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Apps for SharePoint: What is Delve and What Does It Mean for SharePoint Search?

By Cathy Dew on March 7, 2017

Finding what you need to know before you even search for it

One of the more confusing apps included in Office 365 is Delve. Though the app certainly has its fans, first-time Office 365 or SharePoint users might not be entirely clear on what they would even do with Delve. In other words, if you’ve noticed the Delve tab on Office 365 and were left scratching your head about it, you aren’t alone. Is it an app for Office or SharePoint Search? Is it a collaboration tool? What is its actual purpose? Microsoft has this to say...

Demystifying the Purpose of Delve

Perhaps the biggest reason that a lot of Office and SharePoint users don’t know what Delve is for is that it’s difficult to describe what Delve does. In the simplest of terms, Delve is a search engine. The fundamental purpose of the app is to make it easier to find your content in Office 365. However, this description is also reductive. After all, couldn’t such a feature just be labeled as “Search”? In fact, doesn’t SharePoint already have a search engine? Why the fancy name, and what about Delve sets it apart from other search tools?

These questions are, of course, all perfectly valid. There was search capability in SharePoint before the arrival of Delve. What Delve does is make the search engine smarter, simplifying SharePoint search as a whole. Using artificial intelligence and learning capabilities that most search interfaces lack, Delve works to show you the content that is most relevant to you before you even search for it. Delve uses Office Graph technology—another relatively recent addition to Office 365—to display these relevant search results so you can use them.

How do these two features work? Let’s say you are managing a team of remote employees and each employee has a different account in Office 365. You want to monitor what your team members are doing—including the SharePoint documents they’ve opened or edited. Alternatively, you have a meeting coming up with one or two of your team members, and you want to make sure you are prepared for the meeting. Delve and Graph will work together to show you the information you want to see. If you click on an employee, you will be able to see what that person has been working on—not just in Office 365, but also throughout SharePoint, OneDrive, and other connected apps and systems. (Of course, all of this is security trimmed so you only see the information you are allowed to see. We’ll discuss this more in the next section.)

Delve collects this information by taking all the data you have across your Microsoft ecosystem and learning from it. If you have a meeting scheduled in your calendar, Delve will know. If you’ve been having conversations in Yammer, Delve will know. Delve will even know what kind of emails you’ve been sending. By tracking all this data—not just about you, but also about all your team members—Delve can make educated guesses about the content you need to access and when you need to access it. Think of the app as an automated executive assistant—helping you keep track of your schedule and your ongoing projects and stay on top of things.

The Benefits of Using Delve for SharePoint Search, Scheduling Help, and More

Delve has a few significant benefits that, once you start understanding the basic concepts of the feature, reveal themselves in rapid succession.

The first of these benefits is memory. Forgetting about appointments is easy. Forgetting the content you meant to search for is easy. Forgetting which SharePoint library or SharePoint site you used to store a particular file or folder is easy. Delve, with its smart, memory-jogging AI, is there to help you remember and become more efficient.

The second major benefit is convenience. Even if you remember where you stored every single file you’ve ever created, going to find that file can be a time-consuming and somewhat irritating process. What if you are trying to pull up multiple files at once for a project and need items stored in different locations of Office 365, Yammer, OneDrive, or SharePoint? With Delve, you can find and access everything you need from one central hub. It takes a big ecosystem and shrinks it down into something more manageable. Using Delve, you’ll be amazed at how much easier your SharePoint search becomes.

The third benefit is that Delve can do everything it does without sacrificing security or privacy. Delve is tracking data for all your users, but that doesn’t mean that it is fundamentally altering the permissions you’ve set up on SharePoint and in Office 365. On the contrary, Delve filters out any files, folders, emails, or other documents that you don’t have permission to access. It does the same for other users, too. In other words, if you have SharePoint documents that you are working on privately, Delve won’t just start showing those to other people. It also won’t give users access to high-level documents that are locked to just an exclusive set of permissions. Instead, Delve takes all your privacy and security settings into account and filters searches based on those settings—keeping your data as safe as ever.

For a deep dive into all that SharePoint has to offer and how we can assist you with any functions and capabilities, check out our topic page SharePoint Consulting: Experts reveal SharePoint mysteries, eliminate confusion.

Do you have any other questions about the functionality behind Delve? If you are just getting started with the feature and want to learn its quirks and capabilities more quickly, our SharePoint experts are happy to help. Call us on 510-652-7700 or arrange a consultation to learn more about the SharePoint navigation features that Delve can offer.

Cathy Dew
Cathy Dew – CEO + Information Architect
Cathy focuses the company on our mission – Real results. Every time. Information architect and strategist, Cathy is passionate about making software work well – the function, the feel, the result.