May 5, 2016

The Future of SharePoint Records Management

6 minute read

Yesterday Microsoft held an event entitled "The Future of SharePoint" in which they unveiled a new cloud and mobile focused vision for SharePoint. Let's briefly discuss some of the announcements and what impact they may have on SharePoint records management.

Simple and powerful file sharing and collaboration on any device

This will allow instant access to files from anywhere and intelligent discovery for all of your files. Also, users will be able to collaborate and co-author documents in real time, compare versions and update metadata without leaving the Office application.

The following features will be out this quarter:

  • Access to SharePoint Online document libraries and Office 365 Group files from the OneDrive mobile app.
  • Intelligent discovery of documents from both OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Copy from OneDrive to SharePoint in the OneDrive web experience.
  • OneDrive Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application.

Additionally, these features will be available by the end of 2016:

  • Document analytics surfaced in OneDrive to provide insight into document usage, reach and impact.
  • Synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Synchronization of shared folders with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Mobile access to SharePoint document libraries in on-premises farms.
  • Move and copy files between OneDrive and SharePoint in web experiences.

From a SharePoint records management standpoint, these features will allow your users to access SharePoint in new and convenient ways. Overall, that is a positive but the same precautions and processes must remain in place to ensure proper compliance. This especially includes your organization's BYOD policy and how that may affect your SharePoint environment.

The mobile and intelligent intranet

SharePoint will now make your intranet more accessible, more intelligent and more personalized. Microsoft is introducing the SharePoint mobile app for Windows, Android and iOS with full-fidelity access to company news, people, sites (including your on-premises sites), content and apps.

There will also be a new SharePoint home page in Office 365 rolling out this month. This will allow unified access to all of your sites, both online and on-premises.

Here’s what you can expect to see starting this quarter:

  • Modern document library experience (currently rolling out to First Release tenants).
  • SharePoint mobile app for iOS.
  • SharePoint home in Office 365.
  • Modern lists experience.
  • Site activity and insights on the Site Contents page.

And during calendar year 2016:

  • SharePoint mobile app for Windows and Android.
  • Integration of SharePoint sites and Office 365 Groups.
  • Simple, fast site creation.
  • Modern pages experience.
  • Team and organizational news and announcements.
  • PowerApps and Microsoft Flow integration with SharePoint.

Similar to the features above, SharePoint is allowing more access in addition to a more unified experience. The mobile app is a particularly big step as many have been asking for a SharePoint app for quite a while. As we've discussed in a previous post, it is critical to balance the needs of your users with that of the organization's policies. So while all of these new features are exciting, it is critical to take a proactive approach and establish clear guidelines for users of all levels.

The SharePoint Framework - open and connected platform

SharePoint Framework is a page and part model that enables fully supported client-side development with easy integration with the Microsoft Graph and support for open source tooling. This framework will allow developers to use modern JavaScript and web templating frameworks across both cloud and on-premises SharePoint. The SharePoint Framework will be released to Office 365 customers this summer.

In the third quarter of 2016, you will see:

  • The Files API on Microsoft Graph.
  • SharePoint Webhooks (preview).
  • Client-side web parts for existing pages (preview).

And by the end of 2016, Microsoft will deliver:

  • The Sites API on Microsoft Graph.
  • SharePoint Webhooks (GA).
  • Custom sites on the SharePoint Framework.

This framework shows Microsoft's willingness to embrace open-source and allows for a deeper level of customization throughout the SharePoint experience. From a SharePoint records management perspective, this can allow more customized apps, workflows and processes. One area of caution however, is that these need to be accounted for when considering the overall records management picture. As we know, records take many forms and must be properly accounted for every step of the way.

Security, privacy and compliance

Dynamic conditional access policies in SharePoint that define access based on who you are, the app or device you're using and your network location is another feature announced yesterday.

Additionally, you can protect content with data loss protection (DLP) policies, in both Office 365 and SharePoint Server 2016. These can be set once and applied across your tenant and your on-premises farms.

A quick breakdown of the features surrounding security and compliance:

Currently supported:

  • Customer Lockbox.
  • DLP, mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM).
  • Whitelist and blacklist domains for external sharing.

This quarter:

  • Dynamic conditional access policies.

And by the end of 2016:

  • Bring your own encryption key.
  • Granular access controls.
  • SharePoint site classification.
  • Hybrid SharePoint Insights (preview).

The conditional access is by far the most interesting part of this announcement. This feature will allow granular access control and help to prevent unauthorized access and potential compliance issues. From a records management standpoint, the more you can clearly define access, the better. We discussed this in our blog post breaking down SharePoint 2016 as well.

SharePoint continues to evolve and based on yesterday's announcements, there is a continued trend towards unified access, especially from a mobile perspective. While this is certainly a positive that will enhance collaboration and break down data silos, there are still some significant shortfalls when it comes to SharePoint records management.

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