OBAs usually integrate with new and existing line-of-business (LOB) applications. They leverage the rich user interface (UI) and automation capabilities of the Office clients to simplify complex processes that require user interaction, and help to minimize errors and improve processes. Effectively, OBAs use the Office client applications to fill the gaps between existing LOB systems and users.
Document Integration applications enable the generation of Office documents from LOB applications; enable information workers to embed LOB data in Office documents by interacting with LOB data while authoring the document; and enable server-side processing of documents containing LOB data.
The Document Integration approach supports four different integration patterns that use XML to pass information to and from LOB systems. The simplest is the Application Generated Documents pattern. In addition, there are three Intelligent Document integration patterns: the Embedded LOB Information pattern, the Embedded LOB Template pattern, and the LOB Information Recognizer pattern. The following sections describes the Embedded LOB Information pattern in a simplistic way to get you on the road.
The Intelligent Documents Embedded LOB Information pattern is where LOB data is embedded directly in the body of the Office document, or embedded as an XML document part and exposed through a content control. Alternatively, the Office application can use the Office Custom Task Pane (CTP) to display LOB data that an information worker can browse or search, and embed into a document.
Let us look at some possibilities to create controlled information in Sharepoint 2010. How can we manage metadata and taxonomy management in Sharepoint? What this does is making it possible to create surrounding information and some sort of indexed information to make it possible to find our stored information in Sharepoint a lot easier. A nice article is written about this matter and you can find it here:
The search possibilities in Sharepoint improved a lot. This means that you can find your information more easily and a lot faster than was the case in previous versions. This can benefit us when we look for information from out our business applications and it can help us finding our email a lot faster when we put it into Sharepoint. A basic article about this matter you can find here.
Although this article will be about saving email into Sharepoint, that doesn’t mean that putting email, Word documents or Excel files into Sharepoint and make them become easily searchable for all your employees is the only possibility. It would be amazingly more productive if you would do the same for all kinds of applications you have in your organization. There are several tools and applications which can help you do just that and the article behind the link below will give you the proper mindset about it.
If you want to know more on what you have to think about when implementing new Sharepoint related solutions in your organization on the field of organizational Change and Change Management, then these articles will give you a nice starter:
Let’s move on and get back to our main concern of this article: how do we get email easily into Sharepoint and how can we access that email easily from out our other Sharepoint Office Business Applications? The solution discussed here can be used with Sharepoint on premise and with Office365, the cloud version of Sharepoint 2010. This means that you can save your email in both versions of Sharepoint and make the finding of it an integral part of your Sharepoint Office Business Applications. In other words, you can save your email from out Oulook to Sharepoint on premise and Office365 and when implemented the proper taxonomy, metadata and search configurations as mentioned in the above paragraphs and the given links to informative articles about these matters, then your email will be easily to look for from out all you Sharepoint Office Business Applications like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Infopath and Outlook itself.
There are two possibilities to approach this: you can make an application yourself to hook up Outlook to Sharepoint or you can buy a solution for it. When buying a solution you can make it expensive or cheap. For this blog one program is chosen as a possible solution to hook up Outlook to Sharepoint which is not expensive, does what we want and is also a great example what your program should look like when you build it yourself. Another great thing it does is showing us how a panel should look like in Word for example when we hook up Word to Sharepoint. The panel used by the program which we use as example is lean and mean and clean. Really a great design and even understandable for a child. I didn’t made it myself but I’m a happy user and a happy user of the free version for private use. This tool can be found here:
What will be shown down here is the tool itself and the integration with Outlook, which is what it does. The pictures of the integration with Word, Excel and Powerpoint are made up by myself to show you what it can be.
