first thought of into your pocket. Not magic, just sleight of hand.
You may be relieved to know that my young colleagues at Insync Technology, and their peers around the Modern Workplace Alliance, don’t share my love of analogies. They will simply help you implement Office 365 with structure, and to a proper business purpose, without Teams becoming the government storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. They can help you plan for the AI future of Office 365 without it becoming, er, AI. We all know how to eat an elephant – and Office 365 is an ever-growing herd of them. “One chunk at a time” they glibly tell you. But they won’t tell you which chunk first. We will: just click on the links.
How long since you tidied up your garage?