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‘Smarter apps, deeper integration and richer conversations’ – Build 2016

5 Apr 2016 by Emma Robinson

At the Build developer conference in San Francisco last Thursday, Microsoft announced some new developer tools for Office 365, aimed to maximize productivity within the platform through smarter apps and deeper integration.
With the tagline ‘One endpoint to rule them all’ the first announcement was Microsoft Graph, a unified API endpoint ‘for accessing data, intelligence, and insights coming from the Microsoft cloud’. While this tool was actually released last November, five new APIs were announced at Build, which enable programmers to build even smarter apps through accessing the data and insights from Office 365.
Microsoft also introduced Office 365 Connectors to its First Release customers. A Connector is a feature that enables you to pull information from third party services or applications (like Twitter, MailChimp or Salesforce) into an Office 365 group. It means that groups are able to monitor numerous external activities within the Office 365 portal, removing the need to switch between applications or log into each app separately. There are more than 50 Office 365 Connectors available today from a range of providers, and this number is set to increase as developers are encouraged to create their own connector and submit it to be part of Microsoft’s directory. According to Microsoft, the service aims to allow businesses to ‘leverage familiar experiences to collaborate on and interact with data from these external services’. This shows a clear commitment to embracing enterprise applications, and optimising productivity within native solutions, especially as Microsoft plan to bring ‘Office 365 Connectors to the Outlook inbox soon.’
In order to use this new addition, you will need an Office 365 account and be part of an Office 365 group (Not part of a group? You can set one up – find out more about this here).
We gave Office 365 Connectors a go – here’s how to get connected:
If you have an Office 365 group set up, you will find the ‘Connectors’ button in the top panel on the left.
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Find the Connectors you would like to include in your group
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Authorise the Office 365 Connector by signing into the third party application and agreeing to connect the credentials.
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You will be met with this page, asking you to authorize the Connector
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Once you have all your applications connected, you should be able to see their activity within your group
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The Office 365 Connectors work well, creating a collaborative space where enterprise applications can live harmoniously, and avoiding the hassle involved in moving in and out of applications.
All the Office 365 announcements made at Build are keenly focused on delivering a deeper level of integration to the platform. This is something that modern organisations demand – an increasingly connected working environment – where productivity tools can coincide and perform seamlessly, without restrictions like multiple log-ins or annoying application switching. Microsoft appear keen to ensure that Office 365 becomes the primary space for business activity, whether this is internal, through the use of its own native solutions, or externally through other enterprise applications and productivity tools.