Ignite Announcements: Modern SharePoint, Teams, Search
Continuing with our top announcements from Ignite, we saw again Microsoft focus on the improvements around Modern Teamwork capabilities and a renewed effort to improve the modern SharePoint experience.
We mentioned in our first Ignite announcements post that Microsoft search had been announced – but today we got some details around the new features and functionality. Also featuring heavily throughout Ignite was an emphasis being placed on Business Apps and Processes through PowerApps, Flow – and you guessed it, AI. Finally, we also got a sneak peek at the new Admin Center experience coming for 2019. All exciting stuff.
Modern SharePoint gets some new functionality
The addition of megamenus, a new Yammer webpart (coming out next year) and Dynamic Data – the capability that modern webparts can utilise to share data with each other – may not seem like a huge improvement but they do continue to bridge the gap between a custom Intranet solution and what can be achieved through Modern SharePoint capabilities.
The improvements do not however, produce a “click of the button” intranet in SharePoint and effort will still be required to assemble the component parts into an end-user friendly solution.
There are still a number of trade-offs with the OOTB platform for intranets and this can require a solid knowledge of the specifics of the roadmap for SharePoint in order to avoid over-simplifying what can be achieved or over-customising in order to meet immediate business requirements. The tools are still primarily focused on improving the end-user experience (which is great) and whilst the options for curating an overall experience are better, there are gaps.
Many customers will prefer to put the risk of managing this to a knowledgeable partner or opt for an intranet solution to meet specific requirements.
Updates to SharePoint’s News capabilities
There are several improvements to SharePoint News capabilities:
- Ability to share news directly in the channel of the related Team
- Custom News page designs
- Easy way to choose where to distribute the news
- Audience column used to enable Audience Targeting of the content
- News email digest allowing to easily create and share Newsletters
- Save for later
SharePoint Site and Content Authoring
At the SharePoint Conference earlier this year, Microsoft has spoken about the future of SharePoint lists, and these are meant to come to life this autumn. In several Ignite sessions, we have seen a number of demos incorporating improved authoring experiences as well as dramatic improvements to SharePoint lists.
SharePoint Lists will include easy editing experiences:
- Drag and Drop for rearranging columns in a List or Document Library View
- Easy column and view formatting
- Tighter integration with Flow for custom actions within a list
- List creation from Excel file or any existing list (without the need to create a template)
SharePoint content authoring also gets enhanced with enhanced data insights. A simple use case could be reviewing average read times in documents within a document library to choose the document to feature. Another could be analysing the visual graph of pages accessed over time, allowing you to publish important news at a peak time for optimum consumption of you communications.
Microsoft also touched on publishing audio and video files. Essentially all content will get auto-transcribed when uploaded to SharePoint or OneDrive. The transcript can be manually edited, and it gets indexed for improved findability. This is some cutting-edge stuff and will have vast benefits for all functions within an organisation, from delivery teams right through to HR and Marketing Teams.
In yet more announcements, the OneDrive document library also receives the consistent update as per SharePoint improvements, with the custom views, column and view formatting and Flow integration. We have also seen enhancements to external sharing experience, where you will be able to block download of a file or specify a password ahead of sharing your OneDrive file.
Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration
Modern Teamwork continues to be a massive focus being reinforced since the Keynote sessions and carried through various sessions here at Ignite.
In Microsoft Teams, we have seen a number of highly anticipated improvements like a new Sync button for Teams Files (supported by Files On-demand). We’ve also seen the addition of new screen share functionality without the need to set up a call/meeting and a new Yammer tab coming to a Teams Client near you soon.
Teams Files enhancements:
The Files tab will provide custom views, metadata and formatting, and further Flow integration, in line with the enhancements to lists in SharePoint – this is coming out later this year.
For Teams Meetings, Background Blur has been released. This is a great new feature. To put it in perspective…
Finally Meeting recording is available. The transcript will be uploaded after the meeting and is fully searchable within Teams.
