Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise - Information Protection

How might we help companies manage data and mitigate risks?


In 2016, the Information Protection team aimed to reignite the industry's interests by introducing a new AI-powered feature to the Office 365 Enterprise application. This feature was announced at the yearly industry conference - Microsoft Ignite.

My Role

Interaction & Visual Designer

I designed the end-to-end experience along side with a team of 3 program managers, developers, and a designer. The project took ~5 months from requirements gathering to delivering redlines for production.
I led a flexible, iterative Human-centerd design process.

The Plan

A Secret Potion

This feature introduced a new step into an existing data import process, and was believed to be a secret potion that can differentiate Microsoft from competition. My responsibility was to integrate the feature to the existing seamlessly and flawlessly.
Process of companies sending data to Microsoft.


Enterprise IT professional

Initial Question

Kalen, how can we apply this step?

Proposal by program management to insert an extra step to filter unwanted information before sending to Microsoft.


Take a step back. User process deep dive and heuristics.
This feature presented big promises, by allowing IT professionals to significantly reduce data volume while preserving the important, sensitive data.
However, a deep dive into the current practice revealed to me that the feature was buried deep down in a weeks/month-long process, where user was no where near seeing the benefits of his/her actions. A few of the decisions along the way also required consuming several long (over 12 pages each) technical articles.
This begged the question:
Why would anyone want this?
Process diagram after weeks of investigating the underlying process.


Shift team's focus on the Why, not How

Engineering-focused tech companies excel in execution. While everyone focused immediately on the implementation by asking the questions:
How should we apply these filters? Can we reuse existing controls?

Why would someone spend the effort to do this? Is this something YOU would do? Why Not?

Concept by engineering begged the question of HOW - to implement.
Design concept answers the WHY - would a user want it.


Incentivize & Inform
"I know what I am getting into and why."
A straight-forward user goal
To instill confidence using a new feature, I set two main goals to:

  • Motivate user to take action.
  • Simplify, guide, and inform user along the process.
  • Concepts

    Ability to visualize results and turn decision-making effortless.
    Concept to allow user to preview the results of his/her actions. User could see the instant gain in efficiency and reduction in risks & of maintaining huge volume of data.
    Iteration based ona limited set of data points.
    Grouped long process steps into recognizable, manageable chunks and provided simple clear decision points.

    Small Details, Big Difference

    Micro-interactions, visual & written communication, exceptions and etc.
    Huh? "Ingestion"?

    Many more iterations were dedicated to tweaking motion, wordsmith-ing the language, and capturing exceptions to ensure the user experience is smooth, familiar, and non-intrusive.

    Example to use simple, day-to-day language for a complex process. A process which was referred to as "ingestion".

    Live at Microsoft Ignite

    The feature was previewed at the yearly conference in Atlanta in September 2016, and did spark industry's interest as expected.
    The feature was in production shortly after.
    Live demo by Partner Group Program Manager - Kamal Janardhan
    Sample production screens

    The Real Win

    The project came to me with the "how" in execution, where I continued to repeat asking the why for the users. In the end, by informing the users early, by regrouping steps into meaningful chunks , and by speaking the user's language , the experience had significantly improved, over the otherwise - mysterious 20 steps process.

    However, more work needed to done, but the real win was to be able to shift the implementation mindset of the team into seeing the big picture, and to focus on what really matters - the users' experience.

    A win to redirect design to focus on presenting insights early on, so users understand the benefit and know what to expect.

    2018 Redesign (on-going)

    A side project to redesign a mobile experience for IT professionals to manage data on-the-go.