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Back in 2016 at the Future of SharePoint event, Microsoft unveiled general availability of SharePoint Server 2016 and their roadmap for the SharePoint platform. One year later, and what does the future of SharePoint look like, exactly? On May16th, Microsoft hosted their Virtual Summit 2017 online, in which the tech giant showcased the continuous improvement of both SharePoint Online and the Office 365 platform, announced the latest innovations for SharePoint, OneDrive, Office 365 and Azure, and unveiled the SharePoint roadmap plans for the remainder of 2017.

You can catch-up with the full conference from the Microsoft Virtual Summit on-demand here.

The future of SharePoint is bright

The SharePoint platform, particularly SharePoint Online through Office 365, is continuing to expand its user base. More than 60% of SharePoint instances are now online, while usage of SharePoint has grown by 90% and more than 10 million new sites have been created over the last year—serving as a good indication of just how much value customers get with SharePoint Online and the power of the cloud.

The reason Microsoft has announced the SharePoint roadmap twice in as many years is because the platform now hosts regular, rolling updates thanks to the ‘always available’ nature of cloud computing. And the Virtual Summit is the latest event to share these new, upcoming features with SharePoint users—showing them more ways to improve productivity in their organizations. Let’s look at the biggest addition to the SharePoint platform announced at the Microsoft Virtual Summit: SharePoint communication sites.

SharePoint communication sites

Spearheading the future of SharePoint for the year ahead, SharePoint communication sites provide users with a dedicated site for their content displayed in a fresh and modern way. Microsoft called it “the next step toward ushering in the next generation of intranets”—communication sites deliver fast, mobile-ready intranet sites straight out of the box.

Coming to SharePoint Online this summer - communication sites allow users to share messages, interact and communicate with anyone and everyone across the breadth of the organization. Any news published on your communication site will surface in Office 365 and on SharePoint mobile (provided you have access).

With a new dynamic-style webpage, communication sites are designed to look good on all your devices, whether that’s your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. But that doesn’t mean creating them is a complex task. You can configure the default web parts in a way that is best suited to your business, while drag-and-drop functionality makes it incredibly easy to build a new site—something that previously would have taken you a fair amount of SharePoint expertise and developer hours.

For all the details, take a look at this Microsoft Mechanics video with Andy Haon—Principal Group Program Manager for SharePoint—as he walks through everything users will be able to do in the new SharePoint communication sites.

With SharePoint communication sites, it seems Microsoft is building on the information and knowledge sharing of SharePoint Groups with a modern and more visual appeal. The focus is on communication, but what about the biggest, most widely used form of communication in the enterprise? Where are the improvements to that?

What about email?

Communication sites are a great new addition for sharing documents with differing audiences—whether it’s across departments, projects or the entire business. The ability to share documents among colleagues with more ease in turn makes it quicker to edit, comment and collaborate with your coworkers. But what of the tools you’re working with?

SharePoint Online has continuously delivered improvements to the platform, from a dedicated mobile app and integration with PowerApps and more. But there have been fewer improvements to our ability to work from email, where people still spend most of their day.

Considering emails are a form of document—used to arrange meetings, confirm proposals, send documents, etc.—why are they stored in Exchange and not SharePoint? This means when searching for information, you must look in two different places. When so much is being done to improve employee collaboration in SharePoint, it seems counterproductive for employees to keep searching through their Exchange inboxes. Especially when they’re searching for documents they want to send over to SharePoint.

harmon.ie combines Outlook and SharePoint, allowing users to manage emails on SharePoint and documents in Outlook. harmon.ie uses document metadata to find files and emails simultaneously across SharePoint and Exchange. Letting you treat emails and documents the same, its drag-and-drop functionality lets you upload them to SharePoint directly from your Outlook window. Document metadata is uploaded automatically for SharePoint, while new attachments can be viewed in a preview mode from within Outlook without having to download the document.

Using hamon.ie to import emails into SharePoint lets you find all your knowledge in a centralized location, putting your users at the center.

For more information on how you can put the human at the center of document and email management, contact harmon.ie today.

 

David Lavenda
Chief Product Officer