On the 4th May, Microsoft made some exciting announcements around the Future of SharePoint. If you didn’t manage to catch the live stream, here’s our run down of what you need to know!
SharePoint 2016 is finally here
After the initial Preview release back in September 2015, Microsoft have announced the general availability of SharePoint Server 2016, which includes new hybrid capabilities enabling on-premises customers to tap into the best of Office 365 innovations. For more on SharePoint 2016, you can watch our webinar recording.
Enhancements to file sharing in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business
Microsoft have made huge investments for a more unified and intelligent documents experience on OneDrive, which are also being pushed through to SharePoint Documents. The User Experience has improved, coming in-line with the consumer version of OneDrive and additional features include co-authoring documents in real time, comparing document versions, pinning documents, intelligent discovery, managing metadata and sharing with colleagues, all from within the application.
The experience and integration with SharePoint is also improving, with the ability to access SharePoint Online document libraries and Office 365 Group files from the OneDrive mobile application. Documents will also be able to be copied from OneDrive to SharePoint in the OneDrive web experience.
Launch of Modern team sites and the SharePoint Mobile App
The improvements to Team Sites are very exciting, and we can’t wait to get our hands on them. Microsoft are unifying the power of SharePoint team sites and Office 365 Groups together for better collaboration. The user experience is also improving, with an engaging new home page personalized by the Office Graph. Revitalized libraries and lists and a new page authoring and publishing experience that allows you to create feature-rich pages in seconds is a great step towards improving the ageing SharePoint user experience we’ve been very familiar with for 10+ years!
Microsoft have also announced the SharePoint mobile app, which claims to ‘put the intranet in your pocket’. The app provides functionality served by SharePoint and Delve such as access to people, sites, content, and apps.
This is a great step for Microsoft, bringing into practice concepts that their partners have been spearheading for years. The SharePoint Mobile App is still dependent upon appropriately configured sites and content being created within SharePoint, which is very heavily dependent upon IT in the enterprise, despite some of the new page experiences mentioned above now becoming available.
Whether or not Microsoft have hit the bar for their platform to serve as a truly global intranet fit for the enterprise is still a debate to be had. There are some clear areas that haven’t been addressed, such as a top down corporate branded experience, real personalization allowing users to opt-in to topics of interest, controlled targeting of content to users and real multi-lingual experiences which is key in uniting a global workforce. Moreover, providing a means for internal communications teams to manage and govern an Intranet in order to deliver real organizational value is something that cannot be achieved natively.
One of the major changes that Microsoft released is a new development framework. Although this framework is new, it’s something that was long expected providing a standardized client-side development framework. This model allows ISVs and developers to leverage modern client side development technologies such as node.js, Gulp, Yeoman, and more. This is really great to see and fantastic to know that some of the areas that are missing from the new experiences can be handled through sensible extensibility approaches.
Microsoft Flow and PowerApps Integration
You may be familiar with PowerApps, Microsoft’s code free approach for creating business applications particularly targeted at mobile devices too. We’ve also seen the announcement of Microsoft Flow, a new service that automates workflows, including connectors that enable you to exchange data within SharePoint. This cuts out the need for clients to always rely on external workflow offerings in order to create simple processes. Whether it’s sending an email upon creation of a record or adding a subscriber to a list in MailChimp, there’s a lot that can be done. Microsoft Flow will enable rich new experiences with lists and libraries and will start to provide an answer to the question of what customers should use for business process automation in a post-InfoPath world.
Overall, we are thrilled to see so much innovation continuing to come out of Microsoft, with user experiences across Office 365 and SharePoint improving every year. To guide you on your future digital workplace implementations, here’s our three key things to remember in light of these announcements:
It’s not all about the technology
Microsoft have clearly invested a huge amount into new technologies that will help us be more productive and collaborative, but it’s important to remember that technology shouldn’t be the main focus to meet digital workplace goals. The intranet, for example, is not a developer’s playground and customers should be wary about overly ambitious development teams wanting to get stuck into new tools when they won’t necessarily help with your overall intranet goals and adoption challenges.
An effectively managed solution is essential
New technologies and products implemented without the right support from digital workplace experts will still inevitably become out of date and not fit for purpose down the line. An effectively managed and maintained solution is essential to adoption and to getting value from your investment down the line.
Ensure that when adopting new technologies, you also consider how agile you will be to change once they’re implemented and how large your investment and time commitment will have to be.
User Experience is Key
If you have a complex custom solution where elements are hardcoded and only a limited number people have the technical ability to make changes, a project will struggle, regardless of the number of new toys you have at your disposal. Solutions need to be able to modify and update as your business and trends change around you and this ability shouldn’t be restricted to a technical IT team.
Bringing it all-together: We are the digital workplace success company
We will continue to work tirelessly for our customers to utilize these new advancements in the most appropriate way, continuing on our mission to provide exceptional experiences that focus on long-term user adoption. Our technical experts, consultants and support teams will work closely with you every step of the way to make these products meet your business requirements. Talk to us today to discuss your own digital workplace project.