You thought SharePoint was dead.


You thought SharePoint was dead.

But then you read about SharePoint’s future.

On May 4th, Microsoft hosted the “Future of SharePoint” event in San Francisco, delivering a long-term vision for the (now) cloud-first, mobile-first collaboration tool and energizing the SharePoint community with a restored assurance of SharePoint’s vitality.


To understand where we’re headed, it’s important to understand where SharePoint has been. SharePoint 2007 attempted to improve upon prior releases (2001 and 2003) with simple additions such as Excel services, content types and SharePoint Designer. In SharePoint 2010, the ribbon was revealed as well as a premature attempt at social and the introduction of Office 365. Sandboxed solutions and client access to the API became available, as well as PowerShell support and two-way Business Continuity Services (BCS). In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft continued to build on its investment in the SharePoint platform and started to include customer feedback into a more agile feature development cycle by announcing major improvements. These improvements included: drag/down functionality, real-time co-authoring, visual workflows, OneDrive for Business, the App Model, improved social capabilities, robust search capabilities with the integration of FAST Search, mobile, and the significant addition of SharePoint Online, proving even more value for SharePoint.

Through all of this, there has been underlying uncertainty that Microsoft could continue to deliver on the momentum its created. Many often question if SharePoint is an inevitable death despite the recent investments Microsoft has committed to over the past few years.

Coming out of the “Future of SharePoint” event, it is clear SharePoint’s future will continue to thrive with a customer-centric vision, a dedicated focus on modernization and an amicable synergy between Microsoft and Apple aiding in the simplicity and convenience for SharePoint users. In fact, this dramatic “reset” to SharePoint that will occur over the coming months, will likely shed unfavorable perceptions and become the cutting edge technology that customers have craved. Microsoft has reported that “more than 200,000 organizations use SharePoint today and an extraordinary community of more than 50,000 partners and 1 million developers make up a $10 billion solutions ecosystem around SharePoint.” SharePoint’s future is looks promising once more.

We are continuing to advance SharePoint, OneDrive and the entire Office 365 service in ways that make productivity even more collaborative, intelligent, mobile and trustworthy.               -Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

Microsoft categorizes the major improvements into four key areas:

The Future of SharePoint

Simple and Powerful File Sharing

  • On-demand file access, including team documents
  • Convergence of the Retail OneDrive and OneDrive for Business applications
  • Easy integration and synchronization between OneDrive and SharePoint
  • Access to SharePoint Online and Office 365 from OneDrive mobile app
  • Intelligent browser experience
  • Instant collaboration among team members to access and edit files (Skype integration within documents)
  • Snapshot report of prior document activity
  • Collaboration on a single file to eliminate version proliferation
  • Introduction of file analytics
  • PC/Mac and offline/mobile file syncing
  • Intelligent discovery of documents from both OneDrive and SharePoint

Security, Privacy, and Compliance

  • Simple and powerful set of administrative controls, policies and reports
  • Balance between security and usability
  • Dynamic Conditional Access Policies; uniquely defines the appropriate access to be granted based on user, device and network location
  • SharePoint Insights; an aggregation of usage and compliance data from on-prem and cloud into Office 365 Reporting Center
  • Tools to discover and protect content with Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies in both Office 365 and SharePoint Server 2016
  • 80-pre-built definitions of sensitivity and the ability to customize own policies
  • New datacenters in Germany and Canada (MS has more datacenters than AWS/Google combined)
  • Bring your own encryption key
  • Granular access controls
  • SharePoint site classification

Mobile and Intelligent Intranet

  • Major focus on mobile-first platform; new SharePoint mobile app
    • Full functionality provides instant access to your intranet at any time, including on-prem sites
    • Unifies data online, on-prem and mobile
    • Compatible with Windows, iOS, Android
  • Modernized SharePoint homepage in Office 365
    • Ability to opt-in to new interface changes
    • Unified access to online/on-prem
    • Existing early 2000’s web technology to be overhauled
  • Modernized Team Sites
    • Marriage between SharePoint team sites and Office 365
      • Simplified management
      • Enterprise-ready
    • Personalized content using Office Graph
    • Document List and Library UI upgrades
      • List UI will mirror the recent upgrades that Document Library UI received (in line with OneDrive for Business)
      • Lists will be easier to use with quick actions for frequently used tasks

Open and Connected Platform

  • SharePoint Framework; The introduction of the SharePoint Framework leverages open source Java technologies
    • Enables developers to use modern JavaScript and web templating frameworks across cloud and on-premises SharePoint
    • Easy integration with Office Graph
    • Embraces existing tools, frameworks and open source initiatives
    • Cloud and on-premises compatible
    • SharePoint Webhooks
    • Client-side web parts for existing pages
    • Files and Sites API on Microsoft Graph

In addition to these coming changes, the ribbon bar is officially being killed. As it has created mass confusion since its introduction in 2010, Microsoft is doing away with it altogether to better align with the needs and wants of the customer.

With ILTA’s SharePoint |Office 365 Symposium just around the corner, Microsoft’s announcements are timely for the legal community. This will be a chance for the legal community to better understand SharePoint’s role in their firm and gain trust in this cloud-focused, customer-centric platform that’s renewing its luster with each release. I will be presenting on “SharePoint 2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” on Day 1 with BA Insight. Although the presentation is focused on the on-prem release, the line is constantly shifting and being blurred between online and on-prem.

If you’re attending SharePoint | Office 365 Symposium in just a couple of weeks, stop by the Acrowire booth (#8) and let’s discuss what all of these changes mean for your firm.

For a comprehensive list of changes, visit the Microsoft Blog.

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