May 26, 2016

The Future of SharePoint ECM

4 minute read

Earlier this month, Microsoft presented its vision for “the Future of SharePoint,” officially launching the latest on-premise version, SharePoint 2016 and offering a glimpse into some exciting changes coming to Office 365 and eventually on-premise. Below, Gimmal CTO Brad Teed offers his perspectives on what this means for SharePoint ECM and how Gimmal’s products fit into and complement this roadmap.

User Experience Gains

One of the most significant parts of the presentation came with Microsoft’s 

reveal of a redoubled focus on the user experience with the announcement of new interfaces for Team Sites, lists and libraries.  Furthermore, Microsoft is taking the enhanced interfaces mobile and releasing a dedicated SharePoint app. Microsoft wants to offer a SharePoint experience to the user regardless of the platform. Enhancements to existing mobile apps, such as OneDrive for Business and seamless integration with already popular productivity apps further strengthens the seamless access to information stored in SharePoint.

Old Faces, New Names

Microsoft has elevated SharePoint to a kingpin position in the personal productivity and information access platform.  A departure from what was emerging as numerous vertical portal applications, such as the Video Portal, Microsoft is now positioning SharePoint as “your new intranet.”  This positioning will be most evident in the change to the Office 365 App Tile “Sites” to a new tile called “SharePoint”.

With the new SharePoint app tile, users will now see frequently used sites, followed sites and recommended sites based on their personal activities in the platform.  All of these features powered by Microsoft Graph, Office 365 Groups and enveloped in a continued strengthening of their Security & Compliance capabilities.

Rethinking Provisioning

Microsoft also demonstrated a very streamlined view of their “fast provisioning” capabilities.  The interface presents a clean, minimalized selection and gathering required inputs into the new site creation process.  While this offers great flexibility and ease of use for the user, the fact remains that the resulting sites are still basic, out of the box sites derived from a standard SharePoint template. A new feature touted in this process is the Site Classification support where users will be asked to identify what type of content the site will contain.  This classification process gives us a peek at potential future functionality around security and compliance capabilities that will leverage this classification.

Our Takeaway

Regarding Microsoft’s emphasis on reaching mobile users: this is great news for everyone involved in SharePoint. Improved accessibility means improved adoption. Gimmal is especially excited about this as increased mobile access for SharePoint means less ungoverned content filtering out of environments. This ubiquitous access, from any place or platform, increases the importance of content governance. Without any governance policies and processes that are enforced within SharePoint, content and sites will quickly become filled with irrelevant and stale content.  Ease of use, greater access and strengthened user adoption all enhance Gimmal Governance & Records Management’s ability to minimize improper content management processes, and unfollowed information management policies.  Gimmal’s capabilities will continue to help organizations better adhere to the information lifecycle paradigm that drives what our software does.

Many of these new features can be perceived as replacing or duplicating existing features in Gimmal Intranet & Portals, which validates our product offering.  However, Microsoft’s foray into offering these features is still immature and may not provide the breadth and depth of capabilities that Gimmal can offer.  Gimmal anticipates leveraging many of these new capabilities, offering our customers and the market an even more enhanced and mature set of capabilities to meet the diverse needs of organizations worldwide.

Overall, Microsoft has demonstrated that they have a clear vision for their products, one that slightly, yet significantly, shifts the landscape in SharePoint ECM. With new provisioning features, a redefined user experience, and increased accessibility to the platform, it will be interesting to see how organizations adopt and adapt to the next version of SharePoint on-premise and the new features being released in Office 365, and where other vendors shift their focus to cover the gaps.

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