Another important thing is that someone has set up the proper file and folder structure in Sharepoint. While the email is dropped into Document Libraries as document files and email files, it is important that the saving is done in a well known structure with the right metadata and included in some taxonomy and coupled with keywords and a proper term store. When this is done, then the email can be easily found in Sharepoint itself or other Sharepoint Business Applications around Sharepoint, like Word, Excel Outlook, Powerpoint or Inforpath for example. Imagine that every email from everyone in the organization is instantly saved into Sharepoint and also instantly hooked up to the proper metadata, terms, taxonomy and keywords? This is mind blowing and even more mind-blowing when you realize how easily this can be done. It is even so mind-blowing to realize how few organizations have this properly in place and how much money is loosed every single day by looking for email information which isn’t there or just can’t be found.
Harmon.ie has a solution sheet and it presents a possible email solution for you when you choose to integrate Oulook with Sharepoint. This solution sheet can also be used when you decide to implement your own Outlook solution and hook it up to Sharepoint. I think personally that what is mentioned by Harmon.ie in their solution sheet is the minumum you want to have when implementing your own Outlook integrated solution with Sharepoint. I go even a step further by saying that this solution sheet can be used to create the proper requirements for your business case when thinking about an integrated Outlook-Sharepoint solution in your own organization. The simplicity of this solution sheet is remarkable. Even for the abstract thinking people who like the concepts more than the bits and bytes, this solution sheet makes it clear what is needed to create a usable Outlook-Sharepoint integration.
We go a step further in this blog by bringing forward the possibility to do the same with other Office Business Applications like Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Infopath of which Word and Excel are probably the most important. And of Word and Excel, Word is the most widely used within organization. How great would it be if we had the same possibilities in Word and Excel as we can find in the solution sheet of Hamon.ie for Outlook? How cool would it be that when we need information out of the saved email in Sharepoint when working with Word or Excel, that we could find it through some sort of application panel residing next to the document or sheet we are working on? That would be a time saver and a money saver. Think again about the picture I gave you at the start of this blog, where you can see what it can save you if you bring down the search time in your organization. I’m talking about not only a Harmon.ie Outlook oriented integration but I’m talking about a Harmon.ie alike Outlook, Word and Excel integration company wide. That would blow up everyone’s mind and the productivity would go sky high. And this is easily to make and easily to implement.
Why isn’t it already there? This is a valid question. On the one side you have the lack of the proper insight in the mentioned applications and how you can hook’em up and on the other side you have the fact that this integration is just easily possible the last couple of years. In a previous blog I wrote about the fact that we did these kind of things already in the nineties. In those days it was like hacking around and you had to know many different things, interfaces, applications and programming languages to do so. Nowadays this is made easy and with the last versions of Office and Sharepoint it is made childless easy to build, in comparison with what we had in the past and Harmon.ie gives us a great example of these possibilities.
Let us look at a picture of what I have in mind.
If you get the information out of this article into your head and combine it with the information given in the rest of this blog, then you will have a clear understanding of how you can put your information into Sharepoint right after you created it and how you can expose that information to other Sharepoint Office Business Applications. We started with getting Outlook information into Sharepoint and make it easily findable from out other business applications and we ended up by putting all your information from out all your Office Applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and Infopath into Sharepoint and make that information easily accessible through applications panels in these Sharepoint Office Business Applications. As an example I used Harmon.ie, but just to get your mind going on this matter. The last article I gave you is a round up on how you can hookup your Office Applications together with Sharepoint and make it all a happy family of information gathering and information exposing bunch of Sharepoint Office Business Applications, hooked up even to all kind of other information silos at your back end. The starter of this blog gave you another example of this hooking up all kinds of applications to Sharepoint.
Information is crucial for you organization and it happens that finding that information is a costly business. We are in a world where it is possible to put all the information from out your Office Business Applications into Sharepoint right after creating it. This is also true for other kind of back end applications if you use the proper hook up meganisms. When Sharepoint is rightly configured it is possible to find this information instantly from out other applications. This can be done through application panels like the example given in this blog from Harmon.ie. All the employees in your organization will have access to all the information of all people from all applications at all times and in an easily build up way of finding that information through panels in the applications they work with. The flow of information will speed up and the knowledge of your organization will be up to date in every brain cell it has. Let us start by doing business at the speed of light and get it done yesterday.
As an afterthought I want to present to you this final picture:
Just….be careful out there.
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