Archive for February, 2020

Project Cortex – Topic Cards and Topic Pages

In my previous post, I provided a brief overview of what Project Cortex is and how it can benefit an organization.  In this post, I would like to focus on topic cards and topic pages.  I’ll discuss what they are and what goes into creating them.

Topic Cards

A Topic card is an overlay that sits within the Office 365 tool you are using (Word, Outlook, etc).  A topic card is going to give you an overview of a knowledge topic (hence the name) within your organization.  It contains a description/definition, any acronyms it may exist under, People who may be experts in the topic, any files that may contain any information pertaining to the topic and any other topics that may be related.

For the most part the different components of the card are self-explanatory, but related topics might need a bit of an explanation.  Quite often if a topic is found to be related to other similar items people may want to know about these.  If these items are also a topic in Project Cortex a link to that topic will also be listed here.  For example, say your company is going through a massive records management overall and has a subproject within it related to configuring Microsoft 365 to organize and retain the information you are storing.  If that project is also a topic within Cortex the link to it will be displayed in the “related topics” section of a topic card.

Project Cortex - Topic Card

Topic Pages

Think of a topic page as a full-page view of a topic card.  The information is going to be very similar, but it also will likely be more extensive because more information can be fit on a page than a card.

Project Cortex - Topic Page

Something that Project Cortex allows with a Topic Page that will be extremely beneficial to a communications team within any org is the ability to edit Topic Pages.  While Cortex will build out the initial page for you, the actual page can be edited for both content and format.  So if the information pulled and built by the AI isn’t quite right or you want to elaborate a bit more you have that ability.

Before I complete this post I want to ensure everyone is aware that everything that Cortex builds is completely security trimmed.  In fact, if Cortex pulls data from a document to build a page or topic card out and you as the user viewing the card or topic card does NOT have access to the document (in a location you don’t have access to) then our experience will actually be a little different.  Cortex will actually build the information on your card or topic page from documents that you do have access to.  So users that shouldn’t have access to a particular component of data for a topic (whether a project or even general information on something within the company) won’t be able to get it via Cortex.

In a future post, I will discuss the next level in a Cortex topic card or page.. the knowledge center.


Thanks for reading!!

Project Cortex Could Be a Game-Changer – Overview

This fall Microsoft made the largest product announcement (in my opinion) since Microsoft Teams a few years ago (2017).  It was large enough that it received a good chunk of Satya Nadella’s Ignite Keynote.  It’s hard to nail down a single definition of the product.  With SharePoint, you have a tool focused on document organization, storage, collaboration, and information management.  With Microsoft Teams you have a similar purpose (it runs on SharePoint after all) but it focuses even more on small team collaboration.  Exchange is a no brainer.  But Cortex is something different.  I feel Project Cortex could be a game-changer for organizations.

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SharePoint Conference North America – Information And Records Management Advanced Concepts

For the first time, I have the honour to be speaking at SharePoint Conference North America which is to be held in Las Vegas from May 19-21, 2020.  If you want to take in the workshops the conference is actually taking place from May 17 – 22.  The conference is going to be providing a ton of very handy content from recognized experts in their fields as well as experts and even some creators from Microsoft.  Considering this conference is in May and I live in the coldest part of Canada (which is saying something), hitting Las Vegas then is going to be a real treat (hopefully I don’t melt).

If you take a look at the site you’ll be able to quickly access all you need to know about the conference.  As I mentioned above, the speakers are all carefully selected as experts in their fields (I somehow slipped through the cracks 😉 ).  There will be many MVPs and Microsoft employees speaking.  In fact, the only conference I have been to that may have more is Ignite.  But every speaker knows what they are doing and have a great deal of skill in getting the information across in the sessions.

Speaking of sessions, you should check out the line-up of presentations.  I think you would be hard-pressed to not find something of interest to you.  In fact, there are 60 different products that you can choose from at the conference covering 20 topics.  It’s not limited to working within just Microsoft products either.  Working with Android?  No problem. There are sessions for that.  Want to know how to control devices within your environment check out the Intune session.  What about Project Cortex?  I am sure you have heard about that by now.  It’s the new kid on the block and sounds very exciting to me as I see huge benefits to it for all of my clients.  There will be multiple sessions on Cortex at the conference as well.  But don’t take my word for it check out all the sessions at!/sessions.

Another important consideration for this conference is that Microsoft while not the organizer is a key supporter.  There are going to be announcements that you haven’t heard yet at the conference.  You’ll get to find out about new features before others.  I can’t tell you what to expect cause I don’t even know yet what they are going to announce.

For those who follow my posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and here on my blog you know that I cover a wide variety of topics.  SharePoint Conference also provides a variety of topics.  Because there is such a variety I thought I might provide a few suggestions for some topics to keep an eye out for.

Security and Compliance

  • An Introduction to Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security

    • This session is given by Antonio Maio a known expert in Cloud Security and especially in the Microsoft Cloud.  If you are just starting out or looking for tips to better secure your environment I strongly suggest you check out Antonio’s session.
  • Exploring Conditional access to content stored in Office 365
    • Paul Hunt will provide some great information around protecting your tenant and the important information within using Conditional Access which is a tool in Azure AD for controlling how users are able to access information.
  • Protecting your Teams work across Office 365
    • Do you have Microsoft Teams or looking to roll out Microsoft Teams into your tenant for your organization to use?  You may want to check out Joanne Klein’s session to ensure the information you are sharing within Teams is protected both from improper sharing and also from improper retention.


Modernizing Your Data Retention. Moving Beyond the Created Date

Finally, I would like to discuss the session I am going to be covering for the conference.  I have been working with clients on their information governance for a while now.  Many file plans and retention schedules these days are still based on old physical records as opposed to digital media.  While it is possible for organizations to migrate a physical record retention schedule into a tool like Microsoft 365 (and many have) many are not aware of some advanced features that can be utlized to properly implement your required retention schedules.  I have seen companies that believe they are limited to retention based solely on when a document was created or perhaps when it was last created.  While these are both very viable options for building a retention schedule in Microsoft 365 there is more that can be used to support the corporation’s file plan.

In my session, I’ll take you beyond the created or modified date and show you different techniques to implement your schedule as your organization requires.  Along the way, I’ll cover some more advanced techniques you can use to ensure your data is maintained or removed as required by your internal processes.   My hope is to show you the art of the possible when it comes to information governance in Microsoft 365, specifically how you can retain your data.