The Future of SharePoint

The future of SharePoint is looking very bright indeed, learn how SharePoint is evolving and powering the next generation of collaborative working.  New mobile apps, an improved web experience, a better desktop service, is just the start, read on for all the details! 

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The past of SharePoint

On the 4th of May 2016, the "Future of SharePoint" event took place, where major announcements were made.  Why was this such a big milestone?

While I wont say Microsoft have left SharePoint to rot, systems like Slack have garnered a lot of attention over the last few years.  SharePoint comes with a lot of baggage, it has been around 15 years after all.  These more trendy systems have made SharePoint look a bit old hat.

SharePoint is not the easiest system to get started with and it was lacking a mobile vision.  In a cloud/mobile first world, not having a SharePoint mobile app was a very visible sign how SharePoint was stuck in the past.  

SharePoint was sometimes awkwardly fit into an Office 365 line up, of the likes of Delve, Planner, Groups, Yammer with a lot of overlap at times.

Don't get me wrong SharePoint is ​hugely popular and is powering many of the Office 365 features, while on-premise versions are still best in class.  Was there something though that could be done to make SharePoint the go to collaboration platform with broader appeal? 

The Future of SharePoint - What's the big deal?

That brings us to what was a huge set of announcements over a nearly two hour presentation.  You can watch the whole Future of SharePoint keynote below, or read on for lots of details below.

As a statement of intent lets start with the impending change of the Office 365 portal header and tile from 'Sites' to 'Share​Point'.  This is promoting the SharePoint name and replacing the rather generic Sites term.  This little change I think shows Microsoft means business.

SharePoint Mobile App

Then we have the mobile apps, a modern, transformative ​experience that makes SharePoint accessible from anywhere.  Microsoft is using the rather catchy "intranet in your pocket" tagline for the app.

The app is exactly what you would expect, using the power of Office Graph, bringing the content you need right to the top. It brings your Sites together, along with promoted resources in the Links section.  In 'People' section you will see the people your work with and stuff the may be of interest.  There is a refined search facility available throughout the app.

When in a site, you can track activity, stuff that is happening and is relevant to you​.  With the hamburger menu you can explore and get further options.

SharePoint Home 

The SharePoint web experience is changing to match as well , giving a uniform look that stands beside the mobile app experience.  Browsing groups, with the increased screen space, the top three items for each site is shown.

There are arguably too much collaboration options in Office 365 with a lot of overlap. This is being improved with the combination of SharePoint team sites and Office 365 Groups being brought together.​  This means can users can benefit from Team Sites and Groups without having to know the ins and outs of either, which is a very good thing.

​File Access and Sharing Highlights

Going into more details here are some of the specific highlights I picked out from the Future of SharePoint event. 

  • Discover feature in OneDrive for Business web and mobile apps, that surfaces trending & relevant documents
  • Ability to access SharePoint from OneDrive mobile apps (available now in iOS)
  • Document analytics in OneDrive by the end of the year
  • Copy from OneDrive for Business to SharePoint, move coming later in the year
  • Next gen sync client SharePoint Document Library Sync by the end of the year

Mobile and Intelligent Intranet highlights

The new SharePoint Mobile app starting with iOS by the end of June, then Windows and Android.  Here are some of the features of the SharePoint mobile app:

  • Easier to discover sites using Office graph to present frequent and suggested sites,  as well option to follow sites
  • When opening a site, news and activity are shown with “highly intelligent and insightful experience” with popular and relevant content
  • Full access to SharePoint site via “hamburger” menu, apps, libraries, lists, pages
  • Links tab shows promoted organizational links and resources
  • People tab uses Office Graph to detect the people you most frequently interact with
  • Opening a contact shows contact information as well as what they are working on
  • Search facilities throughout the different parts of the app

SharePoint Home -

  • SharePoint Home – new web experience
  • Consistency experience between web and mobile apps
  • Browsing sites shows a snippet of what’s going on in each site, with the three most important things listed for each site
  • Search is more intelligent, shows related content like Sites, Files, People, Recommended
  • New publishing content site option especially for “to post articles, blogs, videos and other content to share out with stakeholders”
  • New site creation experience, creates a corresponding Office 365 Group and there are privacy options, whether to keep the site private and how sensitive the data is

Watch the demos in this Microsoft Mechanics show - "The Mobile and Intelligent Intranet: SharePoint sites and PowerApps".

Also there are further details are available here.

Future of SharePoint - Is it enough?

Collectively this shows the massive investment Microsoft is making in SharePoint. Modernizing, refocusing and better leveraging SharePoint, which is great for Office 365 customers. SharePoint Server 2016 and the continued focus still with on-premise and hybrid systems, gives customers the choice to pick a deployment that suits them.

I look forward to finding out more about ​the future of SharePoint, this is only the beginning. What did you make of these announcements, is this going to transform your business, do you think Microsoft are on the right track?  

Here are the complete set of videos on YouTube.

Future of SharePoint Playlist

"As part the Future of SharePoint event, we created exclusive demos from the engineers behind new and upcoming capabilities. Check out our playlist for demos on these SharePoint topics: SharePoint Server 2016, the SharePoint mobile app, security and compliance, OneDrive updates to file sharing, hybrid options and recommendations, the intelligent intranet, and the new SharePoint Framework for developers"

Catch me on Twitter, I'd love to hear what this means for you.