2015 is proving to be a year of many significant changes for both Microsoft as a firm and its product portfolio. With the likes of Windows 10 on the horizon, the enterprise software landscape will soon be altered considerably.
One thing that Redmond is keenly aware of however, is that a consistency of experience is needed across several software packets, meaning that retraining isn’t needed for employees to use new versions of its software. An intuitive user experience is the goal, making the whole transition as easy as possible.
SharePoint is a good example of this, with many users around the globe, and having been available since 2001, any significant alterations to the program could cause significant dismay to many. As such, Microsoft has released a road map for any and all changes that will be made to SharePoint in 2015, giving users time to adapt and adjust. The firm is also keen to note that this is an evolution rather than a revolution, simply enhancing existing features and usability upgrades, rather than reinventing the whole experience on a whim.
Office Delve is among the first of these new features. Allowing users to search and discover relevant connections and information across Office 365, this also allows for predictive search capabilities. By personalizing content based on insights gleaned from Office Graph, Delve promises to make the whole user experience a little more fluid.
New ‘ready-to-go’ portals are also being introduced, of which the first is Office 365 video. These ready-to-go portals are intended to take the strain from customers, allowing them to select a pre-packaged portal instead of creating one from scratch. As such, what was once a significant investment in time becomes, in comparison, potentially rather easy to complete. In 2015, new portals will focus on knowledge management and people, among other topics.
OneDrive will also be integrated more fully into SharePoint as a means by which to store and share files. With extra security features that IT managers will no doubt appreciate, OneDrive will become a catch-all solution for SharePoint users. This will be of especial benefit to those whose offices incorporate a number of devices from multiple operating systems, allowing them to share content seamlessly.
‘Team Sites’ will also be enhanced as hubs for teams to share content and communicate with one another. Working across the full suite of capabilities provided by Office 365, this will increase the utility of this feature considerably, allowing consumers to use “email, instant messaging, tasks, contacts, personal files, social feeds” with one another in the confines of the hub.
“Power BI” is a new analytical tool which has been built into Excel, again with the ‘ready-to-go’ ethos, designed to allow complex integrated analytics within a short time frame and with a minimum of effort. This is complemented by increased integration with Microsoft’s corporate social network Yammer, making it easier for users to work as a team and collaborate on a company-wide basis. This will also allow access on mobile platforms, making keeping up on the go a less difficult proposition.
These improvements promise to make SharePoint even more competitive than it is currently, and it is clear that the onus of these changes is indeed evolution. For the full list of changes read here.
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