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7 SharePoint and Office 365 innovations our crystal ball predicts for 2017

2016 saw an awesome number of innovations from Microsoft across SharePoint and Office 365. Not only did they announce the intranet in your pocket, the first release of SharePoint 2016 and Microsoft Teams, the core products across Office 365 saw some serious facelifts and enhancements to bring them in line with the rest of the Suite.

7 SharePoint and Office 365 innovations our crystal ball predicts for 2017

As 2017 kicks-off, we’re recapping our predictions of what we can expect from Microsoft in 2017. These have been compiled from a series of hints and tips we’ve seen from Microsoft throughout last year and also feature our tech team’s unique spin on what’s to come.

1. Branding and customization across mobile and web for SharePoint

In 2016, SharePoint Online gave us brand new Teams functionality (which is already being used by 30,000 organizations), enhanced Office Groups capabilities and modern SharePoint Team Sites, giving users new ways to quickly bring together documents, people and conversations from across Office 365 that look great on any device. With the new authoring canvas and new capabilities in Team Sites, we believe it’s likely that 2017 will allow these sites to be more customizable. Whether that’s the ability to integrate further with third-party tools or simply to brand the sites to match your corporate branding, we think we’ll see a lot more customization options this year.

We also hope to see the concept of a Master Page for SharePoint Online, allowing you to add a global navigation that enables you to link to a selection of Sites and Groups.

2. Usage and intelligence across files, sites and pages

Last year, Delve Analytics was renamed to MyAnalytics and saw improvements including better insights into how you personally work i.e. the time you spend in meetings, your concentration during those time periods, how often you work out of hours and who your top collaborators are. These insights are currently limited to specific services in Office 365, largely based upon the use of Exchange related data, comprising of e-mail and meeting participation.

4. ECM metadata, templates and content types

In 2017, we think Microsoft will start investing in Enterprise Content Management (ECM), particularly around content types, meta-data and templates. As SharePoint has become much more focused around team based sites, it’s fair to say that some of its more traditional functionalities around enterprise document management have been slightly left behind. Features we saw released in the 2010 version of SharePoint including document sets and documents ID’s have not seen much improvement since then. In 2017, we think this will change, as Microsoft incorporate some of these well-loved features into the new experiences too.

5. Corporate news and publishing content flows

Adding to our expectations of more customization options across SharePoint Team News, Teams and Groups, we expect these pages to enter more of a publishing site model. At the moment, this is only possible on a Team Site. Microsoft have suggested that a publishing site with similar capabilities will be released toward the end of the first half of 2017. With that, we expect to see common approval workflows and content lifecycle governance capabilities that you would expect when managing corporate communications across a global organization. 

3. Yammer integration into publishing sites

Despite rumours of Yammer being dropped in favour of Groups and Teams, we’ve continued to see investment from Microsoft in the platform. It’s now possible to embed Office 365 Groups functionality into Yammer Groups and also create new Office 365 based groups that are linked to Yammer groups. Yammer isn’t going anywhere right now. In a similar vein, in

6. Flow integration with Team Sites

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the release of Flow and PowerApps and we’ve seen some great demonstrations of how these can be used today within Office 365. With the release of Teams, we’ve seen the potential for integration with Flow and PowerApps through connectors. Although many of the examples and sample use cases demonstrate some interesting future possibilities, in practice today it’s difficult to determine real-world fit and suitable usage for applications to provide value to business. What we would like to see are some improvements with some tighter integration with the Team and Publishing Sites later this year.

7. Cloud born innovation to SharePoint Server

We saw huge strength in Feature Pack 1 which was released as part of SharePoint Server 2016 this year. In 2017, we really hope to see more rich capabilities that Microsoft have invested in so heavily for Office 365 and SharePoint Online, rolled back into the SharePoint Server product at regular intervals. Over the last 10 years Microsoft have made drastic changes to their update model for SharePoint server, branded as Public updates, Infrastructure updates and Cumulative updates. Microsoft will hopefully keep the momentum up with the release of Feature updates and commit to this delivery model long term.

To learn more about some of the biggest announcements to come out of Microsoft last year, watch the recording from our Microsoft Ignite 2016 roundup webinar.

Michael Draisey Head of Development

Michael is BrightStarr’s Head of Development, although in reality, he does a lot more than that! He is ultimately responsible for the delivery of solutions to clients but also functions as a Product Manager for Unily. Michael is excited about new technology and also has an internal role as a new technology evangelist, spreading the word about hot new software to his colleagues all over the world. Michael was part of the award winning Linklaters project team and has a particular knack for translating complex business requirements into neat technical solutions.

Michael plays 5 a side football and enjoys kung fu in his spare time and is a big fan of the outdoors!

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