It's that time of the year again where you get to take a sneak peek into all the exciting things that Microsoft SharePoint is planning to offer this year.
Yes, the annual Microsoft Share point summit is scheduled to take place on May 16, 2017. This free global event will help you learn more about a connected workplace in Office 365, where OneDrive and SharePoint are integrated with Yammer, Windows, PowerApps, and more.
Last year's summit was a huge success, with more than 50,000 people in attendance. During this event, Microsoft unveiled a vision and roadmap, and they also delivered many new features.
Let's look into some of the key concepts that were highlighted during last year's summit. We'll start with a brief look into what is SharePoint and why it's useful before moving on to the announcements.
"One of the things that makes SharePoint special is the vast community and ecosystem of customers, partners, and developers," said Seth Patton, the General Manager of Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint. He hit the nail on the head with this opening remark in last year's summit.
SharePoint has been empowering developers and customers in a big way with its unique features, and that explains why this community has been growing at astronomical rates over the last few years.
This bring us back to our central question - why SharePoint?
Probably the biggest selling point of this software is that it's a web platform, This means you can access it from any device of your choice, and even across multiple devices. In this era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), this feature can be such a blessing!
Besides its web platform, SharePoint comes with many other apps that make life really easy for administrators. You can integrate all the functionality you want to your site or collection by simply adding the corresponding apps. It doesn't get easier than this when you want to build a site to accomplish a specific task. Regardless of whether you want to build an Intranet or a social media site, these apps--extensions, if you will--help you set it up within a short time.
The other advantage is that SharePoint is a platform, so you can use it the way you want. Today, you may need to use SharePoint to collaborate with your colleagues, but tomorrow you may need it to build an Intranet application for your company. You can do whatever you want within the same platform, and this flexibility is what makes SharePoint so unique and popular.
There's little wonder then that SharePoint's summits are so well-attended.
SharePoint Summit 2016 - Key Takeaways
Last year's summit was a roaring success in every sense.
Taking place on May 4, 2016 in San Francisco, Microsoft unveiled a new cloud-first and mobile-first version of SharePoint to enable users to make use of the changing trends in the IT industry.
According to Jeff Tepper, Microsoft Corporate Vice-President, there are four pillars to this new SharePoint, and they are:
- Simple file sharing
- Redefined intranet
- Security and compliance
Let's take a more in-depth look at some of these key features.
Simple file sharing
It appears that technology has made file sharing seem like a bit of a hurdle to overcome in environments where you'll have to communicate with partners and clients located across the world. Your global teams have to share documents and collaborate across time zones, and all this is anything but simple!
However, as complicated as it is or seems, SharePoint hides all this complexity behind its clean user interface.
In fact, the new SharePoint sets you up for this global environment. Its tools allow you to move and share documents easily across different teams and geographic locations. Such a simple file sharing mechanism greatly reduces the friction that come with collaboration.
This is a big news because it means you can integrate a ton of apps into your SharePoint instance. Let's say you create a site and want to display news and member activity to all your team members so they can stay on top of all that's happening by simply looking through a single page. You can do that within minutes now.
Microsoft has included both news and activity components by default into every SharePoint site. Of course, you can choose to remove these components and add others too if you wish.
Such high levels of customization is what makes the new SharePoint so much more exciting for users.
Intelligence and analytics
SharePoint is a lot more intelligent than before because it leverages what's called the Office Graph. Office Graph is a framework that gives data based on user identity and activity. It's not something that users can access directly, but rather is a framework that makes data available to other applications based on your interactions and use.
In other words, Office Graph is an intelligent tool that screens interactions to identify the users with whom you interact and the content that you use often. Based on this, it helps you find what's most relevant to you. For example, Office Graph can use information from your calendar to show the documents that are relevant to a meeting. That's the power of this tool.
When it's integrated with your SharePoint site, imagine the endless possibilities it offers for you. You can create all kinds of custom solutions for your organization.
In addition to intelligence, analytics is also taking center stage. With the new SharePoint, all team members can create great looking reports that'll work well across all devices. Again, such reports mean that the existing data can be used optimally to glean business intelligence and value that in turn can help to improve decision making.
Keeping in tune with the technological changes that have been taking place all over the world, SharePoint was introduced as an app that'll work well across different mobile platforms. This move, again, gives users a vast deal of flexibility to view or access content and applications on the go. You're no longer constrained by location and device, something that we've come to expect now from all applications.
Integration with Office 365
Another key aspect is SharePoint's integration with Office 365, so you can seamlessly work across your documents using the familiar Office tools. SharePoint is the core of productivity while Office 365 is the core of collaboration. When you combine the two, you get the best of both productivity and collaboration, two key aspects in today's world of business.
In many ways, SharePoint transforms the way you engage with your employees. It gives you a chance to empower your employees with the right tools, so they're productive and add value to your organization. As an organization, you can enjoy high levels of productivity when you combine Office 365 and SharePoint Online. Also, regardless of your employees' technical knowledge, they can move to the new tools without having to go through a steep learning curve.
These announcements sure made last year's summit an interesting and exciting one for the SharePoint community. Can we expect to have the same level of excitement this year too?
What should we expect this year?
The announcements made last year were followed up with a slew of innovations and features that greatly enhanced the usability of Sharepoint.
This year too, we can expect many enhancements to the software during this virtual summit. Jeff Tepper will provide the roadmap and give us insight into innovation for SharePoint. Specifically, he'll talk about how you can connect securely to people and access the content you need by leveraging the power of SharePoint.
In this summit, you can also expect to learn new strategies to better engage your customers and employees, transform business processes, and make the most of the collective knowledge available in your organization.
In addition, other Microsoft corporate vice-presidents like James Phillips and Chuck Friedman will talk about Office 365. They're likely to give you deep insights about how Office 365 is connected to Windows Azure, how it can reinvent productivity for you, and how you can better use the Microsoft ecosystem to enhance your productivity and reduce your operational overheads.
You're also going to hear from industry-leading customers on how they're using these technologies, so you'll also have a fair idea of how to implement them in your own organization.
Overall, it's going to be exciting, and you're sure to learn a lot from this summit.
Register for this free virtual summit today to know all the latest about Microsoft SharePoint.
Photo Credit: TopRankBlog on Flickr