Over the years, Office has expanded from the original desktop applications (and their mobile and Web equivalents) and the Exchange and SharePoint servers that add more business features, into full-fledged services. Many businesses treat Office 365 as an efficient way to get hosted Exchange or a cheaper way to volume licence the Office software. But they’re missing out on the advantages of Office 365 being a cloud service; like the Delve analytics that help people find out what colleagues are working on, or the Microsoft Graph API that lets you extract messages, calendar appointments or tasks to use in custom tools and software. That’s how the new Microsoft Flow service lets you build a workflow that sends a text message every time your boss emails you.
Even if you haven’t noticed that Microsoft has been busy unlocking useful information in Office, other services have started using the Microsoft Graph to expose some of that outside Office. It turns out that email might not be the most useful place to see an ‘out of office’ message and your calendar isn’t the only place meetings are important. “Consuming small pieces of data here and there,” as Rob Howard from Microsoft’s Office Ecosystem team describes the Graph API, can be a big help for productivity.
“Context is really valuable for a lot of things. Are you in or out of the office? Are you available? A service can search my contacts and look at whether they’re out of the office, or whether they’re available based on Skype and calendar availability,” explains Howard.
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