With the long anticipated release of SharePoint 2016, last year was an exciting time for the SharePoint and Office 365 space. So what developments did we see in 2016 and what do we think will be coming up in 2017? Let’s find out…
The evolution of SharePoint continued with SharePoint 2016. The update pays close attention to content management, team collaboration and user experiences across devices. There had been a realisation that, although the move to the cloud is right for some, others are still hesitant to move. SharePoint 2016 allows a combination of on-premises data deployment with the cloud through hybrid data deployment and the regular server updates. This closes the gap between on-premises and cloud SharePoint, resulting in an increasingly consistent SharePoint for all users, whichever mode they choose.
Microsoft opening of UK-based data centers addressed the need to protect the privacy of data and keep it within the UK. Having these two local Azure regions means data will never leave the UK and will be governed by all local regulations and laws. Microsoft told us ‘this is the cloud on your terms’, which is great news for sectors such as healthcare, national defence and the public sector who have regulations stipulating data must be held in the UK.
Flow is all about working smarter to get more out of the tools you have. The release of Flow allowed users to ‘Work less, do more’ as it creates automated workflows between apps and services. So what does this mean for end users? Well, say you want to save all your tweets to an excel spreadsheet, sounds pretty time consuming? Not with the Flow application; it will automatically create a spreadsheet of your tweets. Not a Twitter user? How about creating and sending a customised email when you or another user adds a new SharePoint list item? Flow can do.
The SharePoint Framework (SPFx) launched in Autumn last year, providing an updated system for developing on top of SharePoint, both on-premises and online. It’s a Page and Part model that enables web part properties to be targeted specifically to individual webs parts with complex customisable components. SharePoint Developers can now use the same technology, tools and techniques Microsoft engineers use to create and build better, faster and more intuitive SharePoint experiences and apps for end users.
In 2017 we will see more companies utilising Microsoft StaffHub - the cloud-based platform that allows staff workers and their managers to manage time, communicate and share content quickly and easily. For staff, it means they can easily swap shifts, request time off and catch up with their team in one place. For managers, it means requests are all kept in one place so they can keep track of requests that are coming in and what they have responded to. It’s a great way for teams to keep up-to-date with what’s going on without sending out multiple texts, emails and messages. Put simply, it streamlines communication processes between staff and managers.
Rapid growth rates in data production have resulted in a need to secure high volumes of company data. To keep that data secure and protected, companies need the capability to identify, stop and respond to security threats at all time. The addition of Advanced Data Governance in Office 365 will provide unmatched security intelligence that controls this information overload and supports the ability to achieve organisational compliance. Utilising machine assisted insights, the Advanced Data Governance will support orgaisations in adhering to compliancy procedure and reduce risk by analysing what’s important whilst leaving redundant, obsolete and trivial content (ROT) redundant.
We are starting to see Artificial Intelligence (AI) in robots across SharePoint. These robots are currently being used in sectors such as law and healthcare to analyse information input in natural language and convert it to a query; this then routes the user to pre-empt a smart response. This offers revolutionary, search-based solutions and capabilities across a wide range of industries and are vastly improving the speed and accuracy of search-based solutions. Whilst you might not necessarily see AI as frequently as other office upgrades, it’s clear that Microsoft sees machine learning as a useful tool in the future of computing.
Connecting and collaborating with everyone at every level in a company will become more commonplace in 2017. Office 365 is designed to give teams a choice in collaboration tools to suit different user needs. The Forrester Report in January this year examined collaboration with an emphasis on enterprise-wide knowledge sharing, and Microsoft and Yammer were listed as industry leaders.
Yammer, the social network for work, is included in Office 365 and Microsoft has been working to integrate it more deeply into Office 365, both to extend the Yammer experience to other applications in Office 365, and to bring some of those other experiences into Yammer. Last Autumn, Microsoft announced that Yammer would soon be integrated with Office 365. This means that every new Yammer group will be given a matching team site for file sharing, a OneNote for shared notetaking and a team project plan with Planner. With these enhancements, and many more plans to follow, we are seeing Yammer get better and better at connecting people and teams across organisations.
If you’ve got a project that you want to get off the ground, or you’d like more information about what Microsoft SharePoint or Office 365 can do for your business call 0203 589 0555 or email