SharePoint 2019

At Microsoft Ignite in November, Microsoft announced their vision and strategy for SharePoint Server 2019. The latest on-premises iteration will incorporate some of the most impressive features from SharePoint Online to improve the overall user experience. While businesses who aren’t quite ready to migrate to the cloud will also be able to enjoy the new features in SharePoint 2019, previously only available in Office 365.

One of the highly anticipated aspects of SharePoint 2019 is that it will bring major UI updates. Step forward modern experiences. Modern experiences were introduced to SharePoint Online in February 2018 to innovate SharePoint’s interface (which hadn’t been redesigned since 2002!).

As Bob German, Technology Architect at Microsoft says “Microsoft is on a mission to modernize”. Modern experiences were developed to streamline workflows, allowing users to integrate their Calendar and Outlook apps and providing AI intelligence. The big change in 2019 is that this functionality, previously only available for SharePoint Online, will be made available for its on-premises users soon.

So what else is coming to SharePoint 2019?

Modern Lists

One of the more collaborative areas of SharePoint, Lists are web parts where workers can create tables of contacts or task workflows. Lists also supports attachments, so key information can be shared in relation to different tasks or projects. The Classic Lists experience has been updated to simplify the UI and make editing easier. The navigation and speed of Lists have also been improved and optimized for mobile. New Lists features include:

  • AI in Microsoft Flow will be able to provide cognitive text analysis, used for sentiment analysis, identifying key phrases or translation.
  • Users will be able to highlight text for sentiment analysis or translation within SharePoint.
  • Images can also be scanned using image recognition and they’ll then be tagged using metadata for easier retrieval.
  • The option to copy files from Excel simplifies the creation of new lists – users can copy previous business templates
  • Real-time List updates will keep workers up to date

Lists are a useful way for workers to group together necessary information, but it’s not able to group by topic rather than by file type. This doesn’t realistically address the way people work and stops SharePoint being as effective as it could be.

Modern Libraries

Businesses naturally store their information in Libraries. Thanks to an upgraded OneDrive Sync client, SharePoint 2019 will now support personal and team sites.

  • Users can now sync OneDrive files with SharePoint, meaning they can move away from software like external Dropbox and Google Suite.
  • Custom column formatting allows workers to
  • Users can add metadata to individual files
  • Users can add metadata to multiple files at once
  • Useful documents and links can be pinned to the top of a library view
  • Views are customizable and can be created for personal or team documents

SharePoint 2019 has made improvements in terms of helping workers classify their documents with metadata – this is a fantastic tool for archiving information.

However, the SharePoint 2019 library doesn’t treat emails like documents of records—which in all practicality they are. This remains a gap in the Microsoft offering. When there is a disconnect between SharePoint and Outlook, important information tends to get siloed away in inboxes, affecting workers’ productivity as they much search for what they need.  

Modern Sharing

A key aspect of SharePoint is its capability for enabling the sharing of information within a business. The Modern sharing update will make sharing information within SharePoint 2019 more flexible, thanks to the following features:

  • Guests no longer require SharePoint licenses or anonymous access
  • Permissions are distinguished between Team sites and Communication sites
  • Permissions can be grouped to prevent repetitive approvals
  • The UI has been simplified
  • SharePoint will notify users if they’re sharing multiple files or if they’re sharing files with a large group to prevent information breaches.

These updates streamline the sharing process, allowing for more granularity or more flexibility to be applied to document permissions. This will help users share documents, but they still won’t be able to create equal visibility for the valuable information in their email inboxes.

While SharePoint has prioritized document sharing, it hasn’t addressed the key information stored in emails. By distinguishing documents and emails as separate systems of record, SharePoint 2019 will continue to force users to move between different apps, wearing away their concentration and inhibiting productivity. 

Modern sites

Modern SharePoint was designed to be more intuitive, more flexible, and more mobile. SharePoint 2019 benefits from these design changes. Sites are where your team can find the information and apps that your business relies on - businesses can create Team sites or Communication sites to relay information to workers. Updates to sites include:

  • Improved and simplified UI on the homepage
  • Sites are much more mobile-friendly
  • Quick links, Calendar and Site activity keep workers connected
  • New Hero web part displays up to five relevant items on communication sites
  • Real time updates keep workers in the know
  • Workers can build their own sites without the need to involve their IT team

However, since SharePoint 2019 lacks the cloud integration of Office 365, it won’t connect with Planner, create a shared calendar, or integrate with Outlook. SharePoint 2019 users won’t be able to streamline their workflows efficiently if they can’t create a single platform for information management that includes both documents and emails.  

Modern Search

The improved search function that SharePoint Online delivered was robust – users could search for files in on-premises and online environments. The Modern search bar is included on the SharePoint Homepage, Communication sites, and Team sites. Here are some of the key updates to SharePoint 2019’s search feature:

  • Results are prompted with autofill and suggested files
  • Suggestions are grouped by type
  • Improved search for hybrid environments
  • Increased search index size

These are intelligent improvements to the search functions, but they lack the AI-driven power of topic computing. By integrating topic computing, SharePoint 2019 would be able to present users with information relevant to them and suggest additional information based on the topic of the information.

New features in SharePoint 2019

Microsoft has focused on including the effectiveness of SharePoint Online’s powerful and intelligent new features in SharePoint Server 2019, and it goes a long way towards simplifying and improving the user experience. But until SharePoint users can treat the information in documents and the information in emails the same way, the user experience is always going to be somewhat disconnected.

harmon.ie offers the perfect solution to integrate your email inbox and SharePoint library, creating a single system of record to improve information management. With harmon.ie, businesses can drag and drop emails from Outlook into SharePoint, saving and classifying the information.

Find out how harmon.ie can help you use SharePoint effectively and create an intelligent, dynamic system of record

David Lavenda
Chief Product Officer