“The Future of SharePoint is Bright,” says Seth Patton, General Manager for SharePoint and OneDrive. This was the overarching theme in a 110-minute live online event made by Patton and Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President, SharePoint and OneDrive, May 4th in San Francisco.
Aside from describing their passion and commitment to the SharePoint ecosystem, this presentation shared a lot of information about SharePoint Server on-premises and the future development of SharePoint Online as part of Office 365.
May 4, 2016, marked the general availability of SharePoint Server 2016. While this announcement was not a big surprise to attendees and viewers from around the globe, what followed can only be described as a pivot in the trajectory of SharePoint and Office 365 as we currently know it. It was no surprise that the focal point of the conversation was Office 365 and the re-branding of what we consider SharePoint sites within the cloud hosted offering.
The conversation was structured into four pillars that define the make-up of the future of SharePoint:
- Simple File Sharing – A common user interface for document libraries in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint is introduced, along with further integration linking document management using OneDrive or SharePoint almost synonymously. The OneDrive mobile app experience will be improved, as well as the synchronization from cloud to local machine. We’ll see greater integration with Office products with Office 365 workloads and analytics will become available on the impact of your own work as a user in this platform.
- Reinventing the Intranet – Perhaps the largest question we’ve all had on the future of SharePoint is what happened to the NextGen portals? Now we have our answer, “Intranet in your pocket.” The emphasis on the new SharePoint intranet experience is to make it even more consumable almost like an ‘intranet-in-a-box’ product. It will be mobile ready, provide a new SharePoint home page for discovering sites and content, and it will come with a simple site provisioning process to improve the ease of site creation. We’ll even see the Sites App Launcher tile get renamed to SharePoint.
- Open Collaboration – Office 365 Groups are taking over the team sites space and we’ll finally see the integration of Office 365 Groups from Outlook get their very own SharePoint site. Groups (formerly known as team sites) will get a UI overhaul, but none of the sophisticated features of document libraries and lists will go away. We also learned about Power Apps and Microsoft Flow as two new products to enable power users to create custom apps and simple workflows. There will be much more to discuss on this topic in the weeks to come and we can already speculate some of the implications of this announcement on the SharePoint products ecosystem.
- Security, Privacy and Compliance – Microsoft continues to build its argument as a the best in class for security, privacy, and compliance not only as a cloud hosted application, but also for on-premises integration. Microsoft is making huge investments in the cloud, providing an end to end focus on manageability. Enhancements in Data Loss Prevention and encryption using Customer Lock Box are a few of the features getting rolled out.
Despite the coming changes to a more integrated, slightly better looking SharePoint, the platform’s identity as a ubiquitous swiss-army knife for corporate productivity has not changed. While the new SharePoint will enable power users and non-developers to produce better looking, mobile productivity solutions, Microsoft has left behind developer kits and mechanisms to continue to allow customization and heavy tailoring that previously allowed many organizations to take their SharePoint environments from meeting 60 percent of the requirements to something closer to 90 percent.
With a strong commitment to on-premises SharePoint Server releases in the future, the on-premises customer base can look forward to a feature pack in 2017, building upon the 2016 release and including the goodies mentioned in this presentation.
What is the future of SharePoint? We’ve all been asking ourselves this question for almost two years now. We got a lot of our questions answered, and it looks like SharePoint as a brand is here to stay, whether it looks like any of its predecessors is the new question.
Are you wondering what it means for you? We will be posting and talking about the implications for your current SharePoint strategy in the coming months and beyond!