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The Virtual Summit from this year’s SharePoint Conference North America has come and gone, and it was absolutely packed with new SharePoint announcements and features coming in the near future. In case you missed it, here are just some of the highlights from this year’s show.
First, some stats. Microsoft revealed that:
- There are currently over 135 million Office 365 users worldwide
- 400k organizations use SharePoint, showing a 200% growth in the last year
- They’re up to over 85 SharePoint Saturdays taking place every year
Microsoft General Manager Seth Patton drove home the importance of AI to Microsoft’s overarching content collaboration goals, a theme that appeared throughout the conference. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper also reaffirmed the company’s commitment to on-premises users and their 2018 release time frame for SharePoint 2019.
The presentation was broken up into 6 core pillars:
- Share and Work Together
- Inform and Engage People
- Harness Collective Knowledge
- Transform Business Processes
- Extend and Develop
- Protect & Manage Data
Share and Work Together
OneDrive was the major driving force behind this portion of the presentation. Presenters highlighted the technology’s simple sharing, anywhere access to files and Microsoft Teams integration.
In terms of new announcements, Microsoft debuted a new and intuitive way to more easily collaborate with members of your organization on documents. Users will be able to leave a comment on a doc, @ someone in their network in the comment and seamlessly grant them access to weigh in on the edit.
Other highlights included:
- Being able to see details of activity on who’s been granted access and made changes to your documents
- The OneDrive app gaining the ability to upload an entire camera roll to an organization-specific account in the cloud later this year (ideal for organizing receipts when traveling)
Inform and Engage People
Do you enjoy creating sites through the SharePoint platform? Well, you’re in luck. Massive updates are coming to the way users can create sites through SharePoint. The updates we know so far are:
- New image customization options
- The ability to tag pages with metadata
- An out of the box page approval workflow
- The introduction of Site Hubs
- Will help streamline the adding and removing of sites
- Will allow users to use custom site scripts upon adding a site to a hub
The SharePoint app will also be seeing a huge update later this year. Though less is known about these changes, Microsoft confirmed a refreshed user interface and more convenient content filters. SharePoint News will also be getting an update specifically for the introduction of organization-specific news highlights.
While we’re still reeling from the reveal of SharePoint Spaces, we did manage to gleam some key information from its segment. SharePoint Spaces will allow anyone to create mixed reality experiences for a variety of work-related purposes. It’s fully integrated into SharePoint, can be incorporated as a part of a SharePoint site, and is compatible with any browser and computer type.
Though it’s in early preview, Microsoft treated us to a demo centered around creating a training program for a new employee. They displayed how mixed reality can be used to study 3D objects (with annotations), visualize data, look over employee profiles and view relevant 360 degree videos. All of this can be experienced with or without any kind of tethered headset.
As it is now, users can customize the interface’s structure, theme, background, and even add ambient sounds by using simple drop-down menus. Through the power of SharePoint, users will be able to collaborate on mixed reality environments together.
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Harness Collective Knowledge
The core goal here is to provide users with a personalized search wherever they are in Office 365. They’ve worked hard to improve extensibility in the search experience, particularly in the mobile space. The SharePoint mobile app will be updated with improved search features powered by AI intelligence for carefully curated results.
Other highlighted included:
- Newly announced Microsoft training services will deliver up-to-date training straight to your intranet. The services are currently in pilot preview and will be coming this summer
- SharePoint sites will also get more powerful search results, as well as custom filters
Transform Business Processes
It’s official: Microsoft is totally invested in revamping SharePoint lists. These new changes include:
- New row formatting for easier browsing
- Flow and PowerApps integration to help automate list creation
- Intuitive Excel integration
- The ability to see collaborators make changes in real time
Extend and Develop
SharePoint Framework has seen tremendous growth, doubling in usage every 90 days. Microsoft has been supporting it with constant updates, and now they’re putting even more control into the hands of Office developers.
Newly announced SPFx Extension deployment tools will enable devs to easily deploy new extensions to sites and across their entire SharePoint domain. New dynamic data and Azure-connected web parts will also allow users to “create engaging pages using connected web parts and extensions.”
The goal in this space is to take one solution and apply it to multiple situations within Office 365. In that respect, these improvements should make developing in Office more fluid than ever before.
Protect and Manage Data
When it comes to data protection, Microsoft seems to be doubling down. The new SharePoint Admin feature (currently available in preview), sports a more intuitive interface, bulk actions for more control, and can save views for your convenience.
Other highlights included:
- A new dashboard specifically for GDPR
- Microsoft introduced a new SharePoint migration tool
- A demo of the upcoming Windows Defender update
- Recognizes and eliminates ransomware and prompts you to restore your OneDrive in minutes
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