AntexCloud Blog

September 21st, 2019. The first real Microsoft Flow task.

In the information system of one of our customers, all information about the production and shipment of equipment paid for by the customers to Russia was stored in SAP. At the same time, informing the Moscow office staff about the dates for delivering this equipment to the customers was done using an intranet portal based on SharepointOnline. The customer used a legacy application for daily data synchronization between SAP and SharePoint Online, but as sales/production/shipments grew, the process of updating the data on the SharePoint portal grew as well, and ended up taking 10 hours. We were brought in to optimize this process by minimizing synchronization time. Using Microsoft Flow, we were able to reduce the information update time down to 20 minutes. We are continuing to study Microsoft Flow!

February 20th, 2019. Microsoft Teams and Firstline Workers: A Mobile Update

Microsoft releases a long-awaited update to Teams for firstline workers. Unlike most office workers, firstline workers are constantly on the move, whether they are retail associates running around the sales floor, or service team members driving across town on a client call. The latest Teams update takes advantage of this mobility. Smart camera, location sharing, and audio messages are now live for Teams customers.

Teams itself was created to combat security risks of workers using consumer chat apps like Whatsapp and Telegram for work-related messaging. Such apps, though convenient, pose security risks, as well as compliance questions. However, what steps has Microsoft taken to ensure security of their new mobile-only features? Just how secure is smart camera, let alone sensitive location data used by Teams?

While the security questions remain, Microsoft is definitely taking steps in the right direction with customization and integration into current systems. This update includes customizable mobile templates for each employee role, as well as the first Teams-related API: Graph API for Shifts. Graph API will let your IT department connect Shifts (Teams' built-in schedule management tool) to your enterprise scheduling system, letting your managers access it directly from Teams. At the same time, your IT department can perfectly tailor the appropriate Teams modules to your firstline worker needs. We looks forward to further API and customization options to be released by Microsoft.

The final feature announced for Teams is the new Praise tool. This simple tool lets your managers assign badges, such as "Problem Solver" and "Team Player" to individual employees directly in Teams, essentially giving unavoidable public praise for that employee. This seems like a technical solution to an organizational problem. Microsoft itself claims that recognizing and engaging employees, especially those in high turnover positions like retail associates, can "go a long way to improving their satisfaction and reducing turnover", and that Praise lets managers do exactly that. However, such a system would only work for employees who have already completely immersed in the business' corporate culture. New hires, or those who feel alienated from the company and the management, will take Praise as a attempt to bring them on their side without improving administrative conditions, and reject the culture even further. This is a problem that requires individual attention from the managers to welcome the employee into the company, and not something that can be solved with an app. However, Praise seems like an excellent way to maintain the corporate culture, if not to foster it.

All in all, this seems like a solid update from Microsoft. We look forward to further Teams development.