While it hasn’t led to long queues outside of retailers like the unveiling of the last iPhone, and it’s hardly the water cooler fodder that the latest viral video craze or celebrity gossip is, the internet is nonetheless abuzz with talk of Microsoft’s newest installation of SharePoint—appropriately titled SharePoint 2016.
The popular collaborative web application, which is used by many Fortune 500 companies and small business owners alike, needs to deliver the reliable features and content that enterprises have come to expect, as competition and innovation from other collaboration platforms have caused SharePoint to lose a little bit of its luster over the past few years. Given that, it’s great to see that Microsoft has made a commitment to delivering a truly new and innovative version of SharePoint, as opposed to just a half-baked upgrade.
Here’s an overview of what’s new:
As anticipated, SharePoint 2016 will be deeply intertwined with the cloud. Buoyed by Office 365, the latest version promises to be more secure, stable, and reliable than ever before, which should allow enterprises who are new to the cloud to settle in without the usual anxiety and miscues. Microsoft has also revealed a host of cross-suite blending across Office 365, which, if successful, could help them finally entice a majority of their on-premises customers to make the switch to the cloud. According to The Radicati Group, just 23 percent of SharePoint customers use the cloud-based version, versus 77 percent who use the on-premises alternative. Surely, that percentage will change once SharePoint 2016 is released.
In addition to improvements to Search, Content, and Team Sites, Microsoft is also touting what it is calling “experiences”. Its goal is to improve upon the collaborative efforts that SharePoint already offers by making the platform truly mobile—that is, easily accessible using any device—while also delivering a more intelligent, personalized experience. They are also upgrading the Portals tool by offering ‘ready-to-go’ Portals that will allow customers to utilize immediately what would normally take them weeks or months to build, as well as the Files feature, which will rely on OneDrive to store, sync, and share files across a number of devices.
For enterprises currently using SharePoint 2013, the upgrades might seem subtle, but new and more in-depth features should be announced as the launch date nears. It’s also important to note that the new software will feature the latest in Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and Mobile Device Management (MDM). For those businesses still using SharePoint 2010 or even SharePoint 2007, this new version might come with a bit of a learning curve. As far as migrations go, Microsoft has promised to make the process as smooth as it possibly can, which is to say, your business should plan ahead accordingly.
While the future is anything but predictable, the natural progression that Microsoft seems keen on delivering with SharePoint 2016 should provide enough improvement to satisfy old and new users alike. Expect to see this latest version emerge as the dominant collaboration platform when it is released next summer.