May 30, 2016
Recently, Microsoft unveiled its plans for the future of SharePoint. Four key themes will dominate the product’s evolution over the next eight months. As part of an ongoing series on SharePoint 2016, we’ve explored these themes and visualized the course of their rollout.
1. File sharing and collaboration that can be achieved easily across any device
The emphasis here is on a fluid relationship between SharePoint and OneDrive for business. The result is the capacity to store, share and collaborate on documents easily and rapidly within OneDrive and publish them for broader consumption and perhaps further refinement within SharePoint.
It was interesting to note that Microsoft’s communications on SharePoint framed it as sort of an “Instagram” for enterprise: the place to publish finalized documents for team and company-wide distribution rather than the catch-all collaboration hub it has been historically. To better understand this evolved workflow, this video demonstrates the collaboration process on a sales proposal within a small team.
Digital technologies enable creation at an astounding rate: a 2013 report by SINTEF estimated that over 90% of the world’s information had been created over the prior two years. Manual curation and organization of this information within an enterprise-context has always been challenging but as the curve grows exponentially, it’s increasingly impossible to keep pace.
We’ve argued before for the need for new tools that address this fundamental information architecture challenge… The upcoming enhancements to SharePoint and OneDrive attempt to address this problem with more intelligent, personalized mechanisms for surfacing the information that matters most. Discovery of relevant documents to the user’s context is made possible through a new Delve-like experience that relies on the Office Graph. This new functionality will be made available within both the new OneDrive mobile app and SharePoint. This new experience takes into account the user’s team, peers, interests and current work to bring to bear key information such as documents and links shared through Yammer of immediate relevance.
2. A mobile and intelligent intranet
The SharePoint roadmap for 2016 brings with it enhancements that make the UI responsive – that is to say, it’ll look better on different devices regardless of screen size. The core elements of SharePoint – lists and libraries - will have a revamped interface this year. Portals and pages will also been updated to be friendlier to the mobile browser.
A SharePoint mobile app will be released for iOS, Windows and Android over the coming months –which will make the experience even more conducive to touch interactions and usage on a small-screen. The app also makes extensive use of the Office Graph to prioritize sites and people profiles in a way that’s most relevant to the individual user.
The content editing experience is also on the horizon to be improved – making use of the authoring tools that were first introduced within the Delve profile blogs. It is described as a “fluid, inline and responsive page authoring experience."
Improved capacity to search through libraries will also be introduced as well as the capacity to pin a document to the top of a library in order to profile it to visitors.
Other highlights include revamped analytics for sites – interested visitors can peek into trending content and gauge site visits. As well as integration with PowerApps and Flow – allowing users to create custom line-of business applications and managing workflow across applications.
3. An open and connected platform that makes SharePoint more extensible
The SharePoint framework is a client-side development framework that allows SharePoint customers to build rich custom apps and experiences, ultimately extending the scope of solutions that can be built on SharePoint.
3. Continued evolution of security, privacy and compliance across Office 365
The latest version of the product will include dynamic conditional access policies in SharePoint. The feature will intelligently determine access based on who you are, network location and the app or device being used to access the content.
The newly announced SharePoint Insights will complement the Advanced eDiscovery tools to provide improved insights into security and privacy for auditing and compliance. The new service will aggregate usage and compliance data from on-premise usage with the Office 365 Reporting Center, giving a unified view across the organization.