If you haven’t heard, Microsoft released a new site recently that allows you to create a new Office 365 tenant that is pre-populated with users, content, and social data. It even comes with demo scripts that you can use to walk users through the new features of SharePoint Online. What’s the catch? Your Windows Live ID must be affiliated with a Microsoft Partner and you need to have plenty of time to wait for it to provision. It typically takes between 8 and 36 hours for the provisioning process to complete. Tenants are created in trial mode and you have 30 days that you can use it for free. After that, you can either pay for licenses or simply request a new tenant. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the sample social data expires after 14 days. If you want to demonstrate social, it’s really just easier to get a new tenant.
Even if you work for a partner and a lot of you out there do, I found that a lot of people aren’t affiliated with their company’s partner Id. So if you click on the Microsoft Partner link and it gives you an error, you need to affiliate yourself with your company’s partnership. I’ve given a few colleagues this link to associate themselves and it appears to have worked for them. Let me know if you have an issue with it.
When you are ready to create a new tenant, go to the Create Demo page. This page is a bit confusing because all of the options are disabled. Just click Create Your Demo to proceed.
On this page, you specify your region, tenant name, and E-mail address. You’ll get an E-mail when the process completes with the URL and login information.
After you fill in your information, click Create My Account and start waiting. This is an excellent time to review some of the demo scripts out there. Click the Resources link at the top and you’ll see demo scripts broken up by product. This is also an excellent time to go ahead and stop reading this article and get your tenant provisioning. You can come back and read more once you get it started. :)
When the process completes, you will receive an e-mail with the login and password. Click on that link to begin exploring. However, for most of the demos they recommend a demo user, Garth Fort. The login for this user will be firstname.lastname@example.org. The password should be the same for all accounts pass@word1. Keep that in mind. You may want to change the default passwords of your accounts. If you look at the users section, you will see a number of user accounts have been created for you. It even includes things like conference rooms. These users have pictures and completed user profiles and even social data which we’ll see later.
I’m going to focus on SharePoint content, so click on the Admin link at the top and choose SharePoint. When you go to the SharePoint Online administration tenant, you’ll see that it creates a number of site collections.
Although it’s fairly obvious. Here’s a quick summary of what’s in the site collections.
- Root (/) – Demo landing page. Links to the various site assets and demo scripts for SharePoint
- /Search – Search Center
- /sites/BICenter – Demos using Power View and Visio Services
- /sites/Communities – fully populated community sites with discussion boards
- /sites/Contoso – main Intranet site
- /sites/ContosoBeta – no content
- /sites/eDiscovery – discovery center
- /sites/KnowledgeCenter – knowledge center with custom branding
What I like about these demos is that there is a lot of examples of what SharePoint can do and a lot of the features are really highlighted. I’ll take you through some of the pages so you have an idea of what you can expect. When you go to the root of your tenant, you’ll see a landing page with links to the demo home page, assets, and scripts.
A good starting place is the Demo Home Page.
Now is a great time to start exploring the site. What I like is a lot of the sites demonstrate out-of-the-box features. Take a look at the Engineering Department site. They have an example of showing reports with Power View using Excel Services.
If we look at the Sales and Marketing site, it has some nice examples of KPIs, the PowerPoint viewer as well as documents that have been rated.
If you’re looking to tell a story about BI, click on the Report Dashboard link on the left. There is a good example of a Power View sheet with filters and maps.
One of my favorite sections of the demo is the Communities section. It’s a great example of using social and shows off the gamification concepts quite well.
Going to one of the communities, you’ll see active discussion boards with top contributors.
You can view individual discussions to show how users interact with each other.
I think the social aspects are some of the best things to demo. If you click on the Newsfeed link, you’ll find quite a bit of activity. Just keep in mind this information will expire after two weeks so it’s good to keep a fresh tenant when you’re doing a demo.
In the screenshot above, you’ll see posts from users that Garth is following as well as various things the user has posted or followed. That video can be watched directly from the newsfeed too.
Clicking on one of the tags such as #CSAT will show you all of the posts that have used that particular hash tag.
There are good examples of the user being mentioned by other people as well.
Search demos extremely well with SharePoint Online because Office Web Apps is included and running.
When doing a demonstration, you can show the hover panel on search results with the preview of the document. I especially like showing users how you can jump directly to a specific section of a document. You’ll also notice how you can filter by Tags or Content Type.
The MOD demos also provide a working eDiscovery center, but I don’t think there is a link to it so you’ll have to type the URL in yourself. This is a great way to show examples of how SharePoint can place holds on SharePoint and Exchange content. If you look at one of the open cases (i.e.: CT77A11), you can define a discovery set. You’ll need to login as the admin account to do this.
If you look at the sources, you can see I have added a few Exchange mailboxes as well as a SharePoint site. Clicking on the Preview Results button will show you content from both Exchange and SharePoint based on the filters you provided.
Everything comes back in these results, so remember your mailbox can always be seen by someone. :)
The BI Center is pretty slick as well. Take a look at the Custom Satisfaction Dashboard. This is a great example of combining graphs with Power View and adding a social aspect that people can comment on.
The last thing I will point out is the Knowledge Center. Here is a great example of how they really changed the way content looks in SharePoint.
Of course, there is plenty of content out there for you to explore. If you can’t sell someone on the value of SharePoint with these demos, you’re doing something wrong. :) Get out there and try it out today (or tomorrow when it finishes provisioning). Here’s the link again for you to get started.