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Early Microsoft Delve users worry about privacy

Nancy Gohring | Sept. 12, 2014
Just a couple days after Microsoft began rolling out Delve, its new enterprise social offering, some people are worried and confused about potential privacy implications.

Another person noted that even though the views are anonymous, it could still be interesting to see that lots of people are suddenly looking at an HR document, like one about whistle blower protection. 

There's also a "trending around" feature that's difficult to explain and understand.  As Microsoft describes it, a document might be tagged in Delve as "trending around" a colleague but that doesn't mean the colleague has actually seen the document. In fact, the colleague might not even have access to the document, which could be a private file. However, if a user has a strong relationship with someone, like a manager, and at the same time is making frequent updates to the document, Delve would show that document as "trending around" the manager, as a sort of recommendation that the document might be useful to the manager. However, Delve wouldn't display the document to the manager.

That concept is throwing some early users. "I am kind of freaking out about how to explain some of it to 10,000 people who won't read this or listen to me — just see that their private document is trending around their manager and well — we won't get them back," one person wrote during the YamJam.

Another wrote: "Nothing will shut down adoption quicker than perceived (or real) privacy violations."

For now, there aren't great ways to restrict documents from Delve. You can remove a document from search but then it won't be discoverable by people searching for it. Several people suggested that it would be handy to have controls that would allow businesses to restrict some content or content types from surfacing in Delve, and Microsoft workers acknowledged those comments as feature requests. Plus, Aykan said that making sure users have the controls they want is one way Microsoft will ensure usage of Delve, indicating the company is taking such feedback to heart.

Based on the experiences of pilot users, Microsoft has learned that those that were already comfortable with using enterprise social tools had an easier time getting used to Delve and understanding its value from the start than those who hadn't used enterprise social tools previously, Aykan said.

"If you look at our legacy customer base, they're comfortable working in this predefined siloed world. This is a bit of a big change for them," he said. But he thinks that initial surprise these users may find in Delve — like discovering that another team is working on a similar project — will lead to a great value as those users realize they don't have to create something from scratch or that they can reach out to that other team for advice.


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