The Future of SharePoint


On May 4, 2016, Jeff Teper Corporate Vice President for the OneDrive and SharePoint Teams, unveiled the new cloud-first, e-mobile version along with the vision and roadmap for SharePoint as well as updated and new features which will empower end users to collaborate, stay organized and communicate from anywhere and on any device. 

What is the future of SharePoint?  Simply put – it is all about people like you and me!  SharePoint was created and developed as a platform to share information amongst team members within an organization in a live environment, thereby removing redundant versions of the same document by allowing collaboration in real time. 

Microsoft has not lost its focus on this point.  In fact, it has been working on strengthening the foundation for collaboration and in-the-moment information accessibility.  Truly, SharePoint was designed with people in mind and continues to be developed with people, work productivity and ease of use as focal points.

There are many new features of SharePoint, but the most notable is the ability to access SharePoint from any device – whether it be your mobile phone, tablet or computer.  You will have access to the documents that you need, in real time, no matter where you are and no matter what platform you are using. 

Naturally, mobile access has been focusing on the Cloud based systems, so what about those who need to remain on-prem?  Microsoft is addressing this issue by acknowledging that some customers must remain on-prem and has shifted gears to work with these customers to develop solutions which will allow them to stay on-prem.  For others, transitioning may take a bit of time. Again, Microsoft is working with these customers in developing transitioning packages that are tailored to their needs. 

SharePoint 2016 brings a lot of new features around hybrid solutions. As the end user, you will not know whether your assets are being accessed in the Cloud or from the on-site server.  The Windows experience is seamless – Office 365, OneDrive, Outlook and other business/personal productivity tools have been flawlessly integrated to provide an exceptional product and resulting in many user interface updates.

One of the most useful implementations of software is Discovery view. There is nothing more frustrating than hunting for a document amongst a sea of hundreds or thousands.  Instead, in Discovery view, all you need to do is type in the information you are looking for, and the search engines in the background will pull up possible matches based on the people you are working with, the project and the number of hits.  Microsoft has incorporated this into SharePoint which only enhances its power of collaboration. 

Trying to find a document in the library list?  It was cumbersome, time intensive and caused frustrations when you had a lot of documents in the library.  The second most useful update in SharePoint 2016 is the ability to pin a document that you use frequently so it stays at the top of your library list.  As if this isn’t cool enough, you can also pin links to a file or folder located in a different document library or website. 

True to heart as being a collaborative operating platform, SharePoint has aligned SharePoint Team Sites with Office 365 Groups for ultimate collaboration between products.  How will this work?  Every group will have a team site and every team site will have simple membership management which, in turn, gives groups the benefits of metadata which will be used for compliance and information classification.  This alignment is win-win!

Sometimes, it’s not always a win-win.  Even though SharePoint is a collaborative platform, it does have a single weakness:  it is not aligned to the way that we work.  Let me elaborate on this.  For example, how many of you actually write and publish within SharePoint?  If you are like the average contributor, you will actually write off-line, save off-line and then, when ready, copy your document to SharePoint and then publish it.  Sound familiar?  This methodology completely undermines the goal of SharePoint and collaboration.  Not only are there multiple versions floating out there on hard-drives, but the very idea of collaborating on one document in real time is thrown out the window.  Why are we doing this?  It is because moving the document is not easy and when we try to move cross platform, it is even more difficult.  Our solution:  write, save offline and then copy it into SharePoint, or use an external solution to circumvent the issue.  Microsoft recognized that is an issue, a major issue, for their users.  To align SharePoint to the way we work, Microsoft’s response is the alignment of Office 365 Groups and SharePoint Team Sites.  In addition to aligning these two features, SharePoint will be improving the capability of moving files from OneDrive Business to SharePoint, thereby reducing redundancy in duplicate files and use of external solutions. With these key updates, and the ease of simple page authoring within SharePoint, one will be able to create and publish within SharePoint with ease and confidence. 

The future of SharePoint is about the now with your team.  The ability to have intranet in your pocket, easily accessible from anywhere from any device.  The ability to communicate, update and contribute with ease despite time, distance or place.  SharePoint 2016 will provide you the ability to make key decisions in real time on any device.  This is the future of SharePoint 2016 – on the go connection, collaboration and key decision making on any device, in any place and at any point in time.