How to use Microsoft Graph to connect all the data in Microsoft 365

Data is a game-changer for businesses, individuals, and society. It empowers everyone to analyze the historical and current situation or problem and make informed decisions around it. Since data is such a central aspect of our lives today, companies are coming up with more ways to connect different data points and to give their users a comprehensive view of a situation. Microsoft has also come up with a tool called Microsoft Graph that enables its users to convert disparate information on Microsoft 365 and Office 365 into correlated data, so you can query it, visualize a complete picture, and take actions based on it.

Read on as we learn all about this tool and what it offers for users.

What is Microsoft Graph?

microsoft-graph-dataconnect-connectors-enhance
Microsoft

The core idea of Microsoft Graph is to correlate data across Microsoft 365, so you can query it for an answer and take the necessary steps accordingly.

Let’s break this down with an example.

Let’s say you use Outlook for emails and tasks and SharePoint or OneDrive to store your files. You now want to know if you’ve got an email from a customer and the next task you must do to enhance relations with that customer.

For this, you have to go to Outlook to check if you’ve got the email, run through your SharePoint to look if there’s a document already created for this customer, read through it to know more about the customer and his requirements and decide what to do next. These four steps can be done from a single app with Microsoft Graph, so you don’t have to navigate across apps.

Imagine the time and effort savings that come with such a streamlined mode of working.

How to use Microsoft Graph?

Microsoft Graph uses RESTful API to query data across various places and applications where they are stored.

To get a feel of this tool, go to Graph Explorer and sign in with your Microsoft credentials. On the left-hand pane, you’ll find some sample questions like “Get my Profile,” “Get my mail,” “Get my items on the drive,” and more. Just click on these built-in queries to get the associated data.

You can even filter through this data. For example, you can set a query to get your important mail, and Graph will run your email through the “Important” filter to fetch your results. Likewise, you can also check if you have an email from a specific customer, details of that customer, and more.

Here’s a code snippet. To access the profile of an employee called John Galt, use the below REST API call.

GET /users/[email protected]

When you click on a query, you can see the information you want in a JSON format on the right-hand side.

The JSON format in the above query will look like this.

{
...
"displayName": "John Galt",
"givenName": "John",
"jobTitle": "Sales Manager",
"mail": "[email protected]",
"mobilePhone": "937-214-0969",
"officeLocation": "Columbus, OH",
"preferredLanguage": "en-US",
"surname": "Galt",
}

This gives all the information you need about that person.

So, how can you extend the use of this JSON information?

Simply call this API from your custom app and use this data for actionable insights.

In your app’s code, use the Graph Service Client object that talks with Microsoft Graph to get this JSON data. Use code to control the way your data is displayed and determine what you can do with it.

Now, you might wonder what data Microsoft Graph can fetch for you.

Well, you can use Microsoft Graph’s APIs and client libraries to access:

  • Users and groups
  • Tasks
  • Files stored on SharePoint and OneDrive
  • Emails, contacts, and the associated attachments
  • Calendars
  • Data from Microsoft Teams
  • Organizational charts

As you can see, Microsoft Graph makes it easy to use data within custom apps to do your desired actions.

Why use Microsoft Graph?

microsoft-graph
Microsoft

Microsoft Graph offers many advantages for your organization, such as:

  • Adds flexibility to users as you can embed the functionality required such as checking emails or fetching docs in a custom app.
  • Boosts collaboration and productivity of employees as all data can be accessed from a single app.
  • Easy to track metrics and identify any performance lags.
  • Enhances user experience with custom functionality such as chatbots that can access relevant information to provide contextual responses.
  • Automates routine tasks like creating a new employee profile on Azure AD.
  • Identifies the trending, relevant, and most-shared files among your team members, so you know what information is present where. As a manager, it also gives greater granularity of control.
  • Tap into the Graph Explorer tool, a free and open-source tool based on the RESTful APIs, to explore the functionalities and what you can do with these APIs before you integrate them into custom applications.
  • Provides a secure way to access data.

Overall, Microsoft Graph enhances your visibility, collaboration, and productivity.

Real-life scenarios

Finally, let’s see how to use Microsoft Graph in real-life scenarios.

Interacting with a customer

If you’re a part of the sales team, you’d want to know your team’s history of interactions before you get on a call with a customer. To do this, you must open Outlook to check all related emails, browse through SharePoint or OneDrive files to find the relevant information, and possibly even access the Azure AD to understand the organizational chart and individuals’ skills.

With Microsoft Graph, your sales application can have all this data, so all you have to do is navigate within the application to find the relevant information. This not only saves time but also enhances collaboration and gives greater visibility into the overall operations.

Using all this information, the salesperson can get a good understanding of the customer and the contextual interactions, and accordingly, even a meeting can be scheduled from the sales application.

Managing access and identity

Large organizations typically have hundreds of employees accessing different apps and services each day. Managing access across all these apps and devices is a nightmare for organizations.

Microsoft Graph can ease this process by connecting with Azure AD to determine the level of access for each employee. Also, it can automate administrative workflows for routine tasks such as employee onboarding or termination, track usage, maintain profiles, and more.

Collaboration

You can use Microsoft Graph to collaborate with the rest of the team. For example, a dev team can store its files in a shared location on OneDrive, and the members of the team can add tasks to the Microsoft Planner of the entire team.

With Microsoft Graph, you can automate the tasks and assign them directly to each team member. Others can track progress, touch on overlapping tasks, and more. This way, everyone knows the broader goals of the organization and the tasks lined up for completion.

The above examples give a glimpse of what Microsoft Graph can do for your organization and how you can leverage it for improved productivity and collaboration among team members and even across teams.

Microsoft provides a good video tutorial for Microsoft Graph, which you can access below.

[tg_youtube video_id=”PI9NO5rayiY”]

As you can see, Microsoft Graph is a convenient tool that converts disparate data into usable and interweaved information for your employees.

So, what do you think of Microsoft Graph? Is this something that you’d want to use? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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