Microsoft Stream has some serious backing
Continuing the emphasis that is being place on Microsoft Steam, a new Stream mobile app will be available in October this year and will allow offline viewing.
Teams Live Events are in preview now, and the Teams mobile app will include a Drive Mode as well as proximity join functionality for nearby Meeting Room detection. Again, this is some really cool stuff. In other mobile improvements, a Capture button has been added, allowing users to easily upload an image directly in to the relevant library within the client.
Firstline workers and Microsoft Teams
In what was another big announcement from Ignite, Microsoft Announced that StaffHub would be decommissioned later on 1st October 2019. That being said, Microsoft is also releasing Shifts, which is a Schedule Management tool for shift workers in Teams.
The trimmed version of Teams for Firstline workers has no Teams tab but instead has a Home feed which shows Shifts breakdown, a dedicated Shifts tab to show the Shift module and the normal Chat functionality to have a conversation with your colleagues or line-manager. Push notifications for Shift changes will be handled through the Teams app.
The Shifts module will be available by end of calendar year in its basic form. I wasn’t given specifics for the Home feed in the Teams up they did say their aim is to be able to include other content in this feed to push to Firstline workers.
One cool thing shown was geo-tagging, so users can only clock in for a shift when they are in pre-defined location/area for that shift.
Business Apps and Processes
When architecting solutions for your Business apps and processes, Microsoft recommends combination of their flagship technologies – SharePoint lists, PowerApps and Flow. For additional flare, you can now infuse your apps with AI and Data Insights from Power BI, Microsoft Graph and Azure cognitive services.
What’s next for apps and processes:
- You can now use Flow to approve site-hub joins
- Set a reminder flow
- Forms file upload – named member of group
- List creation: from Excel, from List
- Location column
- List editing (Quick Edit)
- View formatting
- Interactive column formatter
- Predictive indexing over 20000 items
- SharePoint lists in Microsoft Teams
- Mobile capture
- PowerApps forms in SharePoint
- List data governance and compliance w
- PowerApps Auditing
- PowerApps support for SharePoint rich text fields
- US GCC Cloud Support for PA/Flow
Accelerating productivity with Microsoft Search
One of the big Ignite announcements for accelerating productivity is Microsoft Search. Search aims to create one unified search across multiple experiences, leveraging Graph and Bing technologies.
The new Microsoft Search will provide number of verticals to explore the content and functionalities:
- All Bookmarks (similar to best bets) for curated content
- Q&A – for predictive results powered by Azure
- Conversations – from both Yammer and Teams
- PowerApps will integrate with Microsoft Search allowing for tasks completion directly from within the search results.
Microsoft Search will span across a number of experiences:
- Bing – combining internal search with the Internet search, in a customisable results panel with colour and logo matching your organisational theme
- Search browser extension – consistently present across your browser tabs and windows. Allowing user to suggest pages for bookmarks.
- Office 365 apps and services – displayed centrally in the O365 bar (including Office Web apps and Office desktop applications)
By leveraging power of Office Graph, Microsoft Search results will be personalised to each user. Microsoft Search is currently in public preview and is planned for general release in Spring 2019.
Enhancements for Office 365 Admins
The new Microsoft 365 Admin Center is available now, simplifying management across all of the Microsoft services. One of the big improvements for Admins is the release of Teams admin roles (e.g. “Teams Communications Administrator”) which will finally enable delegation of Teams management without Global Admin rights.
We saw a number of forthcoming improvements to the SharePoint Admin Center preview, including the ability to create custom admin views, management of the hub sites association and conversion to hub site directly. There will also be improvements to multi-geo management of SharePoint sites.
One of the Ignite demos included enhancements to the Microsoft SharePoint Migration Tool, which now includes support for SharePoint 2013 (on-premises) Team Sites. Modern SharePoint Online sites based on source sites from SharePoint on-premises.
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