Today Microsoft hosted a Future of SharePoint event, sharing publically for the first time what the SharePoint roadmap has to offer in 2016 and beyond.
It did not disappoint. The event placed SharePoint and OneDrive’s soon-to-be-released simple user experience and rich mobile capability front and centre of Microsoft’s Office 365 offering. Another point of emphasis was the huge leap Microsoft have in empowering employees to be more productive, with significant investments having been made in the document lifecycle experience.
What does this mean for Office 365 customers? Let’s take a closer look.
Improving SharePoint Online’s user experience
There has been a proliferation of intranet-in-a-box products built on SharePoint Online over the past 5 years that aimed to make the SharePoint Online experience more intuitive to employees. Their popularity in the market did not go un-noticed by Microsoft, who have listened and responded to customer demand, with heavy investment being made in SharePoint as a “mobile and intelligent intranet,” as Adam Harmetz, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft, informed us today. In 2016 some fantastic new Graph powered enhancements will be introduced to deliver a personalised intranet experience to employees, including a recent activity capability and a recommended sites tool, driven by the actions of those you work with day to day. Team sites will also enjoy a series of updates, in my opinion, making them virtually feature complete from a collaboration standpoint. Favourites, KPI monitors, members, files and spotlights will make up the core team site offering before the year is out.
Microsoft have taken the bold step to reintroduce the SharePoint name into the Office 365 experience and will be swapping out the ‘Sites’ tile for a ‘SharePoint’ tile which comes through to your home experience. This modern and responsive user experience puts all the important sites and groups at your fingertips across your organisation.
Team sites have a huge overhaul and now provide a crisp and mobile ready experience. Your team can now highlight news, documents and announcement updates right on the home page experience.
Within these Team sites pages gain the beautiful canvas editing experience from the Delve blogs. This will help teams share those important contextual articles about their work and outputs.
The improvements to SharePoint Online’s user experience has been supported with a new SharePoint mobile app experience which delivers an “intranet in your pocket” experience.
SharePoint app users will have on-the-go access to their sites and portals, files, search and people discovery as well as their work stored and managed in SharePoint. What’s more, the new app will also leverage office graph to highlight sites, content and people that are most relevant to the individual.
The SharePoint mobile app comes first to iOS, followed by versions for Windows and Android in the second half of 2016.
Empowering employees to be more productive
Document collaboration has long been the cornerstone use case for SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business. Microsoft are upgrading this experience so that when employees need to bring in files from OneDrive for Business or publish files between document libraries, users can click Move to or Copy to move or copy files to other locations across Office 365, without generating unnecessary versions of the same files. As such, moving a document from One Drive that you may have been working on in isolation, to a team site for wider consumption, will become a quick and easy process.
The Future of SharePoint paradigm series
I’ve been aware of the roadmap announced today for SharePoint Online for a number of months as I was lucky enough to be invited to attended the Developer Kitchen in Redmond at the start of February to play with some of the new tech talked about today. This has kept my company, AddIn365, ahead in developing products for Office 365 that deliver value over and above what the platform has to offer and the direction of travel for services like SharePoint Online we heard about today. Today’s announcements will exert some much needed pressure on the wider Microsoft SharePoint eco-system to bring harder working value-add solutions to market.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be publishing articles on three key areas:
How the Microsoft mobile offering has transformed the use cases for SharePoint, OneDrive and Office 365 for organisations.
Exploring the implications for organisations of the new UI and experiences being pushed into service.
A personal favourite, we’ll explore the implications for design, build and tech approaches in readiness for it’s release later this year. Whispers…. TypeScript and Framework wars enter the SharePoint dev conscious (React against AngularJS)
The full Microsoft roundup
For the full details check out the Microsoft blogs:
Vision & Overview Blog
The Future of SharePoint – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-future-of-sharepoint
SharePoint Server GA & Feature Packs
SharePoint Server 2016—your foundation for the future – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-server-2016-your-foundation-for-the-future/
SharePoint mobile app, SharePoint home, team sites, Microsoft Flow & PowerApps integration
SharePoint—the mobile and intelligent intranet – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-the-mobile-and-intelligent-intranet/
The SharePoint Framework—an open and connected platform – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-sharepoint-framework-an-open-and-connected-platform/
It’s great to see that Microsoft are being pro-active in claiming the intranet space as part of their SharePoint Online offering. This will add a lot of value to the Office 365 service for subscribing organisations and will provide one more reason to those thinking about a move to Office 365, for doing so. The new user experiences, fantastic new SharePoint app and enhancements to the document experience fill some feature gaps and benefit from being both simple and intuitive.