The Big News? SharePoint’s Back.
Last week, over 200 business and IT professionals converged on Microsoft’s Technical Center (MTC) in Manhattan to hear leaders in the Microsoft ecosystem weigh in on the future of SharePoint. The event coincided with Microsoft’s announcement of its future plans for SharePoint, so, attendees were able to get the experts’ feedback about what the Microsoft announcements mean for their organizations. What were the takeaways?
Microsoft’s Vision for SharePoint
On May 4, Microsoft announced its vision for “The Future of SharePoint.” Seth Patton, GM for SharePoint and OneDrive, prefaced the announcement by noting that 40% of all SharePoint seats and 60% of new seats are on SharePoint Online. However, according to Patton “many Microsoft customers will continue to maintain their SharePoint server deployments within their own on-premises data center.” As such, Microsoft has backtracked on its prior announcement that SharePoint 2013 would be the end of the road for on-premises SharePoint with a new SharePoint Server 2016 product.
The big news for SharePoint 2016 is its built-in hybrid capabilities, that allow on-premises customers to tap into cloud innovations from Office 365. Jeff Teper, SVP SharePoint and OneDrive, highlighted three areas where Microsoft is focusing on integrating on-premises and cloud capabilities for SharePoint:
- Streamlined collaboration, making it easier for people to work together
- Boost of intelligence natively within the SharePoint and OneDrive experience with Office Graph, so document search is simplified
- Increased engagement via analytics for feedback with OneDrive
The SharePoint Spring Workshop Expo
As Microsoft delivered its SharePoint 2016 announcement, Microsoft partners and customers were gathered in Microsoft’s Technical Center in Manhattan for the harmon.ie-hosted “2016 SharePoint Workshop and Expo.” During the day, Expo attendees were treated to informative presentations from leaders of the Microsoft ecosystem, including harmon.ie, AvePoint, Gimmal, Metalogix, fpweb.net, and Infowise.
To cap the day, Expo attendees were treated to a lively roundtable discussion about what the new Microsoft SharePoint 2016 announcements mean for their organizations.
(From left to right: Brad Teed, Shyam Oza, Yaacov Cohen, Ruven Gotz, Julie Walleshauser)
Participating in the roundtable were:
- Yaacov Cohen – Co-founder and CEO of harmon.ie
- Ruven Gotz – Director & Digital Workspace Lead Avanade
- Brad Teed - CTO, Gimmal
- Shyam Oza – Sr. Product Manager, AvePoint
- Julie Walleshauser - Solution Engineer, Metalogix
After an excellent summary of the Microsoft announcements by Ruven Gotz, harmon.ie CEO, Yaacov Cohen, kicked off the roundtable by noting that “SharePoint was made by IT pros and geared towards IT pros, but now we are getting a more business-oriented and welcoming SharePoint, particularly for mobile users.”
“All of this innovation is great,” stated Cohen, “but, it’s no longer about technology. It’s about psychology. With this rollout, we’ve come to a point where Microsoft partners and IT leaders will need to think about how to package innovation and humanize SharePoint to make it absorbable by business users, which is the ultimate benefit of adoption.”
Shyam Oza, Senior Product Manager at AvePoint, agreed with Cohen saying that a primary role of IT stakeholders is to be on top of all of this. “We are the ones to consume all of this information first. The worst thing you can do is to wait for a [technology] push and update, and wait for end-users to play around with the features. We are the first layer and decide what fits in line with our business and roll those out first,” said Oza.
Brad Teed, CTO of Gimmal, stressed that IT leaders must constantly stay in sync with Microsoft and evaluate features so they, in fact, work in a hybrid mode of integrating new capabilities, while keeping the users productive.
As the roundtable discussion progressed, expo attendees expressed concern about the excess of technology and consistent influx of updates. “With new features coming out, it is a little bit exciting and a whole lot terrifying,” claimed one expo attendee. A number of attendees voiced concerns about experiencing Office 365 bugs that caused their systems to crash with no warning, losing crucial information from their servers.
“To me, SharePoint is another gun,” said expo attendee, Howard Cohen, VP of Corporate Systems Social Web at Chubb Insurance. “Where is the practice of being able to consume digital one bit at a time?“, he asked. To Cohen, these rollouts are must haves, but they are inundating business users with other features and tools that are dumped onto their network. “Where is the rationalization of all these things?”
Yaacov Cohen of harmon.ie expressed the thoughts of many attendees by noting that business users are unable to absorb all the technology that is being thrown at them. He noted the huge gap between innovation that vendors are pushing out and the frustration of business users, who are just trying to do their jobs. Specifically relating to the day’s Microsoft announcements, he pointed out that many companies are struggling to adopt basic SharePoint functionality and, for example, are still sending document attachments instead of SharePoint links. Yet, the technology wonks continue to talk about latest bells and whistles and ignore what’s happening in the business.
The bottom line, Cohen concluded that it is IT’s responsibility to consider the human side of technology as well as the technology itself. “We need to reshape the way we think about IT and take this approach of how to package and customize innovation,” says Cohen. IT needs to add a layer of technology portfolio management, change management, and focus on the adoption patterns of users and communication methodology to, ultimately, bring technology to users in a way that they can easily digest it. “We must stimulate behavioral change and meet business users in their comfort zone,” concluded Cohen. Because as the end of the day, technology needs to serve business, not the other way around.