Rebecca Jackson

SharePoint virtual summit highlights #SPSummit

There has been a lot happening in the SharePoint and broader Office365 space in recent years. The tools are becoming more usable, mobile, integrated and beautiful. I woke up at 2:30am today so I could join the SharePoint virtual summit and hear about what is coming from Microsoft’s SharePoint team.

Here are my highlights from the session.

The intranet is not dead

The word ‘intranet’ was used a lot throughout the presentation and intranets were featured in the presentations, demo and the discussion afterwards. SharePoint are clearly wanting to own the intranet space and their commitment to the platform reflects this. Digital workplace is also bleeding through with the customer case studies featuring the work from DBS, Avanade, Shire and Fourlis.

Clean, simple design

The modern SharePoint design is clean and simple, reminiscent of what we see in platforms like Medium. This design transition is exciting as it helps overcome training and adoption challenges. What I am not seeing though is how this look and feel is going to translate to traditional SharePoint content pages.

Mobile first

Linking to the previous point, the design is mobile first and simple to use. I am excited about the possibility of being able to encourage senior leaders to publish news and content quickly and easily on the go. Doing this previously, in a traditional SharePoint page, seemed like a recipe for disaster. With this new design it seems possible.

Access to all your files, anywhere, from any device

The mobile first experience is not just about the design and ease of use, but about access. Office 365 and OneDrive are set up so that all of your files can be access from any device (even Mac) anywhere. This is powerful for enabling organisations to work more flexibly and to enable BYOD.

Communication and collaboration

Communication sites

One of the bigger announcements for me is the SharePoint communication site. The communication site aggregates content like news, people profiles, calendar… a lot of the things you see on a standard intranet home page.

Yammer

Yammer also got more than a few mentions, and improvement on last year when Yammer barely rated a mention. Microsoft are clearly still investing in Yammer, it was even featured in one of the case studies. Some great new features are coming like dynamic group membership (yay), integration with communication sites, connectors. It is starting fold in and be a genuine part of Office 365 rather than just an add on. This is great, but there is still a way to go before the gap is closed completely (such as Yammer chat v Skype chat, SharePoint comments).

Groups

Office 365 groups are improving from an integration and feature perspective. Groups is the centre of the Office 365 universe and is pulling all of the other bits and pieces together like solving a jigsaw puzzle. I still have reservations about the new model, in particular with site proliferation. Opening up every Office 365 group to have a SharePoint site attached is an intranet manager’s nightmare. I am hoping that once I dig into some of the content and blog posts this will be answered.

Office 365 Collaboration Use Case Guidance Via @cfiessinger on Twitter

More for admins

I have experienced first hand the challenges of convincing IT that a cloud solution can provide the appropriate security. A clear message from this session is that the cloud is actually more secure, it’s not a trade-off. Microsoft have invested heavily in this, but have not abandoned on-premise either.

Cloud is MORE secure

There are a bunch of new controls for admins. I really like being able to have more control about how people share from OneDrive to satisfy security controls. I am very keen to see what the new site management page is like to use, and if that solves any of my own challenges around having access to control and data around sites.

Forms and workflow – goodbye InfoPath

PowerApps is enabling more no-code solutions (don’t we all want those) and is clearly the replacement for InfoPath forms. This will be integrated more with SharePoint, which can only be a good thing as form type functionality and workflow has been ugly and poor on user experience in the past. What this means for orgs who invested in InfoPath and have a bunch of legacy forms, I am not sure.

Engagement is key

The presentation was built around themes that tied into particular product features (rather than being feature driven). This, for me, shows that Microsoft are understanding that the key to success for their customers is in good engagement.

The themes they centered around are:

  • Share with confidence
  • Transform business process
  • Inform and engage employees
  • Harness collective knowledge

A clear roadmap is available for each of theses areas, and the customer case studies focussed on these areas.

Further showing their understanding and investment in engagement Microsoft have a comprehensive site with engagement and adoption information: fasttrack.microsoft.com

Devil in the detail

There was more in the session than I have covered here, this is just what stuck out for me and is relevant for what I do. If you have thoughts please feel free to use the comments below to share.

There is a heap of content coming through from the Microsoft team and from MVPs (who get the benefit if seeing this all in advance). These are the things which are on my to-read list:

If you’ve got a great summary of the event, or some deep-dive detail to share feel free to post below.

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