Happy New Year and Welcome to 2017! Surely, the SharePoint features released in 2016 put some smiles on your face. We wanted to use this post to review some of the features released in 2016 and highlight some of the things we expect to see in 2017.
SharePoint Review: 2016
Microsoft put a lot of focus on improving collaboration in 2016. SharePoint Online users can confirm that the investments in modern lists, libraries and teams sites all look very promising. Considering the introduction of Microsoft Teams and portal features like Team News, its apparent that Microsoft is focused on continuing to position SharePoint as a collaboration power house.
If you were missing the old audit logs in SharePoint Online, we're sure the want for these passed after the Compliance center came online. Improvements have been made here in the past year.
The recent release of improved Usage Reports is another great addition to being able to track what is happening in your SharePoint.
The Site Contents page was also reworked to provide users with analytics on metrics like Site Visits and Trending Content.
With competitors like Slack gaining market share in the collaboration space over the last couple of years, Microsoft introduced their Teams product in 2016. If you haven't had a chance to use Teams yet, we recommend having a look.
Teams starts with a client based front-end and sends everything to SharePoint - each Teams area is back-ended in a SharePoint site. Teams offers chat, conversation channels, file sharing, video conferencing and more.
Paired with the Collaboration improvements mentioned above, Microsoft has overhauled the interface paradigms for a few key areas that haven't recently seen major changes. The Modern experiences for Lists, Libraries, Team Sites and Pages represent investments made to innovate existing feature areas.
Let's face it, document and list collaboration are the root of what makes SharePoint great. The 2016 reveal of the Modern Interface features were well received, There are more improvements to the Modern experiences to come in 2017.
The Delve Windows 10 App was also released to better connect people with relevant information through the power of Microsoft's Office Graph.
Another gem that was announced alongside the Delve app were intelligent people cards in Office 365 - another win for collaborators. Being able to see what someone has recently updated along with their contact information saves time and improves collaboration.
Another major 2016 release which affects developers and user experiences in SharePoint is the SharePoint Framework. The new development framework is a client side development model which will allow developers to deliver highly integrated web part and page solutions for SharePoint.
The new Sites Home in Office 365 gave users a much nicer, intelligent way to find the sites they are looking for in SharePoint. This can be quickly accessed from the SharePoint tile in the launcher.
Microsoft released SharePoint Apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone in 2016. Our experiences with these Apps have been limited to SharePoint Online. However, the SharePoint Apps can connect to SharePoint deployments in on-premises and hybrid deployment patterns.
The SharePoint App packs Office Graph intelligence, access to content, full enterprise search and more.
No Code Solutions: Power Apps and Flow
PowerApps came online at the end of 2015 and Flow in 2016. PowerApps allow users to build apps that connect to data sources they are already using - including popular non-Microsoft sources like Salesforce and Slack. PowerApps are no code solutions. Once a user builds a PowerApp, Microsoft takes care of making the apps available on mobile phones. Users aren't burdened with the worry of publishing their apps into multiple apps stores.
In 2016 PowerApp features continued to grow. Barcode scanning and connectivity to data hosted in on-premises SharePoint sites were made available this year.
Flow enables business users to create automated processes which connect to existing services and data. A workflow in Flow can be mixed into PowerApps to create powerful solutions that automate actions, move data and evaluate logic.
Flow becomes even more powerful when you consider that it integrates with 83 (and counting) services, including the likes of DocuSign, Dropox, Basecamp and more.
In 2016 the On-Premises Data Gateway became available, you can connect from Flow, PowerApps and Power BI into your On-Premises SQL data. Also released in 2016 was the Flow mobile app.
Microsoft has made an obvious commitment to no-code solutions and 2016 proved to be a great year for growth in this area.
SharePoint Expectations: 2017
SharePoint insiders may have some interesting comments for us after reading through this section of the post. However, here are some of what we expect to see in 2017.
No-Code Productivity - Power Apps and Flow
Its clear that Microsoft is committed to delivering powerful no-code solutions to Office 365 users. We expect to see support for connectivity for more third party services and improvements to the On-Premises Data Gateway (not that the current list of available data sources is lacking).
Further Improvements and Enhancements to Teams
Teams was released late in 2016. We expect there to be more improvements to the features offered here. Our expectation is that Teams could become the new darling of social enterprise collaboration, and Microsoft is going to commit all the way on this.
Modern Publishing Sites
We saw Modern Page experiences come online in 2016. In 2017, its no secret that Microsoft is planning to improve the Publishing site experience. If improvements to Publishing Sites follows the other modern experiences, this will benefit users of SharePoint on mobile devices - the modern experiences are built responsively for multiple display sizes.
Continued Mobile Investments
As we highlighted above, Microsoft made big investments in mobile apps that enable SharePoint Online users in 2016. We expect this trend to continue. We fully expect Microsoft's release cadence and feature improvements to continue - will there be any new mobile apps in 2017?
We already stated that we expect the Publishing Sites to get a facelift this year. We also expect the modernization of core areas like lists, libraries, pages and sites to continue. This means some of the features currently available in the Classic UI will be moved over to the Modern UI.
I think we can also expect a few improvements and new features to be revealed in the core product areas - Microsoft has shown its commitment to gathering feedback from its users and continuing to improve SharePoint.