A modern platform: a decade of SharePoint functionality
Millions of people spend their working days in SharePoint. It’s one of the most successful content management and collaboration platforms in the world. Used by over 200,000 organisations worldwide, the platform has evolved considerably since its release in 2001.
So how this has affected its millions of users? Since Satya Nadella became CEO at Microsoft, the tech giant has focused its efforts on modernising its products to fit the mobile-first, cloud-first ambition of the company. A gradual process that stemmed from the success of Office 365, this mantra is most apparent with the latest release of SharePoint 2016, with cloud-inspired update packages and a dedicated mobile app.
Document collaboration, mobile accessibility and a uniform user interface – each important cornerstones of a modern intranet are among the most eye-catching of the new SharePoint features. Additionally, there have been a number of smaller, perhaps lesser-known changes ‘under the hood’ with each version of the software to continue improving user experiences with the platform. Due to the sheer number of changes – plus Microsoft’s more recent attention to the cloud and Office 365 – you might not be aware just how much SharePoint has changed over the past decade.
This post will take a detailed look at the most important features added to SharePoint since 2007 with regards to the core activities related to working with an intranet. By determining the areas your company could further excel in, you can judge how much you could get from upgrading to a modern intranet.
To gauge some of the areas where SharePoint has made the biggest changes, we’ve constructed this comparison to see just how much the platform has changed:
- Support for enterprise content types and shared metadata allows content to be maintained in one location and shared across the business.
- UX improvements in the application of metadata, including ability to edit metadata in spreadsheet view.
- Upload documents to SharePoint libraries in ‘drag-and-drop’ manner to shortcut explorer view.
- Single-click sharing capabilities for folders and documents.
- See who the folder is shared with when viewing folders.
- Page landmarks and alt text improvements for major navigation links allow easier navigation.
- Overall limited capabilities.
- Users can post a single status, although this is not retained and not searchable.
- Posting a new status wipes out the old one, leaving users with only one possible status at one time.
- Newsfeed creates activity stream similar to popular social media sites.
- Filter newsfeed based on topics and people you are following.
- @mentions and hashtags connect workers more naturally, allowing them to be notified by relevant content and notify others of content they may have found.
- Yammer – the growth of the enterprise social network has put SharePoint social features on the backseat. Yammer can easily be accessed from SharePoint 2016 using the App Launcher, and Yammer Embed feeds can be added to SharePoint pages. Admins can create a dedicated team site with document libraries for different groups from within Yammer, as well as a OneNote file.
- Comprehensive search functionality using Boolean operators.
- Narrow search results down using metadata categories.
- Define search scopes to target specific collections of content.
- UX improvements as per the “Modern UI” update – including a visual hover display of content in search results.
- Previous searches are remembered and displayed as suggestions in future searches.
- Results pages show the number of times a document has been viewed, and allows users to page through PowerPoint presentations without leaving the results page.
- Hybrid search – a truly unified search index for your on-premises and cloud content, which can vastly reduce your cloud infrastructure footprint.
- Support for Office Graph and Delve experiences on-premises (with hybrid configuration). Hybrid search is now available in SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016.
- Teams can independently create mobile views for sites.
- No responsive design, and views would not work on different types of mobile devices.
- Optimized mobile browser experience – providing a lightweight browsing experience for workers to navigate and access document libraries, lists, wikis and Web Parts.
- Device channels render a single published SharePoint site in multiple designs to accommodate different device types.
- Office Web Apps enabled the viewing of Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents within mobile browsers.
- A dedicated, native mobile app – available on iOS.
- Android and Windows Phone versions to become available soon. The app is backwards compatible with SharePoint 2013.
- Improved full enterprise search offers an improved UI for quicker access to SharePoint team sites, company portals and OneDrive for Business folders.
The modern SharePoint is packed full of features
Of course, this is still just scratching the surface in terms of the number of changes the SharePoint platform has undergone since 2007. Microsoft have published a feature availability comparison between SharePoint 2013 and 2016 on-premises plans for a comprehensive look at what you’re getting in each iteration of the software. Given the amount of changes between the two most recent versions alone, it fast becomes apparent just how much SharePoint functionality has changed over the years.
Like most technology, these new functionalities are only as powerful as the people using them. The question remains: how can you begin taking advantage of all these new and improved features? The next post in our series – SharePoint and the evolving business – will begin to discuss the inherent advantages businesses can experience with a modern SharePoint intranet.
If you’d like to discuss how SharePoint 2016 could benefit your business, contact Content and Code today.
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About the author:
Head of SharePoint Platform
Ben leads Content and Code's SharePoint Platform practice which focuses on the more technical aspects of SharePoint Online, SharePoint on-premises and everything in between. He has been working with SharePoint and related technologies such as SQL Server and AD FS since 2008.
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