QR codes in SharePoint Online

I love the way how Office 365 adds new features every week/month without changing subscription fees, or require mandatory software updates to my devices. The latest update for Office 365 also includes QR codes in SharePoint Online.  A QR code is a nice new ‘out of the box’ feature for quickly opening documents and hyperlinks in SharePoint Online on a Mobile Phone (or other device). It makes navigating to a SharePoint Online environment really easy, without typing in long and complex hyperlinks! Every document can have its own unique QR code (also SharePoint lists). So based on that, how can we use this technology to solve some business problems?

ImageReal life examples using QR codes in SharePoint Online
Find and access information or documentation quickly with a single push of a button
A new employee of your firm wants to use the printer, but how to operate it? There is probably a instruction manual, somewhere on a file system or on SharePoint Online…

…Or your user can get his or her phone and scan the QR code next to the device and instandly get the instruction manual, or even video’s, to get the information and guidance to operate the printer. Documentation is also centrally managed on SharePoint Online and updated accordingly by the IT department or other Publisher.

Roombooking on the go!
So you have a lot of meetings? You have a meeting with a customer but all the rooms in the Office are unavailable..

…Or every room / location  has it’s own QR code next to it. When you walk around the Office the day before your meeting, and spot a nice room for your presentation, quickly get your phone and scan the QR code next to the room. You fill out a short SharePoint Online form on your mobile, check availability, and the room is booked!

Helpdesk on the fly, context aware service calls!
Now we’re in front on an elevator, but there is no way the elevator buttons will respond.. so you’ll basically have to take the stairs. Another colleague visits the same elevator and spends 5 minutes figuring out what’s wrong with the elevator before taking the same stairs…

…Or you can incorporate… you got it… some QR codes right next to the elevator panel. Take out the phone, scan the QR code with your mobile and fill in the elevator helpdesk form. Now your whole organizational is aware of the disruptive elevator and a repairman is on a his way to make the repairs.

Failed QR code implementations
In the past I’ve seen a few bad examples when QR codes got implemented the wrong way:

Image

  • The QR code is not readable via any device (size/location)
  • You have to download and install additional mobile software (apps) to scan the QR code
  • There is no real benefit for accessing the webpage via a QR code on your mobile phone
  • Users have to fill in there login credentials, which is really a hassle on a mobile phone
  • Slow internet connectivity on the a mobile device fails to load the page

So therefore, some criteria for a successful implementation regarding to QR codes in SharePoint Online:

Things to consider (technical)
If we take a look at a few technical challenges in regard to Office 365, SharePoint Online, it should be fast and easy to navigate to a SharePoint Online URL with your mobile Phone. Off course you can use a public SharePoint Online environment (without any kind of permissions) to achieve this, but if you take in account that your corporate documentation will be out in the open, you should consider the following options:

  • Enterprise Single Sign On (SSO), in larger corporate environments you should use a SSO mechanism to automatically login your end-users mobile device securely into the SharePoint page. Outsiders, which are not part of your Active Directory in combination with pre-configured SharePoint Online permissions, cannot authenticate and access the environment.
  • Mobile Device Management, manage all your mobile devices from a central invironment. It can be a corporate owned device or personal device (Bring your own device). That way you can push the mandatory mobile apps (QR code readers) to the user’s device.
  • Mobile view, in SharePoint Online there are some excellent out of the box mobile views. But make sure every page, document, or line of business application has it’s own mobile view so your end users can easily ready, navigate and operate the mobile application.

What’s next?
I am happy to see this functionality in SharePoint Online, but will users actually use it? QR codes been around for ‘ages’ now, maybe people think about it as a nice little gimmick, but I think you can use it not only for promotion or advertising, but also guiding your end-users to specific information from your SharePoint Online site!

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